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Guest Blogger Joanne Elder: The Steep Climb to the Top: A Debut Author’s Story

The Steep Climb to the Top: A Debut Author’s Story

By Joanne Elder

Four years ago, my over-active imagination tapped me on the shoulder and whispered, “You should write a book.” A crazy thought, perhaps, but is it any crazier than daydreaming about thrilling, sci-fi adventures? I had always been a sci-fi fan, but a writer of science fiction? I pondered this notion acknowledging that I had a great deal of technical writing experience under my belt from years working as an engineer. But, to make the leap to fiction? I dismissed any uncertainties and sat down at my computer, knowing that when I start something, I like to take it the max. Now, with two science fiction books published, I thought it’s time I tell my story.

For months, I dedicated myself to writing Spectra. I became consumed with the plot, and the background research. All the while, I felt certain that upon completion of the manuscript, I’d get a literary agent to represent me and land a contract with one of the big publishing houses. After all, how many people could possibly dedicate themselves to a project of this magnitude and see it through to fruition? Well apparently thousands.

My cocky attitude was quickly humbled as I queried agents and larger publishers. Letters of rejection filled my inbox, but they didn’t crush my spirit. I turned my sights to the smaller presses and very quickly signed a contract with MuseItUp Publishing.

One year later not only did I hold a printed copy of Spectra in my hands, I had a second contract for its sequel, Entity. My overzealous attitude reignited. Launching my debut novel was akin to starting up a business and I believed success would come with the proper investment of both time and money. I did a press release, a book trailer, and threw myself into the social networking scene with a website, Facebook page and Twitter. I started blogging on my website and as a guest on others. I actively participated in forums, and Facebook and LinkedIn groups. I attended conferences. I even advertised with key science fiction magazines and websites. I watched my sales statistics each step of the way and, at no point, found any positive correlation between books sold and my efforts.

Next step, I hired a publicist. I will give a word of warning to any author considering this promotional avenue…shop carefully. They can lure you in with their promises and provide few results. That was my experience with the first publicist I used, which I will refrain from naming here. Their efforts, although well intentioned, lead to nothing more than a few reviews from mediocre review sites. Once again, no increase in sales. Bad fortune can make us smarter and I’m now working with a publicist I’m very pleased with. Will sales go up…time will tell.

Of all my efforts to promote Spectra, there is only one success story, which I inadvertently fell into. I submitted the novel to RT Book Reviews Magazine for review and they gave it their rating of TOP PICK, which they give to few books. For the month it appeared in their magazine, sales soared. Perhaps there is one lesson to be learned here. Good, reputable reviews sell books.

So how do authors get their name out there? What’s the right promotional recipe for success? I had hoped that with my experience I’d have these answers by now. The writing world is a changing place with ebooks and online sales dominating the marketplace. This has increased the selection of books for the discriminating reader, yet many still gravitate to the big name “Cadillac” authors. Readers often don’t realize that the latest novel penned by their favorite author may have actually been written by a ghost writer. Book clubs often stack their shelves with the latest media hits boasting vampires or things that are best kept behind closed doors. Are these books literary works of art? I think not, but they sell. I try to take things to the max and I’d like to think I’m not there yet with Spectra. Beyond perseverance, if the key to an author’s success is out there, I’ll find it. In the meanwhile, I’ll keep writing for no better reason than that I love it.

___________________________

Joanne Elder is a member of the Professional Engineers of Ontario. She received her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Engineering Science at the University of Western Ontario. During her professional career, she spent several years in the aeronautical and nuclear industries, published numerous technical papers in the field of Metallurgical Engineering and presented at international conferences. She now resides in King City, Ontario with her two teen-aged children and husband. Spectra, Elder’s debut novel, and the sequel, Entity, were published by MuseItUp Publishing.

You can visit Joanne Elder’s website at www.sciencefictionthrillers.com.

Twitter | Facebook | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | MuseItUp Publishing

Beyond the Books Interviews Science Fiction and Fantasy Author Hank Quense

Author Hank Quense

Award-winning author Hank Quense lives in Bergenfield, NJ with his wife Pat.  They have two daughters and five grandchildren.  He writes humorous fantasy and scifi stories.  On occasion, he also writes an article on fiction writing or book marketing but says that writing nonfiction is like work while writing fiction is fun.  A member of the Science Fiction Writers of America, he refuses to write serious genre fiction saying there is enough of that on the front page of any daily newspaper and on the evening TV news.

He has a number of links where you can follow his work and his occasional rants:

Hank’s Blog:http://hank-quense.com/wp

Strange Worlds website:http://strangeworldsonline.com

Follow him on twitter: http://twitter.com/hanque99

Facebook fan pages:  https://www.facebook.com/StrangeWorldsOnline\

 

 

Q: Welcome to Beyond the Books, Hank.  Can we start out by telling us whether you are published for the first time or are you multi-published?

 

A: I currently have 13 books published; 6 in print and e-books and 7 in e-book only

Q: What was the name of your very first book regardless of whether it was published or not and, if not published, why?

A: I honestly don’t recall the name.  I wrote it early in my writing career.  I tried to get an agent and/or a publisher but, after a year or so, I came to the conclusion that it was rubbish and I gave up on it.

Q: For your first published book, how many rejections did you go through before you either found a mainstream publisher, self-published it, or paid a vanity press to publish it?

A: I had maybe a dozen rejections. Eventually, it was accepted by a small indie publishing house and made it into print. The reading public was unimpressed.

Q: How did the rejections make you feel and what did you do to overcome the blows?

A:  Before starting a writing career, I was an account executive selling high-tech telecommunications equipment.  Rejection is part of the selling job.  I grew accustomed to it and writing rejections were the same as selling rejections.  You shrug them off and try somewhere else.

Q: When your first book was published, who published it and why did you choose them?

A: It was published by eTreasures and I didn’t choose them, they chose me.  They offered to publish the book and I let them, since no one else made that offer.

