As promised, today is the official release day for The Builders. At 61,211 words, it’s my longest novel yet and branches me out into the niche romance market of lesbian romances. I wasn’t entirely sure I wanted to go there, but the characters were stubbornly female and stubbornly attracted to each other.
Amazingly, in the few hours it’s been available to the public, demand has been strong enough to propel it to #5 in Amazon’s “Hot New Releases in LGBT Science Fiction” list and #15 in Amazon’s top 100 paid “Best Sellers in LGBT Science Fiction” list. I’m unbelievably excited to have my book listed on the same page as one of Gail Carriger’s latest:
Thank you to all the readers who have made this possible! I hope the story is as entertaining and thought-provoking for you to read as it was for me to research and write.
To whet your appetite, here’s the blurb:
Earth’s alien progenitors have returned. For Tara Shifflet, abuse survivor and meeting planner, that wouldn’t be as big a deal as getting home to her therapy cat, except that getting anywhere in the U.S. is dicey in the wake of public uproar about first contact. For Navenah, a short-term assignment with vague directions to find generators to save her dying race leads to frustration and misunderstanding. The two women find unexpected pleasure together, but will that solve the galactic die-off?
I’m excited to see audience response to this story, even while I work on formatting the print version.
My author friend Jane Isaac nominated me for a Lovely Blog Award earlier this week. Since I need a writing exercise that keeps my keyboard fingers limber, I figure seven facts you (may or may not) know about me should constitute a simple challenge in my brain-dead state. (The rules indicate listing 7 facts and then tagging some fellow bloggers to ask them to do the same, so watch for the baton passing at the end.)
- I was born at the Ohio State University hospital, making me a Buckeye… but in name only, since we moved away before I was one year old.
- I first learned German when I was learning to speak–after we moved from Columbus to Kiel. I had this idea as a young girl, then, that I could speak German–which made for a rude awakening when we moved to Berlin when I was in 4th grade, and I was placed in a remedial German class.
- I made up for having forgotten so much by moving up to an intermediate German class halfway through 4th grade.
- I was in the double mother-tongue track by the time I was in 7th grade, meaning half my classes were taught in German–including French.
- I’m still fluent in French and German. And I have some rudimentary Russian, Mandarin Chinese, and Spanish skills.
- Because of my language abilities and international background I never expected to marry an American.
- Hubs (who was born and raised in the American heartland) and I celebrated our 17th anniversary Monday with a silly faces contest he documented in a series of selfies and made into a sweet (or goofy, depending on your point of view) movie.
Now for the taggees (if you’ll forgive the coinage): Rebecca Clare Smith (as if she hadn’t already answered enough questions), AK Anderson (because I may have wimped out on the Quest, but think her thoughts are worth soliciting), and Dionne Lister (since I haven’t asked her enough intrusive questions this week).
As you may remember, one of my goals this round was to post more book reviews… since that was, ostensibly why I started this blog. As I faced the final countdown to the end of my MBA capstone project, all the backlog of my frustration with being kept from my beloved fictional worlds boiled over into a few days of binge reading… when I really should have been focused on other things. Nonetheless: I’m officially done with the MBA, AND I now have time to write about what I’ve read. In this case, a high fantasy novel written by MeiLin Miranda–the woman who’s helped Blurb Doctor some of my own work. Since I discovered she set the first in her series perma-free, and she never requested a review, the fact that I have worked with her may or may not make you think I’m biased about what I’ve read–by way of disclaimer, anyway. In my case, it gave me much greater patience with the first few chapters of the book, when I found it disconcertingly easy to put the book down.
However, the payoff was more than worth it. I kept wondering to myself if this book could be classified as New Adult, since it deals primarily with the stickiness of the coming of age of the heir to the throne of Tremont. Prince Temmin is rightly described by one of his father’s advisers as “callow” early on, which, I suspect, was part of my difficulty in connecting with the first part of the tale. He’s naive to the point of stupidity as the story starts, and even though his arc is satisfying in the end, it’s difficult for me to feel much sympathy for one who is stubbornly caught in the victim-of-circumstance mode, while at the same time not questioning the society that has forced him into that mold.
As an example, it’s his flirty sister at his coming-of-age ball who points out:
“Tem, look around,” she whispered as he offered her a proud arm and they proceeded through the genuflecting crowd. “Notice anything?”
“What am I supposed to be noticing?” he whispered back.
“The young men! Look at them. They’re all trimming their beards to look like you–moustaches and sideburns and no chin whiskers!”
He wonders a few times that his older sister, widely regarded as the most intelligent of the siblings, is not herself a candidate for the throne, and comments that she would be better suited to the job. The interesting thing about the way all this is layered in is the unthinking sexism and unconscious power structure it illustrates as backdrop to the greater and deeper theme of empowerment versus disempowerment.
