The Best Sci Fi books…from Hays, Kansas?

Best Science Fiction books

My first attempt at a novel was a dystopian science fiction story while I was in 7th grade in Hays, Kansas. It focused on the Junior High students and our coming challenges as we were to be protected from a cataclysm that would wipe out society before were were to restart humanity. Probably not the best sci fi book plot of all time. 

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The Red Violin… Up Close and Personal

Red Violin

This afternoon we had a chance to hear the extraordinarily talented Elizabeth Pitcairn play the legendary “Red Mendelssohn” Stradivarius violin of 1720. It is the same “Red Violin” about which the movie was made… Sort of. When asked how accurate the movie was, she smiled and politely assured us that, “The movie is based on history about which we know nothing.”

Another funny story she told was the day as a teenager she answered the phone to be told it was an auction house calling to let them know the violin — which had once been in their family — was coming up for auction, and that if they were interested it would probably go for about $1.2 million. She said she decided to get her mon on the phone at that point.

As to the concert… The sound was amazing. It always fascinates me when I hear master musicians. The sound they can make seems to transcend what the physical device is capable of, and they seem to do it with such ease.

I often spend Sunday afternoons watching football or trying to get some writing done… This was a nice change.

What is the Value in Giving Away Free Kindle ebooks?

 

#1 and #2 Amazon ebook downloads

I’ve not changed the price of my first book on Amazon in a year and a half. My guess is that frequent price change or even free days will not do much for your sales and won’t result in many new reviews. Nonetheless, I thought I’d make my book free for a day and see what happens.

The day is about half over, and per the KDP report Amazon offers, I’ve had about 70 downloads. Given that I barely advertised it — a few tweets only — that is not too surprising. But there are a few surprising things.

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A writer’s life… And raccoons, deer, hawks, owls and spiders

Dog and deer, Trevose and buck

This morning, while I was sitting on the deck doing some writing, our dog (Trevose — named after the street we lived on in Singapore, where we adopted her from the humane society) and a buck had a conversation through our back fence.

Moments before, a huge owl had been sitting on a limb not far above where the buck was standing in this picture. And there used to be a famiy of hawks that lived in a nearby tree, but they seem to have departed about a month ago. We have a couple hummingbird feeders, but there seems only two that frequent them. And we have a squirrel with a black head and a brown body that crosses the deck from time to time. There is a downside…

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Why the Population Bomb bombed

Population Bomb, The Population Bomb, Paul Ehrlich

This book came up in a discussion I was having earlier today. Published in 1968, and an eventual bestseller, The Population Bomb asserted that within 10 – 20 years the world would be wracked by starvation and wars for food.

In my early teens in the ’70s I lived in a small town in western Kansas surrounded by literally an ocean of wheat that farmers were going broke producing because the world had too damn much of it. So I could not reconcile the dire warnings of “The Population Bomb” and the reality around me.

At least until the famous “bet”.
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James Gunn and the role of Science Fiction

Analog Science Fiction, Analog Sci Fi, Analog Science Fiction Science Fact, Analog Magazine

I grew up reading Analog Science Fiction magazine. In fairness, it is more accurately Analog Science Fiction and Fact, but I always did better with the fiction part than I did the fact part.

Later in life, while earning my MA in Creative Writing, I had the chance to study under James Gunn at the University of Kansas. Gunn has published a number of science fiction novels over the last ~50 years, but he is probably better known in the sci fi community as a historian of science fiction and has published a number of books to that end.

I took three or four classes from him, and I spent some time chatting with him in his office, which was as you would imagine it: Stacked high with paperbacks on every flat surface, he was staring into the small screen of his antiquated computer. He eventually chaired my thesis committee.

As luck would have it, he came to our wedding. For a wedding gift — in typical Gunn fashion — he handed me a couple of his most recent paperbacks. 

He is the author of the guest editorial in Analog this month and has written an interesting article on the role of science fiction with some focus on Star Trek and Star Wars. Check it out.

Nothing to do with writing…but a hell of a day on a bike: GIRO D’ITALIA

Just on one of my favorite biking videos. It has been an intense 9 months with family and job. Now trying to ramp up my miles again, not to mention get Lonely Hunter published.

I’m a long way from what these guys do, but a beautifully shot and produced short video about the personal battle that road biking always is (kind of like writing 😉 ).

Enjoy!