Q: How did it make you feel to become published for the first time and how did you celebrate?

A: At the time, I felt quite proud. I don’t recall what I did (It was about five years ago)

Q: What was the first thing you did as for as promotion when you were published for the first time?

A:  After I got over the shock of realizing I was now the marketing manager and the sales manager for the book because the publisher wasn’t going to do a bloody thing, I started wasting money on useless promotions since I didn’t know have an idea on how to market a book.

Q: If you had to do it over again, would you have chosen another route to be published?

A: No.  I think the process I went through was a valuable learning process.

Q: Have you been published since then and how have you grown as an author?

A:  Yes, I have a number of books published since my first one.  My story design skills and story-telling skills have improved greatly since the time I wrote that first published book.

Q: Looking back since the early days when you were trying to get published, what do you think you could have done differently to speed things up?  What kind of mistakes could you have avoided?

A:  I don’t think I could have speeded up the process.  I read once that to become a decent writer, you have to write a million words. You can’t expedite that process. However, with the ease of self-publishing now, you now have tons of junk stories getting published by writers who haven’t spent the time learning how to design the stories and learning how to tell a story.

Q: What has been the biggest accomplishment you have achieved since becoming published?

A: I have become famously unknown

Q: If you could have chosen another profession, what would that profession be?

A: An alien hunter.

Q: Would you give up being an author for that profession or have you combined the best of both worlds?

A:  I’d do both.  t takes a lot of time to travel between galaxies and I could write fiction during that travel time

Q: How do you see yourself in ten years?

A: Probably dead. But maybe not.  It’s hard to tell.

Q: Any final words for writers who dream of being published one day?

A: Don’t start writing the story until you know the ending.

 

About Falstaff’s Big Gamble

This novel is Shakespeare’s Worst Nightmare.
It takes two of the Bard’s most famous plays, Hamlet and Othello, and recasts them in Gundarland.  There, Hamlet becomes a dwarf and Othello a dark elf and Iago and his wife, Emilia, are trolls.
If that isn’t bad enough, these two tragedies are now comedies with Falstaff, Shakespeare’s most popular rogue, thrown in as a bonus.
Both Hamlet and Othello are plagued by the scheming Falstaff, who embezzles money from Othello.  After Hamlet becomes king (with help from Falstaff) the rogue becomes the dark nemesis behind throne.

About The Strange Worlds of Hank Quense

Hank Quense has written about the Strange Worlds that he has developed as a background to many of the books he has written. One of these worlds is called Gundarland, a planet inhabited by humans and fantasy creatures. The second is Zaftan 31B, home world of the alien race known as Zaftans. The books contain information on culture, races, religion, politics and other topics. His latest book in this series is Zaftan Enterprises.

 

Lousy Gigs Make for Good Stories by Joseph Garraty

Lousy Gigs Make for Good Stories

By Joseph Garraty

Like one of the main characters in my novel, Voice, I play guitar in a local rock band. Also like that character, I’ve played a lot of crappy gigs. The similarity ends there—I’m generally a nice guy, and Stephanie Case is, well, neither of those things, and that’s just for starters. But the lousy gigs? That’s something that ties all rock musicians together. Every time I meet a new musician, we get to trade horror stories. A few examples:

1. I played a venue one time where the roof leaked. That’s not so bad, huh? Maybe it wouldn’t have been, if I hadn’t been standing in a puddle of water with an electrical cable running from the guitar I was holding to a 100-watt amplifier—which, I noted with horror about halfway through the show, was also standing in a puddle of water.

2. My band showed up to do a soundcheck at one venue, only to discover that the sound guy was in jail. I admit, that was so ridiculous it was kind of funny, and an episode inspired by that actually made it into Voice.

3. When one of my bands was just starting out, we got thrown out of a venue for not bringing enough people to the show. I’d never had that happen before (it was completely humiliating), but some of my friends later told me it was kind of normal at this particular establishment. The guy who ran it, Big Lou, bore a remarkable similarity in disposition and appearance to Jabba the Hutt, and he’d attained a reputation for being a complete jerk to most of the local musicians.

4. Three vocalists, one mic. Obnoxious? You bet. Funny to watch? Oh yeah. We fell all over each other trying to get to and from that mic stand. The bits with three-part harmony were particularly entertaining. I’m lucky I didn’t accidentally club someone to death with the headstock of my guitar.

That barely scratches the surface. I’ve also had to turn away a boatload of drug pushers, deal with an astonishing variety of equipment failure (nothing like screwing around with a bass amp that won’t work when you’re twenty minutes into the set you’re supposed to be playing), fight with sound guys that took an immediate dislike to me or somebody else in the band, and the list goes on and on. I’ve put on transcendent performances to empty rooms and mediocre ones to packed houses, and (occasionally) vice versa.

What does any of this have to do with writing? Atmosphere. Vibe. Voice, if you will. Verisimilitude. From the standpoint of research, Voice was one of the easiest things I’ve ever written, because I’ve experienced so much of that scene. And for me, there are few tableaus quite as evocative as the stage at a sleazy bar two minutes before showtime. The gear is set up, the lights are down, there’s maybe a half a dozen people nursing their drinks and shooting glances toward the stage, wondering what they’re in for. Just offstage, the band is tuning up.

And if I’m there, I’m grinning like a fool—because in these dark, out-of-the-way places, despite the grime and the horrifying bathroom, despite the drunk who won’t stop pawing you and the sound guy who turns you up until you feed back like crazy or turns you down until you can’t hear anything, and despite the fact that you’re about to bust your ass for two hours for six bucks, you never know when something magic might happen.

I guess I do have something else in common with Stephanie Case. We’re both made to play seedy dives.

I’m cool with that.

Joseph Garraty is an author of dark fantasy, horror, and science fiction. He has worked as a construction worker, rocket test engineer, environmental consultant, technical writer, and deadbeat musician. He lives in Dallas, Texas.

His latest book is the horror novel, Voice.

You can visit his website at www.josephgarraty.com.

