Monday, May 30, 2005

Whiskey Creek Press to Publish Trinity on Tylos

It's official— Whiskey Creek Press in Wyoming has accepted Trinity on Tylos, but the release date hasn't been set as of this post. Debra Womack, publisher, called it a "very good read" and further stated that she "completely enjoyed it." Hopefully it will be available soon and each of you can read it as well.

I've placed a link to WCP on the blog, and I'll add some comments as the editorial process gets underway. Obviously, I'm excited to have this new publisher, and I hope my readers will take a look at their website. When I know more about the timeline for publication, I'll post that here as well as on

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Saturday, May 28, 2005

Space Operas and Speculative Romance— comments on the changing face of Science Fiction

I went to see Star Wars Episode III with my children recently, and while viewing all those special effects, my mind roamed beyond the screen to my own perceptions of science fiction. Few of the current works which bear that label are truly science fiction, of course. In the romance section of any modern bookstore, a few “futuristics” are mixed in with historical and contemporary pieces. Susan Grant and C. J. Barry write in that sub-genre, and I’ve certainly enjoyed their novels. David Weber and John Ringo, both Baen Books authors, write space operas and do it quite well. Star Wars was and still is quintesential space opera, of course, and as one of those kids who grew up watching Star Trek on television, I continue to find such not-so-scientific stories enthralling.

Serious science fiction, which I also read from time to time, tends to fall into two categories, “hard” scifi, which does take real scientific principles and postulates how such technologies might be used or abused in future societies. Arthur C. Clarke’s works fall into this category. When a serious writer speculates more about the human side, then the work is labeled “soft” scifi. Ursula K. LeGuin’s works are among the best examples of this sub-genre. These works tend to be far more serious than the stories which are the basis for television and film science fiction presentations.

Anytime characters speed through space via warp drive or hyperspace, the work has moved away from serious science fiction and into the realm of space opera. Other common plotlines include time travel or alien invasions. In the sixties and seventies, extra sensory perception was often a key element of speculative works, but now readers are more likely to encounter vampires or shape shifters. For some reason, blood sucking is really in vogue!

My latest novel, Trinity on Tylos, has its roots in space opera, with gigantic ships which move characters through the galaxy at a rapid pace, but in large part it also explores surrogate parenthood, a topic which is of growing interest to our society. Indeed, this story borders on being soft scifi, for the main character is torn between her human lover and her role as mother of an alien society. Regardless of how my publisher chooses to label this story, I hope that readers will become engrossed in the conflicts which Venice Dylenski encounters, without worrying overmuch about what makes the ships work.

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Tuesday, May 24, 2005

POD or iPod

Hi there!

As I'm mulling over a contract for my new novel, I can't avoid thinking about my first one.

After Gardenia Press contracted for my debut novel, T
he Gift Horse, and then went bankrupt prior to publication, I felt pressure to get my book out. I was aware of the risks associated of going to print without the prestige of a “real” publisher, but I also knew that finding a publisher could literally take years. I used Booklocker, one of the more discerning print on demand publishers. I still wonder if I made the right choice. Not about using Booklocker, but going POD. Maybe I should have gotten an iPod instead.

Oh, the novel is exactly what Gardenia Press would have published, albeit with a different cover, and I had many readers tell me how much they enjoyed it. Indeed some people finished the same day they bought it, and it’s 296 pages long! Readers don’t seem to care who printed the book, as long as it is a compelling read and free of distracting errors. Locally, I received several invitations to speak and sell books, and my hometown newspaper gave me some wonderful publicity. No way was this venture a failure.

But using POD curtailed the audience. As far as I know, no one bought a copy from, or from any other online booksellers. Barnes and Noble has a “small press program” which is supposed to give such books a chance to get onto their shelves, but all I got for my efforts from B&N was a form letter. Online and print review sites either refused to review the book or ignored my submission altogether. So once the local readers got their copy, sales became sluggish. After this year, I plan to let it go out of print, although one reason for using POD is to give books longer to build readership.

I’ve been told that big publishers have to remainder close to half of the books they print. What that means is the publisher or distributor takes them back and either sells them for nearly nothing, which is where all those “bargain books” come from, or shreds them to create recycled paper. From a purely business stance, POD makes lots of sense— only print books which have been sold, thus no waste. Unfortunately, several such publishers will print anything at all; therefore, booksellers and book reviewers give these books no respect. That’s too bad, because authors whose story is too “different” to win a contract with a big publisher, may never get published, or if the author chooses POD, then comparatively few readers ever see them.

The Gift Horse sold well for a POD, but not well enough to be picked up by a “real” publisher. Which is sad, not because I wrote it, but because this story was worthy of a larger audience. So the venture can’t be labeled a success either.

That’s why I’ve waited patiently to find a small press willing to publish my sophomore novel,
Trinity on Tylos. I hope this new novel finds that larger audience.

As for the iPod, I don’t listen to music enough to really enjoy one, but my teenage daughter loves hers, and this trendy little devise has made our Apple Computer stock worth lots and lots more than when we bought it. Now, that’s a win-win scenario.

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Wednesday, May 18, 2005


Welcome to my new blog. This is an up and coming method of communication, so I'm trying it out. Certainly, many readers have asked when my new book is coming out, what is going on with The Gift Horse, and just what is going on with my writing career, so I hope to keep readers apprised via this method.

The Gift Horse has sold well, but it has been out since February 2004, so sales are naturally declining, and I am working on a few other projects. My second "finished" manuscript, a speculative novel with romantic elements, is under serious consideration by a publisher, so I'll let you know via this blog and my website if and when the contract is signed.

Publishers like to read a summary of a novel prior to reading the manuscript, so the synopsis I wrote for Trinity on Tylos is here— hopefully, this will let you know what this new book is about.

Synopsis of Trinity on Tylos

What sacrifices must an officer make to save her shipmates from certain doom? Venice Dylenski, the young security chief of the colonizing ship, Excalibur, is faced with this dilemma after her captain makes a critical error in judgment in an encounter with an alien with superior fire power and a hidden agenda.

Trinity on Tylos opens with a tense scene as Venice experiences an embarrassing moment on a survey mission, one which rules out yet another planet as a hospitable home for their colony. While continuing its search, the Excalibur encounters the Archeons, an alien race characterized by gray-blue skin and a facility for language. The interchange results in Venice and a crewmate, Alathea Duke, being taken captive by the mysterious Archeon captain, Azareel. In short order, he informs them that they will play a critical role in revitalizing his dying race, that of surrogate mothers to genetically engineered Archeon offspring.

Venice, reluctant "to be the next Archeon soccer mom," strives to escape, but her companion seems all too willing to cooperate with their captor. Thus the stage is set for multiple conflicts between human and Archeon, human and human, and humanoids verses the hostile environment of their new planetary home in the Tylos star system.

Trinity on Tylos has the elements of a good space opera: complex characters faced with myriad problems to solve, set in a future where man may have escaped the bounds of his solar system, but not the bonds of human emotions.

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