Today Was A Good Day to Kick Ass

First of all, I need help picking the winning cover for REMO from all the outstanding final entries.  So click on the picture below, VOTE, and then come back here, because you ain’t gonna want to miss this.

REMO Winner

Don’t you just LOVE proportional voting?  Now, to task!

Today was a pretty awesome day.  It started off with an e-mail at the crack of dawn, from the editors of Daily Science Fiction, who told me that they’re buying my flash (under 1000 words) soft-SF short story “The Rememberists.”  It’s a weird little tale, but thought provoking, and they’re buying first serial rights to it!  While the money off a 1000 word tale isn’t life-changing, even at professional rates, it does mark my third sale to a paying, professional science fiction market.  That — technically — makes me a pro-science fiction author, at least according to the Science Fiction Writers’ Association, the SFWA, our professional guild.  Folks have a lot of mixed feelings about the SFWA, which is currently undergoing an ideological purge of sorts, but I like writers on both sides of the divide.  Will I join?  I dunno.  But its still damn nice to be able to.

Matter two, which was why I had been thinking about the SFWA and professionalism, is the fact that I now have sold over 10,000 copies of A Sword Into Darkness (and at a royalty rate that does NOT suck).  Though it is self/indie published, selling 10,000 copies allows you to classify yourself as a pro, and as a new pro, begins your two-year countdown clock for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in Science Fiction.  It would be AMAZING to get a Campbell nod, like one of my favorites, Larry Correia.  Of course, there’s a few hiccups to getting that nomination and attending the Hugo Awards:  namely, the Best New Writers get nominated by the attendees of the past and current WorldCon, where the awards are handed out.  Thing is, I don’t know any WorldCon attendees, and i really doubt they just happened to be browsing Amazon, saw my cover, and said THAT is my next read!  And then there’s the matter that I may be ineligible.  “Dreams for Sale — Two Bits!” was published in Jim Baen’s Universe, a pro-level magazine, in 2009.  Since you have only two years in which to be eligible, I could sell 1,000,000 sales, and not be eligible as the Best New Writer (though I think I could handle the pain).  JBU is now defunct, and I’m not sure if the records will support there being sufficient subscribers to hit the size necessary to start my two-year clock.  Am I eligible?  I dunno.  But I’d really like to be afforded the opportunity to turn down the nomination.

And finally, after working in the yard all day, putting in a stone firepit and landscaping, I got another e-mail.  This one was from the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award, or ABNA 2014, announcing that A Sword Into Darkness had made it through the second round and is now a quarter-finalist.  In the first two rounds, they start off reading a 300 word pitch, choosing 2000 out of 10,000 entries on that alone.  Then in the third round, 2000 are whittled down to 500, 100 of which are Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror, by reading a 3000 word excerpt from the beginning.  In the fourth round, the editors of Publisher’s Weekly write an actual reveiw of your entire manuscript, and then pick 25 books out of 500 to go to the semi-finals, and so on.  Why?  Well, in the offering is a $ 50,000 publishing contract through Amazon Publishing, and five $10,000 contracts, putting real books in real physical bookstores.  What are my chances of winning?  About 1 in 500 against, but as contests go, it’s one of the best out there.  I’m amazed to still be in competition!

So, very, very cool.  And to close out the day in an appropriately badass way, we christened the fire pit by burning our Christmas tree, which has been drying outside since January, and is thus — essentially — explosive.  And semi explode it did! I stacked paper and bone-dry, needle-filled branches high (too high). When I lit it, people inside the house could actually hear it as it sucked in all the available oxygen and shot up with 30 foot flames. My neighbors were un-pleased. Thank goodness I hadn’t just lit the entire tree at once like the Pyro within me wanted to. I then ripped off my clothes and danced around my fire spirit while I fed in the rest of the tree (it made for some very awkward smores with the kids afterward). Now the stones of my firepit are fused together and I truly understand why natural trees end up burning down homes.

Goooooooodnight, loyal readers! . . .

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

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

 

Wearing my New Hats: Beret and Fedora

Howdy, all!  Just coming off a great weekend, great for sales (orbiting in and out of the Top 500 Kindles on Amazon), garnering great reviews (and one who was NOT a fan (sorry, dude)), and gathering some truly great numbers here on the blog (my highest number of hits EVAR).  I really should hold contests and make dictates about sci-fi-coolness more often.

