One Door Closes . . . .

So, in news that may or may not be surprising to you, I finally received an answer from Baen Books about A Sword Into Darkness.

And that answer was “No.”

After a number of e-mails back and forth with Gray Rinehart, Baen’s resident Slushmaster, keeping each other updated on his review and recommendation schedule, he finally was able to power through my manuscript again.  All in all, he thought it was inventive and fresh and well-written, but in discussions with the editor-in-chief Toni Weisskopf, there were some things that they’d prefer changed or fixed in a final buy, but they had to make the decision based on what they had in front of them.  Now, it’s not up to me to determine whether they work with me on a re-write to alter the manuscript into exactly what they wanted, but I understand their rationale that they have like a 100 manuscripts a day coming in, a certain percentage of which will meet all their wickets and won’t need to have re-writes requested.  Unless they have a sure bet for a good return on their investment, they can’t devote time working on one slush novel when another slush novel is more ready to go.

I fully understand their position, and while I fervently wish they had decided differently, I cannot hold it against them.  They’re good, professional people, and I feel blessed for the amount of time they already gave me.  I thanked Gray for the consideration he and Toni gave ASID, wished him well, and promised to come back at him soon with a new tale that might hit the wickets that proved insurmountable for my first novel.  I still love Baen Books and hope to be partnered with them in future, but ASID’s journey down that road has now ended.

One door closes, but that’s not the only way out the airlock for Nathan Kelley and the crew of the USS Sword of Liberty.

Coming soon, ASID will indeed be published with my friend and mentor Jeff Edwards’ Stealth Books line!  I’m overjoyed to be with Jeff and his other writers, and I have it on good authority, that you’ll be seeing a publishing lineup from them which will have me among some very august company.  It’s an exciting time for indie / small press / e-publishing, and the soon-to-be-made-public news regarding Stealth Books is more exciting than most.

I asked Jeff about the Baen rejection, and his observation was that as much as 10 years ago, the superlatives Baen had for the book vs the issues they identified would have made ASID an instant buy and a quick rewrite before publication.  Now, I can’t say that Gray wasn’t just being kind in his rejection to me, but in Jeff’s mind, the problems they had aren’t really problems at all.  He has also shared out ARCs (Advance Reader Copies) with some authors he corresponds with, and they were on the same page, agreeing that ASID should have been an easy investment for a traditional publishing house. 

I’m doing my due diligence and trying to address Gray’s criticisms regardless, because I respect his opinion a lot.  The additions won’t hurt and aren’t all that extensive.  Along with a refresh on the cover, and the addition of some very nice blurbs Jeff was able to gather for me, I hope to have it for sale by Christmas! 

What a fabulous gift idea for your favorite space opera / military SF / techno-thriller / adventure fan!!!

In other news, I’ve dashed out my first flash-fiction story, under 1000 words, whick I’ll link here presently, and I’ve re-submitted “ILYAMY” and “Bumped” to different markets yet again.  The train keeps a-chuggin’ here at the A-Mays-ing Improbable Author camp.  More info soon!

Y’all take care.

A-F-K

Hey, remember that fascinating blog by that fella who called himself the Improbable Author?

Yeah?  Well, turns out that today I remembered it too.

Sorry for the subscribers and the occasional visitors as well.  I’ve been what those in the MMORPG world term “AFK”, or “Away From Keyboard” (not AFU — that’s something altogether different, but possibly also applicable).  This last month has been one of sound and fury signifying nothing.  I’ve been away doing other things, work, life, family, etc.  As a consequence, I have not blogged nor written hardly a word.

That is not to say that the world of writing has sat still while I did.  In the realms of submissions, I have one bit of news and two bits of non-news.  In news, I got a rejection from Asimov’s magazine for “Bumped”, so that one is now free to re-submit to other markets.  This was a long wait, but unfortunately not unusually long for that market.  In non-news, no word yet on the simultaneous subs for “ILYAMY” and no word on ASID from Baen’s next tier in their approval chain.  The Slushmaster there had my work as the next thing on his plate, but two higher priority manuscripts bumped mine back.  Oh, to have priority . . . but I’ll take what I can get.

Therefore, there is also no new news on the independent/Stealth Books launch of A Sword Into Darkness either.