That motif was what hooked me–and disproved the “young” element of the story. The book evolves into full-fledged eroticism of all stripes and a frank and honest look at all the different reasons people can and do have sex. Playing on some of the real-world “debate” about homosexuality, the conversation about why men would choose to be with men or women with women was a useful counterpoint on the one hand, but a strange perspective that sex with the same sex could still leave you virginal.
The other thread, the almost-immortal Teacher who uses a magical book to instruct the heir on the hidden history of his kingdom–and in particular, the story of one of its previous queens–was a unique use of the frame story technique, that (for me) had the subtext of illustrating how powerful well-written stories are in their formation of our intellectual and emotional selves.
Finally, the cast of characters is compelling–and large. The book closes by bringing back to the fore a minor character from the early chapters, and seems to presage another personage facing similar trials to Temmin’s. However, in this case, it also left me vaguely frustrated that the story would end with her rather than the protagonist. I do give the author the leeway of kicking off a series of books in this volume, but wasn’t pleased to feel left at loose ends.
Overall, I would recommend this to those who enjoy high fantasy that focuses on political machinations and coming-of-age tales–but from a very adult (really, almost erotica) perspective. The couple of weaknesses I saw were more than compensated for by the compelling world-building, intriguing magic, and complex individuals relating to what it means to be an adult making one’s way through a layered world. I will be reading Son in Sorrow when I get the chance, which is perhaps the strongest indication of how much I enjoyed my foray into the Greater Kingdom.
I’ve worked consistently with several people I would recommend as professionals in the following capacities:
Editor: Dionne Lister
Copy Editor: Josef Harvey Brummeyer
Cover Design: Gayla Drummond
Honorable mention goes to Rebecca Dickson, who is going to be stepping up to the editorial task for my next book and has been responsive and gracious in all her email communication in the process so far.
New story release days are always fun–especially when they hadn’t been part of the original plan for the year. So consider this my bonus present to you: A plot bunny gift that almost wrote itself and brought me back to the scifi/romance genre that’s so fun for me to explore.
In case you missed it earlier this week, here’s the blurb:
In 2078, Earth was invaded. After the Fall stories document that time.
Sienna was trying to find a refuge away from Earth that would be safe for both her and her unborn child.Then she mistook a Siamet for a Katarr.
Zaun was doing his part to build the Resistance when a nasty trick lands him in bed with Sienna.
Overcoming language and trust obstacles is the least of their worries when their survival is on the line.
Novelette with a word count of 10,200.
We’re still working on getting it cross-posted on Smashwords, etc., but Amazon jumped on their process and kicked off my day in high style.
UPDATE: Now also on Smashwords.
I woke up this morning at the ungodly hour of 4AM for a very good reason: I FINALLY got the chance to meet some of my online besties. Gayla and I have been talking about catching up in the flesh for well over a year. Our first plan was to attend a writer’s conference in May. That ended up not working out for a variety of reasons. (Think starving artists, here, folks, and buy our books! <G>)
Then I discovered Dionne was planning on meeting up with her TweepNation broadcast partner in Dallas in October. Amber proceeded to make it a whole event: Indievengeance day is on for tomorrow, and by hanging out for a few hours in Dallas after my arrival, I got to see Dionne and Ciara, and had the bonus of meeting ME Franco too.
I couldn’t not figure out a way to make this happen and I’m grateful to all the Powers That Be that it’s worked out. So. For the next few days I’ll be hanging out at Gayla’s, with the hope that we’ll get to spend time writing as well as chit-chatting and enjoying each other’s company.
It’s a nice change of pace generally, and while I’m slap-happy tired at the moment, I’m so very thankful for the community of gracious fellow writers I’ve found my way into.
Another review for the month–that’s been languishing far too long in draft format. This one comes courtesy an author who braved the ridiculously long list of requests queued for reviews on my blog and sent me the blurb to her book. It was intriguing enough–and exactly what I needed at the time as a mental palate cleanse from school texts–that I asked her to send it right over. I read it that day. Here’s what had me hooked:
What would you risk for love?
Marlee’s people are dying—the valuable anysogen gas that covers their planet is making the entire population infertile. When the council tells her she must leave her partner and choose another to improve her chances of having a baby, she’s devastated. She swears she’ll never love again—it hurts too much.
Tyris thinks he has everything he wants, despite his world suffering from overpopulation—until his wife leaves him because he is forbidden to have children.
In an attempt to convince his world, and his wife, that he’s worthwhile, Tyris goes hunting for a lost planet said to contain untold riches in the form of anysogen gas.
