Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 - One Heck of a Year

I don't do New Year's resolutions. Since becoming a published author, I decided hopes and goals for the upcoming year and comparing them to the previous year would work better for me personally. This time, I'm doing things a little differently. Considering at the start of 2014 I was on the verge of quitting the whole writing and publishing game, it's quite amazing to look back on it as a whole. In January I had a ton of real life problems smack me in the face, on top of one publisher bringing in an exclusivity clause that had me pull a story and the intention not to submit anything further, my first publisher being bought out by another and pulling my debut novel from retail sites, and a third closing its doors leaving two of my books homeless before they'd even been published. Not great.

And now? Well, I had six titles published this year. SIX! If you look on Goodreads, I have eleven titles in total. Admittedly, this year it was three short stories and three novellas, but still...

The sheer volume of work was terrifying, and yet throughout the year I kept adding to it. Responding to sub calls, planning to do NaNoWriMo but then not doing it, pulling out WIPs and submitting them on top of self published works I'd already scheduled... >.<

So what came out this year?

1. Reboot, cyberpunk short (self published in March)
2. Tethered, scifi romance novella (Breathless Press, published in July)
3. Restless In Peaceville, YA paranormal novella with zombies (Lycaon Press, published in August)
4. Hallow's Eve - paranormal romance short (self published in October)
5. When Dark Falls - decopunk superhero romance novella (Breathless Press, published in November)
6. No Angel - futuristic UF short (Breathless Press, published in December)

What is contracted/scheduled for next year?

1. Print edition for Restless In Peaceville in February (Lycaon Press)
2. Print edition for Tethered in March (Breathless Press)
3. Zombie Girl: Dead Awakened, a YA dystopian romance and first of a trilogy (due April 2015 from Lycaon Press)
4. Keir, scifi romance novel (self published re-release of my debut novel with Lyrical Press Inc., and Book One of the Redemption series)

And what I hope to put out, time and funds allowing:

5. Keir's Fall, a scifi romance sequel to Keir (end 2015, Book Two of Redemption, SP)
6. A Year in Paradise, a scifi romance novella set between Keir and Keir's Fall (side story in the Redemption series, SP)
7. Revived, a scifi romance novella (and part of the Venus Ascendant shared universe series, SP)
8. A winter solstice story, scifi romance short (part of the special story collection featuring Hallow's Eve, SP)
9. Books two and three of Zombie Girl, subject to completion and acceptance for publication (Lycaon Press). Though I haven't finished writing either as yet.

Yeah, I have big plans. That's eight new titles there. I released six in 2014 and had no intention of repeating the performance, partly because it was a non-stop amount of editing, releases and tours--fun but exhausting! But the Keir books have been waiting for so long, while I can't stop with the other stories. And before anyone thinks, hey, no one can put out all that stuff at such a rate without the quality suffering, I can assure you I never put anything out but my best. Bear in mind that Keir is a re-release, the sequel has been around since 2009, the side story was written in 2011, Revived and the solstice story in 2013, and Zombie Girl 2 is already half written. So no. I'm not just throwing these out the minute the rough draft is finished. Half of them have already been through extensive revisions, edits, polishing, and even past my editor Dani in some cases. Only two are full length novels that have already had a lot of work done on them over the years since I first wrote them, and even the novellas/shorts have been reworked. About the only ones that will be relatively 'fresh' off the press are the Zombie Girl shorts, and those will have to pass the submission test at my YA publisher.

And yes, I did say not to expect a repeat of 2014 in the future. Guess I have to take that back...

As you can also see, I intend to self publish more next year, and have little scheduled for submission. Self publishing depends a lot on having the money to pay for edits and artwork, and also how busy my editor is. So, I can't guarantee 3-7 (though I have committed myself to putting out Keir's Fall if nothing else). This isn't a one-finger salute to traditional publishing or my small press publishers either. At this point in time, I simply have nothing ready to submit to them, and a promise to put out the Keir series by myself. Most of the SP titles were written before I became contracted to Breathless and Lycaon (and I don't regret signing up to them one little bit - they are awesome!). But I won't commit my Keir books to a publisher again. I am on a promise to deliver the two Zombie Girl books and fully intend to put those in over 2015. I really hope to have more to submit to them in the future. As it happens, both Zombie Girl and No Angel were written in response to submission calls by my publisher, a rare occurrence for me and a show of my commitment to them. I am not one who can easily write to a sub call.

