DOOM!

Doomsday is due March 25th, 2016

Doomsday is due March 25th, 2016

Due out tomorrow (25th March 2016) and early reports are that this is some of the best fiction to be featured in an FC anthology. What I’ve read of it thus far leads me to agree with this summary judgement.

Five lucky people get an Advanced Reviewer Copy as soon as they leave a comment on this post.

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A Ubiquitous Award Post

Welcome to the new year. It is that time again, and 2015 was a pretty good year for me as a writer. Things got published. Things are eligible for awards.

Essays

Invisible 2 Cover-Full-689x1024 I contributed an essay to Jim Hines’ second annual anthology Invisible 2: Personal Essays on Representation in SF/F. He informs me that the collection is eligible for the Best Related Work.

Flash Fiction and Short Stories

"Walk to School"

“Walk to School”

Dispatches from the Future: B-list: Over the course of the year, I wrote a growing collection of flash fiction. As part of his recovery from kidney surgery and Inktober my friend and Army buddy Jeffrey Witty completed a illustrations for many of them.

  • I believe that this collection of stories would qualify for either Best Short Story or Best Fanzine. There are fourteen episodes within the collection, all of them are under 2,000 words (they’ve always been freely available on Wattpad).
  • Jeff’s adroit illustrations are also eligible for Best Fan Artist.  His ink work is really quite excellent; as the author, I can’t tell you how nice it is to see your words looking back at you.

Tokyo Yakuza #11: Mob Dance (6,027 words) qualifies for Best Short Story. This was a fun little project done as part of an independent tabletop game release.

Novellette

“Ser Pan Comido”

Galaxy Chronicles: Ser Pan Comido (9,891 words) is arguably my best and most popular published work of 2015. I really enjoyed collaborating with Samuel Peralta and Jeff Seymour and the Amazon sales boost this anthology produced was amazing to witness (my Amazon Author rank peaked at #71 in Science Fiction … Wow!).

  • Despite my self-doubt surrounding this story, it has done remarkably well. The collection received some excellent reviews and my contribution was called out more than once.
  • Jeff’s approach to editing was a pleasure and I hope to repeat the experience with some longer works that are on the way. If you’re filling out your ballot and need suggestions for Best Editor please consider Jeff and/or Sam.

Summary

That’s it for me (and the many people that I collaborated with last year). If you’re running behind and can only nominate one work may I suggest that you consider sending Jeffrey Witty to the vanguard. His work is good, and I’d love to motivate him to do more. He’s been secretly scripting and illustrating The Big Red Buckle and I’d love to light a fire under his can to get this done in 2016.

Not a Meritocracy

An excellent example of HuffPost muckraking has been making the rounds today. Honestly, I think author Lynn Shepherd wastes a lot of valuable screen space throwing a tantrum about JK Rowling’s relative success in publishing. But there is a point at which Shepherd gets my full attention.

It wasn’t just that the hype was drearily excessive, or that (by all accounts) the novel was no masterpiece and yet sold by the hundredweight, it was the way it crowded out everything else, however good, however worthwhile. That book sucked the oxygen from the entire publishing and reading atmosphere. And I chose that analogy quite deliberately, because I think that sort of monopoly can make it next to impossible for anything else to survive, let alone thrive. Publishing a book is hard enough at the best of times, especially in an industry already far too fixated with Big Names and Sure Things, but what can an ordinary author do, up against such a Golgomath?

Lets get something straight, right from the beginning; publishing is a capitalist business, not a meritocracy. I understand this, and seldom even question the situation any more. If you publish use the tools you have at hand to sell more books. That’s the rule, that’s how it works. Right, wrong? That doesn’t matter.

Additionally, I’m not going to lay my neck down on the block and suggest that J.K. Rowling (or anyone else) stop writing, stop writing in my genre, or stop anything for that matter. Your success as a writer is your business. If you chose to tell the world about the details, good on ya.

Ultimately, I think that the foamy kerfuffle this article surfaced has a lot more to do with the way the big boys sell books than the quality of anyone’s writing. Per USA Today’s most up-to-date rating for THE CASUAL VACANCY saw a bump from not registering to #131 twenty-eight weeks after it was first listed coincidentally at the same time Shepherd published her story on HuffPost.

