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.

Prose and Cons

Whew!  Sorry for the delay in posting my RavenCon report here, but I was so blasted with ideas and advice, I had to get some of it out as actual writing before it vanished like the play-by-play of a dream.  Now, however, with a thoroughly re-written and re-submitted short story complete, and plans upon plans for more SciFi-ish goodness to come, I can now relax and tell you about my first science fiction convention.

Two things stand out.

First, these are awesome people and I’ve been missing out.  It is FANTASTIC that the nerds and geeks among us have the opportunities to gather together to achieve a critical mass (not a fat pun) and then explode outward into a multifaceted mushroom cloud of fandom without reservations.

Second, I’m afraid I’m not awesome enough of a fan to cast aside all inhibitions and revel in it to the n-th degree.  In a place where introverts are encouraged to REALLY extrovert without judgement, I still found myself holding back.  There would be no costuming for me.  When exhorted to get up and dance like a monkey for a good cause, I still found myself only dancing like a nervous cro-magnon.  It was no fault of the Con that I could not release an uninhibited über-nerd upon the Richmond DoubleTree Hotel.  The fault lies with me.  I still find myself on the outside looking in, trying to find the right niche between aspiring author, published author, veteran, sailor, officer, and nerd/geek/neek/gerd.

But I’ll get there with a little help from a BUNCH of amazing new friends.  First, I finally made contact with the Baen Books crowd!  I met Gray Rinehart, their slushmaster who took so much great time helping shepherd along ASID, Tedd Roberts (Speaker to Lab Animals), Michael Z. Williamson, Sarah Hoyt, Patrick Vanner, Jim Minz, and soooo many Baen Barflies (like the Royal Manticoran Navy crew, Peggy, and Julius — who is certain global warming is directly responsible for the rise in superhero movies).  Drinking and woo-hooing were accomplished in style at two great parties on two great nights.  Sailor Jerry, we hardly knew ye.  A special shout-out goes to Joelle Presby and CDR Andy Presby, two great writers and mega-brains living in nearby Norfolk who work with the great David Weber, helping to flesh out the Honor Harrington universe.

I met and got to speak at length with the Guest of Honor, Hugo/Nebula/Campbell award winning author Elizabeth Bear.  Bear gave me a lot of great advice and encouragement and was surprisingly gracious and down to earth for such an accomplished author.  I really hope to be able to attend the Viable Paradise workshop, as she recommended (as long as I can a. Wow them and b. Afford the time and expense).  I’d love to spend a week working with writers and people of her caliber.

Writers, editors, and fans everywhere, and not a single one made me feel unwelcome or unworthy in where I am and where I aspire to be.  My favorite new contact/bud is Chris Kennedy, one of the Con guests who is in very much the same position as myself.  He’s a retired Navy CDR and former kick-ass aviator (he kicks ass in other ways now) who just released his fourth self-published book, the second book of his planned space opera trilogy, the Theogony.  Okay — no lie — go get Janissaries and When the Gods Aren’t Gods today for some great military science fiction, written by someone who DEFINITELY has the bona fides, along with a smattering of myth and fantasy.  I hope to guest at future Cons, like Chris did here.  And he did his panels in the ultimate Navy fashion:  with PowerPoint!  Best part, he also lives nearby in Virginia Beach, so I see some beers in our future.

And, of course, there were the panels and the Masquerade.  I had a lot of fun, learned a lot, and got told the best thing a writer can here:  You, sir, have an ugly baby.  (Yep, that’s a good thing.)  I read the opening of “Bumped” and they INSTANTLY knew what was wrong with it, lifting blinders I didn’t even know I wore.  That was the story I re-wrote on Sunday and Monday.  It’s shorter, smarter, and a lot more professional now.  Hopefully editors will agree.

And that’s about it for RavenCon.  Con virgin no more!  Pics or it didn’t happen?  Well, here’s some pics!20140426_122836 20140426_113456 20140426_202934 20140426_224750 20140425_224736 20140426_202955 20140426_202640 20140426_203825 20140426_131630 20140426_203032 20140426_202926 20140426_201814 20140426_121834 20140426_203001 20140426_202602

 

Quoth the RavenCon, Ever More, Ever More . . . .

Whelp, this outta be good for some kicks.

I have arrived to the lovely Hilton Double Tree hotel in Richmond, VA, just a couple hours north of my usual stomping grounds, ready to attend my first science fiction convention, RavenCon (named in honor of Edgar Allan Poe, who grew up here).  I’ve got a box of books under my arm (give-away, signed promotional copies of A Sword Into Darkness) and a stack of postcards advertising ASID and REMO.  I’m ready to put my name out there and try to drum up more contacts and more business.

But what I’m really here to do is to get my geek on and my nerd out (or is it the other way around?).  This Con is not huge, but it’s got at lot of great writers attending that I’ve really wanted to meet.  The great Elizabeth Bear is guest of honor, but they also have Rob Balder (love his comic), Gray Rinehart (the Baen slushmaster whom I’ve wanted to meet), James Minz, and big names (for me) Sarah Hoyt and Michael Z. Williamson.  That’s a whole lotta Baen, of course, but Baen is my favorite publishing house, so what would you expect?  They’ve published two of my shorts, almost published the novel and workshopped all of the stories that have gone into REMO.  I’m just a Barfly who’s never been to the bar.

There’s a lot of other stuff too like Dealer’s Rooms, panels, movies, and of course the Masquerade.  There’s lot to oogle and goggle about, but I promise pictures after.

And if you happen to be at the Con or in Richmond and want to meet up, just shoot me a comment down below!

Raven Con Richmond Va

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!

 

REMO Crowd-Sourced Editing

Ooooor, what do you think of the following goodies.  First is my proposed back/sale page copy for REMO.  Then are my finalists for the cover.  Lemme know whatcha think in the comments below, or on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Tumblr, or by email.  Looking forward to your suggestions!

Back Copy Draft:

Man and Machine. Soldier and Drone. Where does One end and the Other begin? 

With the advent of reliable AI, the UAVs of today will only become more ubiquitous, more autonomous . . . but would Man ever allow himself to be totally removed from the equation? Enter the world of the REMO, Remote Operators leading squads of autonomous, intelligent combat units in the air . . . on the ground . . . beneath the waves . . . and to the furthest reaches of outer space.

War is hell, even if you’re not pulling the trigger directly . . . .

From the acclaimed author of  A Sword Into Darkness  comes five tales of military and AI science fiction that will remain on your mind long after the pages are done. Includes:

“Tinker Bell Unbound”
“Strategic Deployment”
“Dogcatcher Blues”
“Identity Crash”
and “ILYAMY”

REMO Finalists

The Art World vs. Tom Mays – PART DEUX

It turns out I am not the graphic artist bad-ass I thought I were.  Talent, it is out there, and READILY available for the low, low price of $299.  Now I have TONS of designs coming in (my original has been relegated to my false cover page) and I need YOUR HELP choosing one before the contest ends.

Go here, at 99Designs, and vote NOW for your favorite cover.  I’m judging primarily on the front cover, but have asked for a book spine and back cover as well.

99Designs