All I Gots Time For Is Bullets . . . .

– Hi!

– There’s whole bunches of stuff to catch you up on, so I’m turning down the effervescent charm and wit, turning up the maximum information flow (while still remaining effervescently witty and charming.  Handsome too.  It’s a curse).

A Sword Into Darkness has now topped over 200 reviews on Amazon and sits at 4.5 stars overall with 123 5-stars and 58 4-stars, alongside a whole buncha real nice write-ups between ’em.  If you needed an excuse to get yourself a copy, that’s a pretty good one.  I’m still continually surpised about the folks that are reluctant to give it a try because of its indie-published beginnings.  It’s good, folks.  Trust the hoi polloi.

– Speaking of good, I just listened to the first half of the A Sword Into Darkness audiobook from ACX and Will Perez of Sci-Fi Publishing, and it’s like experiencing a brand new story.  It really comes alive, and even though I wrote the damned thing, it’s like I’m just discovering it.  If you’ve read it, but haven’t heard it, you gotta!  And if you haven’t read it or lent it to your friends, ummm, see the bullet above.

REMO continues to chug right along, though it has not had the explosion of popularity that ASID had.  Is it because it’s short stories?  A relatively short collection?  Not as much advertising as ASID had from third parties?  I dunno.  It has gotten great reviews (4.8 stars in 6 reviews) on Amazon, but it has not made it above 7000 in sales ranking yet.  It has more than paid for the investment in its cover from 99Designs, so I’m happy about that, but I would love for it to do ASID numbers.  If you haven’t tried it out, I urge you to give it a shot, or to recommend it to your friends.  And I’m also producing an audiobook on ACX for it as well, with the talented Heidi Mattson of VO Hollywood reading.  It would make your perfect commute companion!

REMO remains Amazon Kindle exclusive, but ASID has turned out to be a dirty little book that gets around to all the e-book sites.  Shameful.  But apparently the elder book has been a bad influence on the innocent story collection, and they will soon both cheapen themselves for all the world to see in an internet wide sale!  I am shocked and you should be too.  In fact, you should tell all of your friends about it and urge everyone to get their own copies during the sale so you can tell them youself how dissapointed you are that such good books would just put themselves on the streets for a mere 99¢.  More details to follow.

– In other news (and these are the reasons I’ve been so busy), I’m waiting on the approval draft of “The Rememberists” for Daily Science Fiction, I’ve gotten a commitment from Baen on “Bumped” if I make some revisions, and I’ve completed the first draft of “The Commuter” for the Baen Fantasy Adventure Short Story competition.  For Stealth Books, I’ve also reviewed and blurbed Graham Brown’s latest SF masterpiece, and I’m working through John Monteith’s latest Rogue sub-thriller.  On top of that, I’m still working on the ASID tabletop game and app with Nathaniel Torson of Jabberwocky Media.  Then there’s life (Don’t Talk To Me About LIFE . . . .) where my brave, strong, and beautiful wife keeps kickin’ cancer’s ass and staying busy, and my three kids are ALL in baseball and softball, each of which have both simultaneous and consecutive games in different locations.  Plus work at my unspecified Day Job, which eats about 14-16 hours a day.

– What this means is, I have not yet made progress on Lancers Into the Light or on Co-Pilot, but I pledge to!  Soon(ish)!!

– Congrats to Ancillary Justice for winning the Nebula!  I gotta read that one to see what all the hubbub is about.  Best of luck to it and all the upcoming Hugo nominees, though I’m pulling for a Larry Correia and a Brad Torgerson win.

– Final note about goings on, I got to spend an afternoon with Chris Kennedy, author of Janissaries and When the Gods Aren’t Gods,  at the Virginia Beach Central Public Library’s AMAZING event devoted to their new Local Author collection.  It was a pleasure to donate books both for the collection and to circulate, as well as to meet so many great local authors and small press publishers.  A good time was had by all and I really look forward to doing it again next year.  If you live in the Hampton Roads area, I urge you to go and check out ALL the books!

– And that’s about it.  I obviously don’t understand the concept behind brief, bulletized statements.  I have a problem.  Pity me!

– Toodles!

MAYDAY, MAYDAY, MAYDAY!! *

Emergency, Loyal Readers!  A Sword Into Darkness has escaped the confines of the Amazon Kindle and has been seen getting some Nook-ie over at Barnes and Noble, but no one over there knows ASID like you or I do.  To them, ASID is just this mysterious stranger, perhaps there to increase the quality of their catalog, perhaps there to punch out the literary fiction bestseller, have its way with the romance blockbuster, and steal the children’s books’ lunch money.  They just don’t know how awesome and deserving a time ASID is, and I need your help to tell them!