When he crashes on her world, Marlee and Tyris agree to pretend to live together while they try to repair his ship and escape from the planet. But as they battle the harsh winter on the planet together, keeping their distance becomes even more challenging than the snow, the council and the risks of a real relationship…
The story is engaging and well-told, shifting perspective between Marlee and Tyris, and jumping from a world most westerners would recognize–full of electronic devices and time-saving measures–to a primitive settlement on a world under a literal cloud of gas. The characters are likable and strongly motivated in slightly different directions–though both are primarily concerned with their ability to escape the atmosphere slowly, literally poisoning all the people living on the new planet.
“You bumped your head quite hard. Don’t try to get up. You’re safe here.”
Her soothing words were at odds with the excitement in her voice.
“My ship, the Hylista, is it in one piece?”
He couldn’t remember the final landing. Had the shields protected him, or had the power cut out again?
“It’s… all in one piece,” she said carefully.
She frowned. “But what?”
“I sense a ‘but’. It’s all in one piece, but…”
She hesitated. “Nerris thinks it’s badly damaged. He can’t get the power to come on.”
Tyris tried to ignore his heart sinking. He had no idea who Nerris was. It was impossible to judge if he was qualified to assess the damage. “Where am I?” he asked instead.
He looked around the room, searching for clues as to his whereabouts. The walls were dark and gritty like mud, and the floor was bare dirt, brightened only slightly by a round, plaited rug. Through the open doorway he could see a fireplace with a large pot hanging over it.
This had to be the village he had flown over, the one that shouldn’t have existed. People actually lived here. What were they doing on this planet? Were they hoping to sell the anysogen on the black market?
Sometimes the descriptions of just how self-sufficient the settlers have become get a little overdone, and there’s something of an underlying preachiness about the value of knowing how to live off the grid, but not enough to derail my enjoyment of the unfolding story. It can also be argued that Tyris’ growing regard for Marlee is largely built on his understanding of her ability to sustain herself in spartan circumstances, so the domestic scenes of cooking, canning, knitting, and homesteading highlight just how extensive her skills are. That contrast with Tyris’ wife also establishes another angle to the central tension about making a life on a planet that dooms its inhabitants to sterility versus making a daring escape.
This is a welcome addition to the growing sub-genre of scifi romance, where readers can explore additional, unique contributing factors in the relationship. In this particular case, it’s an ambitious debut novel that’s found a way to compare and contrast low-tech and high-tech living in an imaginative way–which lets me happily recommend it for fans of both romance and scifi genres who appreciate attention to experiential details. The dystopian view of a dead-end colony adds meat to the tensions that beset the characters. Even better, there’s a book 2 on the way later this year so we can watch how Tyris and Marlee handle a new set of challenges.
Every indie author I know is looking for ways to maximize their exposure and reinforce their legitimacy. This evening, I found a free database tool called AUTHORSdB that does exactly that.
Here’s how they describe themselves:
Here at AUTHORSdB we’ve formed the only FREE database of authors, including social media, book listings and much more, for today’s mine-field of thousands of aspiring and established writers.
ADB is a place where information is available on your favorite authors and where you can learn more about up-and-coming authors. Readers no longer have to google from several different websites to find out more about a particular author – it’s all here.
Authors are able to find listings for new and established author services to help make their writing life just that bit easier.
And it’s all 100% FREE.
I created my listing tonight, and it couldn’t be easier: Select your username and password, verify your email address, and start filling out your text fields. Final step is to upload images to go with your listing. They even run a drawing for extra publicity–in the form of a banner on their website–if you blog about their existence.
It’s worth looking into, since even though they seem very new, their past banners have been seen over 70 million times in 2012.
I missed posting yesterday. So sue me. I’ve been sicker this week than I remember ever having been–even Chicken Pox wasn’t this debilitating. And as I’ve struggled to feel better, I’ve watched my dogs watch me, perplexed.
Which made me wonder: Whoever came up with expression “sick as a dog”? My girls have been blessed with good health, and recover quickly from whatever ails them with a quick up-chuck; certainly, they’ve never dragged listlessly from couch to chair to bed that way I’ve struggled to this week.
That’s where my friend Google jumped in to help–and I’ve found a new online friend: Word-detective.com
According to an entry from June:
“Sick as a dog,” which means “extremely sick” and dates back to at least the 17th century, is also not so much negative as it is simply descriptive. Anyone who knows dogs knows that while they can and often will eat absolutely anything, on those occasions when their diet disagrees with them the results can be quite dramatic. And while Americans may consider themselves “sick” when they have a bad cold, in Britain that would be called “feeling ill.” “Being sick” in Britain usually means “to vomit.”
So to really appreciate the original sense of “sick as a dog,” imagine yourself seated in the parlor having tea with the Vicar on a lovely Sunday afternoon, when Fido staggers in from a meal of sun-dried woodchuck and expresses his unease all over your heirloom oriental carpet. It’s actually rather amazing that goldfish aren’t more popular.
I’ll leave you with that laugh, as I resume my illness, thankful that at least my eyeballs no longer feel the need to explode, and I can at least chase plot bunnies.