Connect with Joseph at Twitter at www.twitter.com/JosephGarraty.

Liberation Book One of the Andursian Chronciles Visits with Beyond the Books

Liberation Book Tour

 

BIO:

 

About the Author:   Born in Havana, Cuba, Maria Lucia immigrated to the United States in 1960. A University of Memphis education graduate and a professional musician and vocalist, she moved deeply into the study of music and launched a very successful musical career. She spent many years in private practice, facilitating her own seminars and counseling on creativity. Her experience includes programs for gifted children in the public school system and creativity seminars for musicians at the university level. She has been a musical director for church programs, a composer of music, and a producer of concerts. She has traveled nationally, performing and delivering seminars for more than twenty years.  Lucia has just relocated to Phoenix, AZ. The revised edition of her novel Liberation, Book One of the Andrusian Chronicles debuts at Changing Hands Bookstore in Phoenix on July 21st 2011.

www.andrusianchronicles.com

https://www.facebook.com/MariaLuciaLiberation?v=wall&ref=ts

http://www.andrusianchronicles.com/blog.html

 

 

 

INTERVIEW:

 

 

Q: Welcome to Beyond the Books, Maria Lucia.  Can we start out by telling us whether you are published for the first time or are you multi-published?

 

A: This is my second time.

 

Q: What was the name of your very first book regardless of whether it was published or not and, if not published, why?

 

A:  My first book is entitled The Heart’s Unraveling. I self published it through a company named Trafford.

 

Q: For your first published book, how many rejections did you go through before you either found a mainstream publisher, self-published it, or paid a vanity press to publish it?

 

A: I had an agent that shopped it for a short while but it got turned down by all five of the publishers we approached. Then I decided to do it myself since it was a book for a self help school I have and did my research online for the best self publishing road I could take at the time.

 

Q: How did the rejections make you feel and what did you do to overcome the blows?

 

A: I shut down almost. I only published it myself because of the school but I was shocked since the agent believed in it.  I didn’t write for years after that.

 

Q: When your first book was published, who published it and why did you choose them?

 

A: I published it with Trafford because I felt that they had great self publishing packages that I could afford, everything was included. I also looked at I Universe pretty strongly.

 

Q: How did it make you feel to become published for the first time and how did you celebrate?

 

A: I celebrated with the first book when I received some great reviews by people that I respect and love. I really didn’t think that they would endorse the book but they did. One was Dr. Bernie Siegel and the other was Barbara Max Hubbard. They really made my day when the endorsed it. To celebrate the event I went out with some friends to a wonderful restaurant by the water in Annapolis Maryland near where I lived at the time and we ate and drank Champaign. I was so excited!

 

Q: What was the first thing you did as far as promotion when you were published for the first time?

 

A: Not much, unfortunately I believed that Trafford would make it happen for me. I was under the illusion that someone would pick it up that was influential and that would be it. Trafford didn’t do much and I didn’t know at that time how involved authors had to get in the promotion of their work. Even with an established publishing house, authors have to get very involved in the promotion of their work and many times do it on their own. Big publishers have lots of books to handle and I believe that authors are responsible for a great deal of their promotion. They are the ones most invested in the work.

 

Q: If you had to do it over again, would you have chosen another route to be published?

 

A: No, but I wish that I would of known the truth about promoting your own work. It takes a tremendous effort to launch your own title, financially and time wise.

 

Q: Have you been published since then and how have you grown as an author?

A:  I have created my own imprint since then Andrusian Press. I have grown in every way possible with Liberation. I have grown in my abilities as a write; I have grown in my understanding of marketing skills especially online projects. I have grown in understanding the appropriate road for getting your title noticed and respected. I have grown a lot in the past years and probably will even more in the next few years.

 

 

Q: What has been the biggest accomplishment you have achieved since becoming published?

 

A: the compilation of great reviews from respected sources.

 

Q: If you could have chosen another profession, what would that profession be?

 

A: Something with animals. I’m not sure what. I love them.

 

Q: Would you give up being an author for that profession or have you combined the best of both worlds?

 

A: I have combined the best of a lot of worlds. I really love that approach. I really don’t want to give up anything I love.

 

Q: How do you see yourself in ten years?

 

A: On a large beautiful piece of property that has open spaces and several structures. One of the large structures will be for my workshops and school. I want to leave a curriculum and sound spiritual heart school to this world. Another of the structures will be for special animals that I will have with me. They too will part of the heat school and the teaching. Last I want a space for sharing with some folks that are into organic farming. I really want my food to be grown there and will gladly donate the land for it.

 

Q: Any final words for writers who dream of being published one day?

 

A: There has never been a better time for authors to publish their own works. Everything in the publishing world is changing and I mean everything. It will be morphing into the path that movies and music follow, online sales, online marketing and big companies losing their grip. You can do it yourself. You can market it yourself. But do it right and save your money. It takes money to create a product and your book is a product for the world. Go and visit sites like www.readerwiews.com. You will see just one of many companies that support independent writers. If you want to have a book done then get going, make time everyday to follow your dream, and put time into what your heart wants. Do it because you love and respect yourself and your work. There are many industries built on self publishing. Choose well. There is a lot of junk out there. Go look at I Universe. Google self publishing, or you can do what I did. Create your own brand. There were no publishing houses that focused just on books that empower the heart. Not just romance novels or religious publishers but stories that show the power of love, the power of the heart. So I created one. And it’s not about sex or religion though it is spiritual. It’s about Love, why because that means something to me. Find out what means something to you and write about it. Then publish it, whether with an established well respected publisher, or your own. Don’t forget. Save your money. It takes money, thousands. You’ll need a publicist too, to help you place your work in the right place. But it’s worth it. Why? Because it is what you love, it’s who you are in this world.

 

If you don’t have money right now, then write. Get your work edited and have it ready for when you do manage to save a few dollars. Then do it right and make it look great. Because YOU are worth it! Get professionals to help and you’ll save yourself a lot of headaches. Until then do your homework and study the path of writing and publishing so you’ll be one step ahead when it’s your time to do it!