Shepherd goes on later in the opinion piece, but the whinge starts to gather mass and the reader is forced to ask the all to critical question “Why?”

The book dominated crime lists, and crime reviews in newspapers, and crime sections in bookshops, making it even more difficult than it already was for other books – just as well-written, and just as well-received – to get a look in. Rowling has no need of either the shelf space or the column inches, but other writers desperately do. And now there’s going to be a sequel, and you can bet the same thing is going to happen all over again.

I have to say that I’m happy for Rowling’s success. And why not, she must have worked hard enough to get where she is. Writing takes a lot of time and energy. She should be allowed to write books, just like the rest of us. Good or bad, however, it is the readers that should determine how much of our collective mind space her works take up, not very deep pockets and well refined marketing strategies.

And there is the problem, ad execs and publishing mavins, convinced that anything a Big Name writes will sell a forest’s worth of paper, are tripping all over themselves in the mad dash to sell, sell, sell. They can signal boost in a way that most of us can never hope for.

In doing so they have exposed their hand. The tell is in the fact that they can and do lavish such treatments on a few authors while ignoring so many more. And yeah, this sort of market manipulation hides so many other good works. But what can be done? Nothing, publishing is not a meritocracy.

What I Want

Recently, all-around good guy and SpecFic author Ramez Naam wrote a blog post Publishing – We’re All On the Same Side in which he outlines some observations about publishing, publishers and the people who write. At the end of this piece he writes “What I’d Like to See”.

In my dream world, what I’d love to see:

  • A little more acknowledgement on the self-pub side that traditional publishing has various advantages. Yes, it has downsides too. Yes, self-pub will be better in some situations. But the dialogue right now simply waves away the advantages to authors that can come with traditional publishing deals.
  • Fewer insults cast at self-pub books as a class, particularly on issues of quality and so on, from traditionally published authors. Really, unless your goal is to get people good and angry and harden their hearts, there’s very little point to this.
  • Less taking it personally on both sides. More compassion for and cheering on everyone who writes.

Well, I can keep dreaming, can’t I?

I really enjoyed this post and it further underscores my belief that there is a middle ground. The concept has been smoldering for a while now and the Shepherd piece just blew on it. So Mez, I hope you don’t mind, but I’m going to take a crack at this too.

For context, I am a self-published author and will likely continue to be so. I have published traditionally; a number of non-fiction, short pieces, but honestly, I don’t count these. And my fiction is weird enough that traditional publication would be a tremendous stroke of luck. That said, I am pragmatic person and writing is a career choice, so ultimately, I will publish the way that works best.

Without further adieu, my thoughts:

  • Writers get respect, yo!

    Fiction writers especially. Yeah, it’s hard. You’ll lose much sleep if you become a writer. Your conversations will become one dimensional explorations of story ideas you want to develop later. You’ll likely lose friends, for a vast variety of annoying reasons, while you’re bleeding on the page.

    Writing isn’t just a vocation, or a career choice. It’s a life style. An already unnecessarily complicated and problematic lifestyle. Like becoming a monk or a nun with about the same amount of sex. If you write, you deserve respect.

  • Stop the Whinge

    There is a lot, and I mean a lot, of envy in this business. Hell, I feel it too. At ConFusion I felt envy when John Scalzi talked about when he felt like he had made it. I too, would someday like to buy a tank of gas and not worry about where the money to buy it might be coming. I too would love to swim in a J.K Rowling sized swimming pool of cash (or more realistically, write checks to the charity of my choice with lots of digits).

    Every last one of us pours as much of their self into their work as they can afford. And that’s why, when it’s done and up on Amazon, we sit and wonder why we’re sitting at #374,097 on the Paid in Kindle Store while that worthless piece of fluff won’t release its death grip on #1.

    Ultimately, I know that it is going to take a much larger pile of words to get there. To get anywhere close to there. But the whinge does nothing to get anyone there. Bitching about someone else’s success, endlessly comparing your works to theirs, whining (often publicly) about whatever is a WASTE OF TIME.

  • Publishing is Publishing

    This might be a corollary to the previous bulleted item, but the fact remains. Publishing is publishing.

    I am super-fucking tired of the constant, low-grade squabble that goes on between the different parts of the published world. As Mez correctly points out more is better, and both parts of the community can contribute to each other. They should contribute to each other. The belief that one way or the other is somehow “better” is just ridiculous.

