Bright Promise, the second book in the PsdiScouts series, is now available in Kindle format.
In the 26th century, psi-gifted teens from all over the Myriad Worlds come together as the heroic PsiScouts. Headquartered in the rebuilt Statue of Liberty, the PsiScouts struggle to make a difference in an often-hostile universe.
In the first of two adventures, three PsiScouts must travel through time on the trail of a madman whose plans threaten history iteself. Along the way, they meet some living legends and make some fast friends.
In the second adventure, a group of PsiScouts penetrates a vicious theocracy on a rescue mission that uncovers a terrible secret—a savage hunt where runaway teens are the quarry.
Fans of the Guardians of the Galaxy, the X-Men, the Teen Titans, and the Legion of Super-Heroes will certainly enjoy the exploits of the PsiScouts.
I want to talk about an issue of harassment and discrimination that came up at a con this weekend. I'm going to name the con, but first I want to make crystal clear that the issue was settled to everyone's satisfaction and that the con committee has done everything within their power to make things right.
Let me say that again: the con committee made everything right. For this particular con, the issue is closed with a very happy ending.
If it's all over, why talk about it at all? I have two reasons. First, I want to have this story out there to inspire and empower others who may find themselves in similar situations. And second, I want other cons to be aware so they can possibly avoid such messy situations.
A con illegally discriminated against LGBT fans by posting a "mature content, no one under 18 allowed" sign on an LGBT panel with no such content, while posting no sign on other panels with obvious adult content. We didn't get any satisfaction from the first con staffer we talked to. When we raised the issue to the full con committee, amends were made and the con intends to have a full track of diversity-in-sf/fantasy programming next year.
The long version follows, along with two morals and three irrelevant objections.
Don will be appearing at Farpoint 2015 in lovely Timonium, MD, February 13-15, 2015.
Farpoint is a small, very friendly con celebrating all sorts of creative endeavors. There are activities for all ages, plus some of the nicest people you'll meet anywhere.
If you've never been to an sf con before, Farpoint is a great place to start. Come for a day or for the whole weekend, and be sure to say hello.
Here's Don's schedule for Farpoint:
- Friday 2:00 pm: Panel: Geniuses in Fiction
- Friday 8:00 pm: Storytelling before Movie Night
- Friday 10:00 pm: Farpoint Book Fair
- Saturday 10:00 am: Reading (along with T. Eric Bakutis, David Allen Mack, and Steven H. Wilson)
- Saturday noon: Panel: What WON'T You Write?
- Saturday 1:00 pm: Panel: Big Bang Theory
- Saturday 3:00 pm: Autographing (Bring your e-reader with Don's ebooks on it, and you can get an autographed digital picture of yourself with the author.)
- Sunday 10:00 am: Panel: Animated SF
- Sunday 11:00 am: Panel: BBC Science Fiction
- Sunday 1:00 pm: Panel: Part-Time Writer, Full-Time World Sunday 2:00 pm: Autographing Autographing (Bring your e-reader with Don's ebooks on it, and you can get an autographed digital picture of yourself with the author.)
- Sunday 3:00 pm: Panel: Mapping a Story
He'll be appearing on the following panels:
Don is also reading along with James Cambias and Suzanne Palmer on Sunday at 10:00 am.
Hope to see you there!
The published Scattered Worlds books are now available in two ebook sets in Kindle format.
Beyond Our Stars: a Scattered Worlds omnibus ($8.99) contains Weaving the Web of Days, A Voice in Every Wind, All Roads Lead to Terra, A Rose From Old Terra, and The Leaves of October.
Worlds Afire: a scattered Worlds omnibus ($6.99) contains three novels of the Hoister Family: Dance for the Ivory Madonna, The Eighth Succession, and Children of the Eighth Day.
These ebook sets are the most inexpensive way to get up to date on the Scattered Worlds Mosaic.
I have a friend who drinks too much. When he calls from the bar and says he needs more money, I rush up there to give him some. What kind of friend am I?
I have a friend who digs himself into a deep hole. When the handle of his shovel breaks, I send a fresh shovel down so he can keep digging. What kind of friend am I?
I have a friend who jumps into the middle shark-infested waters. As the sharks circle closer and start to nip at him, I give him a club so he can whack the sharks on the nose to drive them off. I give him bandaids to stanch the bleeding from his wounds. If necessary, I'll jump in and help him fight off the sharks. What kind of friend am I?
I have a friend who settles in his ancestral homeland, which has been dominated for a long time by ruthless, powerful people who hate my friend, his religion, and his culture. I provide him with military and diplomatic support. I give him weapons and intelligence to supplement his own considerable stock. I make it clear that if necessary, I will do whatever I have to, to keep him there. What kind of—oops, we're not supposed to ask that, are we?