As far as Echomancer goes, that project has been waylaid by an infuriating bit of writer’s block / malaise.  I’m in a key chapter and I just can’t seem to restore my momentum.  There are . . . other things going on in my life, so I haven’t had the time nor the passion/emotion to devote to that worthy piece of work.  But, it is NaNoWriMo or National Novel Writing Month (November for the uninitiated), and while I’ve never felt compelled to participate, it’s as good an excuse as any to get going again.

In unrelated science fiction news, I went with an outstanding group of enthusiasts for Books-to-Movies and saw the “Ender’s Game” movie.  I thought they did an excellent job translating that masterwork to the screen, though in my ideal version they would have left in a lot of excised content.  Of course, my ideal version would probably end up 2-3 times as long.  As a consequence, I’m re-reading the book and enjoying it again.  Fairly or unfairly, though, Orson Scott Card’s politics have become tied up with his story and the movie, and while my opinion of the story and the esteem I hold the work in were formed well before I ever agreed/disagreed/or was indifferent to his beliefs, I find on rereading it that I am now seeing it through the lens of his current opinions, which somewhat damps my youthful regard for the book.

This is not a political blog, however, so that’s all that I’ll say about my opinions, except for unreservedly recommending the movie to both readers and non-readers.  I don’t think you can or should always divorce the art from the artist, but in this case I think an exception should be made.  The work is that important.

More later (and SOON), I promise.  Take care, all.

Ooooh, My God . . . .

After posting the umpteenth tiny tweak to my cover on Createspace for the upcoming / potential Stealth Books edition of A Sword Into Darkness (assuming Baen does not buy it), I checked in at Lousy Book Covers for my daily dose of schadenfreude.

I was unprepared for the magnificence I would behold.

Gird yourself for the boldest artistic and authorial vision that has ever been put in print.

http://lousybookcovers.com/?p=6224

I salute you, K. R. Columbus!

Lost in Translation?

That probably could have gone better.

As you may have gleaned from a prior post, I’m starting the networking and marketing and politicking I’m told will be needed for me to ever reach out beyond a close group of friends who’ll perhaps feel obligated to buy A Sword Into Darkness when it finally does go on sale.  Part of that is joining up with the pro and semi-pro writers’ organizations in the local area.  Today I met with Milt, a very nice older gentlemen who’s a fixture among the Hampton Roads Writers circles.  He tried to find out what I was looking for and tried to relay what he and the wider organization could provide.  As part of that, he asked me to send him a sub-assembly of the novel:  First 10 pages, then various pages from three major plot points, pages from the climax, a two-page summary, a logline, and a description of the book in terms of other major books already out there.  Today, we met and he gave his impression.

Yeah.  Not a new fan apparently.

He was very nice and professional about it.  He told me up front that he doesn’t read SF, his forte is more in the John Le Carre spy thriller realm, but he could give general advice and generally his advice is that I halt everything and do a full rewrite.

He liked the plot and thought the writing samples I gave him were great.  He just really didn’t like the flow as related by the synopsis.  He thought it was too jumpy, either accelerating too fast  between scenes or skipping big chunks of time (it’s the latter, which is not apparent from the synopsis, granted).  He loved the scene in Chapter 2 where Nathan’s ship is sunk, he just thought that it didn’t have a need to be in the plot and should probably go in a completely separate book.  He thought Kris coming up with her enhanced photonic reaction drive, the device that drives the latter 2/3’s of the plot, was way too convenient.  And he took issue with the character of Sykes, the SECDEF who is both venal and noble in his interactions with Gordon and Lydia in developing the destroyer, USS SWORD OF LIBERTY.  (Apologies for the unexplained references, you’ll just have to buy the book to find out!)

Me, I think the issues were one (or two) of four possible things:  My synopsis lacked the details that would have assuaged many of his questions–which is my fault–but the book itself is fundamentally sound.  Or, my version of military SF / hard SF / space opera is just not his cup of tea (he, for one, did not know what a wormhole was or why it should mean anything to the plot).  Or, he’s partly right and I’ve got some problems to fix, and I’m not so full of myself to believe otherwise.  Or, I’m a complete hack and editors and agents were right to run from me screaming.

