Category Archives: Science Fiction

G.D. Deckard on Self-Publishing his Debut Novel, THE PHOENIX DIARY, with Book Country

Posted by June 24th, 2015

G.D. Deckard on Self-Publishing his Debut Novel, THE PHOENIX DIARY, with Book Country

Congratulations to Book Country member G.D. Deckard on publishing his debut science fiction novel, THE PHOENIX DIARY, with Book Country! G.D. is an outstanding member of the Book Country community. He’s always involved in engaging and helpful conversations about the writing process and book marketing in the discussion boards. G.D. workshopped THE PHOENIX DIARY on Book Country, and we are so happy to see it finally hit the e-shelves. Below, G.D. shares what inspired him to write THE PHOENIX DIARY and how joining Book Country helped him in the publishing process. THE PHOENIX DIARY is available on Book Country and on all major online retailers. Connect with G.D. on Book Country.

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Janet Umenta: What inspired you to write THE PHOENIX DIARY? How long did it take you to write the book?

G.D. Deckard: One day I realized that abandoned streets, houses, shopping malls, and schools meant a world without oil. The first working title of my manuscript was AMERICA WITHOUT OIL. But that story idea had already been used by other authors. So I took the opportunity in my book to blend a straight-forward adventure with answers to life’s oldest questions: Where did humans come from? What is death? Do we have a destiny? I made up the answers, of course, but that’s the great part about science fiction. The making up the answers part and the actual writing took me six years.

JU: THE PHOENIX DIARY is a hard science fiction novel. Who are the science fiction authors you looked up to growing up? Did you draw from any of their techniques?

GDD: The science fiction authors I looked up to growing up were Heinlein, Clarke, Asimov, Bradbury, and Delany – the classics. I am fascinated by our sense of wonder rooted in reality, which led me to explore science fiction. While doing research for THE PHOENIX DIARY, I discovered that there are actual remnants of ancient nuclear reactors in West Africa that are nearly two billion years old. I was stunned and asked myself, how did they get there? Continue reading

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Self-Publishing Was Right For Me by Ani Bolton

Posted by September 8th, 2014

In 2005, I wrote a weird book. A really weird book that no one knew what to do with, including me.

My pigeonhole at the time was Historical Romance. I’d gotten a good agent, and she was shopping my novel. I was working on a follow up, but I didn’t want to write a story about dukes or balls. I wanted to write a novel about war and magic. So that’s what I did.

Steel and SongThe novel that became STEEL AND SONG: Book 1 in the Aileron Chronicles flowed right out of me. My then-agent was baffled by it. It wasn’t a paranormal romance. It wasn’t epic fantasy. It was somewhere to the left of what was considered marketable: a dieselpunk romance with magic and war. A heroine who was mouthy and a hero who was a coward. In other words, never going to sell.

So I left the draft on a flashdrive (how quaint!) thinking that was that. I started working for book packagers, ghost writing several YA novels. My day job became very intense. Writing novels was taking a back seat, and honestly, the stuff I was writing wasn’t singing to me anymore. Even though I was the co-founder of a highly regarded writing community, my love for the industry and for writing had taken a beating. I needed to check out for a while. Continue reading

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Does Your Book Have What It Takes?

Posted by August 11th, 2014

Does your book have what it takes?The most successful writers are those willing to really listen to the feedback they get on their manuscripts, and then use feedback to revise. And then do that again, and again, and again, until their book is really ready for readers on a large scale. On Book Country, writing and posting new drafts to share with the community is how you can gain traction for your book, widen its audience, and ultimately, have a better chance of turning your book into a publishing success. Continue reading

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Member Spotlight: Meet David Whitaker

Posted by July 3rd, 2014

David WhitakerToday our blog guest is David Whitaker (aka DWhit), whose book PARADOX was an Editor’s Pick in June.

Lucy Silag: Environmental thrillers–what a great genre! Have you always been a fan of them, and if so, how did you get into them? What environmental thriller writers have you enjoyed reading?

David Whitaker: Deciding to classify my book as an Environmental Thriller was one of the more difficult parts of writing the book. At first I thought it was Sci-Fi, but it was when I started reading the Book Country Genre Map, and started digging into sub-genres, and realized that Environmental Thriller was more accurate. But there’s still a Sci-Fi component to it that is only hinted at in the first five chapters. So I guess I’m not positive that it’s an Environmental Thriller.

Maybe I’ll end up re-catagorizing it down the road somewhere if I get feedback to that end. I don’t want to mislead potential readers.

