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Welcome to the Scattered Worlds, the major science fiction universe of Don Sakers.

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PostHeaderIcon The Zimmerman Verdict

Bad verdict. Bad law.

Florida declares open season for privileged straight white men to kill anyone who's different, as long as they do it in private and claim self-defense.

This is important: This particular type of straight white male views difference as something threatening, something that should be eradicated. Difference scares them...and in their view, that's reason enough to eliminate it.

This is the moral dead-end to which conformity leads. This is Madeleine L'engle's Camazotz. This is one of the faces of evil.

PostHeaderIcon The Shock of Sudden Death

Our hamster, Corflu, died suddenly a few days ago. We'd had him for about 4 months, and he was about a month old when we got him. In terms of human lifespan, he was the equivalent of an adolescent.

With hamsters -- which usually live about two years -- we're used to a gradual decline, a slowing down followed by a few days of lethargy and then the end. With Corflu it was different: within three days he went from fully active to rapid breathing and death.

PostHeaderIcon September Reference Library Now Available

The September issue of Analog is out, and my Reference Library column is online here.

This month's essay talks about the changing availability of science fiction. Reviews include the latest by Jason M. Hough, Pamela Sargent, Steve Proskauer, and Robert Silverberg & Damien Broderick.


Check out the index of my reviews, which is available here, or through the Beyond link above. You can search by author, title, year and month, and even by genre.

PostHeaderIcon Genesis of the Scattered Worlds

When I was 13 years old, I started on a writing project that would become life’s work and magnum opus: the Scattered Worlds Mosaic. Of course, I didn’t know at the time that it would be such a great work. I just wanted to write a science fiction novel.

 

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, psionics was the fashion in science fiction. (Four decades years later, psi and other paranormal elements would become the fashion in mundane fiction -- which just goes to show that the mundane world usually lags sf by about forty years.) My second novel, which I titled Stepchildren of the Sea, was mainly a story of political revolt in the year 2042 -- in it I introduced a character (then named Penny Norton) with powerful psi abilities. She was the fiancée of the hero, one Marc Hoister.

My first novel was a mostly-rambling story with no coherent plot; My second, Stepchildren of the Sea at least had a plot (of sorts) and some rudimentary characterization. It was certainly the best work I could do at 13-14 years old. Even so, it was old-fashioned, reading like a pastiche of a 1960s Gordon R. Dickson or Poul Anderson potboiler. (Analog’s editor, Ben Bova, kindly rejected the manuscript with the comment that it was “a little old-fashioned for our readers.”)

At the end of the book, Marc Hoister and Penny Norton were married, and Penny was pregnant. It seemed such an adult thing to put into a book.

My next project was another novel, but I didn’t forget Marc and Penny and psionics.

PostHeaderIcon Cutest Couple

You've probably seen this already: Dylan Meehan and Brad Taylor were voted "Cutest Couple" at Carmel High School, and this adorable picture of the two was in the school's yearbook.

In 1986, when my gay young adult romance novel Act Well Your Part was published, quite a number of reviewers commented on how unrealistic the story was. (The book is set in a then-alternate universe in which being gay is unremarkable.)

Publishers Weekly said: "In this pat treatment, potential conflicts are small: the characters don't experience school and neighborhood bullying or violence; their biggest fear is group ostracization because girls are jealous that Keith gets Bran." Another reviewer lamented the lack of "...angry families, persecution, and a 'strange' love unrequited, or at least misunderstood."

Well, thanks to Dylan & Brad, and the students of Carmel High, I'm glad (even at this late date) to be able to say the following to those reviewers:

Nyaah, nyaah!

cheeky

 

P.S. Act Well Your Part is available in print here and in Kindle format here.

PostHeaderIcon Balticon Wrapup

The Balticon Launch Party was a huge success, mostly due to the extraordinary efforts of our helpers:

  • Sharyn Eirich
  • Eta Hack
  • Zach Perkins
  • Joanne Walker and her friend Robin

We sold lots of books, and more important, we got a lot of people spreading the word about our books. 