And now I’m about to sit down to an Irish/New England Boiled Dinner, with corned beef, kielbasa, linguica, potatoes, onions, cabbage, carrots, and my third Guinness of the night.  St. Paddy’s Day tis a wonderful thing!

Being that things are rosy in writerly circles, I decided to doff my writer’s hat (it’s a dunce cap) and try on a couple of my other hats in order to challenge myself.  I left the Real Job’s hat in the closet, because who wants to think about the real world on a day like today.  Instead, I whipped out my artiste’s beret, and decided to focus on myself as a visual arts fella’.

As those of you who follow know, I did my own art for the book, and from that art, I created my own cover.  Now, I think I did a good job, and I don’t believe the amateur nature of my cover has done my sales any harm.  But, not all books can say that, and it is generally advised that any writer who hires himself to do the cover art for his own book has a fool for a client (that saying may have originated elsewhere, I don’t recall).  To determine whether or not the aphorism applied to me, I decided to put myself even further out there.  First, I offered up my cover to the new site CoverCritics.com for the inaugural week.  Nathan Shumate also runs LousyBookCovers.com, but this new site is all about CONSTRUCTIVE criticism rather than schadenfreude.  I encourage all of you aspiring cover artist/writers to check out BOTH sites before you attempt to do it yourself.  As for how I did, the consensus seems to be that the art is good, it sells the book and clearly lays out the genre, but my title fonts don’t really fit the SF tone, and I tried to be too clever by putting in a metallic texture.  I can’t fault the criticism, and when I eventually do put up a revised edition, I’ll see about applying them.  Another guy criticized my lens flare, but if it’s good enough for J. J. Abrams, it’s good enough for me!

By that same token, I also entered my cover in Joel Friedlander’s E-book Cover Design Awards for the month of February and the results came back today.  Well, he liked it and thought it was “effective” and he really liked the picture itself, but I didn’t win the grand prize or get a gold star.  The competition was fierce, but Mr. Friedlander also likely saw the not-quite-right part of the titles that the others saw as well.

That’s things on the artist front, but I promised TWO hats in the title.  Thusly, I doff the beret and slide on a Mad Men – esque fedora, straight from central casting.  Wearing this hat, I’m focused on things of business and networking.  Namely, I need to get out there more into the publishing industry, to meet authors, publishers, agents, and fans that might not have come across my Amazon postings or tweets.  So, I’m going to take the ultimate SF nerd plunge and attend my first sci-fi convention.

The next con in my region is RavenCon, up in Richmond April 25-27.  I’ve got the hotel room, the registration, made contacts with the Baen Barflies (the only people I know in attendance, and then only by forum postings), and I’m ordering fresh copies of the book to pass out and have commissioned an ad for the con program (below).  I think it’ll be a lot of fun (my kind of fun — I couldn’t get the wife to even consider going).  Hopefully, I can make some contacts, help the book and its eventual sequel, make some friends, and build some memories.  A lot of the sniping, scandals, and arguing amongst fandom concerning “true” fandom, acceptable thought/attitudes/speech, and thin skins vs. true harassment that have been destroying the internet lately have me a little nervous, but I largely cannot help whatever has come before or where things stand now.  I hope RavenCon doesn’t get too issue-oriented or political, but my general plan — as it is in all things — is to just be friendly, fun, and fascinating, and trust that my humble awesomeness will shine through to sunder all barriers.

I’ve got this in the bag!

(famous last words before Tom Mays was ripped to shreds by an angry mob of sci-fi fans from across the political landscape)

RavenConASID1

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

The Day After

How about that game last night, huh?  I pretty much think the only things preventing riots in Colorado were A) abject depression at your NFL AFC champions playing like an office flag football team, and B) the clouds of sweet, sweet, fully legal ganja you could use to damp your disappointment.  Also, it’s quite cold there.  You just don’t burn the world down when you’re chilly, bummed, and baked.

Let’s say, however, that your preferred methods of misery masking do not or cannot include toke-able diversions.  Perhaps you have an unspecified job within the military-industrial complex, or you’re not a huge Taco Bell fan.  Whatever.  Might I suggest you distract yourself with the fun little world of A Sword Into Darknessavailable for sale NOW in trade paperback and Kindle.  A couple of chapters in and — I promise — Manning’s depth perception will be the last thing on your mind.

