Archive for the 'Writing' Category

Sep 01 2020

What a Long, Strange Summer it’s Been

Published by under T-Space,Uncategorized,Writing

One would think that, what with so much being closed, I’d have finished at least one of the books I was working on in the spring. Alas, things rarely go according to plan (see below), but I have made progress.

My son Robert (the paleontologist) came home for spring break, and, because of covid closures, ended up staying until mid-June. He was able to teach his classes (he’s a TA while studying for his master’s at Oklahoma) online, and some of the rest of the time he helped me with more brainstorming and world building T-Space. We pinned down many of the planetary system details, drew maps, and discussed back-story. Some of that information has made it to the T-Space wiki, and more will be showing up as the story lines develop.

Late June and early July found me increasingly tired, wanting to take long mid-day naps, and making it difficult for me to concentrate on writing. I put it down partly to summer blahs, until a casual pulse-ox test started alerting because my pulse was too slow. How slow? Thirty beats per minute. After a few days of trying to figure out what the problem was, (well, I knew it was bradycardia, but that’s a label, not a cause), I called the doctor. (Okay, yes, I should have done that sooner.) She told me to get myself to an emergency room, stat.

Less than two hours after showing up in the ER, I was being wheeled into surgery to have a pacemaker installed. Turns out that, loosely speaking, the top half of my heart was not communicating with the bottom half, and thirty BPM was essentially the emergency fall-back setting my heart beats at when not being told otherwise. The pacemaker (mine, anyway; there are different kinds) detects the signal that’s trying to make my heart beat faster, and directs it to the rest of my heart muscle. So I’m now part cyborg. (It’s programmable, with the right setup, and it will, via a bedside relay, periodically report back to the mother ship to let them know I’m still alive, so I guess I’ve been assimilated. Resistance was futile.)

Anyway, I felt much better after that. Just in time to work on taxes before the extended deadline. (Not just mine, but also those of my two sons to see if they still qualified as dependents. Spoiler: they don’t.) So then I could get back to work on the novels, right?

Not so fast. There was an anthology deadline coming up, and though I knew what story I was planning to submit, I hadn’t actually written it. I wasn’t too worried. Eight thousand words should have been easy, I started out writing short stories. (Several of my Analog sales were under a thousand words each.) However, for the past several years, I’ve been writing novels, not shorts, and this would be potentially reaching folks who had never heard of T-Space or of Carson and Roberts (yes, they’re in the story). It was running long, too long. I threw out the first two thousand words and started over again. Then trimmed it and polished it. I’m rather pleased with the result. More about that when I can say more.

Meanwhile, it didn’t help that while in the hospital, they’d changed my meds, and a side effect of two of the new prescriptions was fatigue and somnolence. I was still struggling to stay awake. That’s since been sorted out, changing my meds yet again, and I’m getting back into my old writing routine. Over 2,500 words yesterday, split between two novels, and on track for the same today. It’s also looking like I can split out another short story from a scene I’m writing for Downhill Slide. I’d like to do more of this in future, creating short stories I can give away to my newsletter subscribers, separately from the novels. We’ll see.

Barring unforseen events, I should still have two new books out this year, as well as some bonus goodies that I’ll talk more about later.

Meanwhile, how did you spend your summer vacation?

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Apr 28 2020

Still healthy, still writing

Published by under T-Space,Writing

Just a short update in these interesting times. So far I’m staying healthy, but then I’ve hardly been out in nearly two months. That’s more or less normal for me anyway these days, except for convention season. Although, I’m probably spending more time on Facebook than I should. 😉

I have several writing projects on the go. Isaac Asimov reportedly kept four different typewriters, each with a different book, story or article in progress. To take a break from one project, he’d move to another. I’m not quite that dedicated, and files on a computer are easier to manage than multiple typewriters. But it does help to have different books at different stages.

As to specifics, my next book, Kakuloa: The Downhill Slide is over halfway to a completed first draft. After the events of A Rising Tide, the Kakuloa economy is booming. Parry Cohen’s resort is a success, the Bimini Bay mines are in operation, and the tree squids are staying out of the squidberry farms. There’s also an orbital shipyard under construction. But of course, there’s trouble in paradise, including a mysterious murder, problems at the mine, and hints of something odd on the other side of the planet from Krechet’s Landing. Administrator Blake has his hands full, and James Watson, a former Detective-Inspector from Scotland Yard, is experiencing culture shock as he adapts to life on a frontier planet while trying to solve the murder. I hope to have ready for release this summer.

