Tuesday, March 25, 2014

My book, Pilgrimage

My book, Pilgrimage, is the second book I wrote that does not deserve to be strangled in its cradle. Since I do not think the book is commercially viable, I have put it up myself on Amazon and Barnes and Noble and Smashwords etc.
I wrote the book while we lived in Japan (which is when I also wrote and sold to Damon Knight the short story Hope) on Yokota AFB. That would be in the first years of the nineteen eighties. I remember my husband reading a draft of the book and telling me no one would believe it. "Believe what?" I asked, thinking how instantaneous travel through hoops was fairly outrageous. "That the Soviet Union would fall apart," he answered. "Of course, it will," I answered. "And after the next oil war, there will be a water war. And after that, a war with Islam." Heh, I got one of them right. I still haven't seen the water war, and what we did not understand was that Islam had already declared war with the West when Iran occupied the US Embassy and took all those Americans hostage. There were over the years more and more acts of terrorism, almost as if the Jihadists were screaming, "What do we have to do to get your attention?" Well, knocking down the Twin Towers got our attention . . . Back to the book.
This version is about 80,000 words shorter than the original version. I hope I'm learning not to let invention take over the story. Invention is Why I read SF, but maybe not the reason everyone else reads SF.
A warning to those who hate religion: there is Christianity in this book, as well as other religions. For people who like to play with ideas, even religious ones, this book might be a lot of fun for you.

My book, Streets of Gold

In a week or so, my book, Streets of Gold, will come out on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords etc. Streets of Gold is one of the two non-commercially viable books that I am self-publishing.
I wrote the novel in 1974, possible through to 77. I wrote the book on an old manual typewriter. Back then, Isaac Asimov was touting the new thing, a word processor. I wanted one badly, but the price started at $10, 000, which, at that time, was twice what my husband made a year. So I typed taking anywhere from twenty minutes to forty minutes a page, transcribing what I had written longhand in a notebook. I made anywhere from five to forty mistakes per page. Because correcting on a manual typewriter was too hard for me to accomplish, I would white-out the mistakes with a little brush and hand draw the correct letters. You can imagine how awful creating multiple drafts were. Whenever I typed, my toddler would run in and try to disrupt the process, and usually succeeded (I'm looking at you, Josh). We lived in the Ballard District of Seattle, in a church parsonage in exchange for doing janitor work inside the church and chasing away the men who thought our church was a urinal. Later on I got an electric typewriter, which made correcting mistakes marginally better as there was a white-out ribbon and one could roll the paper back and forth with less slippage than on the manual. That required me to recognize I had made a mistake before I took the paper out of the machine. When I got my first word processor for maybe two and a half thousand dollars installed on an Apple IIc, I nearly danced as I threw out my old typewriters. I think each storage document had a capacity of 54 kilobytes. At any rate, each chapter had to have its own document, and had to be short. Still, I could easily correct my mistypes (of which there were many and still are many because I have such a bad proprioreceptive memory) and typing sped up exponentially.
Streets of Gold is the first novel I wrote that did not deserve to be strangled in its cradle. Some may disagree with that assessment, but despite the faults of the novel, I still have a great fondness for the book because I did achieve one of the things I was striving for: the building of a wonderful world.
I should warn potential readers of the book that I grew up Baptist, an Evangelical, on the northwest coast of the United States, and in this book I was thinking out loud, as it were, about what the Faith as I understood it might look on another planet among aliens. I am able to read books written by Mormons, atheists, Hindus, etc., all expressing their worldviews and find interest in all of them, BUT, if you are one of the readers that throw a fit if you read a book that has a Christian in it, do yourself and me a favor and don't read Streets Of Gold. Life is too short to make yourself miserable. I think I can write from a little broader perspective now that I have visited and lived in different parts of the world, and have studied other branches of my Faith and made friends of those with other religions and no religion. But, as I said earlier, I am still fond of this novel, and hope you won't make too big a fuss about its birthmarks.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Review of Bid The Gods Arise by Robert Mullin

Bid the Gods Arise is well-written for the most part, and competently for all of it. There were two reasons why I knocked a book I mostly enjoyed down to three stars: 1. I hate it when God is a character in a book and chats with the other characters. Most people aren't bothered by that, but this is my review, and the practice bugs the snot out of me. 2. I have no problem with fallen-to-primitive-levels cultures, but here we have cultures that use space ships, and they fight with swords???? I suppose Star Wars started it all with light sabers, but grumble, grumble, even the people who weren't Jedi used guns. Japan had guns and then was able to ban them for two hundred years so that fighters would only use samurai swords, until Commodore Perry sailed in with really big guns, and believe you me the Japanese grabbed trains and boats and guns as fast as they could so that would never happen to them again. I could not suspend my disbelief on that issue. Another thing that was not high enough to make a separate bullet point on the list of irritations was the inconsistency of the actions by the bad guys. That inconsistency brought to mind the words of Alan Dean Foster who said about movies: A good visual will always trump science.
On the other hand, there was some lovely metaphysical discussion that brought to mind the eldil in Out Of The Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis. I especially liked the finger in the fishbowl metaphor. And there are lovely other kinds of teaching in the book as well. I should warn you that if you are the type of person who finds that anybody anywhere believing in God makes you miserable or angry, this book is not for you.
Another thing I did like was the invention of some of the animals on the worlds. I'm a sucker for such things, and Mullin made me happy there, until we reached the flying monkeys. For some reason I would not accept that. Just, no. And I can't even tell you why. The Greylands bothered me until we were given an absolutely wonderful explanation for the phenomenon. Over all, a plus for his inventiveness as well as for interesting good characters, and understandable weak characters. The evil characters, well, this is space opera
I was dismayed at the end by the loose strings untied until I realized there is another book, which I would have known if I had been paying even a particle of attention, so that's all my fault.
All in all, if you like space opera and don't mind a few buckets of blood, you should really like this book.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