How are things looking the day after Launch Weekend?  Pretty good, I’d say.  Sales have been steady, considering I have a very limited reach thus far, and the comments and reviews that have been posted have been (for the most part) very satisfying.  Now, I’m new at this, so as one reviewer noted/warned, I probably do look at reviews.  I admit it.  I do.  I’ve put out a product that I’m proud of, and that I’ve been told by third parties is a damn fine adventure, but I still want to know if folks are happy with it.  So, yes, I do look at reviews, but less because of vanity than as a matter of conscience.

Have all the reviews been great?  No.  One guy was kind of “meh” about the whole thing, and another guy ABSOLUTELY LOATHED it.  There’s an immediate reflex response to disregard them, to say that the second guy might be trolling, or that his extreme, dismissive dislike was because of personal hangups rather than my writing, but that’s an unworthy attitude.  Their opinion is just as valid as the majority opinions of the folks who loved it, and I just have to accept that not everyone is going to be a fan.

To that pair of less-than-satisfied customers, I’m sorry my book wasn’t what you wanted it to be.  As a consolation — and as a treat for all the rest of you who either loved my book or haven’t read it yet — I’ve got a bunch of free goodies right here on the blog!  Check over in the Pages section and you can read two rip-roaring rocketpunk/steampunk/aetherpunk tales, The Improbable Adventures of Dylan Darby (where this blog gets its name) Episode I:  “Gambler’s Cruise” and Episode II:  “Waking the Rock”.  Those stories are just the beginning of a long planned series, a series which has goals far beyond just a collection or episodic novel.  My friend Nathaniel has already made a fantastic radio play out of “Gambler’s Cruise”, available here, but we’d love it if we could sell Dylan Darby as a TV series.  And there’s more!  You can read my two pro-published short stories:  “Strategic Deployment”, a much-different military sci-fi tale (which actually has a spec-script version for production), and “Dreams For Sale — Two Bits!”, a soft sci-fi tale about infinite possibilities and the baggage you carry with you.

And what can you expect from The Improbable Author as we move past launch?  I’ll continue to cover news about ASID, concerning deals and sales, the up-coming audiobook launch and expansion of the e-book to Nook, Kobo, Sony, and iPad/iPhone, as well as the planned app and table-top game.  I’ll also begin tackling Echomancer again, continue working on short stories, and also launch something COMPLETELY DIFFERENT.  What is it?  🙂  You’ll just have to click one of those Follow buttons to check back and see!  🙂

LAUNCH DAY!!! “A Sword Into Darkness” Is Here!

After a long lead-up, the BIG DAY has finally arrived!  A Sword Into Darkness, the hard-science, military science fiction / space opera is up for sale, worldwide.  Is it a good read?  Well, I think it’s a damn good read (it certainly was a helluva lotta fun to write).  But don’t just take my word for it — listen to the blurbs and reviews already in:

“Solid adventure, intrigue and speculative space-tech, from a rising star in military science fiction.”— DAVID BRIN, Hugo and Nebula Award-winning author of ‘EXISTENCE,’ ‘THE POSTMAN,’ and ‘STARTIDE RISING’

Yes, that’s right . . . David Brin.  His Uplift novels were THE BEST when I was growing up.  I am beyond honored that he’s even read my pulpy science adventure.  Getting a blurb from him was completely unbelievable.

“There are brilliant first contact stories, great space combat stories, and amazing stories of technological discovery. Rarely do you find all three in the same novel. Remember the name Thomas A. Mays. You’re going to be seeing it on the bestseller list.”— JEFF EDWARDS, Award-winning author of ‘SEA OF SHADOWS,’ and ‘THE SEVENTH ANGEL’

Jeff is a buddy, but he’s practically been a bigger believer in this book than I was.  Without Jeff and Stealth Books, I’m not sure I’d ever have made it available through self/indie publishing.  And now?  Soooo glad I did.  He’s the one who got my book to David Brin and this next fine fellow:

“Sharply written, suspenseful and tightly plotted, A SWORD INTO DARKNESS reads like the best Tom Clancy novels, with a science fiction heart provided by Arthur C. Clark. Can’t wait to read more from Thomas Mays!”— GRAHAM BROWN, #1 New York Times Bestselling author of ‘ZERO HOUR,’ ‘BLACK RAIN,’ and ‘THE EDEN PROPHECY’

But, wait!  There’s more!