    Is traditional publishing working for you? That is awesome! Do you prefer the indie route to print? Let this stand as a virtual hug and pat on the back. Just getting work out there is hard enough. The “I poop on your publishing mode” attitude has got to go; it’s simian and base and it makes you look silly.

  • Be nice to one another

    This bears repeating. In fact, it should become a mantra. If you feel the urge to tear someone else down, even if they’ve just invested lots of time and effort in the destruction of another (see Shepherd), ask yourself “am I being nice?”

    It’s a truism that authors don’t really compete with one another. We mostly compete with people not reading, with them sitting on the couch, or watching television, or simply not knowing of anything good to read. I trust that most of the authors I know are supporters of other writers as a class, and that we want to see more people make the leap from “I have a book!” to “People are reading my book!” and even “I’m making a living off of people reading my book(s)!” as we did at one point (or may be in the process of doing).

    So let’s cheer each other on, and point to success, anywhere we see it.

  • What I’d like to see

    This is my dream world statement. It is also me being a hopeless optimist, publicly and without shame.

    • I’d love to see more inclusiveness from professional organizations such as The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. Guilds and Unions of yore did not increase their power and influence within their operating space by excluding a particular class of member. If there is a gateway for entry let it be legitimate. The SFWA bar for entry is antiquated at best and this hurts Science Fiction and Fantasy writers. All of ’em.All you need to be a full member of Romance Writers of America is the serious desire to pursue “a romance fiction writing career” and $95 a year. You get full benefits of membership (which are laudable) and voting rights. It makes me want to carve out time for at least one romance story a year (which would be crap I know, but still).

      Other professional organizations need to legitimize all parts of their slice of the pie. They need to do this quickly. When they do, they’ll see a huge bump in their membership and a precipitous drop in drama and ugliness.

    • More readers, yes, many more readers. And this isn’t just the self-interested sort of plea for you to be my reader. No, I think we need more readers.Guys, I’m a slow reader. I admit this because I know, in the past, it is the thing that has kept me from reading more. I’ve felt a fair amount of self-loathing and shame over this deficit.

      But stories are a critical and necessary part of our humanity. We have evolved to pass wisdom around using them. Your perfect story is out there. Whatever your handicap is – lack of time, slow reading, a crippling, misanthropic fear of overwhelming crowds in books stores – there is a ready made solution for you.

      It is my sincere belief that if more people read, even a little, every day (instead of relentlessly tuning into the boob tube or other distraction) the world as we know it would experience a dramatic and much needed shift toward the positive.

    • A lot more cross pollination. Meaning, if you read something you like SHOUT ABOUT IT. If you fear that the juggernaut hype machine of Big Ink is obscuring the voice of a really good writer you like than why are you letting that signal drown out that voice?There are ample options for feedback out there. Review the book on Amazon or GoodReads. Write a letter to the author. Tweet about your favorite read, or your last read. Tell someone at the coffee shop. The list of ready made options goes on and on. And every time you get someone else to ready, you’re cross pollinating.

      Or you could try and be really unique. Cause you’re hip and cool and your love of a story is also a sort of self-expression. Tattoo your devotion to a story on your hide. Name your child after a favorite character. Think outside the box, astound the masses, be awesome!

Little Red on Big Red Buckle

Let me tell you, as an author, this moment feels a lot like being made. Andrea Johnson, over at Little Red Reviewer, just reviewed my first book THE BIG RED BUCKLE. There is a lot in here that makes me happy with the book, especially bits like this.

THE BIG RED BUCKLE certainly has a lot that’s endurance sports related, but I saw it first as an underdog story, a story of honest teamwork and intelligence vs who can spend the most money on high tech equipment.”

Andrea isn’t a sports enthusiast. She probably had never heard of paragliding before reading THE BIG RED BUCKLE so it’s a special sort of glee I’m soaking in right now. She got my story. A full on grok, fully.

Despite the all the lingo, the weather geekery, and the story’s endurance sport roots it is still just a story about people. That made me a very happy author.