One of the best things about cons is the dealers room. Not only can you buy things you can't find elsewhere, but you can find some great deals.
The Virtual Dealers Room is a place to find short-term deals on ebooks, and you don't even have to have a membership. This is an author's cooperative; none of the proceeds go to the site. Authors (or publishers) are invited to post their sale items and everyone cross-promotes on social media.
I put this site together with my mad Drupal skillz. It's an experiment, so any and all feedback is welcome.
Remember the URL: thedealersroom.com.
I've just finished writing a story set in 1939. There's a time travel element, so it's science fiction. I found the experience quite different from the sf writing I usually do in several ways.
For one thing, I wasn't in full control of the characters. Various real people appeared in the story, and I had to stay consistent with what is known of them in real history. And much is known of the movements and activities of people in 1939. I couldn't just have my characters, for example, dash off to another city if the plot demanded it.
Now, I'm used to some degree of constraint. My Scattered Worlds stories are written against a future-historical background that decrees certain things about some characters (ages, family members, etc.) And art responds to constraint, up to a point.
What I did with the current story was to fit the demands of the plot into the nooks and crannies that real history leaves open. There's no record that y people went to Washington, DC on the date I gave…but there's no record that says they didn't.
Douglas Preston is circulating a letter regarding the Amazon-Hachette dispute. In this letter, Preston finds Amazon alone guilty of multiple sins against Hachette authors. He encourages readers to email Jeff Bezos about the matter.
The dispute has exposed a big faultline in publishing, between those authors traditionally published by the Big Five (who have spared no words defending Hachette) and independent and self-published authors (who have been equally vociferous in defense of Amazon).
Myself, I've kept quiet about this kerfluffle because I didn't have a dog in this fight. I'm an independent author (without connection to any of the Big Five publishers.) I do make the lion's share of my sales through Amazon, so there's that.
Today, though, my professional society -- The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) -- threw my dog into the fight. The President and Board of SFWA officially endorsed Preston's letter. They did so without discussion among the membership or, as near as I can tell, any attempt to determine the wishes of the members.
Yes, taking sides in a trade dispute is a boneheaded move. But it's worse: after years of prevarication, the lumbering SFWA dinosaur is stirring itself to address the question of whether to allow self-published writers who meet certain income requirements to join as professional authors. (Now and previously, only those published by a limited number of SFWA-approved markets could join.)
Just last week SFWA made its first public statement on the matter, asking members to share their opinions on allowing some self-published authors to apply for membership. A vote of the SFWA membership is
promised suggested by November 2014.
For years, SFWA has been castigated in the self-publishing community, particularly by authors who support themselves and their families entirely on income from their self-publishing efforts, yet are unable to join an organization of professional writers. The public acknowledgment that SFWA was considering a change helped to smooth some feathers.
So what does SFWA do? It publicly and officially takes the side of traditional publishing, thereby signaling to independent and self-published writers that SFWA doesn't understand or care to understand their concerns. it's about as clear a message of "You don't belong and aren't welcome" as I've ever seen.
I know many hardworking members of SFWA who stood ready to resign if the vote goes against allowing self-published writers to join -- several of them have already said that this endorsement is the last straw.
I don't think I've ready to take that step -- the "resign from SFWA in moral indignation" phase of my career came and went decades ago. But I did want to make it absolutely clear that in this matter, SFWA does not speak for me.
"He is a barbarian, and thinks that the customs of his tribe and island are the laws of nature."
-George Bernard Shaw
For centuries, people smoked tobacco. As old movies and the show Mad Men demonstrate, smoking tobacco was considered normal behavior. When I was young, tobacco smoking was permitted in just about every venue: theaters, airplanes, offices, hotel rooms, etc.
One of my two newest books is Meat and Machine, a collection of queer sf/fantasy short fiction, essays, and erotica.
The book will appear without two of the stories originally planned. In the print version, the pages previously occupied by those stories are blank -- a conceit that isn't effective in ebook format.
I'm reprinting here a short essay from the book explaining the reasons for my decision to withdraw the two stories in question:
These pages once contained two stories. I’ve chosen to withdraw them, but in order to make a point, I’m leaving very obvious evidence of their absence. As anyone who knows me will tell you, I do love to make a point.
Drop by to join Don Sakers and Melissa Scott for a nice cup of tea suited to their four new SF and fantasy releases! We'll have tea and snacks to suit each world, and give away books and goodies:
- Fairs' Point by Melissa Scott - murder at the races in the astrology-ruled city of Astreiant (fourth of the Points books)
- Silver Bullet by Melissa Scott & Jo Graham - aviation, magic, and mad science in 1935 Colorado (Order of the Air #3)
- Children of the Eighth Day by Don Sakers - clone paranormal geniuses vs the Galactic Empire (sequel to The Eighth Succession)
- Meat and Machine by Don Sakers - queer short stories, essays, and erotica
Books will be available for sale!
