Posts Tagged With: bestselling science fiction

Discover New Fantasy Reads at Knaaks Knoll

Black City Demon by Richard KnaakWhen I was a kid, DragonLance was the first series of fantasy novels that totally hooked me. I still get chills thinking about Raistlin changing his robes from red to black.

Now, my friend and fellow author Richard A. Knaak (longtime DragonLance author and New York Times bestselling author of Black City Saint and Black City Demon) has started up a Facebook page focused on spotlighting the undiscovered gems of fantasy and science fiction.

Check it out on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KnaaksKnoll/

Want a chance to win a signed paperback book? Join my author newsletter. >

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Wanna play Asteroids? C’mon, you know you do.

As a kid, I had a brief brush with fame when I met the local Asteroids arcade champ, Joel, an “old timer” of about eighteen.  Joel had braces like a Cadillac grille and a truly awe-inspiring white-guy fro.  He earned his notoriety in an epic arcade smackdown that stretched into the night, eliminating competitors one by one, until he was the last one standing.  Joel never succumbed to “GAME OVER” — he lasted just long enough to blast everyone else into submission, and then coolly strutted away from the machine.  (Actually, after hours of free caffeinated beverages, it was more like a sprint for the restroom.)

Joel’s advice for racking up points: shoot out all but one asteroid, then lurk near the edge of screen and hunt UFOs.  It’s a dangerous gambit, this “Joel Maneuver,” but it racks up points fast.  IF you’ve got the skills to survive.

Think you’re as good as the legendary Joel?  Scroll down and find the Asteroids screen on your right.  Click “//Yes, I understand” and then “PLAY GAME.”  Use your arrow keys for thrusters, and your space bar to fire.

Now THAT will bring back some memories!

Just don’t blame me if the boss catches you.

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SF author Laura E. Reeve tells it like it is

It’s always a pleasure to feature a Colorado science fiction author, and Laura E. Reeve is no exception.  Fans of David Weber or Jack Campbell will enjoy her military science fiction series about flawed but likable pilot Major Ariane Kedros.  Her latest book, Pathfinder, just came out this summer and is in stores now.

Sci Fi Bookshelf:  For those who haven’t picked up a Major Ariane Kedros novel yet, how would you describe the series?

Laura E. Reeve:  Military-flavored SF Adventure.  The heroine, Reserve Major Ariane Kedros, had her identity erased by the government for her own protection, due to her missions during the war. She now has a civilian job as pilot and explorer, but still undertakes Intelligence assignments–always dangerous, because not everyone supports the “new peace.” She also has to deal with wartime guilt and sometimes, against her own inclinations, she has to help old enemies.

SFB:  What authors are your biggest influences?

LER:  C.J. Cherryh fascinates me with her ability to spin alien mindsets and complex politics. Perhaps she even affected me subliminally; I only recently realized I used the same main character name she used in her Cyteen books, which I’d read years ago. Other SF/F writers I like who might have influenced my writing are Dan Simmons (irresistible subplots and character agendas), David Brin (dolphin space explorers–genius!), Vernor Vinge (suspenseful plots), Joan D. Vinge (riveting character conflict), and Marian Zimmer Bradley (because, in the end, it’s about characters and story).  At the least, I hope some of these authors’ skills have rubbed off on me.

SFB:  What’s your favorite part about the writing process?

LER:  I love editing most, by far, because the blank page is still intimidating to me. I also have the problem that I have to write sequentially, to know what each character has been through up to that point–which makes my first drafts pretty painful. However, once I have something to work with, I’m in heaven. I can add scenes, tighten connections between plot/subplot points, enhance characters, and “mine” for more conflict.

SFB:  What are you working on next?  Any more Major Ariane Kedros novels coming up?