So, tough meeting.  As for me, ASID is what it is at this point.  I’m not of a mind to trash it and try again.  I will take anyone’s edits and tweak the manuscript, especially if you’re a pro-editor and your buy decision rests upon those edits.  And I know not everyone is going to love my work, nor that I’m the greatest writer with the greatest book that ever existed.  But, at this place in the book’s existence, it’s time for it to sink or swim on its own.  If Baen does not revise it or buy it, it’s coming out before the end of the year.  I explained this to Milt and he agreed.  I appreciated the look he gave it.  We shook hands as we parted and I look forward to making use of his insight on future projects, but I wish we had come together closer on our opinion of ASID.

The day approaches soon and the market beckons.  I only hope there’s more readers like me out there than like Milt.

What do YOU think?

Pimping it Forward

So, if you’ve looked around, you may have noticed my link to John Scalzi’s blog, The Whatever. Now, agree with him politically or no, you have to give him credit for his accomplishments as a SF author and pro-blogger.  I enjoy it, and I urge you to enjoy it daily as well (right after visiting The Improbable Author, of course).

One of my favorite features of his is The Big Idea guest posts, in which he invites authors to come down and plug The Big Idea behind their latest book.  A great feature and one that has led me to discover a bunch of new authors (some I loved, some I was more “meh” over).

I’m gonna steal the hell outta that feature.  (Strictly as an homage of course, attorneys for the Scalzi estate.)

Now, where John Scalzi invites primarily traditionally published authors to blog about their baby, since I’m about to enter the micro-indie / self-publishing market myself, I thought I would focus upon that side of things.  Do I have the readership to justify plugging other indie’s books?  Not yet, but it’s growing and free press never hurts.  Don’t some other sites already do this?  I’m sure they do, but I’m Tom Mays and I’m awesome and therefore automatically better (as well as very, very humble don-cha-know).  Do I have some mercenary ulterior motive in this?  Abso-freakin’-lutely.  I hope to garner relationships and readerships with this feature that can only help spread the word about A Sword Into Darkness when it launches here in October from Stealth Books (assuming it is not delayed for a bigger deal from Baen Books).

Therefore, if you are a micro-indie / self-pubbed SF / Fantasy / Military / Adventure author, drop me a contact request in the comments below or e-mail me at amaysingstories@gmail.com.  I’ll be looking for about 5-10 paragraphs about you, your book, how you came up with your idea, and your journey to publication.  Posting schedule depends on inputs, but I’ll probably favor works coming out soon or released recently vice stuff that’s been out there for a year or more.  And I’ll hope for a quid pro quo amongst your own readerships and contacts for ASID once it’s released (I think there’s enough room in the marketplace for all of us, and — as a Naval type — believe a rising tide lifts all boats).

So, who’s up for a little pimpin’?

Let’s All Do The Limbo!

How loooow can you goooo? Or, in this case, how long can you go?

So, I heard back from the Baen Books Slushmaster. He’s finishing up a very good manuscript (not mine) and he’s farmed out the other three manuscripts ahead of mine, so mine is the next in the hopper after he returns from DragonCon in Atlanta next Tuesday. Then he’ll reread ASID and get back with either a final rejection or a push to the bosses upstairs. As he is a copious note-taker, he expects it’ll take him a few weeks to finish the book.

So, as I figure it, I’m looking at either good news about a traditional publisher in late September / early October, or I’m looking at an Octoberish launch of ASID under the Stealth Books imprint with my buddy Jeff. Either way, I consider thus to be all-around good news.

Just gotta stay in limbo a bit longer.

The Question Has Been Put

So, stupid man that I am, I’ve sent a query to Baen Books regarding the current status of my on-hold manuscript for A Sword Into Darkness.  In the last two years (first submitted it in August 2011) it has gone from submitted to the Baen Slushpile, pulled out of the Baen Slush into a group of 40 books requiring further consideration, then to a group of 15 books, then 9 books, and now who knows.  Baen has a lot of stuff on their plate and I have nothing but respect for them and the situation they are in, working through whether or not to take a gamble on an unknown author or not.