This year, spring cleaning means new covers for the Scattered Worlds Mosaic. The new covers are based around a standard design that should help brand them as a series.
Above, the first three covers of the new series (click to embiggen). All Roads Lead to Terra and A Rose From Old Terra are all in-house (read: public domain) art. Dance for the Ivory Madonna incorporates a stunning piece from SHAKALone (you can see more of her work at SHAKALone.deviantart.com).
Look for further new covers as the season progresses.
Here's my draft of the cover design for my forthcoming collection Meat and Machine, based on Jovi Roberts' magnificent art. If this doesn't make people want to pick up the book, I don't know what will.
The book should be available at Balticon at the end of May.
No, I don't know how to get in touch with the model.
This magnificent piece of art is by Eric Massaro (http://grandeombre.deviantart.com/), and it will be on the cover of Children of the Eighth Day, the sequel to The Eighth Succession.
Last night I finished the penultimate draft of the book, which is now out to my alpha readers for feedback. Over the next few weeks I'll be working on cover design and copy, formatting the print and ebook editions, and proofreading.
Although the official publication date will most likely be September, I'm hoping we'll have copies for Balticon, where Melissa Scott and I are doing a book launch tea we're calling Tea From Four Worlds. More info on that as plans get finalized.
Since Peter the Great, Russia has wanted a warm water port on the sea. In 1783, under Catherine the Great, they got one: Sevastopol in Crimea. Since then, Russians have considered Sevastopol a crucial part of their national defense.
Recently, when there was a pro-Western coup in Ukraine, there was a possibility that the new government might reconsider the treaty that provided for the Russian navy base in Sevastopol.
Facing this threat to national security, Russia occupied Crimea, and the Crimean people voted to stay allied with Russia.
Oh, the weeping and wailing! Politicians and the press in the US have fallen in step behind the banner of "Russian Imperialism." Putin wants to re-make the Soviet Union. We Must Take Action, or a domino effect will lead to Russians in the streets every US city.
In the past, I've been dismissive of National Novel Writing Month. Now, I may be changing my mind a little.
For those who aren't aware of NaNoWriMo (as it is unisylabbically known), every year uncounted would-be novelists spend the month of November spewing out text with no regard to plot, editing, or coherence. They focus on wordcount, struggling to get 50,000 words down -- at which point they feel triumphant because they've "written a novel."
The reason I've been dismissive is that I've written novels, and I know what goes into the production of a finished novel. Getting words down isn't a novel, it's a first draft...which is something like one-tenth of the job.
A good part of a successful novel is background work that isn't included in the first draft. This is stuff like notes on setting, character, plot, scenes, etc. -- all of which is strictly forbidden by NaNoWriMo rules. You don't go on a cross-country trip without a map; all this background work is the "map" to your novel.
Note that I'm not saying all this background has to be done before starting a novel, although that's the usual method -- it can (and does) go on throughout the process. But not if you're focusing exclusively on generating words.
The biggest part of a novel comes in rewriting; the critical process of editing, reworking, pruning, massaging the first draft. This painstaking process is where the rubber meets the road, and means the difference between a first draft and a novel.
Yes, yes, yes, NaNoWriMo gives lip-service to editing. They say that what you do with your "novel" after November is up to you, and imply that you might want to do a little polishing.
I suppose my real annoyance with NaNoWriMo is the annoyance of any crafter who hears, "Oh, I could churn that out in a weekend." It's the annoyance that writers feel when someone says, "You have it easy, all you have to do is sit around all the time and just poop out a novel now and then."
So why am I reconsidering?
I spent some time on Sunday scanning the battered notebook pages that make up City Between the Stars, my first "novel." This...project...took me a year to write when I was 12 and 13 years old. I made up everything as I went along; had no consistent plot, background, or characters; and focused on wordcount. (I can see estimated wordcounts in the margins, and there are stars and exclamation points aplenty when I hit my 40,000 word goal.)
Yes, my first book was essentially a NaNoWriMo "novel." And yes, at age 13 I went around proclaiming myself as a novelist. (Actually, I think the word I used was "writer.")
At the start of my writing career in the early 1980s, I made money and got practice in my craft by publishing a number of stories in porn magazines of the period.
Now I'm putting together a collection of my queer writings (working title Meat and Machine), and I want to include those stories.
So I went to my files, where I have copies of manuscripts and tear sheets of pre-computer stuff. Except the files for the stories I need aren't there.