So what else did I achieve this year? Well...

Total word count - 65000
Total words edited - 271000 (this is final word count on each title and doesn't count how many times they went through edits. If I say at least three times each, that's 813000! Kind of explains my lower word count for writing this year).

Submissions made - 9
Acceptances - 5
Rejections - 4
Published - 6

Come April 2015 I'll have published 9 titles in the space of 13 months, even if two of those are the print release of previous ebooks releases in the same period. Right now my backlist looks like this -




But that wasn't all. In December I got notification that my YA SF Gethyon was a finalist in the EPIC eBook awards. Woot!


And my daughter's school put samples of Gethyon and Restless In Peaceville (my YA paranormal with zombies) into their library and suggested I come in to talk about them.

I can't begin to put into words how awesome this year has been, especially when looking how completely it turned itself around in the first couple of months, from apparent disaster to my most productive year in terms of releases. Of course my word count has suffered (65K is still good, but it's not the 100K I'd hoped to repeat).

And 2015? Well, that's looking pretty awesome. Not just for me but for two of my co-bloggers here as both Donna and Laurie prepare for their publishing debuts,  joining me and Sharon on the virtual book shelves. Go Spacefreighters crew!

To Sign off:

I'd like to share some of my best bits from 2014 aside from publishing. So - best book that I read was Spark Rising, a debut post-apocalyptic romance by Kate Corcino. Best film - without doubt SciFi adventure Guardians of the Galaxy. Favourite highlight - the Women in Scifi panel in London, where I finally got to meet my fave author Jaine Fenn for real, closely followed by BristolCon where I met Jaine again, had two lovely chats with author Janet Edwards who took the time and effort to visit our table, and who spoke to my daughter for an hour about writing. I'm also extremely grateful for and humbled by the lovely reviews I've had this year, and the support of so many awesome people - friends, colleagues, and readers. On a personal front, I'm glad I got to meet up with an old school friend I hadn't seen in 25 years, albeit all too briefly, but sad to have missed out on more recent friendships. I'm grateful for another year without serious health issues, and proud of my children for their excellent school records and the energy and enthusiasm they put into the things they love.

May 2015 bring you as much happiness and more as I've been gifted with this year!


Monday, December 22, 2014

The whole crew at Spacefreighters Lounge 
wishes you a wonderful holiday season 
and an exciting and prosperous new year.
We'll be back in 2015.