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Buy The Big Red Buckle

Interview: Andrea Johnson, Reader Primus

I met Andrea Johnson at Legendary ConFusion and over the course of a couple of days at the convention we had some exceptional conversations mostly about things science fiction. It turns out she blogs about science fiction, and I mean all of science fiction, starting with the really old stuff ranging up to the latest releases being considered for awards right now. After our impromptu introduction in the convention bar I went and read a handful of her reviews and let me say, if there can be such a thing as an expert opinion in Science Fiction, here she is.

So, it has been a few weeks since Legendary ConFusion and I’ve had some lingering questions I’ve wanted to ask. As an author I came away from ConFusion invigorated and ready to write another big chunk of words and those conversations with Andrea, or Reader Primus, had a lot to do with that.

I really hope you enjoy this interview with Andrea and when you’re done with it head on over to her blog Little Red Reviewer and see if you get inspired to read something new. Andrea has a lot of insight into the genre and some very good ideas.


MT Your biography makes me believe that you are sometimes in awe of other people’s prodigy. Yet your book reviews, I’ve read a few, lead me to the conclusion that you have a special aptitude all your own. I’ve started using your reviews to help me find new books to read and rethink some books I’ve previously read. What inspired you to become a book reviewer?

AJ I am completely in awe of other people’s prodigy. Anyone can come up with an idea that sounds cool, but it takes a talented writer to take that idea and mold it into a story that works. Thanks for your kind words about my reviews, when I first started my reviews were not very good! Reviewing is like anything – practice makes better. I’ve always been a big reader, I always had a paperback in my bookbag, always had library cards. And I wanted to talk about the books I enjoyed. A lot of my friends and co-workers read more mainstream fiction, so where else to talk about all the weird science fiction and fantasy I enjoy but online? I was part of a few scifi/fantasy forums for a couple of years, but found the reviewing blogosphere seemed a better fit for me. I wanted to be able to coherently and successfully talk about the genre, what I liked and didn’t like. I’d never been a good English student in high school, so writing reviews started as a sort of enforced practicing of applied research and written communication. Only way to get good at something is to do it a lot, right? Wow, when I put it like that, it sounds really boring! But it’s been very fun. I’m happy you’ve been enjoying the reviews.

MT It is no secret I am a huge fan of science fiction. There is a short list of authors that have inspired me to write in this genre. Who are your top three favorite science fiction books ?

I can only choose three?

DUNE by Frank Herbert – I read this for the first time in high school, and have been a Herbert fan ever since. I’ve read the entire series once or twice, and plan to do a reread (with reviews!) in 2014.

SIDESHOW by Sheri S. Tepper – Such a strange and wonderful story! There are aliens and conjoined twins and prophecies and dragons, and gods. Tepper’s newer books haven’t done much for me, but her older stuff I just adore.

USE OF WEAPONS by Iain M. Banks – I only recently discovered Banks’ Culture novels. He took space opera to a whole new level, and this particular one packs one helluva punch.

MT Why are these books important to you?

Those three books in particular pushed the envelope of what I thought was possible in science fiction. DUNE was probably the first adult science fiction book I read, so on nearly every page I was like “I didn’t know you could do that in a book!”. In my 20s I read that Tepper title for the first time, and it was the same reaction “I didn’t know you could do that! that’s awesome!”, and same again, for reading the Banks in my 30s “You can *do* that? Wicked!”.

And that’s what science fiction is all about – pushing the boundaries. That’s why I love it!

MT What are you reading right now that you enjoy?

AJ I just picked up ANNIHILATION by Jeff Vandermeer. I’ve been looking forward to this one since I first heard about it. Vandermeer is one of my favorite authors, I’m about half way through the novel and loving it. No one writes New Weird like Vandermeer, no one. Seriously, if you see his name on a book, pick it up!

I’m also reading The Book of Apex Vol 4, which is all the original fiction published in Apex Magazine during their fourth year. I don’t seem to do so well with magazine subscriptions, so finding these yearly volumes is just wonderful (Clarkesworld does one too). Apex publishes deliciously weird stuff, like you bite in and you think it’s going to taste like chocolate, but it tastes like apples instead. Suffice to say, I’m really enjoying this collection. Short fiction is wonderful, I can read one or two stories when I have 15 or 20 minutes here and there, and not feel any pressure to rush to the end of a chapter or worry about a cliffhanger.

I also have Gene Wolfe’s newest novel, THE LAND ACROSS, sitting here, and I’m looking forward to cracking it open when I finish the Vandermeer.

