Hermit on Mars #scifi #books #Mars #colonization

Excuse me for crowing, but…

Yee ha! You can download my latest Mars colony story today.1-hermit-ebook-cover-29sep2016

I go the independent route, and there’s a lot of interactive work to get a book published. My rural internet connection isn’t up to it. I spent a day in town – thanks to the public library and Silver City’s coffee shops for their WiFi. That lets me spend hours in concentrated effort, wander around and get a snack, go back to work, and at the end of the day have the book launched.

Every book seems to present me with new errors to make, so inevitably I have to make corrections to the file and re-upload. More than once I’m sorry to say, so when it’s done I feel great. 🙂

Now I get a writing break – my husband and I are going to Carlsbad Caverns. Quite appropriate after writing a story about the Hermit’s cavern on Mars. Then on to Book 4 – which is already drafted! Watch for it with my quarterly Readers’ Club email.

Hermit on Mars is available as an ebook today at Smashwords, Amazon, and will be on Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo and other major online retailers soon thereafter. The paperback is available on Create Space today and should turn up on Amazon next week.

The colony on Mars is thriving but Sig’s life is falling apart, both in the robotics lab and with his partner. An urgent call from his mother – who lives in the Hermit’s cavern, beyond the safety of the colony – seems like a fine chance to escape for a while. Sig yearns to recapture the freedom of his youth, but with freedom comes danger.

I think (hope?) I’m getting better with each book, but find out for yourself. Download a free digital copy from Smashwords using coupon code NB87T before December 31st, or get any of my ebooks for FREE in exchange for an honest review.

Each story in the On Mars series stands alone, so you can easily start with Book 3. But take a look atGlory w caption Book 1 – Glory on Mars. Here’s some of what real readers are saying on Amazon about Glory:

  • Science is most definitely there in all its glorious, taken for granted style. It is so flawlessly interwoven with the narrative… leaving the author free to tell a tale about life, love, strife and sacrifice.
  • What makes this story so enjoyable is its solid grounding in reality.
  • I love that I was able to sit down and read an engaging story… the true dangers of extraterrestrial exploration but of the fragility of human life.
  • Emma and her colleagues find that life on Mars requires all of their intelligence, ingenuity, and courage if they are to survive.
  • A page turning, problem-solving story.
  • Characters were rich and dynamic. It was interesting reading about their environment and adaptations. I hope there is a sequel, I will definitely check it out.
  • If you loved the movie “The Martian” then this story is a great follow-up.
  • Outstanding science fiction novel, I give this book a strong five stars.

Thanks to all my followers and visitors – I appreciate you stopping by to share my little efforts.

Mysterious Ways – flash fiction #scifi #fantasy #podcast goes live on Friday Sept 2nd

Strange women walking on mars

From NASA’a Curiosity – but is it just a rock? a digital artifact?

Listen to Mysterious Ways on the Sept 2nd podcast of 600 Second Saga starting at 6pm CST.

I’m happy to say my short short-story about an angel visiting Mars will be podcast next week. It’s exciting for me to hear one of my stories read aloud, and it’s perfect for your trip to work or a break during the day. Listen in and try some of the other stories, too.

Thanks to Mariah Avix at 600 Second Saga: Tales of Science Fiction and Fantasy. Choose your favorite way to listen:

New to 600 Second Saga? How to listen to podcasts

The 600 Second Saga team appreciates sharing, reviewing, and rating the podcast – this helps to reach more people. Please consider giving us a rating in iTunes.

Mariah is now accepting flash fiction submissions for future podcasts – let your favorite author know or (authors!) submit one of your own pieces.

4 Books on Mars white background (500x500)Read one of my books today at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo, and other major on-line retailers. Books 1 and 2 of the On Mars series are available with books 3 and 4 coming in fall 2016. Catch up now.

Receive any of my books free – click here to find out how.

Glory on #Mars excerpt Chapter One: Incident #amwriting #scifi #amreading #books

The seaside resort of Noordwijk was a strange place to train for a mission to the barren deserts of Mars, but Colony Mars had its tidy headquarters north of the Dutch city, inland from the deep dunes of the beach. Sightseers hurried through the visitors’ center to join guided tours of a Martian colony mockup and settler-candidates stopped between austere buildings to admire the summer flowers that replaced spring tulips.

Noordwijk-DunesEmma was about to start her last English-language tour when her link beeped an incoming message – the tone for “urgent”. One family was still coming up the ramp, two young boys ricocheting among signs diagramming the mockup of the colony. Emma turned discreetly to one side and tapped her headset.