                 Laurie                      Donna
                                 Pippa                      Sharon


~~~~~~~~~*~~~~~~~~

Friday, December 19, 2014

ASCENSION MAKES GREAT TV, ONLY S0-SO SF

Syfy's nifty intergenerational Ascension


I just finished watching Syfy’s three-part miniseries ASCENSION, and I’m suffering from whiplash.  The plot twists in this science fiction cross between THE ORIENT EXPRESS, PEYTON PLACE and FIRESTARTER had my head spinning.  But despite the wobbly knees, I’m glad I took the roller coaster ride with this SF thriller, if only for its pulse-pounding third leg and spectacular conclusion.

Like another of Syfy’s more recent series, HELIX, ASCENSION begins with a great premise (but suffers from a slow start).  What if the Kennedy-era Orion Project to send an interstellar, intergenerational ship into deep space fueled essentially by nuclear bombs had actually been implemented? 
 
We join the Ascension 51 years into its 100-year flight to Proxima Centauri, just as the murder of a young woman on board reveals deep cracks in the calm fa├žade of life on the ship.  There are tensions between upper decks, where the privileged classes live, and lower decks, where the workers toil with fewer amenities.  There are the usual intrigues between the appointed captain and the sly council members who govern the ship.  And, of course, there are romantic/sexual liaisons of all kinds going on, some for political reasons, many violating the strict rules constraining marriage and reproduction in a society in which the privilege of having children is determined by computer.

Even more tension is created by the captain’s decision to assign the investigation of the murder to his Executive Officer, rather than the ship’s Chief Safety Officer.  XO Gault (Brandon P. Bell) uncovers a world of resentment simmering among the Lower Deckers, and thinks he has his suspect in the Stockyard Manager, Stokes.  Until, that is, Stokes disappears.  Off a ship in deep space.

All along a young girl, Christa (Ellie O’Brien), keeps warning anyone who’ll listen that things are not what they seem.  She has visions, you see.  And, well, other talents.  Which, it turns out, has been the entire point of Ascension.

****SPOILER ALERT***

It is impossible to go much further in this review without giving the whole story away.  And since I’ve read a number of reviews in which some folks feel Syfy perpetuated some kind of bait-and-switch with ASCENSION, I feel it’s my duty to inform you, so you can decide for yourself to watch the show or not. (It’s available on demand or through Hulu if you missed it the first time.)

So here goes:

Ascension never left Earth.  The huge ship is sitting in a warehouse monitored by scientists (in particular, by the son of the man who conceived of the project, a man obsessed with the outcome).  Harris Enzmann (Gil Bellows, fantastic!) is fanatically attached to the ship and its residents, but he will tolerate no interference in its inner workings, even refusing to help the ship’s passengers in a major crisis.  The experiment must be allowed to proceed.  The results they have been seeking all these years are imminent.  (No, I’m not going to tell you everything!)

I’ll admit I was ready to give up on ASCENSION when this “secret” was revealed in the first segment.  Really?  We haven’t seen this before? (CAPRICORN 1 comes to mind, as well as numerous episodes of THE TWILIGHT ZONE.)  But there was that endgame to be revealed—what is Enzmann after?   Bellows plays the scientist as such a complex character—is he a good guy or a bad guy?  And how far can Christa’s talents take her?  Then, too, Trisha Helfer, of BATTLESTAR GALLATICA fame, is intriguing in her role as the captain’s wife and director of the corps of courtesans dedicated to making life pleasant for the male upper crust (and keeping her supplied with state secrets).   Oh, and all the SF homage references--an "I Grok Spock" sticker on a car, the name Fritz Leiber chosen for a disappeared scientist.  I stuck with the series through a so-so second segment.

My reward was a third segment that kept me on the edge of my recliner.  As every good suspense writer should, creators Adrian Cruz and Phillip Levens and additional writer Melody Fox, amped up the adrenalin by piling one problem after another on our heroes in the last hour until it seemed there was no way they could escape.  And the last ten seconds?  Not to be missed! 

That said, ASCENSION makes good television, but not so good SF.  We are never given an explanation for the gravity on board ship—or the fact that never in any crisis do they lose it.  This is a shipload of the “best and the brightest” (they make a point of this several times), wouldn’t you think they’d notice?

The show’s creators obviously want to show a closed society based on 1963—fashions, music, etc.  But the ship’s people have invented new technologies (MRIs!), why wouldn’t they refashion their clothes in 50 years?  Or write a new song?  Or make movies or TV shows for entertainment?  Kennedy was a big proponent of the arts; his ship wouldn’t have launched with just scientists and technicians.  

And where are the old people?  At the big party for assigning new birthrights, the only deaths acknowledged are the recent murders.  Wouldn’t some old folks have died throughout the year, allowing for more births?

Science fiction is not just about the hard sciences.  It’s also about sociology and psychology and linguistics (no new slang?).