A short interview about the writing process

Step 1: Acknowledge the person and the blog site that invited you to take part. [That's me: www.katheckenbach.com] Yes, it was Kat who invited me to join this blog hop. You ought to check out her fantasy YA. And check out her list of other writers who are participating.

Step 2: Answer four questions about your writing process.

1)      What am I working on?
Right now I'm between books as I have just finished the first draft of Killing The Siij.  Josh is reading the book to his son. When Josh is done with that he will go through the book and spice up the fight scenes. I have asked him to make sure Minerstown is spelled the same all the way through. He will check for other kinds of continuity before he hands it back to me for editing. I'm still editing The Scarred King II, and will likely continue until the book is sent to the printer. Even then I will want to recall the book and change things.

2)       How does my work differ from others of its genre?
In the case of The Scarred King series, I'm writing science-fiction that reads like fantasy (technology sufficiently advanced will look like magic) On this world, the peoples have only pieces of technology that withstood their spaceship crashes thousands of years before. Brandon Sanderson does something like that BRILLIANTLY in The Way of Kings. I am rather less brilliant as he does what I am trying to do. I bring a fact-based mindset to the stories. When my heroes get sick, they stay sick for a while. When they get hurt, they stay hurt for a while. Sometimes when firing arrows, they miss.

3)       Why do I write what I do?
In the case of The Scarred King series, I am trying to provide content for my son's media empire to come. For the previous books, I dunno. It seems like a stupid activity to me, this writing out of theology and physics questions and trying to see what different answers look like. This writing is much work with no reward and I write crap anyway and who am I to think I should add to the million books published a year? And then I meet someone who has read Shatterworld forty times. I tear up every time I think about that. Forty times. Because no matter what stage of life she was at, she found somebody in the book to identify with. Forty times. Excuse me while I go get a tissue.

4)       How does your writing process work?
I'm not sure it does.      Okay, somebody, editor or husband or son, will suggest something for me to write. My first reaction is always, "No, I can't." But some days later I will suddenly realize that "Yes, I can." And then I meditate on the issue until I have enough clarity to start.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Interview of Kat Heckenbach

Here is a short interview of Kat Heckenbach:   http://www.katheckenbach.com/2014/03/my-process-blog-hop.html
I think she's a lot of fun.

Thursday, March 13, 2014


I am THIS close to finishing the third novel in my son's universe. However, I am not sure that finishing is the correct word. When I finish the first draft, there will be many drafts later along with editing. My son tends to add to or rewrite the fight scenes to make them longer or more exciting.
My first task when I finish Killing The Siij will be to go through the novel and make sure Minerstown is spelled the same everywhere. I have spelled it a number of ways: Miner's Town, Miners' Town, Miner'stown, Miner Town, Miners Town. And then there are the typos, so I have no idea how many variants of Minerstown there are.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Some publishing stuff

Last year, Kate Wolford ran a contest for fairy tales based on her book, Beyond The Glass Slipper. I enjoy her free, online magazine, Enchanted Conversation. If you go to this link you can read The Old Miller and the Cat, which was my offering. She paid me, too.   http://www.fairytalemagazine.com/2013/12/btgs-winner-poor-miller-and-cat-by.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+EnchantedConversationAFairyTaleMagazine+%28Enchanted+Conversation%3A+A+Fairy+Tale+Magazine%29

Last week, I answered some interview questions given me by the PR person at Written World Communications. Can I hope that Shatterworld is coming out soon?

I decided that some of my books are just not commercially viable. This week or next, Pilgrimage should be coming online on any electronic book store.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Review of GHOST by Wayne Thomas Batson

I generally don't care for supernatural thrillers, but for some reason the story caught my interest and kept it to the end. John Spector was someone I wanted to spend time with.
At times the violence was overwhelming, and as with all supernatural thrillers for me, there were lots of unanswered questions about the interaction of spiritual and physical worlds. What does it mean for an angel to be killed? I still don't know.
If, like me, you don't care for supernatural thrillers, you might try this one and find that you like it for the same reason I did: John Spector is a great character. If you do like supernatural thrillers, I'll bet you will like this one, too.