“There’s a mission problem.” Emma didn’t check her contact lens for metadata – that was the mission lead’s voice in her ear. “Come to the control room as soon as duties allow.”

A chill ran through Emma. Maybe her launch date had slipped. Maybe they’d miss the window entirely and she’d remain on Earth, temporarily reprieved. Why was that the first thought that came to her? Must be pre-launch jitters.

Emma was about to fly on Settler Mission Three and her journey depended on a narrow launch window. Balancing the planets’ orbital dance with fuel requirements, Colony Mars could launch a mission every twenty-six months. If they missed it, there’d be a twenty-six month delay. But Emma excelled at focusing on the task at hand, so she turned her attention back to her tour group.

“If we’re all ready? My name is Emma Winters and I’m a Martian settler. In twelve days, Colony Mars will launch me and three crewmates into orbit to board our transport ship. I’ll be your guide today through this replica of the Kamp Kans colony habitat or nederzetting, as our Dutch founders call it.”

“Wow,” one of the bouncy boys said. He was clearly a fan, dressed in a rugby shirt from the gift shop, striped in rusty red and sky blue just like Emma’s uniform. “Are you really going to Mars and never coming back?”

“Yup. This is my last day in Holland.”

She watched everyone’s eyes widen at that. Public outreach, like this tour, was part of every settler’s training, right up to their final day at headquarters. Personal contact kept public interest and donations high.

The urgent message tugged at her thoughts and she pushed it away again.

“Why don’t one of you young men open the door and we’ll begin.” She gestured towards the white metal hatchway. The younger boy hopped forward, stopping just before he ran into the door.

“Hey!”

“You have to open it manually, dummy,” his brother said. He looked back at Emma proudly. “All the nederzetting’s doors are manual.”

“That’s right,” Emma said with a practiced smile. The tour always started with the surprise of a manual door.

“Colony Mars uses the latest technology for some things, like construction, communications, and power generation. But technology requires lots of support – spare parts and maintenance. There are only eight people on Mars now; twelve when my mission gets there. Human beings are flexible – our hands can replace dozens of servomechanisms.”

The boy scowled at her skeptically.

Emma held up a pencil she carried especially for this bit.

“Even simple tools are complex to manufacture. The wood for this pencil is logged in Oregon, in America. The graphite in the center is mined in Sri Lanka. Zinc and copper from Africa for the cap, and the eraser combines Italian pumice with Canadian rapeseed oil.” She waggled the pencil at the crowd.

“I haven’t mentioned the machines needed to produce it, or the thousands of workers and piles of parts at every step. On Mars, we use low tech wherever we can.” Emma spun the wheel-shaped handle, and stepped to one side as she heaved the door open.

“Even ‘no tech’. These hinges will still be working a hundred years from now.”

She pushed the urgent message firmly out of her mind as the group stepped and stumbled over the door frame.

***

The quickest route to Mission Control was through the visitors’ center. From the lobby, tourists turned right to enter the museum and gift shop under a banner in four languages.

Mars is ons geschenk aan de toekomst
Marso
estas nia donaco al la estonteco
Mars est notre cadeau pour l’avenir
Mars is our gift to the future

Instead, Emma stepped behind the lobby’s welcome desk. Rather than the Very_large_array_cloudsusual cheery greeting, the attendant nodded grimly. Alarmed, Emma laid her hand on the scanner, a door concealed in the wall clicked open, and she hopped on the walkalator to the Mars-Earth Exchange building.

She could see the MEX antenna farm from the glass corridor. Today a group from the nearby European Space Agency’s Technology Center stood at the base of the main dish – their visit had been the day’s news at breakfast – but she was too distracted to wonder if they’d award another grant to Colony Mars.

She entered at the back of a stadium-style control room, behind two dozen stations, each arranged like an individual cockpit, and scanned the room for Filip Krast, the stocky MEX mission control lead. The front row, on the lowest level, was fully occupied as always by controllers running the satellite systems that orbited Mars – communications, tracking, weather, and solar power. On the second level technicians were installing upgrades for Emma’s Settler Three mission.

Filip hurried across the top level, past the special projects stations, and ushered Emma to a glass-walled cubicle against the back wall.

“There’s been a… an incident at Kamp. This isn’t easy to watch.” He steered her to a video console in the corner and hit playback. “There’s been a death.”

Emma sat up straight and felt her fingers go cold.

