Posts Tagged With: Jack Campbell

Sneak Preview: Jack Campbell’s The Dragons of Dorcastle audio book

Jack Campbell Dragons of Dorcastle

Releases in 2015. Click for a free audiobook sample!

Let’s be clear: Jack Campbell is possibly my favorite author of all time.

That’s no hype. When he publishes a new book, I put the world on hold until I’ve devoured every last page.

The Lost Fleet series (and its spin-offs, The Lost Stars, and Beyond the Frontier) are beyond addictive. They’ll make you forgo food and sleep. They’re so good, they should come with a warning label.

Now, Jack is about to do it again with a brand-new series.

And you can hear the audio right here.

Continue reading

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Your Name on the NYT List: Secrets of Bestselling Authors

Who doesn’t want to write a bestseller? While no one can tell you exactly how to get onto the New York Times list, we can always ask the people who have already made it. Here are a few pearls of wisdom I’ve been given by bestselling authors I’ve interviewed over the years. Ignore them at your peril:

David Weber, NYT bestselling author of the Honor Harrington series:

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. 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.

Kat Richardson, national bestselling author of the Greywalker series:

A writer I know, Blake Charleton, says his rule for writing interesting fiction is not “write what you know” but “write what you fear.” For me it’s often “write what hurt.” It’s all variations of the original adage, but the spin is what makes it compelling. People identify with adversity because most of us have had a dose or two of it, and when we as writers can take those things that hurt, terrify, or trouble us to a favorable conclusion in a story, we connect to readers and satisfy their desire for comfort and order. And it’s also fun to exorcise a few demons sometimes.

Jack Campbell, NYT bestselling author of the Lost Fleet series:

Read and write. Read lots of things, even in areas you don’t normally like, because that’s how you get ideas for stories and how to tell them in different ways, and that’s how you learn what kinds of stories others told.  Write down your own stories, too. Don’t just dream about them, write them down, and when they’re done (and you have to finish most of them so you learn how to finish stories) write some more.

And be prepared for rejection. Lots of rejection. Even veteran writers get shot down a lot. When you do get published whatever you wrote is fair game for anyone to comment on, and it’s pretty safe to say that some of those comments won’t be kind.

Mario Acevedo, NYT bestselling author of the Felix Gomez, Vampire P.I. series:

Be stubborn about writing.  Keep learning and honing your craft.  Hang on to your faith and dreams.  And don’t buy cheap vodka.

How about you? What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received? Share it here!

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All Good Things…

It’s a sad truth of life that there are only 24 hours in a day.  In the far future, maybe someone will invent a pocket universe device that’ll fix that problem (wouldn’t THAT be cool), but in the meantime, we’re stuck.  So I’ve decided to put on hiatus to spend more time on my new website, (not to mention keeping up with my own paid writing gigs).

I’d like to take a moment to thank all of the great authors who have stopped by to share their wit and wisdom: Joe Haldeman, Harry Connolly, Laura E. Reeve, Sherrilyn Kenyon, David Weber, Mario Acevedo, Robert Charles Wilson, Jack Campbell, Paul McAuley, Kat Richardson, David Sherman, Jeffrey A. Carver, Walter Jon Williams, Mike Resnick, the musical group Midnight Syndicate, and anyone else I may have forgotten.

And a very special thanks to YOU for reading this!  Hope to see you over at my new website,!

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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.

Laura E. Reeve
The Major Ariane Kedros Novels

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Free science fiction novel winner!

Congratulations to Charity Bradford, winner of the first-ever 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

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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Win a FREE science fiction novel on Sci Fi Bookshelf!

You heard right, true believers.  I’m giving away a brand-new book from Jack Campbell’s New York Times bestselling series, The Lost Fleet!  And you could win it.  You!  How?  Read on!

I’m hoping that you’ll love this book so much that you’ll immediately run to the bookstore and buy more of Jack Campbell’s books to find out what you’ve been missing.  (I did.)  This will make the author happy, make you happy, and help your local bookstore survive the onslaught of this bad economy.  So, everybody wins!