But on a personal level, it’s maddening.  The manuscript is not accepted or rejected — just in Limbo — and like the souls stuck in Limbo, it’s not Heaven nor Hell, it’s just . . . blah.  Kinda there, not sucking, but not great either.  Indeterminate.  Frustrating.  Lame.

The work over the last couple of weeks on the self-publishing / Stealth Books imprint route has been exciting and productive, however.  I’ve got a proof-ready copy of the physical novel ready to ship, with a kick-ass cover and a professionally formatted interior (all thanks to the guidance and ministrations of Jeff Edwards).  It’s been awesome working on it with Jeff, but he fully knows and understands that I would throw a 100% of it aside if Baen or another traditional house only would say “yes.”

I should have an answer or more questions soon.  I’m quite nervous right now.

ASID Full Cover 2 Desktop

Cover Contest!!!!!

Happy Friday and hoping you’re all going in to a wonderful weekend.

That being said, you’ve got some work to do first, so no shirking your responsibilities, Mister/Miss!  I’m proceeding on the depressed assumption that my standing queries with Baen and Ace are not going anywhere fast, so it behooves me to move forward with the Stealth Books e-publishing option.  This is much more of a do-it-yourself affair, so I have done the cover myself, but I can’t decide on exactly which one to choose.  This is where y’all come in!

Please peruse the following covers and pick which one you like best (i.e. which one is most enticing/professional and would instantly make you WANT this book).  I eagerly await the judgement of the internets.

Cover 1, centered title.  This one is standard, but the title might be more difficult to read in a thumbnail on Amazon.

ASID Ebook Cover 1 Desktop

Cover 2, the “Z” layout.  This one makes more effective use of open space and pushes the Sword of Liberty further back.  Oh, and if you noted it’s not as bright as the other pic, that’s easily fixable.  Specifically, which layout is best?

Aegis Ebook Cover 2

Cover 3, the “S” layout.  This one uses the pic from the first post, but maximizes title size for thumbnails.

Aegis Ebook Cover 3

And that’s it.  If none of these appeal, or one appeals particularly, or you think a particular tweak is needed, please leave a comment below.  Otherwise, absolutely please vote in the following poll.  Multiple visits and votes are allowed.  May the best cover win!

That First Step Into the Abyss Is a Doozy

Hmmm.  I don’t know whether to be proud of myself or angry.

I’ve stuck to my “traditional publishing first” guns since day one, despite the advice of MANY.  Now, with the opportunities to achieve that waning, I . . . wavered.

I just spent the free time of the day reformatting the manuscript for ASID in order to conform to the Nook Press requirements.  Then I tweaked it, wrote a book description, filled in my metadata and publishing info, uploaded a cover, and voila!  A whole damn book, ready to publish.  And it was so EASY!  I wonder if Kindle Direct is just as smooth?  How does the trade paperback on demand thing work?

I can’t hit that Publish button yet though.  I still haven’t heard from Ace yet, and I do still have the ever-dwindling number of books ahead of mine in Baen’s let’s-give-it-a-deeper-look pile.

So how long should I wait?  How long would YOU wait?

 

A “Pyr”less Effort

Well, the bad news just keeps on rolling.

Got a rejection e-mail, this time from publisher Pyr.  I’m only waiting on a pass from Ace to officially declare I’m batting .000.

Yes, I’m still on hold from Baen, and no, I have not yet submitted to any small indie markets yet, but once this final, delayed rejection comes in, it puts a cork in my fantasy of being pro-published the traditional way right out the gate.  As for the agent hunt, I’ve submitted to 6 major agencies, targeting their newly listed agents who are actively searching for clients.  So far, I’m 0 for 6.

I’m still engaged in writing, working on Echomancer, “Bumped”, and “ILYAMY” intermittently, but I really had high hopes for A Sword Into Darkness.  I even re-read it this last week and sent it off to another reader who had expressed a fascination with the book.  I think it’s good.  What could be the factor turning editors off about it?  What could I tweak or re-write to make it past those initial gate-keepers?

Ah, well.  I’ve pulled down “Bumped” this week and I’m finishing off a re-write now.  It’ll go off into the aether this weekend, along with “ILYAMY”. Maybe I can put my count of pro-published shorts to 3 or 4.

Any advice from the internets?