On the vid, the colony’s doctor, Ingra, was stepping through a door in the habitat module. The lights were dimmed and the audio feed was silent except for the hum of life support systems – it was pre-dawn at the settlement. She crossed to the airlock, slowly rotated the door handle, and hopped through.

Filip tapped the console, switching to the playback from inside the airlock. Ingra sealed the door and looked up at the imager.

“By the time this transmission reaches Earth, I’ll be gone. I can’t stay here any longer. There’s a huge old oak tree beyond that little crater. No one can see it, but I know it’s there. I’m going home. Forgive me.” She walked past the surface survival suits hanging on the wall and reached for the airlock control panel.

Emma felt a knot tighten in her stomach.

“She can’t get out without a suit, can she? The airlock pumps are slow; she’ll pass out before the pressure is low enough for her to open the outer door, right?”

view out airlock (500x375)Filip pointed back to the screen.

Ingra stepped to the outer door. With a pull and twist, she opened the emergency decompression valve. Red lights began to flash and ice fog clouded the imager lens. Ingra fumbled with the outer door and it opened. With her last lungful of air, she pulled the door open and disappeared into the darkness.

Glory on Mars is available here or see more options.

GLORY Ebook 300 dpi

Science fiction is a really big place #scifi #hardsf #books #fantasy

Science fiction is huge – there’s a story for everyone.

Amazon’s Kindle offers twenty categories of scifi. Here they are:

One of my favorites - scifi satire

One of my favorites – scifi satire

  1. Adventure
  2. Alien Invasion
  3. Alternative History
  4. Anthologies & Short Stories
  5. Classics
  6. Colonization
  7. Cyberpunk
  8. Dystopian
  9. First Contact
  10. Galactic Empire
  11. Genetic Engineering
  12. Hard Science Fiction
  13. LGBT
  14. Metaphysical & Visionary
  15. Military
  16. Post-Apocalyptic
  17. Space Exploration
  18. Space Opera
  19. Steampunk
  20. Time Travel

And that doesn’t include the separate “fantasy” categories.

Here are two books I read recently that seemed to only marginally be science fiction.

Never Let Me Go (Kazuo Ishiguro) is the story of orphans growing up in a boarding school and facing their miserable future with resignation. Amazon lists it as a scifi dystopian (though to be fair it’s also listed under Literary Fiction which seems a better fit to me.) Here’s the scifi part: the orphans are clones raised so their organs can be harvested. The book is so acclaimed that I had to finish it, but it left me feeling puzzled.

The Water Knife (Paolo Bacigalupi) is a tale of mean streets – gangs, prostitutes, drugs, corruption and intrigue, and a crusading journalist. Between murders and violence the characters do a lot of ruminating on their situation. It’s a scifi dystopian (and also Literary Fiction/Thriller). The scifi part is that all this misery is caused by climate change droughts that leave vast swathes of America uninhabitable. Not being big into murderous gang wars, I didn’t finish it.

After reading these books, I looked the term up on Google.

sci·ence fic·tion

noun: fiction based on imagined future scientific or technological advances and major social or environmental changes, frequently portraying space or time travel and life on other planets.

Since science and technology permeate our real world, the key for me is “future-advances-changes.”

Richard Treitel found this added element I like, attributed to Ben Bova:

A work shouldn’t count as SciFi unless the science is necessary to it.

Not just adventures (or romances, or …) with high-tech props, resembling science fiction the way Hamlet resembles a history of Denmark. Not just present-day fiction in an exotic setting.

Richard Treitel offers other quotes, too.

Hard science fiction is where science and technology seem real and are ‘characters’ in the story. [Brad Templeton]

Fantasy deals with the impossible, while SF deals with the possible. [Doug Tricarico]

Stories that show us a way of life that has been shaped by the science or technology in the story. [Anon]

Wikipedia says scifi is speculative, futuristic, and explores the consequences of scientific advances – while avoiding the supernatural. They note the original need to tie the story to science-based facts and theories has become “tenuous” over time. It seems hard to find a scifi story today without supernatural characters – and most authors give up altogether on the current physics that puts other star systems vastly out of our reach. We want “new worlds, new life, and new civilizations.”

Are Dragons Always Fantasy? Can They Be Scifi?

Specifically, the dragons in Anne McCaffrey’s Pern books. Humans journey todragonriders of Pern another planet, lose touch with Earth, and build a sort of medieval feudal society. They find creatures like small dragons with traits that say “fantasy” to me – they’re telepathic, and can travel instantly between places and times. They breed these little guys bigger until they can ride them to purge the skies of alien parasites that travel through space from a neighboring planet.