Some things to remember if Syfy wants to take ASCENSION into the future with a full series, which, given the number of lingering questions in the plot, the network clearly hopes to do.

PING PONG

If you haven’t scooted over to the SFR Brigade Page on Facebook to check out Laurie’s beautiful cover for her novella Farewell Andromeda, what are you waiting for?  Go!  And congrats, Laurie!

Cheers, Donna

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

MISSION SUCCESS
Laurie's Journal

I switched blog dates this week, so I could do a short post to let everyone know my debut cover reveal for Farewell Andromeda went up on the Science Fiction Romance Brigade blog today. Woohoo!

The announcement also includes the blurb for Farewell Andromeda. Since it's an exclusive reveal, I can't post the cover here just yet, but I'd love for you to jump on over and check it out:

Farewell Andromeda--Exclusive Cover Reveal!

Really love the artwork (I will hug it and pet it and squeeze it and call it George), but let me know what YOU think!

ON BEING "ALMOST THERE"

Now that I'm finally coming up on my debut, I wanted to share some thoughts as a pre-published author with others in that status. Believe me, I know how discouraging it is not to get that invitation to the big dance.

You watch the published authors celebrate their debuts and launches and successes and you wonder when it's going to be your turn--your time.

Your published friends have their kinships with other authors from their publishing houses or presses, or their group of published peers, and you're often left feeling like you're on the outside looking in.

My advice to you is nothing you haven't heard a hundred times before. Don't give up! The good great new is there's never been a better time for writers--and with more options for being published--than there are today. But it also comes with a bit of advice to use this time to educate yourself. There's access to more information and how-to's than ever before, and now is the time to learn the ropes.

I want to mention a recently discovered a self-help book (recommended by SFR author Pauline Baird Jones) for writers called Write. Publish. Repeat. It's full of great advice and practical information, because--trust me--this whole debut author experience comes with a huge learning curve. I'm learning about product funnels and promo strategies and all sorts of new information. This may be a brave new publishing world, but it's a brave new promotional world, as well!

If you do choose to go independent (or some form of it), there's a wealth of information, advice and ideas for strategic promotion in this book. Even authors that publish traditionally through large or small presses may find it a valuable tool, since many authors are pretty much left on their own to promote their work.

Current Goodreads Rating: 4.39 from 859 Ratings and 268 Reviews

UPCOMING EVENTS

We're just starting to put together an exciting list of upcoming dates here at Spacefreighters Lounge! 2015 is looking to be a HUGE year for us!

Watch for these dates:

January 19 - Release of Farewell Andromeda (my authorly debut!) and SFR series launch

January 21 - Title and cover reveal of my SFR novel (and series) on SFR Brigade blog

February 2 - Release of Sharon Lynn Fisher's long-anticipated SFR ECHO 8

February 22 - Release date of my debut SFR novel

February 24 - Launch of Donna S. Frelick's debut novel, UNCHAINED MEMORY

And may I humbly mention that each of the above three upcoming SFR novels were all RWA Golden Heart Finalists!

PING-PONG

Many, many congrats to Pippa Jay for being a finalist in the prestigious EPIC Awards with her SFR novel, GETHYON, in the Science Fiction category. 2015 EPIC AWARD FINALISTS. BTW, the EPIC Awards is one (and possibly only) competition that not only has a specific Science Fiction category, it also has a separate and distinct Science Fiction Romance category! Hurrah for EPIC!

Congrats Donna, for launching your Facebook Author Page. If you'd like to follow Donna, you can "like" her page here: Donna S. Frelick/Author

Sharon, as one of the biggest fans of this fabulous novel, you know I've been waiting f-o-r-e-v-e-r for the release of ECHO 8! So excited it's almost here!


Friday, December 12, 2014

LOOK! CUTE CAT PICTURES! AND FACEBOOK




Please Like me.  Now.
This post is not about a cat.  But my cat Blanca has the power to attract your instant attention, to suck you in, to make you hit Like and Comment “How adorable!” on Facebook.  In the mysterious promotional algorithm of Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook, that makes Blanca a winner and the person who posts pictures of her a promo genius.  Blanca thus joins the ranks of semi-naked guys, cute toddlers squeezing puppies and sunsets from exotic locales in fostering the all-important INTERACTION on Facebook.


I had no problem eliciting Interaction (I thought) until I established my Author Page on FB.  I had noted Pippa’s frequent “arrghh!” moments about not receiving posts from people she was Following, but being a FB newbie, I didn’t understand what that meant.  Then I set up my Author Page, which as FB is very quick to tell you, you should have if you are posting stuff about a professional endeavor (like writing/selling books).  I got a bunch of Likes right away.  I thought I was doing well.

But I noticed I was posting and no one was responding.  No Likes.  No Comments. The helpful information about traffic on my Page that FB is happy to provide told me my posts were only “reaching” a tiny fraction of the people who were Following my Page.  Wha …?  But, of course, I could pay to Boost my posts, if I wanted to.