 

Thanks for the feature!

 

 

 

10 Fun Facts about The Staff of Rahgorra by Mark Oetjens

We have a special guest today!  Mark Oetjens, author of the science f iction novel, The Staff of Rahgorra (Conquer Publishing) , is here to give us little known facts about his book!

10 Fun Facts about The Staff of Rahgorra

by Mark Oetjens

One of the great things about writing a novel, especially a science fiction novel, is the opportunity to pay tribute to your greatest influences by slipping in obscure references. You also get to mention friends, family and old classmates. Here are 10 things about The Staff of Rahgorra that you might not know.

1)  Star Wars References The Staff of Rahgorra is loaded with Star Wars references, enough that I could probably fill this list with them alone. For example, the Anoat system and Gundarks (both from SW Episode V) are mentioned. A precursor to The Staff of Rahgorra‘s Galactic Security Bureau was the Shuntai Bendu. An early version of the SW Episode IV script referred to the Jedi Knights the Jedi Bendu. Finally, the name of The Staff of Rahgorra‘s forbidden art, Jai Kin, was taken from the Star Wars novel The Courtship of Princess Leia (the Jedi are called Jai in the novel) and changing the order of the first three letters of the word Knight, Kin.

2)  The Model and Name of Cam‘s Ship Cam’s ship was originally a THX. I thought the reference to George Lucas’s early film was too obvious, so I changed it to THQ. The ship’s name, the Darkmoon, is the mis-remembered name of the U2 song Hawkmoon 269. When I realized the mistake I decided to stick with Darkmoon. Darkmoon fit the story better. Plus I felt the similarity of the names Hawkmoon and Millenium Falcon was also too obvious.

3) Cam‘s Co-Pilot Cam co-pilot, Mook, has long leathery ears that, with a single beat, can propel him forward during an attack. The inspiration for Mook came from the character Kowl in the 1980s cartoon She-Ra.

4) Cam‘s Navigator Greb was originally supposed to be Cam’s navigator aboard the Darkmoon. I created TK-89 about half way through the writing process because I felt that the navigator should be a droid and I moved Greb to Obek’s Tydirium (another Star Wars reference) mines.

5)  Character Names I had a lot of fun with character names. I went to grade school with the Greb brothers (see #4 above) and the Skuja brothers (Admiral Skuja), high school with the Demas brothers (Captain Demas), and Chabi was an idiot I knew in college. Tomoji Shungura (GSB High Council) was my college logic professor. Snej Teo is, of course, my last name spelled backwards. And there are many more.

6)  Shogun References I read Shogun in grad school and I loved it. There are a few Shogun references in The Staff of Rahgorra. The crime boss Toranga is a misread of Toranaga. Toranga’s character is also based on Toranaga. The Japanese meaning of Tetsuko, iron woman, fit perfectly with her character in The Staff of Rahgorra. Tetsuko is also the name of Toranaga’s falcon in Shogun. And the final battle in both novels takes place at Sekigahara.

7)  The Uakari There really is a monkey species called a Uakari and it really has white fur and a bright pick head, hands and feet.

8)  Anthropology References I have a Master’s degree in Anthropology so of course I added some Anthro references. Koobi Fora is a real early homonid site in Africa, along with Olduvai, Kromdraii, Makapansgat and several other possible resting places for the Staff. Thrull’s BC-1 Fighter is actually a fossil known as Baringo-Chemeron-1. It is a piece of a mandible that is supposed to show the first evidence of a human chin. My professor called it a “little piece of crap.”

9)  Gwangi The name Gwangi, the Trubar god of death in The Staff of Rahgorra, is from a monster created by Ray Harryhausen for the 1969 film The Valley of Gwangi.

10)  The End? (SPOILER ALERT) The Staff of Rahgorra was originally going to be a screenplay. It was supposed to end when Markos was killed. When I realized that my would-be screenplay had no third act I developed one—the last two-thirds of the novel!

Mark Oetjens 2Mark Oetjens was born in 1971. He grew up in suburban Chicago. As a child he was diagnosed with Dystonia, a debilitating neuromuscular disorder. Though there is no cure for Dystonia, surgeries and rehabilitation allowed him to walk with only a slight limp by the time he started high school. He received a B.A. in English and an M.A. in Anthropology, both from Northern Illinois University. As an adult a brain tumor, completely unrelated to his Dystonia, threatened to disable him a second time. Thanks to radiation therapy the tumor has disappeared. Mark currently lives in Phoenix, AZ.

Mark’s latest book is the science fiction novel, The Staff of Rahgorra.

You can visit his website at www.conquerpublishing.com.

Recipe for Writing a Great Science Fiction Novel by Valmore Daniels

We have a special guest today!  Valmore Daniels, author of the science fiction novel, Forbidden the Stars (Mummer Media) , gives away secrets for writing great science fiction novels!

Recipe for Writing a Great Science Fiction Novel

by Valmore Daniels

There are many elements needed to create great fiction, and for science fiction, you need only a few additional ingredients.

All fiction can be boiled down to a simple chemical formula:  T+P+Co+Ch+D+R = St.  Theme, Plot, Conflict, Character, Dialogue and Resolution cover the basic elements of a Story. A writer must master all of these elements and combine them in mathematical proportion in order to create a great story.

For a science fiction story, you must include at least two other primary elements: the first is science or some aspect of science, and the second, which I feel is the most important and also the most difficult to master, is suspension of disbelief.

First of all, a science fiction story could not exist without some element of science, whether through existing technology or future technology, possible or imagined. This can be hard science, such as machines, computers, space ships, robots or other technical themes.  A writer can also deal with the social sciences, which include biology, extraterrestrials, dystopian futures, or alternate realities. Science fiction without science is simply “fiction.”