“A Sword Into Darkness is Thomas Mays’ debut novel, and it is a blockbuster! Kept me on the edge of my seat up til the end. And unlike so many other novels, when it promised a revelation of a dread secret at the end, it actually delivered. Puzzling occurrences make perfect logical sense as the reader learns more.  The action starts when astronomers notice something odd in-line with the star Delta Pavonis. Hilarity rapidly ensues.  But unlike so many other science fiction novels, Mr. Mays actually gets the science correct. This might have something to do with the fact that he has two degrees in physics and is an 18 year veteran of the US Navy, and has assisted with research into ballistic missile defense.  Recommended.” — WINCHELL CHUNG, guru of the Atomic Rockets site and writer’s resource.

Winchell/Nyrath is a great guy, whom (unfortunately) I’ve never met in real life.  We first became acquainted when I was on the SciFi-Meshes 3D art forums, and he critiqued my art from a very hard-science perspective.  I then followed him over to his masterful website Atomic Rockets, which is a FANTASTIC resource for any SF author or filmmaker who wants to move beyond Star Wars and Star Trek and actually get the science part of science fiction RIGHT.  He was gracious enough to read ASID, promote it on his site as a Seal-of-Approval winning story, aaaand gave me my very first Amazon.com review.  I can’t thank you enough, Winchell!

So, if you like techno-thrillers, adventure tales, sci-fi, hard science fiction, military sci-fi, alien invasions, space navies, or space operas, A Sword Into Darkness is the tale for you.  And to get you to buy it TODAY (so you can be cooler than all your buddies), we’ve got a bunch of Launch Day deals:

Buy the trade paperback on CREATESPACE, and use the coupon code AGS4XF9L and you’ll get 20% off the list price!  Valid Launch Day only — coupon expires Saturday, Feb 1st, at 0800 Eastern.

Buy the trade paperback on AMAZON,  and get the KINDLE E-book version for half-price.  Or if you just want the Kindle version, and you’re an Amazon Prime member with a Kindle device, you can borrow ASID for FREE from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library.

Whatcha waitin’ ’round heah fo’?  Go!

ASID Full Cover 3c

Devious Bastards — Who Won A FREE BOOK?

image

First of all, THANK YOU to all the folks that participated in our little contest here. Whether for the eagerness to acquire a copy of A Sword Into Darkness, or the joy of entering a contest, or an actual need to show any potential invaders just how nutty and tenacious a bunch of murderers these largely hairless primates can be, I got dozens of entries, which — on a personal level — is very very satisfying (especially as launch day approaches).

Secondly . . . WOW, you guys are some DEVIOUS BASTARDS.  If I were an invading race, I’d be quakin’ in my space boots right about now.  Out of these dozens of answers for how YOU would stop an alien invasion, not a single one was exactly the same.  That’s some ingenuity right there.  They can, however, be grouped together in a few broad categories. 

Category A:  Hard(ish) Military Science — a few, but fewer than I originally imagined, went the realistic route.  Rather than delve into silliness, these armchair Ulysses Grants / bathtub Alfred Thayer Mahans took it as a serious challenge.  From using infiltration and subterfuge to lull the enemy in close before decisively striking, to making use of scouting raids and offensive probes, you all were methodical and calculating.  Shall we seed the high orbits with so much fast-moving debris (a la the film Gravity) or tungsten penetrators so it becomes suicide to approach?  Or should we stick to nukes and biological warfare and play the attrition game (playing NASTY, y’all)?

Category B:  Socio-Political Barbs — what’s the best way to answer a zinger?  Why, with a zinger of one’s own!  While these methods might not stop a fo-realsy alien invasion, they surely do put a hurtin’ on those humans that array themselves on the opposite side of a cultural divide.  Climate change?  Check!  High taxation?  Check!  Reality TV and the Internet as the cultural nadir of mankind?  Double Check! 