The other big project (there are others, you’ll hear about those when there’s more to report) is a new trilogy similar to Alpha Centauri but focusing on Delta Pavonis. (This is set decades before The Pavonis Insurgence.) In the first volume, Delta Pavonis: Discovery, Paul Fabron, the college-aged son of a high-tech billionaire, acquires the mothballed ship Jules Verne, built (but not used) for the first Alpha Centauri expedition. He refits it, and he and his crew set out to investigate the mysterious green planet orbiting Delta Pavonis, ignored until then because, from ten light years away, it didn’t look terraformed. Even if it is (no surprise if you’ve read any of the Carson & Roberts stories), getting there is half the fun. And there are still surprises. The follow-on volumes are Delta Pavonis: Exploration and Delta Pavonis: Settlement (all are working titles, they may change). I want to do a rapid release of all the volumes in the trilogy, so look for them in the fall.


Oh, and speaking of Delta Pavonis, the trade paperback version of The Pavonis Insurgence is now available from Amazon (as is the ebook), and through other outlets soon.

So, how are you all doing in these times? Post a comment below, or visit me on Facebook.

2 responses so far

Mar 23 2020

Living in interesting times

Published by under Conventions,T-Space,Writing

Things have certainly been interesting over the last month, and continue to be so. I haven’t been personally impacted much — I was already working from home, and my kids have all moved out — although I am wondering how my planned con attendance will be reduced. I did make it to the Writing Superstars and LTUE (Life, the Universe, and Everything) conferences in February. They were both a lot of fun, and I got invites to write some non-T-Space stories for a new anthology and an ongoing series. (More about that when appropriate.) But Starfest 2020 is postponed, and other conventions will be too. I hope things settle out in time for MileHiCon in October, and for 20Books-Vegas in November.

But, much as I enjoy meeting old fans and making new ones at conventions, I already do much of my business and social interaction on-line. So, three things: a new book (“finally!” I can hear some of you saying), price drops, and a free offer from Amazon.

Free Kindle Unlimited offer: The following promo gives you two months of free Kindle Unlimited: AmazonPromoLink For those of you unfamiliar with KU, it’s a subscription service giving you access to thousands of books, including all of my T-Space novels, as fast as you can read them. (The regular price is $9.99/month, so this is a $19.98 value — or considerably more if you’re a fast reader.)

Temporary Price Drop: For my part, I am lowering prices on my books over the next week. [updated] Countdown deals on the first four “Carson and Roberts” novels start at 6am (Denver time, 5am Pacific, 8am Eastern) Saturday 28 March. Price drops to 0.99 each, through the end of the month (Tuesday night), then ramps back to full price over the following few days. The timing is an Amazon limit. (Alas, due to printing and shipping costs, I can only do this for ebooks.)

The Pavonis Insurgence: Yes, the long-awaited sequel to both The Eridani Convergence and The Centauri Surprise is finally available (for pre-order now, live on or before March 31). This book picks up Jordan Burnside’s story as of the end of Eridani, and that of Carson and Roberts as of the end of Centauri Surprise. This is a long one, almost 20-percent longer than The Centauri Surprise (and a few pages shy of Kakuloa: A Rising Tide). It concludes some of the plot threads started way back in the first Carson & Roberts book, The Chara Talisman.

Writing the last couple of books in this series has made me realize that I had let things get too tangled — that’s one reason the sequel to The Eridani Convergence became two books instead of one 150,000-word monster (I write science-fiction, dang it, not epic fantasy! [grin]). Going forward, Carson and Roberts (and we’ll see Marten the timoan again) will follow the trail of the pyramid-building Spacefarers and the mysterious Kesh in one series; Rico, Burnside, and others will be tackling the Velkaryans in another. This will both help preserve my own sanity, and let me release volumes more quickly to keep readers happy. And never mind what Dr. Egon Spengler said; I’ll cross the streams from time to time.

Now, wash your hands, stay home if you can, and go read a book. 😉

One response so far

Jan 14 2020

COSine 2020 and other news

Published by under Conventions,T-Space,Writing

A few quick announcements of upcoming conventions and books. First, this coming weekend (Jan. 17-19) I will be at COSine 2020 in Colorado Springs, both on panels and in the dealers’ room.. My panels are “Hard sci-fi” (Saturday, 9am), “When are we going back to the Moon?” (Saturday, 1pm), and “Space and private industry” (Sunday, 2pm). I will also be part of the Author Reception and Mass Autographing on Saturday at 5:30pm. Come on by!

