Running Black – Kindle version

Kindle/Amazon being proprietary, I published RB directly. The full novel with the teaser chapter from the sequel is now available here It’s also available at Amazon.co.uk. here

Still waiting for the print version to appear. Thanks everyone.

North Korea – Brink of War?

News Report here

The head of Eshu International is a former North Korean soldier. Raised in a state orphanage and drafted straight into the NK army, part of his back story is his participation in the invasion of SK in a delusional attempt to unify the country. (as well as PRC attempts to regain Taiwan) Fictional warfare in that region isn’t prescience, but one plausible scenario. Seeing the news today, I hate to see it looking probable.

RB hits top 10 in SciFi at Lulu.

Much to my surprise, “Running Back” hit Lulu’s top 10 Sci-Fi sellers last week. That was cool, and to top it off, the incredibly gracious people at Christian Fiction Shop have decided to feature RB on their front page next month. That, I think, is even cooler. Thank you.

HERE

Bought a self-pubbed book just the other day.


Being a self-published author myself, I thought I’d show some solidarity. I mean, why not? The book was ‘highly recommended’ on a site that reviewed mine, and I figured I’d help a brother out, ya know? I had this little vignette spool out in my head: we could promote each others work, trade Amazon reviews, cross link on our blogs/websites, become like brother writers in arms and hang out together at conventions. Do writing seminars together, talk shop… all that sort of gritty, street artist, Cinderella-story fantasy stuff.

There I go thinking again.

I wanted to like it. I tried to like it. Really. I was determined to like it. The first few pages were muddled, but I persevered. It didn’t get better, but I kept reading. I was going to like this book, by God. Every time I turned another page I willed it to improve.

I made it all the way to page 100.

It had a decent, if stock, post -apoc premise. Now that’s an over-used backdrop, but still a solid one because there’s bucket-loads of potential yet to be wrung out of it. Problem was the story bumped down the runway but never took off. The characters fell quickly into 2D stereotypes, the story meandered into a re-fried role playing game scenario. The writing was vague, redundant, verbose to the point of tediousness, and broke every rule of Strunk and White’s “Elements of Style”. As I slogged along, I found myself following the story less and less, and reaching for a red pencil more and more. Eventually, I couldn’t go on.

I think the worst thing was that most of the mistakes could have been easily avoided by a decent proofreader and running it through another draft. Even if the author had read some of the chapters out loud to himself, he’d have heard and cleaned up mucho clunkiness.

Now I know the excitement and pride of writing a book. You type those words “The End” and you think, “Oh my God. I did it. I wrote a flipping novel! I’m gonna be like, famous, and get an agent and an advance and maybe even movie rights and people are gonna email me and say how cool it is. And how cool I am. And, and, and…”

Problem is a good book isn’t so much written as it is re-written. You have to edit. Cut. Rearrange. Polish. Cut more. Re-work scenes until they line up lean and mean, ready to rock. And when that’s done, you hand it off to someone else who will catch the things you missed. The goal isn’t just finishing, but a finished product. That means quality.

I’m not trashing the guy for trying. A+ for effort, dude. We’re all at different places on the learning curve, figuring this out as we go along. Next time though, take a deep breath, count to ten, and hire an editor. You’ll be doing yourself, your readers, and fellow authors a huge favor.

And no, I’m not going to give you the title. Sorry.

I like Speculative Fiction

(Or, Why did SyFy drop Caprica?)

I’ve always found history fascinating, particularly military history, not just because there’s tanks and other cool, manly gadgets, but because history is really about people acting and reacting in the face of enormous social currents and events. I don’t mean to be cavalier in the face of war’s brutality and devastation, but it’s a crucible that brings out the best and worst in human nature.

I enjoy speculative fiction – mostly sci fi – for the same reason. There is immense creativity and detailed imagination that goes into “world building”. I can’t help but respect that. But good spec fiction does the same thing: it projects those huge currents forward, creates new cataclysmic events, then drops people in the middle. Take Gibson’s Mirrorshade Trilogy, the re-imagined BSG, Fringe, the current miniseries “The Walking Dead” or the fascinating BSG prequel “Caprica”… regardless of whether it’s emergent AIs and virtual reality, a robot rebellion, alternate dimensions, a zombie uprising, or social and religious tension, they were/are about people. The science, the tidal forces of nature and society, the events, are the backdrop, the catalyst, that brings out primal elements of their nature, and these characters either grow or shrivel according to their decisions.

SyFy dropped Caprica because of poor ratings. Come again? I found the show extremely well written and acted, very insightful, and thoroughly engaging. Characters struggling with family tensions, death, grief, religion, advanced technologies, terrorism, corporate intrigue, organized crime… what’s not to draw you in? Being a Christian, the monotheist/polytheist tension certainly got my attention, but I found it’s one of the few shows that actually stimulates cerebral activity. Supposedly there wasn’t enough space ships and explosions, (and sexy blonds) for the “young adult male demographic”. What a shame.

Thankfully, a Canadian network, SPACE, will be carrying the rest of the season.