LER:  My publisher (Penguin/Roc) wants to wait and see how well the Kedros series does, before contracting me for more books in that series.  I’m okay with that, since they paid for my editor, copyeditors, artists, formatting, printing, distribution, marketing, etc., and there’s such a lag time in determining how well books sell these days. So I’m reworking some of my traditional fantasy and we’ll see how that floats…

SFB: Do you have any advice for new writers today?

LER:  Persevere, but remain flexible. Most writers understand perseverance; finish your work and keep pitching it, right? Agreed. But understand the market and keep moving beyond the one beautiful manuscript you’re trying to sell. I’m not advocating “following the market” or warping a story into something it isn’t. But the ideal flexible writer has several finished manuscripts under his or her belt, and knows what to pitch to whom. An ideal flexible writer also begins working on a different manuscript as soon as the current one is in shape to be submitted.

Note that I said an IDEAL flexible writer, and I’ve got the cautionary tale: In late 2004, my agent said perhaps this wasn’t the “right time” for my traditional fantasy, and it might not be the “first manuscript” I sold. What tactful wording she used! Did I have anything else?  Unfortunately, I’d just spent a year writing a sequel to that manuscript, which was NOT the best use of my time. I made sure to finish the draft I was working on, archived all the information about the world, and put my traditional fantasies on the shelf. I then switched gears, and dug up the beginning chapters of a novel that would eventually become Peacekeeper, my first sale. Now, I’m going back to that first traditional fantasy, editing it, and sending it in. Then I’ll be moving on to a steampunk fantasy that’s been growing in the back of my mind. I’m trying to be more flexible.

SFB:  We’ll keep our eyes open for future books.  Laura, thank you so much for your time!

LER:  Thank you very much.

AUTHOR INFO:
Laura E. Reeve
The Major Ariane Kedros Novels
www.AncestralStars.com

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Type Faster

Just a quick thought for your weekend:

Isaac Asimov was once interviewed by Barbara Walters.  She asked him, “What would you do if the doctor gave you only six months to live?”

He said, “Type faster.”

So . . . here’s to typing faster.  Have a great weekend!

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Depeche Mode, Pizza and the Nebula Awards

Believe me, this has absolutely everything to do with science fiction, bestselling authors and the Nebula Awards, since all of these things undoubtedly have one thing that links them: pizza.

Come on, you can’t tell me you’ve never eaten a pizza while watching Star Trek or between events at your last convention.  Right?  And I guarantee you that Connie Willis, Joe Haldeman, Orson Scott Card or SOMEBODY with a Nebula on their mantelpiece has eaten pizza, possibly within the last week.

And what about Pizza the Hutt?  I rest my case.  Science fiction is inextricably linked to pizza.

So, without further ado, here’s my own contribution to all things pizza, in the form of lyrics.  (Go ahead, sing it.  I dare you.)

PERSONAL PIZZA
(sung to Personal Jesus by Depeche Mode)

Your own personal pizza
Get some toppings that please
No anchovies

Your own personal pizza
Something to heed your pleas
For extra cheese

Eating alone
Dinner unknown
Danger zone
By the telephone
Lift up the receiver
You know I will deliver

Extra toppings
Or get some hot wings
A delivery fee
And gratuity
Lift up the receiver
You know I will deliver

Reach out for breadsticks
Reach out for breadsticks

Your own (your own)
Personal (personal)
Pizza

Reach out for breadsticks…

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Free science fiction novel winner!

Congratulations to Charity Bradford, winner of the first-ever SciFiBookshelf.com contest!

Charity, email your mailing address to me at LaurenceMacNaughton(at)yahoo(dot)com, and I’ll pop that book in the mail to you.

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Free science fiction novel contest – one week left!

You’ve only got one week left to win a free book from Jack Campbell’s New York Times bestselling series, The Lost Fleet!  How?  Just leave a comment telling me what you’d like to see more of on SciFiBookshelf.com.

How easy is that?

Do you want more science fiction news?  More writing tips?  More contests?  Your comment could earn you a free novel!

I’ll announce the winner here on Friday, June 11.  Stay tuned!