Upcoming conventions include the Life, The Universe, and Everything (LTUE) symposium, Feb. 13-15 in Provo, Utah. I’ve been wanting to get to this one for a while, and this year my friend and co-author Brad Torgersen (on “Strobe Effect” in Analog too many years ago) is Author Guest of Honor. I’ll just be attending this one, I’m not on any panels, but if you’re there and see me, feel free to stop me and say “hi”.

I’m also planning on StarFest in Denver, May 1-3, with both a table and (I hope) panels. Stay tuned.

As far as books go, The Pavonis Insurgence is still fighting to be finished. I’ve revised it a couple of times because I wasn’t happy with it. I started this novel two years ago now, although I did spin off some of that as The Centauri Surprise last fall. I want it done just as much as some of you do (grin). It marks a turning point in both the Carson & Roberts story, and the general T-Space story arc, so I want to get it right. It will definitely be out in time for StarFest, and probably for pre-order before LTUE.

I also have about 50,000 words of other T-Space books done, although that’s split across the next Kakuloa novel and a new trilogy (probably) based on the discovery and exploration of Verdigris at Delta Pavonis. These both introduce some new characters. There are a few other things in the works too, more about those later.

Oh, and happy New Year!

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Dec 10 2019

An Excess of Exoplanets

Published by under Astronomy,Writing

In the course of doing research and fact-checking for the imminent release of The Pavonis Insurgence and a new in-progress series (probably a trilogy) set in early T-Space (the same era as the Kakuloa series), I came across a recent, and fascinating, paper by a veritable laundry list of authors (Tuomi, et al.), titled “Frequency of planets orbiting M dwarfs in the Solar neighbourhood.”

M dwarfs, also called red dwarfs, are the most common type of star in our galaxy. The authors of the paper surveyed and analyzed data from many studies, covering 426 nearby stars and a total of 118 probable planets. They further analyzed this to come up with an average: an impressive 2.39 exoplanets per red dwarf, (although that could be (on average) anywhere from 1.03 to 6.97, again per star).

The numbers are probably different for different types of stars (like our own yellow G type), but my guess (and it is just a guess) is that the larger the star, the more planets it is likely to have, simply because there was more material in the original nebula. Now, that is complicated by gravitational effects of binary and multiple star systems, which tend to slingshot stuff out of the system, and with the formation of gas giants, which can do likewise. But still, we’re talking about averages.

Anyway, the paper got me thinking (always dangerous). At several cons now, I have given presentations that either briefly discussed exoplanets, or were entirely about exoplanets. Maybe I should write a book…. There are several books on exoplanets out there, but they are necessarily dated (it’s a rapidly changing field) and none (from what I’ve seen) target the audience I’m thinking of, most folks who want to know more about the science behind science fiction, both the readers and the writers. (For you astronomers out there, you’re not “most folks”, grin.)

Anyway, just a vague heads-up. No specific release plans yet, but I’m thinking summer of 2020, maybe around the time we start getting results from the CHEOPS bird (CHaracterising ExOPlanets Satellite) due to launch later this month. Meanwhile, I have science fiction books to finish.

Next time you look up at the stars at night (and for best results, do this away from the city where the skies are dark), consider that almost every one of those points of light has one or more planets orbiting it. Do you really think we’re alone?

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Nov 27 2019

Alpha Centauri trilogy updated, more coming.

Published by under T-Space,Writing

With the success of the refresh of my earlier Carson & Roberts books, we have done the same with my Alpha Centauri trilogy (First Landing, Sawyer’s World, and The Return). This includes another edit pass to catch any lingering typos and clean up a few Britishisms, a reformat to improve the interior appearance, and a refresh on the covers. (The cover change is less drastic than than for the other books, mostly just a font change. The new covers are below.) So far this only affects the Kindle edition. The updates to the paper editions (with new ISBNs) will be done soon.

All this is preparatory to issuing all three books in a combined omnibus (or “boxed set”) edition. There won’t be an actual box even for the paper copies, production costs are just too high to be worthwhile. I plan to include some bonus material in the omnibus, things like maps and a few illustrations. Target release date is mid-December.

Work on The Pavonis Insurgence is almost complete, but we’re pushing the release back until after Christmas to give more editing time. A new series, centering around the first landings in and exploration of the Delta Pavonis system, is also under way, as is the next book in the Kakuloa series. More to come!

