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! 

 

Save The Date! Launching in 5, 4, 3, 2 . . . .

Friday, January 31, 2014

It’s the end of the month, pay-day for most, and long past the point where your New Year’s resolutions have fallen by the wayside.  It’s cold outside, you’ve burned through your boring holiday reading, and you’re feeling guilty for laying on the couch — expanding your gut instead of your mind.

Why not kill three birds with one stone!?  Expend some of that cash lying fallow in your bank account, challenge your mind, and get your heart racing all at the same time:  get online and purchase A Sword Into Darkness, the rousing debut novel from your Improbable Author, Thomas A. Mays.

Yep, it’s finally here!  We’re shooting for the end of this month for ASID’s Stealth Books launch.  I’ve garnered some great review blurb quotes from some huge names in the marketplace, the back copy is revised, the interior is formatted and proofed, and we’ve even slightly tweaked the cover design.  Assuming the last few processes go well, the book will go live on Amazon.com 31Jan2014.  Available in 6×9 trade paperback for $15.99 or Kindle e-book for $3.99, it will also be part of the KDP Select program.  The e-book will be exclusive to Kindle and Amazon for three months, promoted by Amazon, and AVAILABLE FOR FREE BORROWING IF YOU ARE AN AMAZON PRIME MEMBER.  That’s right, if you have Prime, you can download and read ASID from the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library gratis!  (I still earn royalties when you borrow, it just comes out of the Prime members’ annual dues.)

And that’s not all!  The trade paperback will be available online through whichever bookseller you like, and the e-book will go out on Nook and E-Pub devices in May.  Also in May, we might have some other new announcements, like the debut of an ASID app and tabletop game, as well as an audiobook! (We’ll see how those pan out.)

So, anticipate seeing a bunch of cryptic tweets from me, as well as a few other goodies while I drum up interest in the launch.  What can you do to help?  Share my posts on e-mail, Facebook, Google+, and Twitter.  Share, re-tweet, “Like,” and “Favorite,” all you can.  And then when it comes out, grab a copy, give it a read and then provide me an honest review online.

I CAN’T FREAKIN’ WAIT!!!

Launch Copy Poll!!!!

We are now T – (something imminent, gimme a break — I do this in my spare time between working, caring for kids, wife, home, sleeping, etc) for the Stealth Books launch of A Sword Into Darkness, and I need your help!

Which version of back cover / website copy below would make you more likely to spend your hard-earned beer money (or wine and cheese money, we ain’t snobby around here) on my rousing tale of near future, space-faring daring-do?

Version 1:

Humanity is not alone in the universe, and we are not ready for what’s coming.

Something is out there . . . . That’s all Gordon Elliot Lee knows.  His scans of the Delta Pavonis region have uncovered a massive energy source moving toward Earth.  Something is definitely coming our way, but no one will believe him, despite the clout he’s built within NASA and the military.  Not one to be stymied by the doubts of others, Gordon lays the groundwork to meet a threat that’s still a generation in the future.  He is determined that the Earth will be ready, even if the preparations cost him everything.

Nathan Kelley is a bloodied naval warrior, scarred by his own actions in the waters off North Korea.  Kris Munoz is an avant garde scientific genius with more ideas than sense.  Nathan and Kris are the only two people Gordon can count on as they sour the very edges of fringe science and engineering to develop Earth’s first space navy in time to oppose the Deltan invasion.

They will have to face ridicule, government obstruction, industrial espionage, and their own demons to get this insanely ambitious project off the ground.  But the challenges on Earth are nothing compared to what awaits them in space.  Against an unknown alien enemy with vastly superior technology, a handful of human scientists and warriors must become the sword that holds the darkness at bay.

The human race is about to make its stand . . . .

Or Version 2:

AN UNKNOWABLE THREAT APPROACHES EARTH

WE ARE UNPREPARED FOR WHAT’S COMING

Gordon Lee – an industrialist with the vision and the means.  Nathan Kelley – a haunted naval warrior with the skillset to see that vision accomplished.  Kris Munoz – an unpredictable genius with more ideas than sense.  These three alone will take up the task to create Earth’s first space navy.  Beset by ridicule, government obstruction, corporate espionage, and their own personal demons, it will take a miracle just to get off the ground.

And, should they reach their alien quarry, they will have to become the sword that holds the darkness at bay.

MISSILES WILL FLASH

RAILGUNS WILL RUMBLE

LASERS WILL BURN

AND DEFENDERS WILL DIE

IF THEY FAIL, OUR END IS AT HAND

Ooooor, some complex mix of the two.  If so, leave your thoughts down in the comments and we can pick and choose from the best elements of each.  The first is more informative – you know what you’re gonna get.  The second seems punchier – you know the kind of story you’re going to get.

What say you, internet?  The clock, it is TICKING!

Plug Your Book on The Improbable Author!

Well, my previous post unfortunately dropped into the internets without much of a splash and barely a ripple.  That’s what I get for announcing a new feature on Labor Day weekend while WorldCon was going on.  Everyone had better places to be.

But now you’re all back at work and hating life, so you’ll be searching desperately for diversions.  And what a diversion I’m proposing to you!

PLUG YOUR BOOK HERE.

Indie and self-published SF / Fantasy / Horror / and Adventure authors, I’m about to join your ranks, so I’m proposing a quid-pro-quo arrangement for the benefit of all.  Sort of like John Scalzi’s Big Idea guest columns, I’m proposing you dear authors without marketing teams behind you include The Improbable Author in your marketing plan.  I get more viewership for my impending launch, and you get more sales out there as well.

If you’d like to guest-post 5-10 paragraphs about your book, yourself, and the your journey from concept to execution, just leave your contact info in the comments below, use the contact form, or email me at amaysingstories@gmail.com and we’ll work out the details.  Posting schedule depends on inputs, but there should be little to no delay once we get in contact.

So, authors and readers, let’s get the word out there about the amazing books now populating the indie realm!

I look forward to hearing from you.

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.

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!