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Wednesdays with David Weber, Part 4

David Weber is author of the New York Times best-selling Honor Harrington novels, as well as a mind-boggling array of other books.  On top of that, he’s a really nice guy who took the time to share a glimpse into his universe.

After a severe injury broke his wrist into 57 pieces several years ago, he started dictating his books using voice-activated software.  Despite this hurdle, David says that he averages better than 200 words per minute.

SciFiBookshelf.com:  Astounding!  David, I salute you.  Do you have any advice for aspiring science fiction writers?

David Weber:  First, write what you enjoy reading. You’ll do a much better job working on something that interests and excites you than you will trying to produce something simply because you think it might sell, even though it isn’t what you’d enjoy reading yourself. In addition, there’s no one out there who is genuinely unique in his or her reading tastes. In other words, if you enjoy reading it, so will someone else, which means there ought to be a market for it somewhere. Second, accept that if you’re going to try to do this professionally you either need to become a production writer — which means those 16-hour days — or you need to have a day job. Third, complete something before you start trying to submit your work. An editor is a lot more likely to buy a story or a novel, even if it needs a substantial amount of work, if that story or novel exists as a completed whole. The last thing any publisher needs is to commit to buy a book from someone who, it turns out, won’t be able to finish it, and it will help a sale immensely if the person thinking about buying the story knows not only that it ends but that the writer is able to provide a satisfactory end. Fourth, choose who you’re going to submit to carefully. Pick a publisher who publishes material similar to whatever it is you’ve written. Don’t try to sell a story about elves and dwarves to somebody who publishes primarily tech-heavy military fiction. Fifth, when you submit, do it in a professional manner. Don’t use the cover letter to tell the editor what your story is about, and — above all! — don’t use it to tell the editor how great the story is. You can include chapter synopses, outlines, and the entire manuscript to do that, and any professional editor is going to resent having someone submitting an unsolicited manuscript explain that manuscript to her. She’ll make her own judgments on its quality, thank you, and you’re more likely to put someone’s nose out of joint by “blowing your own horn” then you are to influence someone into buying your work. Sixth, after you’ve submitted, stay in touch. In your initial submission letter, tell them that if you haven’t heard back from them in a month, you’ll check back with them. Then, when that month has passed, do check back with them, and each time you check with them, tell them when you’ll check with them again. You need to have some idea in your mind about when you’re going to assume that lack of response means there isn’t going to be any response (and that’s likely to happen, maybe several times, when you’re just starting out), and when that time arrives, you need to send a very respectful note to the publisher saying that you’re withdrawing the book for submission elsewhere.

The truth is that only a minority of writers, in any genre, are able to support themselves full-time as writers, and that’s even more the case for science-fiction, I think, than some others, because science-fiction tends to a smaller readership than a lot of other genres. The good news is that if science-fiction’s readership tends to be smallish, it’s also very loyal . If you produce the stories that people want to read, they will repay you many times over by the fashion in which they will buy your books. Even so, it’s difficult to make a living doing this unless you are able to develop a highly successful series/character and are able to sustain a production rate which is rather higher than in some other genres. That’s just the way it is.

Having said that, the aspiring science-fiction writer needs to remember that publishers are in the business of publishing. They need writers to do that, and that means that if you can write, and if you persist long enough in submitting your work, more often than not, you’ll finally get your shot. What happens after that depends in no small part on how well the first few books go.