That said, I think it’s hard to strictly categorize stories by the sub-genres. Continue reading

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“Being a storyteller is in my genes”: NANOPUNK Author Nathan McGrath’s Origin Story

Posted by April 10th, 2014

Before I came to work at Book Country, I’d never heard of the Cyberpunk genre. As I learned more about it, I came across member Nathan McGrath’s writing. He’s the author of two novels, NANOPUNK and LIGHTNING SEED. I’d heard that many Cyberpunk writers draw inspiration from controversial technology news, and I was curious to learn about how Nathan got started writing in this genre. Here’s what he had to say:

Every book has a “Where it all began” story. Real life is a lot messier. There is no simple narrative or structure, no deeper purpose or destiny. We pick and choose, each one of us. For one reason or another we look back and select this, that or another event, give it a slant and convince ourselves and others that we are really “Telling it like it is.” So is it any wonder peopleare drawn to stories? So neat, purposeful and ordered (well, mostly)?

I can pick out an event here or there and say something like: For me, writing sci-fi all started with taking apart old valve and transistor radios when I was a kid.

NANOPUNK coverOr I could begin with: I’ve always been a voracious reader. I started going to the library when I was around nine. I’d pick up four books and finish them within a fortnight then go back for four more. I worked my way through the science fiction shelf, them moved on to supernatural and somehow found myself going through the psychology section. By the time I started secondary school, I was filling exercise books with spooky sci-fi stories. My other hobby was finding bigger pieces of mechanical junk to take apart.

Or maybe it began back when I worked in factories, warehouses, shops and restaurants. Then I spent around twenty-five years working with vulnerable kids, teens, and families. I’ve worked in chilldren’s homes, hospitals, and family centers; made a helluva lot of visits to all kinds of homes: alcoholics, drug addicts, parents and kids with mental health problems, disabilities, abuse, domestic violence. I came to respect and value the vulnerability, courage and resilience of all the people I worked with. So when I decided to commit myself fully to writing, it came as no surprise that Alister, the main character of NANOPUNK and LIGHTNING SEED, turned out to be a troubled kid struggling with his emotions, identity, and beliefs. Continue reading

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Four Ways to Promote Your Book Before Release by Michael R. Underwood

Posted by April 9th, 2014

Attack the Geek Full (2)Book Country Member Michael R. Underwood‘s latest book in the Ree Reyes series, ATTACK THE GEEK, came out this week from Pocket Books. His next book, SHIELD & CROCUS, is due out in June.

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Figuring out how to promote your book before it comes out is a weird process. When you’re traditionally published, you have a team of professionals working with you, building buzz and anticipation for the book before it hits.

But what does that actually involve?

Every author, every book, and every publisher does things a bit differently, but here are some things I’ve done to try to get my name out into the world and to build awareness of/interest in my books:

  1. Podcasts. I love podcasts. When I was a traveling rep, podcasts and audiobooks were my lifeline, my connection to the SF/F world. As a result, I had a list of podcasts to reach out to and make appearances as a guest. I made appearances on the Functional Nerds, Speculate!, Adventures in Sci-Fi Publishing, and the Roundtable Podcast, among others. And last year, I became a co-host on The Skiffy & Fanty Show, while continuing to appear as a guest on others (most recently including the SF Squeecast). Podcasts are great for verbal thinkers and people who enjoy discussion in community (I am one of those people).
  2. Blogging. I used to blog a lot more, when I was a pop culture scholar trying to get into PhD programs for cultural studies/media studies. As a writer, it’s great to share your interests and connect with people who are both readers and members of the same interests/hobbies as you. I don’t blog quite as much anymore, since I spend more of my writing time on prose, but keeping your blog at least somewhat fresh is a good way to slowly build a readership, which then sometimes transfers over to buying your books Continue reading
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Member Spotlight: Meet Space Opera Writers Matthew Snee and Gregg Chirlin

Posted by March 31st, 2014

Matthew Snee and Gregg ChirlinToday we’re chatting with Matthew Snee and Gregg Chirlin, longtime friends and collaborating writers who are working on a Space Opera series called TO BRAVE THE CRUMBLING SKY, Volumes 1 and 2.

LUCY: You’ve been collecting feedback on TO BRAVE THE CRUMBLING SKY: Volume 2, The Oldest War, for a little while now. What’s happening with Volume 1?

MATT: We realized after writing Volume 2 that Volume 1 needed desperately to be not only revised but rewritten. It’s not easy to begin an epic story (7 volumes are planned) such as this, and as you move along you realize a lot of changes that need to be made retroactively. Also, Volume 1 was the beginning of our collaboration, and so the writing is not up to par with Volume 2, written after we’d had more practice. However, we’ve just posted the first few chapters of Volume 1 to Book Country, recently revised.