Even with a great scientific theme, however ingenious or revolutionary the idea, the story cannot be great unless the reader can accept the science as real or possible. In order to create this suspension of disbelief, the science fiction writer must craft very specific rules for their fictional universe and be extremely careful not to step outside the boundaries of their imaginary system. If you break your own rules, that will jolt your reader out of the story. Trying to lure them back into the narrative will be next to impossible.

So the scientific formula for great Science Fiction is to remember the three S’s: Story plus Science plus Suspension of disbelief.

In true nomadic spirit, Valmore Daniels has lived on the coasts of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Arctic Oceans, and dozens of points in between.

An insatiable thirst for new experiences has led him to work in several fields, including legal research, elderly care, oil & gas administration, web design, government service, human resources, and retail business management.

His enthusiasm for travel is only surpassed by his passion for telling tall tales.

Valmore’s latest book is Forbidden the Stars, a sci-fi novel set at the end of the 21st century.

Visit his website at www.ValmoreDaniels.com

 

Forbidden The Stars is available at the following retailers:

Paperback: Amazon US / Amazon UK / Amazon CA / Barnes & Noble

eBook: Amazon US / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Kobo

 

‘Forbidden the Stars’ Valmore Daniels on virtual book tour November ’10

Join Valmore Daniels, author of the science fiction novel, Forbidden the Stars (Mummer Media) as he virtually tours the blogosphere November 1 – 26 ‘10 on his first virtual book tour with Pump Up Your Book!

In true nomadic spirit, Valmore Daniels has lived on the coasts of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Arctic Oceans, and dozens of points in between.

An insatiable thirst for new experiences has led him to work in several fields, including legal research, elderly care, oil & gas administration, web design, government service, human resources, and retail business management.

His enthusiasm for travel is only surpassed by his passion for telling tall tales.

Valmore’s latest book is Forbidden the Stars, a sci-fi novel set at the end of the 21st century.

Visit his website at www.ValmoreDaniels.com

Forbidden the StarsForbidden the Stars is hard core science fiction at its best.  At the end of the 21st century, a catastrophic accident in the asteroid belt has left two surveyors dead, but the asteroid itself is completely missing, along with their young son, Alex Manez, who was accompanying them.

On the outer edge of the solar system, the first manned mission to Pluto, led by the youngest female astronaut in NASA history, has led to an historic discovery: there is a marker left there by an alien race for humankind to find. We are not alone!

While studying the alien marker, it begins to react and, four hours later, the missing asteroid appears in a Plutonian orbit, along with young Alex Manez, who has developed some alarming side-effects from his exposure to the kinetic element they call Kinemet.

From the depths of a criminal empire based on Luna, an expatriate seizes the opportunity to wrest control of outer space, and takes swift action.

The secret to faster-than-light speed is up for grabs, and the race for interstellar space is on!

If you’d like to follow along with Valmore as he tours the blogosphere in November, visit his official tour page at Pump Up Your Book. Lots of fun in store as you learn more about this gifted author as well as win prizes, too!

Join us for Valmore Daniels’ Forbidden the Stars Virtual Book Tour ‘10!

Pump Up Your Book is an innovative public relations agency specializing in virtual book tours. You can visit our website at www.pumpupyourbook.com.



Five Things You Need to Know About Captain Bonny Morgan: The Cassandra Prophesy

Called to action by a mysterious ancient Order-an ancient Order in cahoots with the Empress Flaccilla of the First Galactic Empire of Emperor Tulla-to help bring about the fulfillment of a long forgotten prophesy, the beautiful galactic pirate, Captain Bonny Morgan, sets out on her mission to successfully bring the prophesy to reality. By kidnapping the Empress’s daughter, Princess Cosette, Captain Morgan sets into motion an adventure awash in political intrigues, hidden agendas, unexpected revelations, and bold, daring gambits by those involved at every level of the conspiracy. Setting out to find her kidnapped sister, Princess Lysette, joined by her beautiful, mischievous, and extraordinary slavegirl, Tink, crisscrosses the galaxy in a bawdy, erotic, and often hilarious attempt to find Cosette. Along the way, Lysette and Tink fall in with a variety of extraordinary allies in their attempt to find Cosette, meeting the Lady Brit, Jon Black, Pirate Queen Colleen O’Malley, Gunns Mannigan, Buster O’Malley, the beautiful pirates Kana and Blaze, and Bully, the roguish owner of the pirate tavern, the Pretty Red.

This is the premise of Robert “Doc” Gowdy’s new book, Captain Bonny Morgan: The Cassandra Prophesy.  Doc is here with us today to give us five little known things about his book!

FIVE THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT CAPTAIN BONNY MORGAN:

