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.
As you will have noticed if you’ve been following me in recent months, I’ve been working on my latest novel. The final draft is done and off to the editor, so now it’s on to cover love… Gayla pulled off another great one–which was a difficult task, given an alien protagonist who was genetically engineered to wear the median skin tone of all earthlings. I have to tell you… There aren’t many options for people of color as cover models. Even fewer that are interracial between two women. So we took off in the direction of the galaxies through which they travel. I’m very proud to share this with you:
Given where the story is in the editing process, I suspect my estimate of a July release remains reasonable. I’m really looking forward to sharing this one with everyone.
This was the second of my binge reads last weekend, and actually deeply impressed me for the strong female voice of the protagonist. I had picked it up over the summer while it was on sale, thinking I might have time to treat myself to a break with a book by a Twitter buddy (@Jenthulhu, you should follow her, too, since she shares very kewl science news & geek links on a regular basis)… but… it sat in my TBR pile for longer than expected. It didn’t let me go once I started reading, though.
Given my own love of languages, the protagonist’s vocation made her immediately appealing to me on the one hand, while her self-control allowed her the appropriate distance to maintain productive professional relationships with her colleagues:
“This isn’t how it’s supposed to work, you know,” he said, with a sly smile. She resisted smiling back.
“You’re supposed to be the damsel in distress. We’re supposed to save you.”
She snorted and pulled her hand away. “Times have changed.”
“But what does that make us? Two dudes in distress? Pathetic.”
“Two colleagues in distress. Gender doesn’t matter,” she replied and let a hint of a sad smile cross her face.
Even more welcome was the fact that this was a mature woman who was learning and growing through her experiences. (I may be slightly burned out on the YA/NA craze these days, since it seems my Harry Potter fandom has put me in the marketing cross-hairs for a whole lot of juvenile characters…) Wells finally shares some of the reason for Jane’s self-contained distance late in the story in a way that will allow her to springboard to even greater growth in future installments, too, so it was a welcome development to find a character who didn’t bore me with her own inner stagnation.
I was sucked into the adventure of exploring a derelict spaceship and learning about alien races both from the human and alien perspective. The horror of discovering additional, unexpected hazards to space travel, and the Easter Egg bonus of a Smoking Man reference did a lot to cement my geek-heart happiness with the story. In fact, it felt like there were several homages to various scifi classics woven throughout, so I smiled at regular intervals not only from the banter among the characters but also at an author having fun with tropes.
Wells even managed to wedge in some lessons on women’s experience trying to pursue professions in science that helped underline the character’s tenacity while shining a light on the continued disparities between the sexes’ ability to advance credible careers.
My one nitpick was that the ending was a rather obvious cliffhanger, asking the reader to hold on for the ride (very much in the style of Contact, “wanna go for a ride, little girl?”), but having to wait for book 2’s release. While the arc and adventure were complete for this segment of the saga, I’m seeing more series authors closing with a brand new opening, rather than a sense of quiet satisfaction that allows the reader to savor the world without that gnawing sense of missing all the MOAR that is over the horizon. It’s becoming a larger frustration each time I encounter the issue, and detracts, in this case, from a competent debut.
Regardless, I would recommend this to anyone who enjoyed the Miles Vorkosigan stories, the X-Files, or even the Katarr stories (to plug my own publisher’s multi-author series). I am looking forward to the adventures foreshadowed for book 2 (Remanence), and am anticipating (along with what appears to be a robust fan base) its release sometime in the near future.
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.
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.
It’s an out-of-this world week for me, as I’ve released my latest story: Wytchfire. You have a chance to win it, or my scifi/romance novel, Dementional, as part of this bloghop. To whet your appetite, here’s a snippet:
All these clues pointed to either a long-term hotel stay—or something more institutional… Maybe she was crazy and this was how she was being treated?
She felt logical. She didn’t think she had any delusions. She had undertaken a rational inventory. So what had happened to her memory?
Her face could be a clue; she stared into the mirror after she flushed the toilet. Her skin was clear and fair. Her brown hair was cut short, in a stylish pixie. Her eyes were not bloodshot, although the brown irises meant she was of a common genetic phenotype. The bridge of her nose looked lumpy enough to point to a broken past. She opened her mouth wide; did she have any distinctive dental features that might help recover her identity?
How did she even know people could check dental records to confirm an individual’s existence? Her brain felt like Swiss cheese. It was time to do a more exhaustive inventory of what was in her room to see whether there were any clues to who she might be.