Category C:  Artistic Callbacks — let’s play “Spot the Reference!”  These folks firmly believe in not re-inventing the wheel.  Our greatest SF writers and directors have already produced soooo much material, destroying alien invasions in every way imaginable, WHY NOT utilize that resource?  These homages were both filmic and literary (plus radio show if you’re including original Hitchhiker’s Guide), and they indeed put a smile on my face.  H. G. Wells, Douglas Adams, H. P. Lovecraft, James Cameron, Russell T. Davies (Doctor Who and Torchwood), Galaxy Quest, Independence Day, and others all get referenced, and they all get a salute from me.

Category D:  Sheer Insanity — uuuuuummmmmm, right.  These were the most inventive . . . sometimes the most outright fun . . . but you might wanna make sure the NSA doesn’t know where you live.  🙂  We got your zombie clones of Dennis Rodman, interplanetary “Burning Man” festivals, Aerosmith attacks, sharknado-style laser rodeos, etc.  Magnificently warped, and I mean that in the best way possible!

Sub-Category F-U-Tom:  Some folks just don’t like a little shameless self-promotion.  I get it, I’m new to the Twitter-sphere and the art of selling yourself on Facebook.  Did I overstep by directly tweeting writers and self-identified sci-fi fans?  Perhaps.  Did I inadvertantly turn myself into a spam-bot?  Eh, I don’t think so, but then again, I don’t get all the unsolicited crap that many of my more experienced betters receive.  I was just trying to innocently get the word out and have a little fun with folks.  So, yes, I got called a spammer.  I got un-followed and blocked by some.  I was even accused of being an account hijacker and an untrustworthy person.  Ouch.  So, if my contest and the way I promoted it upset you, I apologize.  My only defense is being naive and inexperienced.  My only saving grace is that for every person I lost, I gained 4-5 more.  I can take that math.

Brass tacks time:  WHO WON?!?!?  Well, there were many worthy entries, so don’t take it badly if you didn’t get picked, but I only have so many copies of ASID to go around.  Therefore, in my expert-and-only-somewhat-random opinion, the Grand Prize winner of one proof copy is:  Michael Nicholas!  Michael was a bit of a triple-whammy in that he gave a great Dr. Evil-esque / SyFy Channel answer with his astronauts on flying sharks with frickin’ laser beams on their heads, covering categories C and D, then gave a completely separate answer about “scorched orbit” policies in Category A, seeding clouds of tungsten ball bearings through the approaches to Earth.  Michael, congrats!

But wait, there’s more!  Runner-up with the most tantalizingly nostalgic literary reference was T. Gene Davis, who made me go back and re-read my half-forgotten copy of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (series) in order to get the reference about the alien fleet being swallowed by a small, yawning dog.  You get my other available proof copy!

Advanced Reader Copies (which are 98.7% identical to the final publication/proof version) also go to Cara Brookins for Most Re-Tweeted Answer, Adam Vickery for Most Bi-Polar Answer, and Donna Kallas for the Sheer Volume/No Hard Feelings slot.

I hope you all enjoy the books and I encourage your honest (and hopefully favorable) review on Amazon and/or the book vendor of your choice when you get done.  As for the rest of you lot, I hope you are intrigued enough to go pick up your own copies on Friday!  And, if you’d like to read all the best entries, you may find them compiled HERE:  Zinger Contest Entries

Happy Reading!!

 

Broadside!!!

First, a little of the old ultra-violence to make up for yesterday’s serenity:

Trenton Broadside1

Broadside!!!

That is, of course, the USS Trenton (CA-1) with railguns and laser emplacements slewed out to the side, performing a full broadside of all batteries as a power and weapons’ integration test.  In my imagination, the cruiser’s fire control logics would have to automatically compensate for the impulse of the railgun shots by briefly firing attitude thrusters to offset the resulting spin.  It is once more a Cinema 4D shot.  I like this one, because it is a) cool and b) let me play a lot with hard shadows and point light sources.  The Earth below is my own construct, using conformal cloud maps, satellite composites, and semi-transparent shells for the atmosphere.  

Speaking of broadsides and publishing, my IRL / FB friend and mentor Mark Ellis fired off his own broadside concerning the “traditional” publishing industry and how his own attitudes as a very successful mid-list author have changed concerning self-publishing.  If you can get to Facebook, the post itself is very illuminating, but it expands to genius in the comments.  