THE CASSANDRA PROPHESY

  1. Captain Bonny Morgan: The Cassandra Prophesy was a joy to write.  The ideas for the novel came to me from several places, particularly from my love of mythology, science fiction, old movies, the Golden Age of Piracy at the turn of the eighteenth-century, and classic literature.  Captain Bonny Morgan, ostensibly the novel’s main character, is an amalgamation of several “things,” e.g., the combination of the real pirates Anne Bonny and Sir Henry Morgan, the addition of fairy-like mythological attributes, and a hard-bitten West Country brogue a la Captain Hector Barbossa from Pirates of the Caribbean. However, the true joy of the novel—at least to me—and, to my mind, the novel’s real main character, is Tink, Princess Lysette’s mischievous slavegirl.  Tink, of course, is my nod to J. M. Barrie’s Tinker Bell from his novel Peter Pan. While my Tink is not a true fairy, but a full-grown human woman, I tried, nevertheless, to instill in Tink many of the same qualities, both emotionally and psychologically, that drive Tinker Bell.  Tink is beautiful, mischievous, extremely jealous, playful, funny, and highly intelligent.  Emotionally, however, like Tinker Bell, Tink is unable to hold a single emotion at any one time, making her a little volatile and quite unpredictable.  Although highly skilled at everything she does, Tink is nevertheless the playful and mischievous spirit of the novel.
  2. My love of old movies—and movies of all kinds—also drove my creation of the novel, as well as the characters I created for it.  For instance, Sergeant Major “Buster” O’Malley is a nod to Victor McGlalen’s character Sergeant Quincannon in She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, and Kevin Conway’s character Sergeant Buster Kilrain in Gettysburg.  The character Jon Black is a nod to Long John Silver of both the Disney movie, Treasure Island, and the Robert Louis Stevenson novel of the same name.  Like Captain Bonny Morgan, Jon Black speaks in a West Country brogue (they are, in “reality,” both of the same species), and I crafted the brogue from both Robert Newton’s rendering of it in the Disney movie Treasure Island as Long John Silver, and Geoffrey Rush’s from his rendering of it as Captain Hector Barbossa in Pirates of the Caribbean.  But it was Robert Newton’s landmark rendering of the West Country brogue in Disney’s Treasure Island that truly drives both Captain Morgan’s and Jon Black’s dialogs in the novel.  Robert Newton essentially created pirate-speak.
  3. In the novel I also created an ethnic species of people based on the Fenians, or Fianna of ancient Irish mythology.  For anyone interested, a reference to the Fenians can be found in the Dubliners’ song “The Foggy Dew,” particularly the version sung by Paddy Reilly.  It can be found on YouTube.  The Fenians are the race of beings that Sergeant Major Buster O’Malley, his sister, pirate Queen Colleen O’Malley, and Buster’s superior, General Sean Francis Padrick “Gunns” Mannigan come from.  The Fenians make up the bulk of the galactic pirates within the nine competing factions of the galactic Brethren.  Colleen O’Malley is the leader of the O’Malley Brethren.  Nevertheless, I had to create a Fenian (or Irish) brogue for the Fenian characters to speak in the novel.  Along with writing the West Country brogue, I used as my guide for the Fenian brogue Stephen Crane’s novel, Maggie: A Girl of the Streets.  In Maggie, Crane writes a New York-Irish brogue that I used as my guide for writing the dialog of the Fenian characters.  Oh, and Gunns Mannigan, he’s a nod to John Wayne’s character Michael Patrick “Guns” Donovan in the movie Donovan’s Reef, and the now defunct Austin, TX blues band, Blitz Mannigan.
  4. I tried to add a great deal of both subtle and overt humor in the novel.  My love of comedy, comedy teams, and my rather quirky sense of humor tends to be sprinkled throughout the novel.  For instance, Tink and her owner, Princess Lysette, subtly take on the qualities of Laurel and Hardy as they progress through the novel.  Lady Brit, a Miinian noble who joins Tink and Lysette on their adventure, starts out as a rather sophisticated and refined young Lady, but as the novel progresses she becomes more and more mystified by the events occurring around her.  Lady Brit is particularly mystified by Tink and Lysette, and later on by the beautiful pirate team of Kana O’Shay and Gunner Blaze.  I also have Lady Brit give George Lucas and Star Wars a nod when she tells Captain Morgan that Princess Lysette’s skiff, the Tavia, can make point-five beyond lightspeed.  Then there’s the jovial, rather large owner of the pirate tavern Pretty Red on Spiller’s Point.  His name is Bully.  Bully serves a pirate ale called Spiller’s Ale—good to the last spilt drop.  And just down the road from the Pretty Red, is Sim Carstairs store.  Sim Carstairs is a nod to the boatman Sim Carstairs in Clint Eastwood’s movie, The Outlaw Josey Wales.  Also, in Princess Lysette, I created rather a hard drinker—at times.  She’s rather a pirate drinker, so to speak.  She becomes quite drunk during Lady Brit’s pirate branding on Prilla when Colleen O’Malley makes Lady Brit a pirate lord in the O’Malley Brethren.  Then next morning when Lysette has a thundering hangover, Tink happily informs her that she has a hangover.  Lysette then replies, “Tink, calling what I have a ‘hangover’ is like calling the Centellon flood a slight drizzle.”  That line is a direct nod to Gig Young’s character (and his tremendous hangover) in the Clark Gable and Doris Day movie, Teacher’s Pet.
  5. I also created some rather cool, but evil characters.  Admiral Kul, who is trying to take over the galactic Empire of Emperor Tulla, the Empress Flaccilla’s second husband, is quite a flawed man.  I tried to create a truly psychologically troubled man, which makes his attempt to gain the Empire look rather cowardly and shallow.  Then there’s his aide, Commander Pangko.  His go-to guy.  Commander Pangko, who is quite evil, is nevertheless quite intelligent and quite conniving.  Then there’s Commander Pellon, the rather unsavory executive officer aboard Admiral Kul’s personal Imperial Super Carrier, Death’s Talon.  It seems that whenever Commander Pellon comes into Tink’s presence, he creates rather a foul odor in her nose.  The odor, however, is only apparent to Tink, and no one else.  And then there’s my favorite evil character turned good guy, General Ziett Thom.  General Thom is the quintessential Death Watch General.  I patterned him after Bill Nighy’s character General Friedrich Olbricht in the Tom Cruise movie, Valkyrie, right down to the nervous tick with his head suddenly jerking to one side.  And although the Empress Flaccilla is not evil, she is a very, very fun character who is quite conniving in her own right—as she, too, is trying to take over the Empire from her husband—but is rather a nymphomaniac in the bargain.  Oh, and one last fun character.  Captain Rafer O’Toole, who is Fenian, but speaks with a rather refined, aristocratic accent, is patterned after Bernard Fox’s character Colonel Crittendon from “Hogan’s Heroes.”  He’s quite a fun character.  Tink has rather a lot of fun at Captain O’Toole’s expense, and much to his sophisticated chagrin.

