Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Triple, Trinary or Ternary? What's in a name?

"Rukbat, in the Sagittarian Sector, was a golden G-type star."

That was one of the opening lines from an Anne McCaffrey Pern book - Dragonflight - and my first introduction to an author who very much helped to shape my early writing. It also sparked a deeper love for astronomy - more so for the facts and figures than the actual stargazing. In my teens, I could list at least a dozen constellations and tell you the major stars within them, including their type, magnitude and distance in lightyears from Earth. I had a memory that was close to photographic in those days, and the luxury of time to spend immersing myself in that kind of information. Sadly, twenty years on and I no longer have that skill - or all those facts to mind. No, if I want to know those things now, Wikipedia is my best friend!

But I still love to do the research. Now I'm a little lot more nervous about quoting the facts and figures, one reason that I don't include a lot of technical explanations in my writing. It has to be exactly right so I don't fall foul of any true science nerds. While writing the sequel to Keir, I wanted to include a triple star solar system and went hunting for a suitable candidate. Wikipedia provided me with the perfect one - Algol, in the constellation of Perseus. Why was this perfect? Because it's known as the Demon Star, tying it in nicely with Keir's old persona as the Blue Demon of Adalucien. I spent a day on it, for a piece of writing that barely covers a single page out of the current 221 of the story.

From Wikipedia - the suggested rotation of Algol
However, after the sequel came back from my editor, she questioned the term 'trinary', listing 'urnary', 'binary', and 'ternary'. So I went back to my research, specifically looking at terminology for multiple sun systems.

Although Algol is one of the best known eclipsing binaries, it's "actually a three-star system (Beta Persei A, B, and C) in which the large and bright primary Beta Persei A is regularly eclipsed by the dimmer Beta Persei B." (taken from Wikipedia). Multiple star systems consist of three or more stars that are physically close to one another and gravitationally bound. Most are triple stars, also known as ternary or trinary. Usually two stars form a binary system with a third orbiting the pair at a distance (hierarchical). Now, the last thing I want to do is bog down a reader with all the complexity of Algol's three stars. The essential element for me is that there are three suns, making the planet featured in the story a searing ball of sand valued only for its high mineral and metal deposits. As far as I can tell, the terms 'triple', 'trinary', and 'ternary' are all valid and interchangeable. I'd never heard of 'ternary' before, while 'trinary' sounds closer to the more commonly known 'binary', and so hopefully more understandable to a reader. But for now, I'm tempted to go with my editor's recommendation even though to me trinary is probably the more recognizable term. Which term do you find the most familiar? Which would make you go 'huh?'

Pippa's Journal

So, just over a week ago I got my first royalties statement. Squeee! Okay, so I'm not a bestseller or anything, but it really hit home the fact that I'm an author with a book that has sold actual copies. Seeing it in black and white makes it far more real. People have actually bought my book, and judging by the reviews they're enjoying it too. :)

On the writing side - I finally sent out my revised YA scifi novella Gethyon. I'm currently a third of the way through edits on Keir's sequel (which sadly needs a new name now) and polishing up the first 5K of my sfr novella Tethered for entry into the Rebecca, which closes on the 30th June - so if you're planning to enter, hurry up! There's apparently a shortage of entries. Also entry for the EPIC's eBook Awards™ opened from 1st June and goes through until the 15th of July. Please check with their website for details on eligibility and rules. 

Tracking your sales - thanks to Melisse Aires I already knew about NovelRank which tracks sales for your book on ALL Amazon sites as soon as a single copy sells. Mine is a little behind since it didn't start tracking until three days after Keir's release, but still a handy gadget. If you're an author with books on Amazon, you really need to sign up and fill out your profile on Author Central. Please note, you will need to do this on ALL the sites that sell your book. Unfortunately you can't just fill in one profile and have it feed to US, UK, German, French etc sites. But I found this site which has further tools for tracking your sales, including those through outlets like Barnes & Noble. 

It's the SFR Brigade's Midsummer Blog Hop!!

On Friday 22nd June (Pacific Time) the SFR Brigade will be holding its first ever Blog Hop to celebrate Midsummer. 36 fabulous science fiction romance authors will be telling you mystical or scientific stories related to the event, and they'll each be giving away a prize - books, gift cards, swag bags...and lots more!

Plus there's TWO GRAND PRIZES!

1st Prize - a Kindle Touch or Nook Touch
2nd Prize -a library of science fiction romance titles from over 20 authors (these will be mostly ebooks with one print anthology), and an Anabanana Gift Card.

All you need to do to enter is pop along to the blogs listed below and comment on as many as you want (only ONE comment per site will count as an entry). Each time you comment at a stop, you'll earn one entry into the grand prize - so the more sites you visit, the greater your chances of winning. The winners will be drawn at random on the 24th June and announced on this site. The list of participating authors can be found below this post. Spread the news!

Ping Pong
At Donna - hugs on playing the waiting game. 
At Laurie - sorry about the Triple - maybe next year? I was interested to hear your view on Prometheus - I can't bring myself to watch any of the Alien films, but my husband went and was quite scathing in his view. I did try to get him to write a review of it to post to my blog, but he turned me down. O.o


  1. Interesting. I like to keep things very simple--because I'm writing to convince my friends who DON'T read sci fi that they can enjoy it. So, I'd just say triple suns.

    In other news, I need to get in on this SFR stuff since my publisher is labeling my novel SFR. I didn't plan it that way, but hey, if that's what's getting my published I'm going with it!

  2. Hi Charity,
    yes, I have a few friends who wouldn't read scifi because of all the technical stuff so I try to keep it simple.
    And come join the SFR Brigade! :)

  3. I vote for trinary, too, for the same reasons you mention. Ternary is unfamiliar, but as a derivative of binary, trinary could be deduced from context. I hate, hate, hate it when I have to look something up while I'm reading.

    And congrats on your first check! I'm looking forward to that day!

  4. I'd go with trinary. Ternary does make sense to me, in that I recognise "ter" from "tercentenary", which I think Asimov uses somewhere. But I'd also opt for trinary being closer to binary.

  5. @Donna - that's my worry, that they'd have to look up ternary. Mind you, with an ebook that's easier to do than print.
    @Laurel - I'd stick with trinary, but if my editor is saying ternary, it's hard to say no.

  6. I like the sound of ternary better I have to admit but I agree with Laurel - trinary sounds close to binary.

    I wonder if you can explain to me why you want to track your sales on Amazon? maybe I don't get it because I don't sell enough for the figures to make much impression. Is it to tie in promo to sales? Is that possible?

  7. Well, with it being my first I mostly just want to see how many I'm selling without waiting on my monthly royalty statements, lol. Amazon sales (and other outlets) usually take longer to show on my statements so I'm getting to see those results earlier by tracking them - and it does give you some idea on how the marketing is going. Most have sold in a spurt just after release, and then during the blog tour. It's dropped off now but a couple of sales seem to tie in with reviews when they come out, and also with activity on Goodreads (when people mark it as to-read). So I guess it's giving me some idea with how promoting is paying off.


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