So, if you’ve been waiting to get A Sword Into Darkness when it became available on epub, or you’re a die-hard Barnes and Noble supporter, or you love the Nook devices or apps, NOW is the time to buy and read and enjoy some hard SF, military sci-fi, space opera, technothriller adventure goodness!  (And then leave a review to let all the more timid readers know.)

Or if you’ve already read ASID when it was exclusive to Kindle (there’s about 15,000 of you, tee-hee!), and you want to share your experience with the purveyors of that Other Big Book-seller, then by all means, log into Barnes and Noble and leave a new review, Or, for those 171 reviewers who have given me an average 4.5 stars on Amazon, if you are an uber-fan, you can re-review me all over again for the competition (a forlorn hope, I realize).  Honest reviews are appreciated, effusive praise is adored.

ASID is also available on Smashwords now as well, but the file transfer and formatting over there is just NASTY.  I don’t recommend that one yet.  The use a file converter they call the Meatgrinder to turn your manuscript into an ebook, and it is notoriously un-user friendly.  I would pull it completely, but they offer dire warnings against doing that.  I’m trying to get the file fixed and replaced, but work/life has intervened, so I’ll get to it when able.  Soon, though.  I promise.

In other news, REMO has enjoyed modest sales over on Amazon Kindle Direct.  It’s been up for about a week, sold about a 100 copies, and until late last night, had not gotten any reviews.  Mr. Tom Walsh so loved “Dogcatcher Blues” that he left a little 5-star care package for me on that story alone!  Thank you, sir.  I’m so glad you enjoyed it.  But I do need more reviews there.  It is harder, I think, to sell people on an unknown author’s short story collection or anthology than it is to just sell ’em a full novel.  So:  buy REMO, read REMO, review REMO.  Purty please.

Aaaand, lastly, Baen Books has announced a new Fantasy Adventure Short Story contest to coincide with GENCON, so I’m a-gonna enter!  This will be my first try at fantasy in YEARS, but I think I have a good and unique story idea.  We’ll see if they agree!

Until later, Happy Reading, y’all.

* Yes, I am fully aware that this is posting on May 2, and not on May Day as originally intended.  Life — in the form of a 16 hour work day and a signing appointment at the car dealership THAT WOULD NOT END — conspired to upset my plans.  I am, however, committed to the bit, so please, just roll with it.

New Military Sci-Fi, Now Available From Stealth Books!

Greetings, Readers!

For those of you out there who are visiting for the first time, Hi, my name is Thomas A. Mays, or just Tom, and I write stuff.  You might (but probably haven’t) seen a short story or two of mine out there, or you may have seen or picked up a copy of my book A Sword Into Darknesswhich — for an indie — has been selling like hotcakes and garnering a lot of praise from readers just like you.  A lot of those Amazon reviewers have been clamoring for more, and while the book is going wide, out on Audible and going to e-pub devices here in the next couple of weeks, the sequel is still several months off.

I do, however, have some actual new material for you!  Launched late, late last night, you can now check out and purchase REMO for Amazon Kindle.  This themed collection of short stories is a mix of military sci-fi, AI existentialism, critique of empire, analysis of honor and duty, and examination about consciousness, includes five tales that I hope will thrill you, humor you, and make you think.  Three of the stories revolve around REMOs or Remote Operators, essentially the UAV pilots of the future, who find that the remove offered by engaging in combat through a remote AI may not be as “removed” as they thought.

They include the-not-what-it-sounds-like “Tinker Bell Unbound” about a troubled rear-echelon maintainer suddenly thrown onto the front lines without the tools she needs to survive, “Strategic Deployment” (my second pro-published short story) about a retired REMO forced back into action in an impossible and possibly unethical situation, “Dogcatcher Blues” (possibly my favorite story of the whole collection) about a disgraced REMO sent to fetch a wayward Hellhound, “Identity Crash” — a non-military sci-fi story — about an Emulated Intelligence betrayed by his own creators and denied what it is that makes us self-aware sapients, and lastly “ILYAMY”, a difficult tale about long deployments that I wrote when I was cut off from all contact with home during one of my own military deployments.

To check out the permanent product page here on The Improbable Author, click the cover pic below or the pic at the top of the sidebar.  To go directly to Amazon and get it for your Kindle device or app, either as a purchase or to download a free sample, click here.  Act now, and REMO is free to borrow for Amazon Prime customers with a Kindle device from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library!

Enjoy!

Full_Cover

Hello, World (REDUX)!

Last time I did this, a whole lot less of the world was colored in.  But now? 