Speaking of winning, how do you get this book?  Easy!  Just leave a comment telling me what you’d like to see more of on

Seriously.  It doesn’t get any easier than that.

Do you want more interviews?  More science fiction news?  More urban fantasy?  Vampires?  Nebula winners?  You tell me, I’ll make it happen.  This web site is about you (and, well, science fiction).

I’ll choose a random winner from all of the entries, and announce it here on Friday, June 11.  So what are you waiting for?  Start talkin’!

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Jack Campbell’s Lost Fleet: VICTORIOUS on sale today!

If you’ve been waiting for the latest book in what SF Site calls “some of the best military science fiction on the shelves today,” then wait no longer, citizen.  Face forward and get to the nearest book store, full ahead flank! 

Trust me, if you haven’t picked up this New York Times bestselling saga about “Black Jack” Geary and the Lost Fleet, you’re going to want to.  An all-too-human hero, a desperate flight home from deep behind enemy lines, and possibly the smartest-written space battles ever combine to make this series a sure winner.  Check it out today!

The Lost Fleet: Victorious on Barnes and Noble
The Lost Fleet: Victorious on

Or, better yet, buy local!

Author’s web site:

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Bestselling author Jack Campbell on Sci Fi

Even before it rocketed to the New York Times bestseller list, The Lost Fleet series was hailed by critics and readers alike as some of the best new science fiction to hit the shelves.  Jack Campbell has a lot going for him: strong storytelling, real-life Navy experience, and a knack for timeless epics.  Plus, he’s a lot of fun to chat with.  Here’s what he has to say about starship battles, the legend of Black Jack and the inspiration that drives him.

Sci Fi The Lost Fleet series kicks off with one heck of a bang: the near-annihilation of the Alliance fleet, and the heroic efforts of Captain John “Black Jack” Geary to shake off a century-long hibernation and lead the survivors to safety. Did the inspiration for The Lost Fleet start with that moment in time, or was it more about the harrowing journey home?

Jack Campbell:  The initial inspiration for The Lost Fleet actually grew out of a question posed by Susan Shwartz (another SF writer). She was writing Star Trek tie-ins at the time, and asked how a long retreat scenario would work in that universe. My answer then was you couldn’t do it because of the way Star Trek had established its rules for technology and faster-than-light travel. 

But it got me to wondering how a long-retreat scenario could work among the stars. The model for long retreats is Xenophon’s March of the Ten Thousand, so I tried to imagine how that would translate with a fleet of spaceships. That was half the inspiration.

The other half came from another idea I had been thinking about for a while, the widespread myths in which an ancient hero was not dead, but only sleeping, and would someday return when most needed. King Arthur is one of the most widely known, but there are many others such as the Twelfth Imam. I had been imagining what it would be like for a such a person to actually reawaken in the future. Far from being a figure of myth, they would be a real person, and probably stunned by the legends which had grown around them.

After years of mulling over these two concepts, at some point they came together in my head, and I think they fit very well with each other. The fleet which needs a hero to get it home through great peril, and the hero who is shocked to discover what he is now believed to be and that he is now expected to save the day. The fusion of two ancient ideas made a good basis for a story.

SFB:  What do you suppose makes Captain “Black Jack” Geary such a likable, all-too-human hero? Is it his constant struggle to live down his own legend, or something more?

JC:  I tried to make him human in the sense of being aware of his own limitations and in being often almost overwhelmed by responsibilities that he had never asked for or expected. In much lesser ways, many of us face such situations, so it’s easy to empathize with what Geary is facing. At the same time, he sees the need to be more than he is. Unless he can achieve the sorts of things his heroic image claims he can do, then countless people will suffer. He’s smart enough to know he needs the help and advice of others, that he can’t go it alone even though ultimately the decisions he makes have to be his own. As a result, he respects those around him for what they know and as individuals in their own right.

So I think he is both accessible to readers, who can understand what he’s facing, and a character they can like because he keeps trying despite his fears and does his best to treat others right. He won’t let down those who are counting on him, even though the pressure is almost too much at times. 