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Aug 02 2019

MALCon is coming, and more

Published by under Conventions,T-Space,Writing

The seventh Denver area Myths & Legends Convention (MALCon) is coming up, August 9-11 at the Radisson Denver-Aurora. I will be on a bunch of panels, mostly on the Saturday (along with autographing sessions) and one Sunday. It should be a lot of fun. If you’re in the area, come on out. I may have a few giveaways at my presentations.

Also, number four in the Carson & Roberts archeology series, The Centauri Surprise is available now for pre-order. Release date is August 20. It turns out Rico is alive, although he’s not sure just where; Carson finally gets to talk to Peter Finley (you may remember him from Alpha Centauri: Sawyer’s World — he’s not dead yet) about “Pete’s Peak”; and Homeworld Security is getting increasingly nervous about the Velkaryans.

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Jul 02 2019

Spikecon, and Carson & Roberts refresh

Published by under Conventions,T-Space,Writing

I’ll be heading to Spikecon in Layton, Utah, for a prolonged July 4th weekend. I have panels on Thursday and Friday, check the online schedule.

Today also marks the beginning of the refresh of my Carson & Roberts archeology adventures in T-Space. The three existing novels are getting all new covers, plus an edit pass to clean up a few typos but mostly to remove some British usage in the language that was inconsistent with my later novels. The e-books are being re-released first, starting with The Chara Talisman with new paper editions coming later in July. Also coming in July will be The Centauri Surprise, (currently in edit), which follows The Eridani Convergence, and then The Pavonis Insurgence.

Above, samples of the new covers.

UPDATE: The updated versions are all now live. Click the images for links to the books’ pages on Amazon. The Centauri Surprise is now available for pre-order.

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Jun 11 2019

An eBook Sampler

Published by under Writing

I have decided to make my collection of short stories, A Sampler, available as an e-book. I’m not sure why I didn’t do it before, but until now (it just went live on Amazon) it has only been available in paperback. If you’ve already bought the hardcopy from Amazon, you should be able to download the e-book free thanks to their Matchbook program, otherwise it’s 99 cents.

This includes my very first T-Space story, “Into the Fire,” and an excerpt from Alpha Centauri: First Landing, but the rest is a mixed bag of stories that have appeared in Analog and elsewhere.

Enjoy!

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Jun 08 2019

Relaunch, refresh, and new releases

Published by under T-Space,Writing

So May was a hectic month, between my two youngest graduating college (on the same day, 700 miles apart), attending the SFWA Nebulas conference, and ferrying one son to the six-week geology field camp that, for whatever reason, the university scheduled for after graduation even though it’s a requirement. Only about 12,000 words written on the new novels, but also I got some editing in and even, for the first time in years, got a couple of short stories out to seek homes in the magazines.

Speaking of words written and new releases, The Centauri Surprise is almost ready for final edit. I’d like to release it the beginning of July, with next one, The Pavonis Insurgence, following some time in August. I’ll post a more complete and definitive release schedule as details firm up. Also, look for Kakuloa: The Downhill Slide later this year. (Ideally, I’d like to have Kakuloa: Crash and Burn out this year too. All of the above are in various stages of progress, so it could happen.)
New Chara Talisman cover
Before that, though, I will be relaunching the existing Carson & Roberts novels (The Chara Talisman, The Reticuli Deception, and The Eridani Convergence) with new covers (I can hear several of you cheering as I write that) and some minor revisions.
The latter is mostly just typo cleanup, but there are a couple of inconsistencies that crept into the overall timeline when I wasn’t looking. For example, the Belize wreckage found at the end of Reticuli makes more sense in 2122, not 2123. Also, the name Flora for hurricanes was retired after 1963, so I’ll probably rename it Fiona. That’s a minor detail of no story importance, it just offends my OCD now that I’m aware of it. The new covers will look something like the one above. I’ll post another update with all of them soon.

With the change to the title font, the Alpha Centauri series covers should also be refreshed, so that will likely happen sometime this summer.

I’m also toying with the idea of boxed sets for the Alpha Centauri trilogy and the first three Carson & Roberts books. Not literal boxed sets, of course (very hard to do with modern publishing), but rather all three books collected into a single e-book volume for sale at a lower price. Stay tuned.

Let me know what you think of the proposed new covers, boxed sets (omnibus editions), or anything else.

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