BOOYAH!!  Check that out:

ImprobableAuthorHitsApr14

You could almost circumnavigate off that map.  The Improbable Author has now had over 10,000 views, which I realize are merely a single afternoon’s numbers for John Scalzi, but I’m geeking out about it pretty hard nonetheless.  Most of my readership (and most of my ASID sales) are in the ol’ USA, naturally, followed in a distant second by the UK, then Canada, Australia, and Germany.  Sweden is next, which is a bit of a surprise, but then you’ve got Brazil, which is a HUGE surprise.  My wife is Portuguese-American, but not the South/Brazil brand of either of those ethnicities, and I’m a northern European – Native American mutt.  No ties there other than a love of kick-ass science fiction and pithy blogging, one supposes.  Either way, I’ve got a strong and loyal worldwide following, so THANK YOU to all the multitude of countries too long to list that have become devotees of my blog and, one hopes, readers and fans of A Sword Into Darkness.

Regarding ASID readers, my Kindle Daily Deal was . . . somewhat successful, in that I gained 3200 new ones in a single day!  That is satisfying both financially and in terms of milestones.  I’ve now sold over 15,000 copies of the book worldwide in three months, which makes me an Amazon bestseller at the very least (in the short term) and an honest mid-list professional (where I’m likely to settle out).  I was briefly ranked on the bestselling author list right behind Jim Butcher and Orson Scott Card (awesome), found myself in a George R. R. Martin sandwich (a weird way to express how ASID got stuck in the rankings between various compilations and editions of A Game of Thrones / A Song of Ice and Fire), and have begun to realize I REALLY need to talk to a tax accountant (bad).

Also, the excerpt reviews from the second round of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards are finally in.  Mine were quite short, but positive (obviously, since I’ve moved on to the quarter-finals).  There’s a lot of stiff, well-written competition on the road to the semi-finals, though.  Everyone should check out Morgan Richter’s competing novel Lonely Satellite and John L. Monk’s Kick.  Both are very different works than ASID, but equally enjoyable companions under the umbrella of Sci-Fi Fantasy and Horror.  Between those two writers and 97 others, my chances look slim for proceeding to the next round, but if I have to lose to writers of their caliber, I won’t feel so bad.  Either way, I get a free Publisher’s Weekly review.  Here’s hoping it’s as positive as these Amazon Vine reviews of the excerpt:

“The science of this fiction was well done even though some of the terms I read I had no idea if they were real or not. The frustration of Gordon was well written as well as his interaction with Lydia. How it ties in to chapter 2 would keep me reading into chapter 3, although chapter 2 was a bit weaker than the first.” –Vine Reviewer

“Generally, the excerpt is well-structured and flows well. The writing is characterized by some excellent descriptions: “You’re an idle-rich tech wizard with an over-funded amateur astronomy bug, so some eccentricity has to be expected, I guess. In the dusking skies of evening above USS Rivero , the sharp boundary of the eastern horizon had already merged with the night, while to the west a wash of orange and red still set the water afire. These descriptions are not only well-written, they enable the reader to visualize the scene or setting more clearly. Another strength of the excerpt is the pacing. The story flows well and smoothly at a steady pace. I expect the story to be action-packed based on these preliminary chapters, which should make for an engaging read.” –Vine Reviewer

And, lastly, the keen-eyed blog reader may note a new panel at the top of the sidebar.  That is my button for REMO which will be here very, very soon.  I love the cover done by Peter Schuller of ARMS Design, Budapest.  Check out the full cover by clicking the link and stay tuned for updates on when the anthology launches!

Happy Easter!

 

A Sword Into Darkness – Kindle Daily Deal for 17Apr!

Retweet! Forward! Share! A Sword Into Darkness is only 99 ¢ in the good ol’ US of A today!!!  Go there now, buy it for yourself, buy it for a friend, buy it as a hedge against inflation, buy it for someone you don’t even know and Pay It Forward! Then after you’ve bought it for that reason, BUY IT FOR ALL THE OTHER REASONS AGAIN.

I’m basically not gonna stop until Amazon’s servers are all tied up, everyone has the book, and I have all the money.  Simple enough goals, I think.

Kindle Daily Deal

Achievement Unlocked: 100 Customer Reviews for ASID!

To quote the irrepressible Sally Field, “You like me!  You really, really like me!”

Well, at least 90% of y’all anyways.  As of a couple of minutes ago, A Sword Into Darkness logged its 100th customer review, and it did it in the best way possible, with a short and sweet 5-star love note.  THANK YOU, DEAR READERS!  For those of you keeping a tally, the current count is 68 5-star reviews, 22 4-star reviews, 8 3-stars, and one each of the 2-star and 1-star variety.  I’m pleased as punch about the whole thing, not because I’m that concerned about my own vanity (though I do go tee-hee and squee a little every time I get a new 4 or 5-star one in), but because I genuinely want to show folks a good time.  I’ve stolen perfectly good beer money from you.  You deserve to have a few hours or days of kick-ass super-sciencey fun in return.

