Saturday, February 28, 2009
So, I put the question to you, dear readers and friends: which cover do you like best? It's important to know that this is a professional decision, and the final tally of the vote on the day of release will determine what cover I go with! It's simply not up to me anymore, it's all you. Keep in mind that whatever you choose will be seen by literally thousands of people across the globe, no pressure.
So vote once, then get your friends to vote once even if they don't know anything about the series, this is a purely aesthetic decision at this point. Thank you for your help on this and for your support thus far.
I'm enjoying writing the third act of Spinward Fringe Frontline and I can't wait until everyone gets a chance to sink their teeth into this book!
The voting booth is at the top of this page and the choices are:
Planet Cover With Blue Lettering
Planet Cover With Red Lettering
Ayan Cover With Blue Lettering
Ayan Cover With Red Lettering
I look forward to seeing the results!
One more thing: Don't worry about Ayan's hair colour.
Friday, February 27, 2009
After getting firm confirmation that I couldn't add the book to their aging Free Ebook program, I decided that if I couldn't post it there for free, the least I could do is give it the lowest price possible, $0.01 US, yes, that's one penny. The only drawback to getting your EBook file from them is that it's DRM protected. The brighter side to getting your copy for a penny is that it will appear in your Mobipocket library along with all your other books. I know I like having a backup of purchased books online personally just in case all my computers and such all die at the same time (shudder).
Anyway, other sites such as BooksOnBoard.com will soon have this book at $0.49US, which isn't a penny, I realize but it's as close as I could get it without triggering problems with Mobipocket partners down the road.
So there you are, another way to have a copy of this book around for as near to nothing as I could manage, and an easy way to spread the word and get your friends involved with the entertaining universe of the First Light Chronicles and Spinward Fringe. Spread the word, enjoy the read, Freeground is (almost) Free!
Oh, and just in case you're afraid of them disappearing, you don't have to worry; those links to the totally free PDF and PRC/MOBI files will remain on the right hand side of the site for all eternity or the collapse of civilization or until I run out of bandwidth, whichever comes first!
Thursday, February 26, 2009
The page looks pretty good, and after taking a look at it there are only a couple corrections to be made, which Glenn is happy to make. I waited a few days to post about the page here just in case the people at Wikipedia yank the page, which they've been known to do to certain blogs, bloggers, books, authors and even the greatest Internet radio show ever.
I like Wikipedia, despite the massive stigma they seem to have about people editing their own pages, which I can understand from a certain point of view. I like Wikipedia so much that I donated a little while ago (when money times were a little brighter), but even so I'll have to leave it to you dear readers to add something if you think it's worth seeing there. I only ask that you don't post plot line spoilers and that you try to post only factual info that could be verified. If you're looking to verify something you can trust everything that's said on this site or you can Email me. Having said that, there's another reason why I like having a Wikipedia page: it's yet another way to be connected to the few hundred people who I'm fortunate enough to entertain. If everyone whose ever bought one of my books had me on speed dial I'd never get anything done, but being connected to people who support me through the Internet feels just about right.
Anyway, a very special thanks to Glenn Webber and SomaCow who have given everyone a new place to learn about me and what I do. Support in any positive form is welcome, and a Wikipedia page is pretty amazing. If I could afford to post-act bribe someone (I think they call that rewarding someone in normal language), I would send stuff to Glenn, but sadly, I'm still on a shoestring budget.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
I've never read or written anything like this book. After taking a day off and reading the manuscript so far I have to say there's no faster paced work of its size that my editor or I have ever seen. It kept her up until two in the morning three times and I didn't put the manuscript down for anything while I was reading it. I wrote the thing, I already know what happens but I was still glued to the pages.
I read through the manuscript so far because I wanted to make sure I was going in the right direction, that the three intertwining plotlines were all necessary and that there was no filler. What I realize now is that this book is divided into three very important acts and I'm just about to start on the third one.
As a writer quantity doesn't matter nearly as much as quality. I ask myself; is everything here important to the story? Characterization? Is it entertaining? If something doesn't make the grade it gets cut, it's that simple. So far Frontline has had about 37 pages cut (not included in the image above), and I'm keeping about 290 so far because that's what's required to tell the story this book contains. The thought of breaking the work up into two or more novellas crossed my mind, but sadly this work doesn't allow for that. You can feel when one act ends and another begins, but if I were to separate the book into different sections it would seem more like a frustrating money grab than an artistic choice, and even though I do this for a living (a job I absolutely love!), I don't like the idea of doing something solely for cash.