Thanks to all!

PostHeaderIcon Free Ebooks for Balticon (promotion over)

This promotion is now over, but don't worry...the books are still pretty affordable in Kindle -- all four will set you back less than $9.00. I'm listing the prices next to each one below.


To celebrate publication of The Eighth Succession, Kindle editions of these Scattered Worlds titles are free from May 26 through May 28, 2013.


A Voice in Every Wind ($1.99)


All Roads Lead to Terra ($1.99)


Weaving the Web of Days ($1.99)


Dance for the Ivory Madonna ($2.99)


 

PostHeaderIcon Down to the Wire

With less than a week to go before the launch party, it's time for some reminders:

  • Sunday through Tuesday (May 26-28), four Scattered Worlds books will be free on Kindle. Watch this space.
  • Launch party for The Eighth Succession (as well as Melissa Scott's Death by Silver and Steel Blues) will be on Sunday, May 26 from 5:30-6:30 pm in Parlor 1041 at Balticon. Books will be for sale and there will be door prizes.

 

PostHeaderIcon Children of the Eighth Day

In the midst of all the hoopla surrounding publication of The Eighth Succession, I have made some time to get started on the follow-up book, Children of the Eighth Day.

I hesitate to call this a "sequel," because that connotes a continuation of the story. I hope readers feel that the story of The Eighth Succession came to a satisfactory conclusion.

If anything, I'd consider The Eighth Succession a prelude to Children of the Eighth Day. We'll be rejoining the Hoister Family 8th generation about a decade later, when all the kids are grown up and moved out into the galaxy. If you think Rikk and Yewanda caused some trouble for the Empire, just wait until you see what 36 Hoisters can do!

I'm hoping to have the book done in a year or so. Stay tuned!


P.S. You may have noticed a similarity of titles here: The Eighth Succession, Children of the Eighth Day. I have a couple more novels on the drawing board starring the Hoisters, and it's my intention to use the word "Eighth" in all the titles. My apologies if you think this is absolutely too cute to bear.


P.P.S. My apologies in advance to all the poor suffering librarians out there whose patrons are asking for the order of the books. I toyed with the idea of making the titles alphabetical, but it didn't happen. This site will always be the best source for chronological order of the Scattered Worlds works.

PostHeaderIcon Launch Party Preparations Continue

We're just over two weeks out from the launch party at Balticon, and preparations are continuing. Melissa Scott has selected the teas for the event: our black tea will be Upton's Robert Fortune Blend 41, a Darjeeling/Yunnan blend. The organic teas will be Blood Orange Pear and Evening Comfort. We'll also have some iced tea selections.

We've also had a great time picking out some of flourishes, such as star-shaped sugar cubes (with edible glitter!) and some of the nibbly things (most of which I will leave as a surprise, but remember this is Baltimore, home of the Berger Cookie).

We're also making the rounds of thrift stores to pick up secondhand teacups and saucers -- Melissa and I will both sign these so partygoers can take them home as a unique bit of memorabilia. If turnout is heavy, we may not have enough -- so if you have your heart set on an autographed teacup, make sure you get there early.

Of course, it's all about the books, and there's progress on that front, too. Here's what I received on Thursday: A box of 50 copies of The Eighth Succession. Some of these have already gone out as review copies, but I'll have plenty to sell at the launch party.

(I'll also have some copies of my other books, and Melissa is bringing some of her books as well.)

And, of course, we'll have door prizes too.

All in all, it looks like this is going to be a truly memorable event.

Just as a reminder, here are the particulars:

When: Sunday, May 26, 2013, 5:30 - 6:30 pm

Where: Balticon, Parlor 1041, Hunt Valley Inn, Hunt Valley, MD 21031 

PostHeaderIcon Gay Pride Month Free Ebooks

To celebrate Pride Month, I'm making a different LGBT-themed Kindle ebook available for free each weekend in June. Click on the titles to go to the Amazon page.