GREGG: We’ve just about finished rewriting Volume 1, though, and are beginning the editing stages. It took us a while to get where we are with it because rewriting is just not as fun as writing, even if it is essential! But at the same time, we’re brainstorming and fleshing out the plot and characters of volume 3, which is a lot more exciting for us. Continue reading

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Member Spotlight: Meet Writer Isabell T. McAren

Posted by March 24th, 2014

IsabellToday we’re chatting with community member Isabell T. McAren. Isabell joined the community during NaNoWriMo and has been a fixture on the discussion forums ever since. Below we ask her questions about her writing projects on the site — the memoir BECOMING IN BOQUETE and the YA time traveling adventure RIFTERS

Read on to get Isabell’s inspiring advice about learning to accept harsh feedback!

NG: Welcome to our spotlight, Isabell. Go ahead and describe yourself as a writer in one sentence!

ITM: I am an eclectic writer who doesn’t want to be pigeonholed into one genre!

NG: You’ve self-published a memoir called BECOMING IN BOQUETE. What’s the biggest lesson you learned about yourself as a writer from that publishing experience?

ITM: I learned that it’s important for me to just finish a project and let it go, in order to allow space for the next story to flow through. Previously I’d wasted a decade obsessing over my first novel, because I stubbornly believed that the end goal of writing was to be traditionally published. Self-publishing is empowering because you don’t have to wait for someone else’s approval to put yourself out there. Also, once I gave myself permission to just write for the pure joy of it instead of trying to become rich and famous, my writing improved immensely.

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Language in Ruins: Exploring the Dystopian Cautionary Tale with Alena Graedon

Posted by March 13th, 2014

alena_graedon

Photo © Beowulf Sheehan

The death of print is a fear that comes hand in hand with the rapid technological developments of our digital age, but in Alena Graedon’s THE WORD EXCHANGE, it has become reality. She presents a not too far-off future where over-reliance on smart digital devices impairs our ability to communicate—even think. What goes into imagining a world in which technology inhibits our thought processes? How about our speech patterns? We talk to Alena about THE WORD EXCHANGE’s “language in ruins.”

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NG: THE WORD EXCHANGE is based in the recent future—and yet the death of print and the onslaught of sixth-sense digital technology have already tremendously changed the way people live. You had to coin new words and concepts that only exist in the futuristic sci-fi world of the book and think through how a language virus would change people’s speaking and thought patterns. Can you talk about that process of creating language in a novel about language?

AG: Language is really at the center of the book, you’re absolutely right. In some sense, it’s the hero of the story. Our relationship to language has been profoundly changed by technology, and I’ve been fascinated by the implications of inviting lots of beautiful, blinking machines into our lives, and of gradually relinquishing functionalities to them that we once viewed as fundamental to ourselves—decision-making, creating and interpreting things, communicating. Setting the book in the near future helped me explore what might happen when these processes have advanced just slightly, and how things could go really wrong.

A lot of the decisions I made in writing the book came from its focus on language. For instance, I always knew that lexicographers would tell the story. Dictionary-makers are especially attuned to words—to their diachronic evolutions over time, as well as to synchronic snapshots of what our living language means at any given moment. It was also interesting to have lexicographer protagonists because the publishing industry is changing so quickly, and the shift from print to a more fragile, ephemeral digital medium leaves us vulnerable to certain losses and threats. In the book, these include the hijacking and corruption of language, and also a disease, “word flu,” which makes communication nearly impossible, increasingly isolating and alienating its victims.

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Four Questions with Science Fiction and Fantasy Editor Danielle Stockley

Posted by March 11th, 2014

d_stockleyWe are really excited to introduce Ace and Roc editor Danielle Stockley. Danielle has been a trusted counselor to us over the years and is our go-to science fiction and fantasy fiction expert. (She also edits Book Country member Kerry Schafer‘s the Books of the Between!) It is our pleasure to have her answer questions about her work at Penguin Random House on Book Country today. Read on for great tips about the craft of writing—and editing—in those genres. 

NG: What are some of the clichés in science fiction and fantasy submissions that make a manuscript an automatic “pass” for you?

DS: I hate to declare anything an automatic pass, because inevitably it will show up in something that I’ve published. There are definitely things that make me wary, though. Plots involving mind control; protagonists who are constantly developing new powers just when they are needed most; character “development” by way of sexual assault; and evil, monolithic corporations with seemingly limitless resources don’t feel especially fresh to me.

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