How could this be?  My personal profile posts go out to all my Friends, except, apparently, the ones who have actively stopped Liking anything I post.  But the Evil FB Gnomes had decided within a couple of weeks who will see my posts and who will not?  And those who have Liked/Followed my Page had no real say in whether they receive my posts or not?

After about a week of genuine confusion (Was I doing something wrong in posting? Was my computer screwing up?), I found the answer in a fellow Golden Heart sister’s FB post.  She had resorted to the “cute toddler” ploy, using a pic of her grandson dressed as a garden gnome to get everyone’s attention.  Then she recommended her readers just sign up for her newsletter to ensure they got the information they need about her books.

I asked her what was going on.  She says you must have virtually instant interaction with your Page posts from a certain number of people to “convince” FB to send it out to others.  She says the magic numbers are ten people within 30 minutes!  (Of course, you will not find these actual numbers anywhere in the FB rules or Best Practices.  FB merely says you must have Interaction to ensure your spot in the competitive News Feed.  Yeah, like we couldn’t stand to lose a few of those “suggested posts”.)  The ten people wouldn’t be so hard to get, maybe, but within 30 minutes?  I’m sure I’m not the only one with friends scattered all across the country (and the world).  Everyone is supposed to be hanging around their phones/iPads/computers just waiting for me to post?  Or must I also leap into the Boiling Cauldron of Despair that is Twitter to tweet to everyone that I’m posting on FB so check your FB NOW, ’kay?

Now maybe my friend has it wrong.  Maybe you just need some interaction. Still, it’s clear from the constant offers to Boost my posts that the fewer “reaches” I get, the more FB benefits.  FB hopes I get desperate and cave to its offers in the end, paying to get the Gnomes to do what they are there to do in the first place—show my posts to the people who are Following my Page.  Unfortunately, I don’t have the deep pockets of the corporate world that FB is trying to exploit to keep its juggernaut rolling.

I’ve often said my sales skills are so bad I couldn’t sell Girl Scout cookies in a high school cafeteria, so I knew promotion would be the hardest part of being successful at my writing.  But seriously, must it really be that difficult to do something that should be so simple?

The FB Page duplicates some of my personal profile AND it duplicates some of my website.  Still, I set it up to communicate easily with readers, if and when they should come, something that is not so easy to do with either of the other two formats.  Now I need a newsletter, too?  Jeez!  And as a reader, I would feel overwhelmed by the constant bombardment to Look Here!  Read This!  Keep Up with Me!  (I generally don’t interact as a “fan” with any of my writing idols.  I don’t have time.)  

Is it too much to ask to be able to focus on a few of the most efficient ways to reach readers?  And to have Facebook cooperate in that effort, rather than constrict it every way possible in a not-very-well concealed campaign to extort cash from its professional users?


PING PONG

--Congrats to Pippa on her EPIC Award for Gethyon!  What a great early Christmas present and a terrific way to end a fabulous year!

-- I've been hearing great things about Fortune's Pawn for a long time, Laurie.  Guess it's time to read it, huh?
 
Cheers, Donna



Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Pippa's Journal - EPIC news!

First up, apologies for my absence. November/December have really kept me busy, and it's not going to ease up until Christmas when I'll finally get a short breather for a few weeks. Right now I'm trying to tie everything up for the 19th December before I take a few days completely away from the internet, and with my final release for 2014 on that day. I also have edits due in for Zombie Girl, edits for Keir, two book tours running together, and I got zapped by a cold on Monday. >.<
But today I had some awesome news in my Spam folder. Yeah, not where you'd expect to find anything of the sort, lol.

My YA SF Gethyon, already a SFR Galaxy award winner earlier this year, is an EPIC eBook Award finalist in the science fiction category. Woot! This is my first time in the finals since I became published, and one of my ambitions as an author (I'm a sucker for shiny things). It came as a huge surprise - I'd seen someone tweet about making the finals yesterday, but with my inbox devoid of any notification, I assumed I'd missed out yet again. Just as well I periodically check my Trash and Spam folders in my email account!

And I have shiny things!





Winners won't be announced until mid-March, so still a way to go yet. But even if this is as far as Gethyon gets, right now I am a very happy author.

Next week Laurie is occupying my Wednesday spot with an exciting piece of news too - it's all systems go for the crew at Spacefreighters Lounge! And now I have to get back to work pimping and working on the next potential award winners. :P

About Spacefreighters Lounge

Hosted by 5 Science Fiction Romance authors with 8 RWA Golden Heart finals and a RITA final between them. We aim to entertain with spirited commentary on the past, present, and future of SFR, hot topics, and our take on Science Fiction and SFR books, television, movies and culture.