June 1 & 2: "The Centaur Child"

When a child born to a Human mother and a Centaur father is orphaned, both Humans and Centaurs claim the boy. The threat of war between the two peoples looms...unless the Mistress of the Flying Mountain can find a way out of the dilemma.

June 8 & 9: Act Well Your Part

Since its original publication in 1986, Act Well Your Part has become a classic, an unabashed teenage love story set not in the world that was, but in the world as, perhaps, it should be.

June 15 & 16: "Parental Discretion"

A lesbian couple struggles to survive and thrive on the colony world Hylggra, where their only friends are the outcasts of the Frontier -- and the non-gendered alien natives.

June 22 & 23: Lucky in Love

When his best friend Keith moved away, he left a big hole in Frank's life. Then a car crash put him in the hospital. While there recovering, he got a visit from the star of his high school basketball team, Purnell Johnson. It wasn't long before his luck started to improve.

Bonus Title: The Curse of the Zwilling

Patapsco University: a small, cozy liberal arts college like so many others -- except for the Department of Comparative Religion, where age-old spells are taught and magic is practiced.

June 29 & 30: "The Mauzy Broadway Show"

"The Mauzy Broadway Show" has just about everything you expect from a Don Sakers story: cool aliens, kids in danger, drag queens...and neat ideas about gender, identity, and sexuality.

Bonus Title: The Eighth Succession

Clone paranormal geniuses against the galactic empire.

 

Check back each Saturday and Sunday during June to get that weekend's free ebook(s).

PostHeaderIcon Not Yet Publication Day...

It's not yet Publication Day, but The Eighth Succession is already available if you know where to look.

Specifically, the trade paperback is available here (for $12.50) and the Kindle edition here (for $2.99).

If you buy a copy of either edition, please post a review on Amazon. Reader reviews really, really help a book to find new readers. Posting a review is the single most useful thing you can do for me.

So if the book is available now, what's with the official publication date of September 2013? Here's the scoop:

The publishing industry is accustomed to working on a positively glacial timescale. Three months is about the shortest interval anyone in traditional publishing can conceive. Traditional review outlets -- such as Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, and Kirkus -- ask for review copies at least four months before publication.

At Analog, I'm currently working on my book review column for the November 2013 issue...which will probably appear in August.

Amazon, however, works on a timescale measured in hours and days. They see no sense in having a finished book sit around for an arbitrary couple of months not earning money. I submitted the Kindle edition of The Eighth Succession yesterday afternoon, and by the evening it was available for sale.

But I have to get copies to review outlets. So the official publication date is four months from now.

So...officially, these current sales are pre-publication sales. If you don't tell Publishers Weekly, I won't either.

wink

PostHeaderIcon Kindle version submitted

Today's job was creating and submitting the Kindle edition of The Eighth Succession.

This is actually a fairly straightforward process, albeit one with a lot of back-and-forth.

Unfortunately, I don't have any tools for editing a Kindle-format book directly (I don't even know if they exist). So the process goes like this:

  1. Edit in Pages on my MacBook Pro.
  2. Convert to epub format with Pages.
  3. Convert epub to Kindle format with Amazon's kindlegen app.
  4. Open in Kindle for Mac and inspect for problems.
  5. Open in Pages and correct the problems.
  6. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Most of the problems are relatively minor ones involving spacing, page breaks, and tabs.

Eventually I got all the problems cleaned up. I also created a new version of the front cover -- the book cover is a little dark for online use, so I lightened it up using the indispensable Graphic Converter app. This will serve as the cover of the Kindle version.

After that it was a matter of logging onto my Kindle account, answering all the questions, setting prices, and uploading my files.