How to Successfully Launch your Book

Princess Writing, Writer, Survey

Think the success of the great novel you are working on is all about the writing? Think again if you want to have a successful book launch.

BookBaby has published the results of a survey which they describe as such: “The 2017 Self-Publishing Survey conducted by BookBaby was focused specifically on revealing the most successful book marketing and promotional strategies for self-publishers. The 56-questions survey targeted two subgroups: authors who have published at least one book (either self-published, traditionally published, or both), and aspiring authors who have not yet published a book. The online survey was conducted between October 24, 2016 – November 28, 2016, and was completed by 7,677 aspiring and published authors.

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Little Women, 1984, and a Little Woman

Little Women, Little Woman, Louisa May Alcott Our home is full of great books. Though I’m the writer, my wife is far better read and has by far the bigger collection of great literature. One of her favorites has long been Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. Her love of Little Women has been reinforced because we have four daughters.

One of our daughters found my wife’s battered, tattered and beloved copy the other day, and it happened when a camera was handy…

Like mother, like daughter(s).

After Little Women, she read Orwell’s 1984.

Like father, like daughter. 😉

Science Fiction, Aliens…and Mama Bears

Aliens Science Fiction

Aliens has long been one of my favorite Sci Fi movies. It is not great movie making, and it is not great Science Fiction. But it is a great action flick with lots of worthy special effects and various thrills. There is more than that, though, and it comes to a head when Ripley shouts out at the alien: “Get away from her you bitch!”

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4th of July in Spicewood, Texas

4th of July, 2017, Independence Day

One of my daughters was given a scholarship to help fund her education in Art (medical illustration) by the art community of Spicewood, Texas. Spicewood is a small town southwest of Austin’s southwestern suburbs, so definitely out in the country. They asked her to join in their 4th of July celebration, so our entire family went. We cheered for the parade and then went to the community grounds where ~300 of us enjoyed hot dogs and cokes and a local band performing old favorites intermixed with short speeches. Near the start, a young woman tried to sing the national anthem. It did not start well.

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Lonely Hunter…interrupted

Lonely Hunter in progress, Sci Fi novel, Science Fiction Novel

Six weeks ago I was on the verge of sending my manuscript to my editor, but I had a few interruptions: My older twin daughters (yes, we have two sets of twins) graduated from high school and we had to visit the colleges they are going to for orientations, we moved to a new house (which was a ton of physical work, and I aggravated an old collarbone injury), my boss (and friend) was fired and I’ve taken on a bigger role at work, and my wife and I have both had to travel for various other reasons.

I saw some of this coming, so I decided to take advantage of the pause to have two more beta readers go through the manuscript. Both are accomplished readers with keen and critical eyes, and both are preparing to publish their first novels. I finally had some time today to look at their feedback in detail…

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Some days it is not about writing: Our first Spartan Sprint!

Our first Spartan Sprint! Near Austin, Texas. 4.5 miles, 21 obstacles and lots of mud.

One of my 18-year-olds was the captain of her varsity soccer team and is a regular at the local cross-fit gym. She convinced me to join her on her first Spartan Sprint. At times it felt like an Army obstacle course, which I have not done in more than a few years. My train-up was less than rigorous, but we got it done without any injuries and without too much soreness.

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Giveaway: KindleFire

This giveaway is now over. Sharon from Michigan was the lucky winner. Thanks for all the entries! 

I will notify all my subscribers of the next one.  🙂

Kindle Fire, Giveaway, Amazon Fire, Amazon Kindle Fire

Just wanted to let everyone know I’m giving away a KindleFire. You will also get an ARC (Advanced Review Copy) in a few months of my forthcoming military science fiction novel, Lonely Hunter. I expect to publish it later this summer. When you enter to win the Kindle Fire, be sure to forward the link to your friends to increase your chances of winning.

My Alexa Rank as a Blogger is climbing…

Alexa Rank, Blogger, Blogger Rank, Site Rank, Blogger Website RankEvery blogger wants their site to move up in the rankings. So I was very excited to see that according to Alexa Rank (per their site) my writing blog has cracked the top 200,000 in the US and simultaneously broke into the top 1,000,000 worldwide. There are a lot of blog rank checkers, but Alexa rank checker is arguably the most authoritative. I’m still a long way from the front of the pack but doing far better than most websites, especially as an author platform. How did I do it?

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