Here is the link:  Hudsucker Proxy

And here is the meat of the post if the link does not work (used with Mark’s permission):

I don’t talk much about the publishing industry here for a couple of reasons…mainly because unless you’re in it, the whole field and process is misunderstood to the point of it being arcane.

But here’s how *I* feel…it’s my opinion based on my experiences…and it’s my FB page…so…

Publishing underwent a vast change several years ago, known as “Black Wednesday”…the economic upheaval which affected so many other industries seriously damaged what is known as “tradtional” publishing…except, unlike the auto and banking industries, there were no government bail-outs or breathless updates every five minutes on CNN and MSNBC.

One of the major changes that I experienced (other than advances being slashed) is how the final decision of what would be published now rested primarily with the sales departments…not editors or editorial committees but salespeople.

In the wake of these changes, self-publishing became a viable alternative to hitherto traditionally published writers like me. Yeah, at first I considered it the same as vanity presses, but after being dealt with unethically by a publisher who first enthusiastically accepted Cryptozoica and then reneged on the agreement, I went in that direction.

It was a decision I’ve never regretted.

As for so-called “traditional” publishing…it’s never recovered from Black Wednesday and it’s feeling the bite of independent and self-publishing. Spokesmen for the industry have lately been working hard to disparage the whole thing, due in the main to outright fear. A couple of years ago, self-publishing was beneath their notice…but now–

One of the implications I perceive in these messages is this: 

Solidly selling midlist writers like myself who spent years building a readership should just go ahead and DIE ALREADY and stop taking readers away from the writers traditional publishers want them to read.

Doesn’t matter that we write what our fans want to read and buy–it’s more important we have the good grace to accept our careers are over because a handful of corporate flunkies decided they are.

It’s sorta like the Sidney J. Mussberger mantra from THE HUDSUCKER PROXY when he tries to convince Norville Barnes he’s washed up and should kill himself: “When you’re dead…you stay dead.” 

Uh-uh.

Here’s my counter-solution: Accept reality, fix what you f**ed up, treat writers ethically and honestly, keep your word and maybe you won’t be so scared all the time…and you just might be able to save your own jobs.

Mark is a prolific author of over 40 adventure novels and thrillers, including many of the “James Axler” novels, Deathlands and Outlanders series, as well as his latest Cryptozoica.

 

Mixed Media Between God and Me

Happy MLK Day, fellow Americans of every race, creed, religion, and persuasion!  For those not in the know, or my international visitors, or those who believe today is a frivolous day off, I heartily recommend you fulfill a civic and humanitarian duty:  check out the story and the words of a great orator, theologian, and leader of men, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  He imagined a better world, and I do think the world has become better between the ’60s and today (not that I experienced it first hand), but we have not yet achieved his great Dream.  He is a man deserving of memory and memorial, so I urge you to consider today as my employer once urged me to consider it: Today is a day ON, not a day OFF.

Now, there’s not a great deal of tie-in between Dr. King and my little space opera, but in honor of today I’ve decided to post a pic lacking the violent note of many of my renders.  Today is about beauty, grace, and the possibilities of the future, so please enjoy this of my ASID pictures:

CRUDESGRU One

CRUDESGRU One, Underway

Yes, they are warships, but they are quiescent warships, vessels far flung from home, awash in the light of a distant sun, and against the grandest of backdrops.  This pic is Cinema 4D again, with the Sword-class destroyers post-refit, and the Trenton in the center.  I did steal a little for this pic.  The nebula is not of my creation.  As I say in the blurb on the pic, that is a product of God and physics, two things that some see in diametric opposition to one another, but which I see as complementary and unified in every important way.  The Orion Nebula is beautiful, and I love this pic for the beauty I make use of.  These ships are not at war.  They cruise in peace, exploring, realizing the dream that generations of men and women before lived and died to make possible.  This pic makes me a little happier inside.

In other/related news, January 31st is only 11 days and 8-10 blog posts away.  That should allow me to put up several more pics, wax rhapsodic about the book, let you peek into my mind, and also offer you a chance to win a copy.  What can you do?  Keep visiting, keep sharing it with your friends and on your blogs, re-post, re-tweet, and forward The Improbable Author to all your sci-fi lovin’ friends and family.  Remember, I am after your beer money, but I also think I’m giving you a great experience in return.  So share the wealth and see you tomorrow!