SFB:  Can you give us a glimpse of what lies ahead for Black Jack?

JC:  It’s hard to talk about what comes after VICTORIOUS without giving away what happens in VICTORIOUS. (Of course, the name VICTORIOUS does telegraph one of the plot points in that book.) His home is gone, lost in the past, so now the only home he knows is the fleet. He’s figuring out that every victory, every obstacle overcome, just leads to the next problem, and since his existence as Black Jack or his actions to solve past problems create some of the new problems, there’s no honorable way to avoid doing what he can to resolve each new problem. Fortunately, he won’t be alone.

SFB:  What was it like to find out that RELENTLESS had sailed onto the New York Times bestseller list?

JC:  Stunning. The success of the series built over time, so there were a number of “wow” moments. My first two series did okay, but not great, and never got past their first printings. It felt great when my agent called to say that DAUNTLESS had gone into a second printing. Then a third. FEARLESS got a second printing. COURAGEOUS went into its second printing almost as soon as it was released. I think that’s when it really sank in for me and the publisher that the series had serious legs and was continuing to build readership with each new book. VALIANT made some extended best-seller lists, so there were hopes that RELENTLESS would top that. And it did. It feels great to know that my writing, my storytelling, has been welcomed that way by readers.

SFB:  How has your real-life Navy experience impacted your handling of your epic, intellectually dynamic space battles?

JC:  It had a major influence. In the Navy I learned how to drive ships, getting a solid grasp for maneuvering very massive objects with tremendous momentum around each other. We were also tracking the movements of aircraft overhead and submarines beneath. That gave me an understanding of relative motion which I use to map out the movements in the battles. At times I use the old aviator trick of using my hands to visualize movements and aspects as portions of the fleet maneuver.

It was also important in terms of driving home how physical limitations constrain options. You have to plan ahead for where you want to be and when you want to be there. You need to factor in the range of weapons, and coordinate everything so that attacks don’t come in piecemeal or parts of your force are isolated from the rest. And you need to put yourself in the place of the opposition. Where could they go and where are they most likely to go?

I treat each situation, each battle, as if it were real, and I can’t just alter the composition of forces, or the arrangement of forces, or what ships could do. Once I set it up, that is what I have to deal with. That forces me to figure out how to come up with solutions that really would work rather than falling back on sudden amazing events or major on-the-fly technological breakthroughs that miraculously solve the problem. Basically, I treat the Lost Fleet universe as if it is reality, as if I’m driving those ships, and what happens has to fit that reality.

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

JC:   Read and write. Read lots of things, even in areas you don’t normally like, because that’s how you get ideas for stories and how to tell them in different ways, and that’s how you learn what kinds of stories others told.  Write down your own stories, too. Don’t just dream about them, write them down, and when they’re done (and you have to finish most of them so you learn how to finish stories) write some more.

There’s a website that the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America maintains called Writer Beware. It’s a great source of information on what to do if you’re a new writer, and on the many scams and frauds which can await new writers.

Write about what you know (from study or experience), and try to find those places where your own ideas and writing style meet the expectations of readers. You can’t just write for yourself, but you also have to be true to yourself.

And be prepared for rejection. Lots of rejection. Even veteran writers get shot down a lot. When you do get published whatever you wrote is fair game for anyone to comment on, and it’s pretty safe to say that some of those comments won’t be kind.

I always recommend going to SF/Fantasy conventions in your local area. That’s where you can meet and listen to local authors, maybe even meet an editor or two, get to know other aspiring authors in your area, and get some advice on writing and the publishing business. I’ve met a lot of great people at the conventions.

Oh, and speaking of conventions, this year I plan to be at Balticon in Hunt Valley, Maryland (May 28-31), Nasfic/Reconstruction in Raleigh. NC (August 5-8) and Capclave in Washington, DC (22-24 October).

SFB:  Sounds great.  Thank you so much for your time!

JC:  Thanks for reading my work!

Author’s home page:

Breaking news:
Book 6, VICTORIOUS, releases on 27 April 2010!  Don’t miss it!  Better yet, reserve a copy today on or .

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