An hour later, she had neat piles of maternity shirts, pants, sweaters, jackets, and underwear on one side of the bed, while the other held a few romance novels with heroines looking almost as busty as she was stacked next to a small selection of children’s books.
She was as much of a mystery to herself as she’d ever been. Who was this woman who seemed to have Ann Klein-style taste in clothing, insipid reading material, and no other indication of identity?
The prizes for Rafflecopter participation are substantial, so don’t miss your chance at:
1st Prize – $150 Amazon or B&N gift card (winner’s choice) and an eBook bundle (includes: Ghost in the Machine, Bayne, Recast Book 1: Wither, Recast Book 2: Clash, Alien Adoration, Switched, Reckless Rescue, Wreck of the Nebula Dream, Keir, Terms & Conditions Apply, The Key, Marya, The Iron Admiral, Sasha’s Calling, Trouble at the Hotel Baba Ghanoush, Winter in Paradise, Once Upon a Time in Space, the Telomere trilogy, Winter Fusion, Blue Nebula, Demential, Wytchfire, Maven, Fires of Justice, Interface, Girl under Glass, Breakout, Ghost Planet, The Iron Admiral: Conspiracy and Deception, Stark Pleasure, The Plan, Starburst, and Games of Command.)
2nd Prize – $50 Amazon or B&N gift card (winner’s choice)
3rd Prizes – four $25 Amazon or B&N gift cards (given to separate winners and their choice)
This time I have a nifty 3-D image of what the paperback looks like, too.
Yes, there was much rejoicing this weekend. And all of a sudden, I felt at loose ends. I met my major goal: I had done everything I wanted to do to get my second book out and promoted.
So I’m adding to my promo plate and looking for additional opportunities to publicize Dementional.
I also publicized the goal of an additional 5K words on Blood to Fire by the end of the month. I’m down to five days to accomplish that, but I think it’s still in the realm of possibility. (Plus, I found that nifty widget that allows me to post progress updates without needing to post additional rambling words here… Check it out in the right-hand column, after the list of my books generated by Goodreads.)
That means if all goes well, the final month of this round should be dedicated to #wordmongering sprints to get as close as possible to my 55K-word goal on Blood to Fire.
This week I also need to clear up the question of when, exactly, I’m to begin my MBA studies. Once that starts (theoretically, right after Labor Day), I fully expect to have to re-adjust my own expectations.
Please find more Row80 participants HERE.
Today was the day. It was supposed to have been yesterday, but the night kept getting later, it had already been a long week, and we didn’t want any error creep.
So today, I present to you: Dementional.
This time, I’m releasing the print and eBook versions at the same time, and Katarr Kanticles Press has come up with a sweet deal: If you’re inclined to buy the paper version, we’re giving you the digital copy for free.
We see it as a 2-for-1 deal for readers, to thank them for supporting realistic pricing for indies–and being willing to carry a copy of our babies so the world can see the beauty of their covers.
I have another thought floating in the back of my mind about this move too: In the wake of the crazy lynch mob that brought down the legitimate book-loaning site LendInk, I want to be on the side of authors who are willing to support the legal lending that comes with owning a DRM-free version of an eBook. I think this represents the best kind of word-of-mouth marketing an author can have: Friends sharing their books as a tacit (or explicit) recommendation of that content. We do it with paperbacks all the time; why shouldn’t we be allowed the same freedom with our digital copies?
I have also set a special library purchase price for my book, to reduce that barrier to entry as well.
The most authentic way for us to build our audience/readership is when those readers are enthusiastic enough to give their circle of friends a recommendation to read our work. Whatever I can do as an author to make that process easier is to my benefit; it’s part of the same marketing calculation that has me sending out free review copies to other reviewers.
So… any reviewers who are interested, let me know.
And I hope all of you enjoy this strange tale my mind concocted that lies somewhere in the intersection of “Quantum Leap” and “It’s a Wonderful Life”–and considers the mass of a soul.
It’s that time in the book production process that I once again had my day hijacked in the best possible way: Gayla (@scath) hit another homer with this beautiful cover for my latest book.
Dementional is slated for release 8/23, so is currently in the middle of the editing process… and I’m trying to be a little more on the ball ahead of time with promotional stuff, so the next few weeks are going to be BUSY.
In the meantime, I’ve added the book’s information as I have it so far to Goodreads. If anyone is so inclined, I’d appreciate if you’d add it to your to-read list.
My current, super-short description: A particle physicist loses a Higgs Boson and has to find both his new wife and his way home after slipping through dimensions because of his experiment going awry.
It’s classified as a scifi romance for an adult audience.