MT I met Andrea at Legendary ConFusion in January of 2014 where I had a great time and learned a lot. I’m curious to know, was there anything special that you took away from the convention? A unique experience, a great book, some inspiring words?

AJ It was great to meet you at ConFusion, wasn’t the con just a ton of fun? It’s the great secret of the midwest! I love their literary programming tracks, there’s always about 50 panels I want to go to, and realistically I can only go to maybe ten.

This was my third ConFusion, and every year it just gets better. In the past, I was always the “fan” who shyly wanders up to the author’s autograph table and mumbles all in one breath “Hi I love your books will you sign this oh my gosh you’re so cool” and then wanders away with a dazed look because I just got a super hero’s autograph. We’ve all be starstruck, we’ve all been there. This year I was still pretty starstruck, but I’d finally grown past being a goofy-fan. I’d finally turned into that person who can have completely normal conversations with authors, because they are like, completely normal people, who are also fans and enjoy talking about books and movies they liked. Being allowed to be part of that social scene was pretty amazing for me. I feel like I’ve snuck into a private club without an invitation.

MT Are you planning on going to any other conventions this year?

The plan is pretty ambitious, we’ll have to see how far the bank account can stretch:

AnimeMidwest is in Chicago in early July, and then DetCon1 is a little later that month in Detroit. I had a marvelous time at ConText in Columbus OH last September, so am hoping to attend that one again. We’re hoping to attend either Origins or GenCon as well. I write the Convention Attention post over at SFSignal, so the more varied conventions I can learn about, the better.

MT It takes a lot of effort, a fair amount of time, and some cold hard cash to attend conventions. Why is convention culture important to you?

AJ I recommend not looking at your hotel bill or debit card statement after attending a convention. But seriously, there’s a reason I stick to conventions that are close to where I live, because this hobby ain’t cheap! I actually wrote an article on tips for budgeting for convention trips a while ago.

Convention Culture is important to me because it’s often the only way to get face to face interactions. Communicating on twitter or over e-mail is great, but nothing beats face to face. Conventions are very casual meeting places, panel discussions often go off on the most fascinating tangents and continue later, everyone is welcome, and everyone is there to have a good time and talk to people who enjoy the same genres. I feel like everyone is on equal footing there. You can just strike up a conversation with anyone about D&D, or Redshirts, or Doctor Who, or Game of Thrones, or costumes, or whatever. I’ve had the most amazing conversations perusing the “free stuff” table and giving and getting book recommendations. I can’t think of a better way to become active in the genre community than attending a local convention. Many of them offer workshops for writers as well.

MT At ConFusion I heard you say something similar to “I’m not a writer, I’m just a blogger.” Is there a distinction between the two, if so what separates these labels?

AJ There is a distinction, and I’ve been thinking about this for a while. In casual conversation at another convention I attended, it dawned on me that I was the only non-writer in the group. Everyone was talking about short stories they’d sold, novels they were working on, discussions with editors, etc. And then it came around to me, and I said “oh, I write stuff, but I’m not a writer.”

Writers are the creators, bloggers are the sometimes critics, the sometimes gatekeepers, we’re a feedback mechanism of sorts. You create the magic, we just observe it and often pass judgement on it. Your name is printed on a real book that people will see, my name is just electrons in WordPress’s server. Writers are the ones taking all the risks, they’re the ones sitting at the typewriter and bleeding. It’s important to me that I differentiate myself as a “non-writer”, because I’m not putting myself out there, I’m not making myself vulnerable. I got the easy gig.

MT As an independent author I routinely hear and read about all the “trash” that Indies are putting out there. Your review resume contains a sizable collection from both the Indie and traditional side of publishing world. Do you think that this judgement is a fair representation of this publishing dichotomy?

AJ It’s not a fair judgement, as traditional publishers put out plenty of garbage too. But I do need to correct you: the majority of my review list is traditional published works, with perhaps 10% or less being small press or self published.