More about the progress of the book: I'm writing one large chapter or two or three short ones a day, six days a week to get this one finished. Research, planning, conceptualization and day to day business all happens around that. I have the third act almost entirely in mind and it feels like my brain is about to bust. I wish this novel were already a movie, I would love to see this broken up into six episodes of good television because when I think of this book the images start rolling and I can't type fast enough.
I haven't told a truly epic story for years, not since my foray into fantasy (Fate Cycle: Sins of the Past), and this book makes everything before it feel like nothing but build up. I am sorry it's taking longer to write this book than any other in the series, but from what I read in that manuscript and what I'm writing right now I can tell you that it'll be worth it. This is an Epic Space Opera, and even though it completely closes off one of the most important plot lines of the series (you know, the story that started at the end of Starfree Port), this book expands the universe, explores the characters and sets down a very solid foundation for so many books to come.
What's the tone of the third act of this book? I'll give you a hint; I've been listening to a lot of Danny Elfman (best known for soundtracks for movies like Night Breed, 90's Batman, Hellboy, Wanted, etc...). The more demented the soundtrack feels the better.
When do I expect to be finished? I hoped to be finished by the end of February, but I can't really tell. There's a lot of story left in this final act of the book and I'm afraid that quality demands that no completion date be set. The first two acts of this book were about 150 pages each, and took about a month each to complete (Christmas and a family matter added an extra month and a half to that). Most of the conceptualization and planning is finished though and that's the really good news.
Am I enjoying myself? Immensely! I honestly wish someone else had already written this and put it on the silver screen or television somewhere so I could just sit back and watch! That's not the case, however, so I have the rare honour of closing my eyes and adapting the movie as the reels roll on in my head.
Well, it's time for me to go back into the Fringe, to start work on the final act in this three act performance that is Spinward Fringe Frontline. Before I get lost in that universe, however, I need to thank everyone whose been buying the books, supporting me and spreading the word. Without you these books wouldn't be the same; I'd be writing around a full time job somewhere instead of making writing my main gig. Thank you for your help, as I said long ago the readers will determine if and when Spinward Fringe ends and so far (Triton sold it's 210th copy yesterday), the majority of my small but very kind audience seems to agree that Spinward Fringe shouldn't end anytime soon.
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
This novella has appeared and disappeared as a free EBook a few times. That's mostly because the various distribution channels I was putting this through didn't allow free Ebooks or there were costs attached to offering the book online that I had to cover.
One thing that can kill any publishing endeavor, online or in print, is uncertainty and changes that affect availability. To put an end to this, and to make it easier for people who enjoy the First Light Chronicles and the Spinward Fringe series to share the experience I'm offering the EBooks myself in two file formats.
The first, most commonly used format is PDF. it's the most universally accepted document file and with the help of Adobe Acrobat Reader (browser plugin and/or hard drive installation), you can view the entire book as it's intended and even add bookmarks.
The second file format I'm offering this book in is .prc, or the Mobipocket format as it's more widely known. The PRC file format is readable on most smartphones, PC's and many EBook reader devices. A lot of people prefer this format mostly because there's a short cut menu right at the beginning of the book leading to each chapter, making it faster to pick up from where you left off. If you want to try the reader software you can download it from Mobipocket.com.
This is me offering free stuff as a thank you for all your support so far, and I hope everyone can finally be a little relieved that Freeground is finally free for good. Since I'm doing this for a living and I've sold too many copies of the books that follow Freeground for any publisher to pick up this series I honestly can't afford to offer any other novellas or novels for free. Somehow I think my writing would suffer a little if I were doing it from a cardboard box...
The good news is that the rest of the books are very reasonably priced on www.amazon.com (print and Kindle editions), and on Mobipocket.com (EBook editions). Even in print Freeground is only $7.99 in a large print, 6"x9" Trade Paperback format from Amazon.com. Since I don't have an agent or publisher taking a bite out of my profits I can afford to offer my work at a lower price than practically anyone else for their quality. Sadly the printed editions are only available in large 6"x9" Trade Paperback editions, making them more expensive than the small mass paperbacks, but the quality and clarity of these books make them very much worth having. Amazon does an absolutely amazing job at printing and shipping these books, I couldn't be happier with their work.
I hope you and anyone else whose into science fiction or fiction in general enjoys The First Light Chronicles Freeground, it's the start point for the First Light Chronicles and Spinward Fringe series and establishes the basic universe and introduces the most important characters in a fast paced, exciting package. Most readers suggest you start reading this in the afternoon and not at night since it's been known to keep people up in the wee hours, I'm told it's a real page turner.
Here's a synopsis!
In the middle of the darkest region of explored space sits one bright beacon; Freeground Station. Serving as a supply and trading post it is home to a select number of human beings that will take an unlikely chance to make a difference in their end of the galaxy.