And before I leave this topic, let me say that the number one, critical, essential, indispensable element in becoming a successful science-fiction author is the ability to tell stories about characters readers care about. Even the hardest of hard-science science-fiction still has to have characters people care about. The most fascinating plot line ever devised will fall flat on its face if the characters are not believable, or if the writing is unable to convince the reader to accept the story. Editors can do a lot to help a neophyte writer improve technical aspects of his or her writing; I don’t believe any editor ever born can teach you how to tell a story. Especially, they can’t teach you how to tell a story in your own voice. Many people I know have failed as writers primarily because instead of telling the story the way they should tell it, they tried to figure out how someone else — some writer they admire, or whose work they like — would tell it. That’s the kiss of death. People don’t want to buy a low-budget pastiche of someone else’s work. A weak story, strongly told, will be far more satisfying to the reader than a strong story weakly told, and a huge part of telling a story strongly is to tell it in your own, recognizable, unique voice, manner, and style. “Your” voice is going to owe a great deal to the voices of other writers you have read, enjoyed, admired. It works that way. We are all products of our experiences, and if some other writer has a strong impact on you, that writer’s work is going to influence your own. You may find yourself integrating stylistic elements from another writer. You may find yourself avoiding something in your writing because you realized that it didn’t work in someone else’s. And no matter how successful you may become as a writer in your own right, I imagine you’ll still find yourself — as I do — reading someone else’s work and going “Gosh! That was really neat, the way he handled that. I’ll have to remember that.” Don’t be afraid to be influenced by others, but never, ever try to become another writer. Learn from their strengths, avoid their weaknesses, but always do it in your own fashion and your own style.

David Weber’s web site:

http://www.davidweber.net/

And that concludes our weekly series of Wednesdays with David Weber!  Many thanks to David and his crew.  If you missed any of our previous interviews segments, you can find them all below, including summer book tour dates!

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Science fiction novel giveaway this Friday!

I’m thrilled to announce the very first SciFiBookshelf free book giveaway!  I’ve been working hard to fit it in with all of the award-winning author interviews, science fiction news and fun stuff you can use.  But the time has finally come for our first contest.

No sweat, though.  Trust me, it’s an easy one.  All you have to do is leave a comment for a chance to win!

And what book will I give away?

I’ll give you a hint: it’s from a bestselling author I’ve interviewed right here on SciFiBookshelf.  I’d love to spill the details now, but patience — gotta wait until Friday!

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Wednesdays with David Weber, Part 3

David Weber is author of the New York Times best-selling Honor Harrington novels, as well as a mind-boggling array of other books.  On top of that, he’s a really nice guy who took the time to share a glimpse into his universe.

SciFiBookshelf.com:  Can you give us any hints about the fifteenth Honor Harrington book, Mission of Honor, coming out this summer?

David Weber:  All I’ll say about Mission at this point is that it wraps up several fairly long-running plot strands but kicks in quite a few brand-new ones. And I’ll also say that the situation is going to get substantially worse for the Manties (in many respects) even as some of their older problems get put to bed. Well, and also that I may have to move to Montana and raise rabbits under an assumed name when some of the readers who have been with me from the very beginning find out some of the things I did in this book. Mind you, I think they’ll all forgive me eventually, but there are going to be some people who are upset.

SFB:  At last count, you’ve written something like 50 books, an impressive number of which have hit the best-seller lists. How do you keep up such a mind-boggling pace?

DW:  I don’t really know, and, for that matter, I don’t know that I can continue to keep it up a lot longer. I’m not getting any younger, you know! Then there are the three children age eight or younger who require a certain degree of Daddy time for maintenance. Mostly, I guess, I manage it because I focus entirely on whatever the job in hand use. My beloved wife Sharon has been known to refer to that as “OCD;” I prefer to think of it as . . . as . . . hmmmmm, I’ll have to get back to you on that one. I do know that I tend to work 16-hour days when I’m into the stretch on a book.

SFB: 
You do a lot of convention appearances. Where will fans be able to find you in 2010? Is there any truth to the rumor that you’ll be doing a book tour this summer?

DW:  June 22 – 27 – Origins Gaming Fair / GAMA – Columbus, Ohio

June 28 – July 4 – Baen Signing Tour for “Mission of Honor” – Stops to be announced on the website

July 21 – July 25 – Wandering around ComicCon (not as a guest)

David Weber’s web site:

http://www.davidweber.net/

Stay tuned for more insights from the magnificent David Weber!

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