Robert “Doc” Gowdy is a graduate of the University of North Texas with a Ph.D. in Literary Criticism and Theory and an emphasis on Nineteenth-Century British literature.  His specialization in literary theory is psychoanalytic criticism and theory, particularly Lacanian psychoanalysis, with further emphases on Milton and Eighteenth-Century British literature.  Doc Gowdy is currently an adjunct assistant professor at Texas Woman’s University where he teaches various literature classes.  His interest in writing is long standing, but aside from academic writing, his first novel, Captain Bonny Morgan: The Cassandra Prophesy is his first foray into fiction. Captain Bonny Morgan is based on archetypal themes and patterns from mythology, such as fairies, goddesses, and the Hero’s Journey, and based loosely on Doc Gowdy’s active duty service in the United States Marine Corps with special emphasis on the Golden Age of Piracy in the Caribbean at the turn of the Eighteenth-Century.

Interview with Robert “Doc” Gowdy on Captain Bonny Morgan: The Cassandra Prophesy

Robert “Doc” Gowdy is a graduate of the University of North Texas with a Ph.D. in Literary Criticism and Theory and an emphasis on Nineteenth-Century British literature.  His specialization in literary theory is psychoanalytic criticism and theory, particularly Lacanian psychoanalysis, with further emphases on Milton and Eighteenth-Century British literature.  Doc Gowdy is currently an adjunct assistant professor at Texas Woman’s University where he teaches various literature classes.  His interest in writing is long standing, but aside from academic writing, his first novel, Captain Bonny Morgan: The Cassandra Prophesy is his first foray into fiction.  Captain Bonny Morgan is based on archetypal themes and patterns from mythology, such as fairies, goddesses, and the Hero’s Journey, and based loosely on Doc Gowdy’s active duty service in the United States Marine Corps with special emphasis on the Golden Age of Piracy in the Caribbean at the turn of the Eighteenth-Century.

Q: Welcome to Beyond the Books, Doc.  Can we start out by telling us whether you are published for the first time or are you multi-published?

About two years ago I self-published an academic, or scholarly, book called The Text and the Other: Toward the Caesura of the Unconscious.  So my new science fiction novel, Captain Bonny Morgan: The Cassandra Prophesy, is my second publication.

Q: What was the name of your very first book regardless of whether it was published or not and, if not published, why?

My very first book was the scholarly work I published two years ago, The Text and the Other: Toward the Caesura of the Unconscious.  It was self-published by me given the rejections I had received from various academic publishers.

Q: For your first published book, how many rejections did you go through before you either found a mainstream publisher, self-published it, or paid a vanity press to publish it?

I’d say, if memory serves, that I received about four rejections from academic publishers concerning my first book.  I was given the impression that none of them were interested in really reading what the book had to say, especially given the quickness with which I received the rejections.  So, I decided to self-publish the book after about the fourth rejection.

Q: How did the rejections make you feel and what did you do to overcome the blows?

Given my experience as an academic writer, I’ve developed a rather thick skin when it comes to criticisms of my writing and rejections of my book.  I’ve come to let such things just roll off my back and don’t let them bother me very much.  So it was not difficult for me to overcome the blows with respect to the rejections of my first book.

Q: When your first book was published, who published it and why did you choose them?

I self-published my first book with Wasteland Press.  I chose Wasteland Press because they had a variety of affordable publishing plans to choose from.  I also chose to self-publish my new novel with Wasteland Press.  They do very good work, and I have been very pleased with the publication of both of my books.

Q: How did it make you feel to become published for the first time and how did you celebrate?

It’s rather hard to describe the feeling you have once you have a book published and out among the public.  It’s quite a good feeling, but a rather strange one, nonetheless.  With my first book, I celebrated rather quietly with my students, given that it was an academic book.  We celebrated a bit in the classroom, and later, with a select few students, a libation or two away from the university.  In other words, with my first book, there was just a rather subdued celebration.

Q: What was the first thing you did as far as promotion when you were published for the first time?

With my first book, all I did as far as promoting the book was to inform personally my students, my friends, my colleagues, and the university.  The university department in which I work placed a notification of the book’s publication on it’s webpage.  That’s really about all I did, given that a scholarly book is meant more for publication than mass distribution.

Q: If you had to do it over again, would you have chosen another route to be published?

No, I’m quite comfortable with the route I took.  I think in today’s market, self-publishing is a fine way to go with respect to being published.

Q: Have you been published since then and how have you grown as an author?

I have just recently, this February, 2010, self-published a science fiction novel titled Captain Bonny Morgan: The Cassandra Prophesy.  Writing a work of fiction is quite different from writing a formal, scholarly work.  So, yes, I think I have grown quite a bit as an author.  It’s one thing to write a scholarly work while relying on research and strict academic writing rules, and quite another to write something that is wholly from your imagination.  While I was quite timid from the outset while writing my new novel, the longer the writing process went along, the easier it became, and the more sophisticated my writing became.  Writing a descriptive narrative, and complex dialog sequences, is not easy.  However, with tenacity, and daily writing, the more my abilities as a writer seemed to grow.  By the time I had finished the novel, I was quite pleased with the end result, and rather surprised at how much I had evolved as a writer.  Not wanting to toot my own horn, I was, nevertheless, surprised at how “smart” and “sophisticated” my narrative turned out.  The more I read my own novel, the more I liked it and felt it was something to be proud of.  It was almost like reading a novel someone else had written.  And, surprisingly, it was quite funny too.

Q: Looking back since the early days when you were trying to get published, what do you think you could have done differently to speed things up?  What kind of mistakes could you have avoided?

Given that I only attempted to first get published a little more than two years ago, I don’t think I made many mistakes since I decided, very nearly from the outset, to self-publish my first book.  Self-publishing tends to speed things up rather quickly.

Q: What has been the biggest accomplishment you have achieved since becoming published?

My biggest accomplishment since publishing my first book has been writing and publishing my new science fiction novel, Captain Bonny Morgan: The Cassandra Prophesy. That has been quite an achievement.  Seeing your new 480 page novel in book form is a very rewarding experience.  You tend to hold the new novel in your hands, look down at it, and say, “Wow! I wrote that?”

Q: If you could have chosen another profession, what would that profession be?