Pricing

I set the US price at $2.99. Have you ever wondered why so many Kindle books are $2.99? No, it's not collusion between publishers.

Amazon has two levels of royalties for Kindle books. Books priced at less than $2.99 earn a 35% royalty, while those priced at $2.99 or above can earn 70%. At $2.99, it's the difference between earning $1.04 and $2.06. And small publishers aren't stupid.

(Incidentally, for non-US sales there are two pricing options: convert the US price, or use a set price in the local currency. For Canadian and UK markets, which are the bulk of my foreign sales, I set the price at $2.99 (Canadian) and £1.99 (UK). For all other markets, I use converted prices. So if you've after a (slight) bargain on my Kindle books, move to Canada.

A Secret

The official publication date of The Eighth Succession isn't until September 1, and the street date comes after our launch party at Balticon. However, when poking around today, I noticed that Amazon hasn't really paid any attention -- right at this moment, The Eighth Succession print verison is available at this link. I don't know if this will last, but for now, if you want to get a jump on everyone, you can order a copy.

(Just don't tell anybody official, okay?)

PostHeaderIcon Another Quote

This new quote just came in. Needless to say, I'm ecstatic.

Remember when science fiction used to be filled with galactic intrigue and bigger-than-life heroes? The wonderful Don Sakers certainly does! The Eighth Succession is a rip-roaring yarn, impossible to put down. If John W. Campbell's Astounding Stories had been published in an LGBT-friendly era, this is the cover-story serial you'd have been waiting anxiously for each month. What a ride! 

--Robert J. Sawyer, Hugo Award-winning author of Red Planet Blues

 
The Eighth Succession will be available soon; if you're at Balticon, come to the Launch Party.
 

PostHeaderIcon Proof Arrives!

Despite the usual mix-ups with UPS, my proof copy of The Eighth Succession arrived today.

There was a minor goof -- somehow, I managed to get an extra blank page at the very beginning of the text. The result was that all the left-facing pages were now facing right, and vice-versa.

Otherwise, the printed book looks great. I quickly submitted a corrected interior block, and the final book should be ready to go real soon now.

Meanwhile, I'm keeping this proof as the ultimate collector's edition. smiley

PostHeaderIcon June Reference Library Now Available

The June issue of Analog is out, and my Reference Library column is online here.

This month's essay addresses young adult science fiction. Reviews include the latest by Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Ben Bova, Chris Howard, Karen Lord, and Robert J. Sawyer.


Check out the index of my reviews, which is available here, or through the Beyond link above. You can search by author, title, year and month, and even by genre.

PostHeaderIcon Balticon Free Ebook Promotion

I've just finished setting up a free e-book promotion on Amazon in conjunction with the launch party at Balticon.

On May 26-28 (the Sunday and Monday of Balticon and the day after), four of Scattered Worlds titles will be free in Kindle format. The titles are All Roads Lead to Terra, Dance for the Ivory Madonna, A Voice in Every Wind, and Weaving the Web of Days.

Now it's time to start on publicity for the promotion. I've already scheduled some tweets to be sent out those days. Now it's a matter of contacting some of the major sites that announce free ebooks and letting them know.

Incidentally, I'm planning a similar promotion for Gay Pride Month: Each weekend in June, I'll be making a different LGBT-themed story or book available for free in Kindle format. More details as the time approaches.

PostHeaderIcon Cover and Text Files Submitted

This weekend I finalized the cover design. I used several graphics apps, including Intaglio, Graphic Converter, and Poser (for creating the figures). You can see the front cover on the right. Click to embiggen.

A book cover is more than just the front. The back cover uses the same background as the front, and includes a lot of information. There's an indication of genres (I used both "Science Fiction" and "LGBT Ficton"), a brief summary, two promotional quotes, a space for the barcode, the publisher's name, and the price ($12.50). The back cover is also pictured to the right; again, click to embiggen.