ASID is not a perfect book.  I acknowledge that, and its admitted flaws are probably what kept the gatekeepers of traditional publishing from allowing me into their club.  But, I think it is a really fun book and one I hope subsequent folks will like just as well as those 90% which have so far.  It’s my first book “worthy” of publication, and as a first novel, I get a by for some of its less-well-put-together elements by a lot of people, but I don’t think kindness is the sole reason I’ve got the track record I do.  There are a lot of things that people think I accomplished pretty damn well. 

Some commonly noted positives:  I got the science right and it’s earned its bona fides as hard science fiction, with SCIENCE actually being necessary to the plot.  Yes, I have a very important, very central, very unexplained macguffin in the story, but its limits are well-charted and used consistently.  And as one reviewer noted, everything else is done so well, they can forgive an element or two of hand-wavium.  Another positive is my true-to-life portrayal of the Navy and the military in general, as well as its interaction with corporate interests and civil government oversight.  I’m glad folks recognized this, because it really was important to me (though some did note I was a bit heavy on the lingo and mil-speak).  In this, I cheated a leeetle bit, in that I have a modicum of experience in those roles due to my unspecified day job.  So I stole shamelessly from years of interaction with superiors, subordinates, and shipmates all. 

Other elements of goodness reviewers have noted:  The characters are interesting and quirky, the action scenes are clear, fast moving, and inventive, the plot is well-balanced, flowing briskly with a realistic timeline, and I had a few real surprises for readers, things they’d never seen before, but I also paid homage to a lot of classic sci-fi that preceded me, namely that of Niven, Heinlein, Weber, and Ringo, while still putting my own spin on well-used tropes.  One of the biggest notes of appreciation most folks had was that the book was well-edited and professionally assembled.  It does not read like a screed cobbled together in someone’s basement print shop.  Apparently there is a lot of self-published work riddled with typos, and copyediting mistakes that should never have been made public.  For that, I have to give credit to my own OCD and to Jeff Edwards, a true professional and a kick-ass author who has the attention to detail to save you from my usual misspelled rabmlings.

And then there’s the not-so-positives:  my ten more-critical reviews.  Some folks think I needed a bit more editing, less for bad copy and more to remove some meandering elements that perhaps should not have made the final cut.  I’m accused of shallow characterization, but some may have had preconceptions in that regard, considering it a common element of the genre.  Now, me . . . I like my characters, but I admit that I did not delve too deeply in their pasts or their internal lives.  They grow, but this book is not about catharsis.  It is a plot-driven vehicle and I think it’s a fun one, but deeper characterization is definitely a goal for the sequel.  Then there’s the accusation of predictability, which I both understand and somewhat disagree with.  It is a book of genre-classics, an intentional homage trying to one-up or become perhaps the definitive version of those tropes.  It is recognized that there are certain expectations in the plot.  As soon as a main character recognizes the potential for an alien visitation, you KNOW there is going to be an encounter, likely of the invasive kind.  That is expected, anticipated, but predictable?  I dunno.  Recognizing that something is likely to occur, that a pleasant, fun novel like this DOESN’T end with all the protagonists dying and the antagonists upsetting the whole apple cart is not necessarily predicatability.  How was the journey to that point?  Was it worth the trip, even if you anticipated what the destination would look like and turned out to be right?

So, check out my reviews, and if you haven’t tried it yet, give the book a spin!  It’s a whole lotta fun for less than a Venti Starbucks coffee (and not nearly as bitter).

5_Star

 

Win a Free Military Sci-Fi Trade Paperback!

Which military sci-fi trade paperback?  Why, the bestselling A Sword Into Darkness, of course!  I’m closing in on 5000 sales since launch (I’ll probably hit it by this evening, and I’m feeling magnanimous).  So I’ll make it easy since I have laundry and writing to do:

The astrodynamic destroyer USS Sword of Liberty (DA-1) and her sister-ships are pretty dang cool, but I’m prepared to allow that they may not be the coolest ships to ever sail the spaceways.  So, in 140 characters or less (approximately), what is the coolest spaceship to ever grace science fiction and why? 

Post your answer on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, or here on the blog by Monday, and I will send the winning answer and maybe a runner-up or two a signed trade paperback copy of A Sword Into Darkness anywhere here on planet Earth, so long as you have an address.  Postage is on me.

So, what’s gonna win?  The Millennium Falcon?  The Enterprise, and which variant?  Serenity?  Or some bad-ass mama-jama I ain’t never heard of before?  Well, they’re all in the running!  Don’t forget to justify your answers!

ASID Front Cover 2