Self publishing is still very new, and I love that it’s now going both ways: traditional publishers are signing authors who did very well as self published, and traditionally published authors are self publishing titles their publisher doesn’t want to buy. It’s very unfortunate that self published works got a bad reputation for a while for being badly edited and formatted, but I feel this has vastly improved in the last few years. A paradigm shift is always frightening for the old guard, so it’s understandable to me that plenty of people are nervous about indie authors. But I’m happy to see more and more book bloggers out there who specialize in reviewing indie books. there’s a great database of such bloggers here: http://www.theindieview.com/indie-reviewers/

MT Do you have favorite cover artists? Any particular cover you love? If so, who are they and what about their cover work appeals to you?

AJ Recently I fell hard for Julie Dillon’s cover of SILENTLY AND VERY FAST by Catherynne Valente, Todd Lockwood’s cover for A NATURAL HISTORY OF DRAGONS by Marie Brennan, and while the books haven’t really done it for me, I’d love to have poster sized prints of Donato Giancola’s cover art for Elizabeth Bear’s ETERNAL SKY books. Couldn’t tell you specifically what drew me in to these pieces, but when I see them, I can’t help but touch them. The Dillon and the Giancola especially, I feel like I could fall right in.

MT Do you prefer paper books, audio books, or ebooks? What about this particular medium important to you?

AJ Paper all the way. I have a kindle and have read a few novels and anthologies on it (I mostly use it for slush reading), and I enjoy short story podcasts, but yeah, paper all the way. Reading is a fully sensory experience for me. Ingrained into my experience of the story is the weight of the book, the texture of the pages, if it’s an old fragile book that’s falling apart, or if it’s a brand new book where the ink comes up on my fingers and I’m using the purchase receipt as a bookmark. When I think about books I enjoy, I can’t help but also think about my physical interaction with the book in which the story was contained. With e-readers, I lose that sensory experience. However, have you *seen* THE WEIRD COMPENDIUM edited by the Vandermeers? That thing is ridiculously massive! no question about it, e-readers were made for things like that. How else am I gonna read it in the bathtub?

MT I’m curious to know when we can see some stories from you. Do you have anything in the works? Ideas contentedly bubbling on a back burner? Is there a story that you would like to read, but don’t want to write?

AJ Probably never. I’m not a writer, remember? 😉 I don’t see myself as disciplined enough to start that project and finish it. That said, there is a funny little idea that’s been swimming around in the back of my head for the last year or so. I’ve always had an affinity for trees, and I went through a difficult period in early 2013, when I lost two people in quick succession who were important to me. The  story is a strange mash up of trees, and mourning, and hopefulness, and ritual. In the culture of some planet somewhere, when you die, you are buried with a tree sapling in your mouth. The tree grows, and takes your cells with it as it grows tall. These aren’t magic trees or anything, there are no ghosts, no one has any illusions about what’s going on, but the planet is covered in these beautiful forests where people go to visit their dead relatives. The forest is the cemetery, but it’s so full of life – trees, birds, animals, a whole ecology that’s only possible because people die. When the tree eventually gets really big it’s cut down and furniture or small art objects are made from the wood, and given to the descendants so they can take a piece of great-great-great-Grandpa or whoever with them when they leave the planet. The residents of the planet always come home to die. Kind of melancholy but romantic – maybe a chess board is made from the wood of the trees of a couple who were married for a hundred years. Maybe the four legs of a table are all made from siblings. I don’t see it as morbid, I see it as one way a culture could honor their dead.

Is there a story I would like to read, but don’t want to write? That one. Because while I think it’s a pretty idea, all I have is a static idea. I have absolutely no idea what actually *happens* in the story.

After Action Report: Cover Words & Formatting

I had never previously considered all the extra parts that you must necessarily write, edit, and have at hand when you publish a book. And in hind sight this is something any Indie should be ready to deal with, and have a plan to manage.

Blurbs

These are short, one or two sentence, “reviews” that get appended to the story cover and to book descriptions. At release date you could have powered a zero-point singularity generator with the amount I had. It was not something I was considering, and while I knew they existed, it was in the way a Toyota owner knows that there are American made cars out there.

After ConFusion I am interested in gaining a couple of these. My timeline is open, so there is no rush. The idea is to have them in my pocket and ready to use by the time I’ve got a book or two to package together. Sooner is, of course better, so if you’d like to blurbThe Big Red Buckle” let me know and I’ll get it out on Amazon right away.

Cover Description

This is a short description of the story meant to sell the work. It has to catch the eye while not giving away the story. While at ConFusion I was able to get a little feedback on what appears on the kindle book description and the back cover of the paperback.