Well, since in my lifetime I’ve had several professions, such as Marine, professional musician, photographer, cosmetologist, cook, teacher, author, etc., I guess if I had to choose another profession other than author, it would be professional clown.  Clown would be fun.

Q: Would you give up being an author for that profession or have you combined the best of both worlds?

Oh, I have definitely combined the best of both worlds.  So, no, I wouldn’t give up being an author to be a professional clown.  My clown side is clearly evident in my fiction writing.  My new novel is quite funny in places.

Q: How do you see yourself in ten years?

Still writing.  I am currently a third of the way through a sequel to Captain Bonny Morgan: The Cassandra Prophesy. I expect to make Captain Bonny Morgan a trilogy.  And from the Cassandra Prophesy in my first novel, I expect to write a second trilogy involving Princess Cassandra who is born between novels one and two in the first trilogy.  My second novel, in which Princess Cassandra is introduced, will be called Captain Bonny Morgan: Fenians Wake. Fenians Wake is a reference to the Fenians of Irish legend.  From the first novel, Princess Lysette’s Princess Guard (her personal bodyguard detachment), re-introduced, and fully characterized in Fenians Wake, are entirely made up of an ancient people known as the Fenians from the snow planet, Prilla.  The Fenians are also based on the mythological Fianna of Irish myth.

Q: Any final words for writers who dream of being published one day?

Yes, be consistent.  A writer should write every day.  Sure, a writer needs a day off now and again, but writing as much as possible, very nearly every day, will get the job done.  The more you write, the closer you’ll get to your desired end result—a finished novel.  And, don’t ever give up.  Not on yourself, or you writing.  If you believe in yourself and your writing, you can’t help but succeed.

An Interview with Science Fiction Author Darrell Bain

Over the last several years, Darrell Bain has become one of the best selling authors in the world in the realm of electronic publishing, winning just about every honor available in that area of publishing. He has now moved actively into print publishing and is currently working on a collaboration with best selling science fiction author and scientist Travis S. “Doc Travis” Taylor. Most of Bain’s books are also in print or scheduled for print and all of them are available as e-books. He produces a very popular monthly newsletter, discoursing on various subjects brought up by fans or by his own voracious reading habit, written in an informal, narrative style. It is available around the first of each month from his web site at http://www.darrellbain.com/. 

Welcome to Beyond the Books, Darrell.  Can we start out by having you tell us whether you are published for the first time or are you multi-published? 

I am multipublished. 

What was the name of your very first book regardless of whether it was published or not and, if not published, why? 

The Pet Plague was my first, written after getting my first computer and learning how easy it was to write and correct mistakes with it. 

For your first published book, how many rejections did you go through before you either found a mainstream publisher, self-published it, or paid a vanity press to publish it? 

For the first seven years I was writing, I was the subject of a giant scam by a set of crooked “agents”. I wasn’t being rejected because they lied when they told me my manuscripts were being sent to publishers. My first published book was Medics Wild, with a crooked publisher in league with the crooked agents. Only a few hundred copies of the book were ever printed. 

How did the rejections make you feel and what did you do to overcome the blows? 

I very nearly stopped writing after I found out how badly I had been scammed. The E-book industry was my salvation. I’ve become one of the very best selling authors of E-books and that’s in competition with top names in the print industry who also have their books e-published. 

When your first book was published, who published it and why did you choose them? 

Commonwealth Publishing was the name of the now defunct crooked firm that published Medics Wild. I chose them on the recommendation of the crooked agents. 

How did it make you feel to become published for the first time and how did you celebrate? 

I felt wonderful at the time until I learned all the facts. I celebrated by setting up a lot of book signings, then found I couldn’t get books for them. 

What was the first thing you did as for as promotion when you were published for the first time? 

Book signings. 

If you had to do it over again, would you have chosen another route to be published? 

Of course! I was very naïve. Dealing with those crooked agents probably set my career back by ten years, and at my age it’s hard to spare that many! Having an agent is the best way to go, but NEVER pay an agent anything. 

Have you been published since then and how have you grown as an author? 

Yes, I’ve had at least three dozen books published now and as many short stories. I’ve become an icon of the E-book industry and have won every major award possible (Fictionwise Author of the Year, Knowbetter best Science Fiction novel 2002, double Eppie Award best young adult and best action/adventure novels of the year 2007, and Dream Realm Award, best Science fiction novel of the year 2007). Almost all of my books are also in print now. So far as growing, I’ve grown enough to be asked to collaborate with Travis S. Taylor on a science fiction novel. He is the co-author with John Ringo of the best selling Von Neumann’s War and has had a number of books published with Baen Books. Our book will be out in July 2008. Having him ask me to be a co-author was the finest compliment of my writing career. I might add that my writing has improved over the years as I learned some of the little tricks of the trade, but nothing can substitute for writing and more writing. 

Looking back since the early days when you were trying to get published, what do you think you could have done differently to speed things up?  What kind of mistakes could you have avoided? 

I doubt I could have speeded things up any faster than by finding a genuine agent, or simply trying to find a publisher without an agent. Same for mistakes. I should have done some research on agents rather than picking a name at random like I did. I had the incredible bad luck to pick the worst crooks in the business. 

What has been the biggest accomplishment you have achieved since becoming published? 

Being asked to collaborate with Travis and having my first hard cover published, Savage Survival.  All those awards haven’t been bad, either! 

If you could have chosen another profession, what would that profession be? 

Astronaut 

Would you give up being an author for that profession or have you combined the best of both worlds? 

Yes, at this stage of my life I would. My wife says I would accept a ride on the Space Shuttle even if I knew it would blow up 30 seconds after takeoff. 

How do you see yourself in ten years? 

Alive, I hope! Seriously, I see myself still writing books and short stories, but selling more than I do today. 

Any final words for writers who dream of being published one day? 

Yes. Writing is hard work. And writing fiction is a profession where the supply far outnumbers demand so be prepared for a long hard road. One more thing: the best way to improve your writing is to write. And write. And write. And…..

  

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