Hmm. Sounds like fantasy despite arriving in a space ship and fighting alien parasites. But on Amazon the books are called space opera, time travel, and colonization under science fiction – but never fantasy! BTW, the stories are still wildly popular after fifty years! I pass on most of the books I read, but recently I picked up a used copy of The Dragonriders of Pern because I missed seeing it on my shelf.

GLORY Ebook 300 dpiI’m not so interested in gang warfare or boarding-school romance in my scifi. My own writing takes me to space, most recently to the first colony on Mars – all in a believable-future. There are now three books in the series – stories of people who could be real, using both current technologies and some we may possess soon, doing things you might do yourself in their place – fighting to survive hostile worlds and human conflicts. Take a look. 🙂

But science fiction is a very big place. You’ll find a home here.

Glory on Mars in top 6% of its #kindle #scifi category

GLORY Ebook 300 dpi (200x300)Forgive me if I brag.
I just checked the ranking of my book Glory on Mars in Amazon’s kindle store. It’s listed under science fiction in three categories: space exploration, colonization, and hard science fiction.
In its top category – hard science fiction – Glory is in the top 6%. Not bad in the other categories either – 18%
Yee ha – thrill for me! Thanks to you!
If you haven’t read it yet, download a free copy today – see how here.
Please post a review or rating on Amazon, Goodreads, or wherever you hang out. Reviews help keep my ranking up which means other readers can find my book. I really appreciate your help.
Thanks to all my followers and friends.
Amazon ranks are always changing, so I better hurry and post this.

Glory on Mars: A one-way journey to Mars may be fatal.

Colonization of Mars is in trouble when the colony psychologist, one of the first eight settlers, commits suicide. Four more settlers are now on their way, bringing renewed hope – and a cat. Emma volunteered so she could explore Mars in her robotic walkabout suit. Even if she gets the chance, that may not make up for everything she left behind. Mars is a hostile planet, danger follows from Earth, and an inexplicable sense of desolation cripples the settlers’ efforts. Would you go? Read this first book in the On Mars series to discover if humans survive on Mars.

Venture – working on my next novel

draft Izzie 8I am working my next book, due out in 2014.  It will be a science fiction novel set on a space station, not very far in the future:

An international crew is flying the first commercial space station, nick-named Izzie, to the edge of the inner solar system.  Their mission is to position Izzie at an enigmatic discovery:  a portal to another star system.  Along the way they plan to mine a comet and deliver supplies to the colony on Mars.  But things don’t go as planned and the crew must come together as a team to save their mission and their lives.

I’ve posted my draft book cover and the book’s working title on this page.  I’d love to know what you think of them.  Please comment.

Take a look at the draft prologue here.  Continue reading

Flashbacks and Subplots

Heavens ShadowHeaven’s Shadow by David S. Goyer and Michael Cassutt, http://bit.ly/1cOn4WY is strongly flavored with NASA-speak and reminiscent of other “first contact” stories involving a “Big Dumb Object.”  Of the 37 reviews on Amazon, well over half (22) rated the book 4 or 5 stars, which is all any author could hope for.  Some readers disliked the characters, thought other “Big Dumb Object” books did a better job, or complained the story set you up for the next book in the series without its own satisfying conclusion.

But one complaint echoed something I noticed as I read: The book will lead you through an exciting chapter to a cliff-hanger, and then jump to a subplot.  The first such jump is quite jarring.

heavens shadow Rama

One of the classics of the “Big Dumb Object” genre

As an aspiring author, I’ve read many opinions on what makes a book sell.  It seems that people decide to read a book based on the first page or a thirty-second perusal.  Even if you’d like to browse more, Internet vendors only show you the first few thousand words.  The common advice is:  Grab them by the eyeballs!  If the first chapter doesn’t contain an explosion (at least metaphorically), no one will read the book.  Story groundwork gets relegated to flashbacks or similar techniques.

What do you think of this trend in fiction?  Would you like to see the author choose an action-packed chapter and place it at the front of the book as an excerpt, so you could read it on-line, and then present their story in chronological order?  Should Internet vendors scatter their preview pages throughout the book?  Would that create spoilers?  Do you like alternating the main story with flashback or subplot chapters?

Every book you buy is training the current crop of hopeful authors.  What do you want them to know?