Jonas and his friends spent their spare time in tactical simulations and drew the attention of Freeground Fleet Command when they hacked into restricted combat scenarios for elite trainees and defeated all comers.
Instead of punishing Jonas and his friends they offered them an opportunity to undertake a dangerous and exciting mission. They were to go out into the Galaxy and acquire any advantages that would improve life for Freegrounders.
This series is about their first voyage together, the challenges they face, and the relationships they forge with each other and the beings they meet along the way.
The First Light Chronicles Omnibus, the volume that contains all three parts of the First Light Chronicles; Freeground, Limbo and Starfree Port, has held the number one spot on Mobipocket.com (an Amazon subsidiary company that only sells EBooks), for almost six months. I'm proud of the First Light Chronicles series, and extremely happy that most people who read it go on to read the Spinward Fringe Series, the unlimited series of books in the same universe and a number of novels that I couldn't be more proud of.
So go ahead and download Freeground. Welcome aboard, I hope you enjoy the beginning of what has proven to be a long and exciting journey for hundreds of readers around the world.
Oh, and after consulting with several readers and my editor who has 35 years teaching experience, I'm happy to announce that the entire First Light Chronicles and Spinward Fringe series' are suitable for readers ages 13+, so if you want a series of books you AND your teens can enjoy, here it is.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Mobipocket did, however, give me the opportunity to post my work on their site. Then some of my fans (as few as they were back then), posted reviews and thanks to that some of the science fiction fans on MobiPocket noticed my work. From there things started to grow, and since August the First Light Chronicles Omnibus has held the number one spot in the Science Fiction section. For that I only have the readers to thank, and boy am I thankful! Only one book has sold through Amazon.com, but I'm hoping that will pick up in time.
It's important to mention people who go the extra mile before I go on; the donators, of which there have been three very minor ones and one very major. These people's donations go towards computer repair, sending promotional copies of books out to reviewers (SomaCow being a great example), and this month's donation will be going to next month's groceries.
I also have to thank the few fans I have the pleasure of seeing aboard. What do I consider a fan? Well, that's simple. A fan is someone who posts a review on Amazon.com, Mobipocket.com or on their blog with a link leading back to my site. I also consider people who donate (even a little), and people who take the time to send in an email with their opinion on something in the books. Geoff, J and Ross of SomaCow are fans (especially considering the great efforts they put in to pull more aboard!), Dee is a fan, Neil is a fan (Dee and Neil's reviews can be seen on the First Light Chronicles listing on MobiPocket along with a few others) and anyone whose bought the First Light Chronicles and all the Spinward Fringe books are fans. Also, anyone who tells someone else they're a fan is a fan. It's not a very exclusive club, and membership is as cheap or as expensive as you want it to be and I am truly greatful to each and every one of you for buying the books, enjoying yourselves, supporting me and spreading the word!
For anyone who is curious, 194 people have purchased all the science fiction books released in 2008. That's the First Light Chronicles Series (either seperately or in the Omnibus), and the Spinward Fringe Series. Looking at that number, even though it's small by modern publishing standards, reminds me daily of how many people who have followed me and my characters through this turmultuous journey thus far. I have very good news for all of you: This is where it gets interesting. Just look at the next book; Spinward Fringe Frontline.
Spinward Fringe Frontline is taking a long time to write and I can tell you why. There is room for the characters to develop, villains finally tell a major part of the story and the plot moves with the overwhelming violence and speed of an avalanche. Until now I've kept a few notes on the technology and characters, but with the increase of scope and activity in this book it's been nessisary to begin work on an actual encyclopedia (currently named OMGENCYCLOPEDIA), just to keep track of the developments in this book and how they're attached to previous work. My goal is to provide a new example of what a true, complete Space Opera is in one book. Thank God I thrive on ambition. So far I'm very happy with how this book is turning out and I can't wait to see it finished even though I still have a lot of work to do yet.
A word about Spinward Fringe Triton: A week after the book was released the emails started coming in about this book. Fully a quarter of the people who purchased this volume sent emails in, and none of them had a single negative thing to say. That book brought many people to tears, got them funny looks on the tube as they laughed aloud, and left them feeling as though there was great promise for more at the end. To be honest, that's exactly the kind of journey I had while writing it, so I couldn't have been happier at its reception. On the other hand, I believe that every book has to equal or surpass the last, so I when I think of Triton I immediately think of the challenge I face in Spinward Fringe Frontline and how well I'll have to develop that book for it to be a worthy volume.