On the spine I put my name, the title, and the Scattered Worlds symbol along with the Era (these elements are on every Scattered Worlds title).

After the cover was complete, I had to convert it to Adobe PDF format. Now, you'd think all PDF documents are the same -- it is, after all, "portable document format" and the whole point is that a file can move from equipment to equipment and still look the same. Au contraire...my printer, Lightning Source, is incredibly picky about the exact pdf format. Basically, a file must be produced by Adobe Acrobat to be acceptable.

Well, the verison of Acrobat I have (8.0) doesn't work right with the version of OSX I have (10.7), and I don't want to spend a thousand bucks on a new version of Acrobat. After hours of wrestling, I think I finally managed to save something that looks right.

We'll see. I don't think I've ever had a cover that Lightning Source accepted on first try.

Anyway, after the cover came the text -- the actual interior pages of the book. Since I do my writing in a template that mirrors the actual book, I had very little prep to do. I sent the file to Acrobat and soon had a regulation PDF of the book.

The final step of the night involved signing onto my Lightning Source account and starting a new title. This requires various details about the book, including page count, a description, bibliographic information...and an ISBN.

For those who don't know, the ISBN (International Standard Book Number) is a unique number attached to every title published in the world. It's used in ordering, inventory, purchasing, etc. Publishers in the US buy individual ISBNs (in blocks of 10, 100, 1000, etc) from Bowker, the company tasked with maintaining the ISBN system in this country.

When I first became a publisher, I bought 10 ISBNs for about $100. Sometime later, after I'd determined that I was going to continue, I used $900 from a tax refund check to purachse a block of 100 ISBNs. Those should last Speed-of-C Productions for a good long time.

After giving Lightning Source all the info (including the ISBN), it was time to upload my files. Then comes the waiting. In a few days, I should get an email telling me what's wrong with my cover file. After I fix that (whatever it is), it'll be another few days before I get a proof copy of the actual book. They always charge for next-day delivery, and inevitably it takes UPS several days to get it to me. There's no way around this, it's part of the extortion price of doing business.


ADDED LATER IN THE DAY: Son of a gun, I just logged on to Lightning Source and found the message "proof generated," which means they accepted my cover file on the first try!

The proof should be here in a few days. Stay tuned.


 

PostHeaderIcon Second Quote

"Don Sakers has written a fast-moving story that has almost everything you might want: galactic empires, political intrigue, comic relief, surprising plot twists, and -- most important -- a cast of characters who make us want to turn the page to learn more about them.  This is that rare story which doesn't overstay its welcome.  It leaves you hungry for more."

 

--- Daniel M. Kimmel, author of the Hugo-nominated Jar Jar Binks Must Die and Shh! It's a Secret

PostHeaderIcon First Quote

The first quote is in.

The Eighth Succession is an exuberant novel, rich with intrigue, superheroes, super tech, and a galactic empire -- with something, in short, for every SF taste. Enjoy the ride.

-- Edward M. Lerner
   co-author of the Fleet of Worlds series

 

Have you read?
The Book That Predicted Google Glass
The final battle of the Empress
Clone paranormal geniuses against the galactic empire
Two Tales of the Scattered Worlds
Visit a world in which scent and taste are as important as vision and hearing
Opening a new chapter in the Scattered Worlds Mosaic
How would intelligent, long-lived trees judge the Human race?
Classic gay teenage romance
The Fey vs the Galactic Empire
A Datebook Like No Other
Carmen Miranda's Ghost is Haunting Space Station Three
Lucky's Life is Turning Around
An anthology in celebration of queer speculative fiction.
An anthology celebrating queer speculative fiction.
The PsiScouts: X-Men meet Buck Rogers
collection of sf & fantasy stories, essay, and poetry by Maryland-area writers
A Scattered Worlds Omnibus
a Scattered Worlds omnibus
Psi-gifted teens tackle theocracy & a threat to history itself
A collection of sf/fantasy diversions
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