For Marco Aguilar, just being at the race’s starting line represents the culmination of two years of careful preparation and training. He feels a momentary pang of guilt knowing that his wife Emma has carried their family while his focus has been elsewhere. But he also knows that winning the Grand Martian Traverse is a shared decision, not just his goal.

Petrus Mandel is a novice endurance sport athlete hoping to soar alongside Aguilar to greatness. He suspects Aguilar may have a solution to traversing the gaping expanse between the distant shield volcanoes and must face his fears and follow his curiosity.

Together, these two Martian-born endurance athletes run and soar in the solar system’s greatest race.

Humanity has survived environmental and atmospheric calamity and begun to move out into the stars. Sport still plays a vital role in our day-to-day affairs. The Big Red Buckle recounts an episode of a single-stage endurance race held between two shield volcanoes on a Mars that is slowly being terraformed. Participants must run and soar over 1,500 kilometers while the solar system watches.

I need to cut this down, it is far too long for its mission and I agree it gives up too much of the story, killing the reader’s anticipation. I’ve reconsidered this bit of sales information and plan on replacing it as soon as my first Amazon Kindle Count Down Deal is completed.

Humanity has survived environmental and atmospheric calamity and begun to move out into the stars. Sport still plays a vital role in our day-to-day affairs. The Big Red Buckle recounts an episode of a single-stage endurance race held between two shield volcanoes on a Mars that is slowly being terraformed. Participants must run and soar over 1,500 kilometers while the solar system watches.

For Marco Aguilar, just being at the starting line represents the culmination of two years of careful preparation and training. He aims to win the Grand Martian Traverse, and take home The Big Red Buckle for himself and for native Martians.

Notice that it is essentially the same thing, only less of the same. There is a little bit of setting given, important to the story, and the focus is on the main protagonist, Marco Aguilar.

Paperback Formatting

I have come to realize that I probably need some help with this. For the most part I was able to take care of most of the formatting issues before CreateSpace got the manuscript, but I also know I missed a couple of things (or maybe they were introduced when I uploaded).

I will reiterate my feature plea to 180g. I would pay extra if they would integrate with CreateSpace and convert manuscripts to print format in selected trim size. And I suspect there would be a lot of other Indies that would do the same if we had a one-stop option for conversion. Want a selling point that no one has yet immitated? There you go. If I worked there and noticed this kind of request it would be a top priority for next release. Got that? Top priority!

Conclusion

So, I suspect that these all fall into the “unforeseen nuisance” category, but they are all also important polish that should be there. I know that now, and I’ll move to correct them as soon as possible. There are a number of people I should thank for helping me sort these things out, but in particular J.C. Daniels/Shiloh Walker deserves special mention.

Paperback: The Big Red Buckle

The paperback includes Joulupukki short story bonus

This afternoon, when Aral and I returned from our dailies, there was a box on the step. Wow! I sure am excited about the results. I ordered twenty copies of my own book because reasons. The first of which is to send a copy to those who have helped and encouraged me along the way. Second, because I’m at least a little vain and I wanted to see it in print all on its own. And third, because I want to exchange a free read for reviews.

So here is the deal, I will mail you a free copy of my book “The Big Red Buckle” in exchange for the following.

  • A blog review of my book: so you need to have a blog. It would be better if you wrote regularly and even had a few followers. Make sure to include a link to your blog and the current number of subscribers you have when you send me your email. Hoping to see some critical reviews here and you’re welcome to link back to http://feetforbrains.com as long as you don’t mind me linking to your blog.
  • A summary review of “The Big Red Buckle” at Amazon.com: just asking for a paragraph or two on Amazon.
  • Optional – Cross post Review on Goodreads: You don’t have to write anything new, but if you choose to post your Amazon review on Goodreads, you’d be helping me out.

What do you need to do to get your signed copy of “The Big Red Buckle” for free? That’s easy. Send me an email with the following information in it, by next Monday, the 13th of January.

  • Your name and physical address (I need this to mail you a copy)
  • Your blog DNS, and approximate subscription numbers
  • Your Amazon alias (so I can follow up)

I will collect names and send copies out on Tuesday the 14th. My supply of free-for-review copies is limited, but apparently so is my fan base. Good luck my friends.