As if you couldn't already tell, my Muse is my only mistress. Writing is what I love to do above all else, and even though 1400 books sold over a five month period barely provides a living, I'll take living on the absolute minimum and being able to write full time over working a job I hate and having more money than one person generally needs. At one time I got a hell of a rush from playing drums in front of hundreds (thousands once), of people but these days I feel really high when I know I've had an emotional affect on someone. I wouldn't trade this for anything, and you people make it possible. If you keep spreading the word there's no telling what could happen.
Now, back to work on Spinward Fringe Frontline.
Feel free to leave a comment here about the portrait of Ayan above, I'm sure Marcus would love the feedback. Just don't mention the hair colour...
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
At first I wasn't sure how much I'd like this social networking tool, but I decided to give it a fair shake and before long I was interacting with two of the guys from SomaCow, keeping a few fans current on what was going on, updating my status on Facebook and keeping a mini-journal of my writing habits all at the same time. Now, I'm generally no big fan of social networking tools, but this one does help me keep everyone aware that Spinward Fringe Frontline is in the works and I'm enjoying the writing. It's an uncommon reassurance, and sometimes I wish that George RR Martin or any of my other favourite authors used such things. It might also be interesting to see what someone like George Lucas, Joss Whedon or Eric Kripke (creator of Supernatural), was up to from day to day.
So, my life may not be nearly as interesting as the entertainment icons listed above but if you want to know more about what I'm up to and how Spinward Fringe Triton is coming along from one day to the next, Twitter is the most direct way!
For those of you who don't have Twitter and don't want to sign up, I'll have an update on how things are going with the latest Spinward Fringe book right here tomorrow, so stay tuned...
Friday, February 6, 2009
The ultimate suspense for me when I'm working on something new and everything has to slow down while my editor reviews it. If I'm doing good work and enjoying myself I generally lose all objectivity and she's the one who tells me if I'm writing something that's purely self indulgent or something that other people will enjoy as well.
That time is mostly over with Frontline. A week ago (give or take a few days), I handed the first 200 pages of Spinward Fringe Frontline to my editor. There's a lot of action mixed with some serious character and plot development in those pages, and I just had to know how it was turning out from her perspective before I went full speed into the second half of the book. (I kept writing anyway, just not quite as quickly as I normally do in case I'd have to go back and change a few things, but we'll keep that between us...)
After she finished reviewing it she told me that "it read like it was written for a TV-14 or TV-MA rated television show and it was so hard to put down that my sleep schedule is all screwed up." Coming from her that's very high praise, she also liked the balance between many of the characters. (If you want to find out what that means, I'm afraid you'll have to wait for the book to be available, since I'm not going to give anything away).
So, with her approval on the first 200 pages and the knowledge that I don't have any huge plot holes, bad characterization, poor dialog or unbelievable events I'm moving on. It's full steam ahead from here on out.
This novel is definitely the epitomy of Space Opera and it's shaping up to be the longest book I've ever written. I love the characters, what they're doing and that the rules and settings in this universe are coming together perfectly while the plot carries on with the intensity and impact of a tsunami. How long is the book? So far it's 278 pages, and I think I'm about two thirds through it, there's a lot of story to tell and everyone's favorite characters are right in the middle.
Thank you for sticking with me, there IS a light at the end of the tunnel and given a little more time Spinward Fringe Frontline, which has been a blast to write so far, will be available relatively soon. Until then, please continue to spread the word about the First Light Chronicles and Spinward Fringe series, especially now that the books are available on Amazon.com in print (and of course they're still available on Mobipocket as well as other good Ebook retailers). Your support matters, and I'm greatful to every one of you!
More news on the series soon!
Sunday, February 1, 2009
Frontline is now over one hundred and sixty pages long, that's even after cutting about thirty pages of material that slowed the pace of the book down. I'm not finished writing this one, but to keep things progressing towards a speedy release I've given my editor the first two hundred pages to review. Once she's finished and given me the good word work will go even more swiftly. Keep in mind that if it's any lesser in quality than Triton, then I'll have to work on the two hundred pages when she hands them back to me.
While she reviews the first two hundred pages I'm not slowing down, in fact I'm continuing the work on the second half of the book. In the end the extra time I'm taking on this book will pay off, just like the extra month I took on Triton did. The best part of all this is that when the work is done everyone will have a better, longer book to enjoy.
The story in the Spinward Fringe series has grown, includes even more character development, and a big picture plot that I'm absolutely in love with. Like Spinward Fringe Triton I'm writing this one as though it's the last, but notes for the next two parts of the Spinward Fringe series are still building up so if you all want more after Frontline I'll be ready.
Thank you for your patience and for spreading the word about the series everyone, I'll share news as it comes up!