Huge 99¢ Sci-Fi/Fantasy Book Sale!

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Dropping a quick note to let everyone know there’s a gigantic Sci-Fi/Fantasy book sale going on right now. All books are 99 pennies, so get yourself an e-reader full of speculative fiction while the promo is on.

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All the genres and sub-genres you love:

Military Sci-Fi

Adventure Sci-Fi

Space opera–where my Insurrection omnibus is featured:)

Steampunk

Fantasy

Paranormal

AND MORE!

The sale only lasts through the weekend. By Monday they’ll all be back to regular price. Don’t miss out!

 

 

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Movie Review: Infinity War *No Spoilers*

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Full Disclosure: There are no spoilers in this review about the plot but I am including a couple pictures from the trailers. If you didn’t watch any trailers (which I now notice they were careful to avoid putting spoilers in) and prefer not to see ANY pictures, including from said trailers, then stop here. Otherwise, it’s safe to read on:)

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I don’t usually run out to see a movie right after its released. Couple of reasons there: FULL theater (ehhggg) and I kinda like to see some reviews first. After the Star Wars movies, I try to brace myself a bit so my hopes and expectations are so utterly crushed by gut-wrenching disappointment (No, I’m not over it.)

But with Infinity War, the hubs and I didn’t wait. We lived in terror over the weekend of some bozo posting spoilers or spoiler pics and ruining a movie that we’ve been building up to for years. So yesterday night, we went.

And guys?…YES.

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It was everything we hoped it would be. Perfectly paced. Just the right balance of action to dialogue scenes. The funny was funny, varied depending on the character, and timed (and delivered) exactly right. I worried with such a big cast of main characters that they wouldn’t be able to pull this off or that some would overpower the others. Granted, there’s extra focus on some, but for those with less screen time they were given truly memorable moments. All of it gelled together seamlessly.

But the jewel of this movie absolutely is Thanos. Which I didn’t expect!! What they utterly missed when they threw a half-baked version of Ultron at us, they redeemed themselves with this guy.

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Ruthless, implacable brutality, yes.

Nuanced, surprisingly burdened…that too.

He was a relentless madman whose motivations I came to understand–even when I could never agree with any of his logic. That is some spectacular writing. Wow.

No movie is perfect and there were a couple of nits, but really just a couple and they paled in comparison to the enormous emotional charge throughout this story. We were riveted, seriously. My heart was pounding so much from the action and the tension I started to worry about my cardiac situation. They set the bar HIGH with this one, giving us a movie written with care and attention and a clear devotion the characters.

If you’ve been worried, let me put you at ease. They did good, folks. Go see it.

Trailer below. One last thing: Stay until all the credits are done. There’s an extra scene waaay at the end. It’s worth the wait.

Release Day: The Insurrection Omnibus!

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Hello! Hi! I’m super excited!!

Today is the release day of the Insurrection Omnibus! (And I’ve already used WAY too many exclamation points for a Sunday morning!)

A little over two years ago I published the first installment of this story with Subversive. It’s hard to describe how I feel to see the completed novella series head out into the world at last. A sense of accomplishment, yes, along with a weird sense of joyful sorrow. The end of one thing is always the beginning of another, but I’ll miss this universe and the people in it.

I’ve decided to leave the omnibus on sale today through May 6th. Grab your copy on Amazon for only 99¢ Also available on Kindle Unlimited.

Insurrection

For twenty years Inquisitor Gemson Agaton used torture and interrogation to root out subversives undermining the Establishment. He earned his cold, hard reputation, setting morality aside in the name of a strong state. Now he’s on the subject’s side of the interrogation table, duty to the regime he believes in pitted against loyalty to the one person he always protected.

Gemson isn’t the only target on the Establishment’s radar. An insurgency challenges its authority. Every attempt to capture the Albatross, the rebels’ enigmatic leader, has failed. To the oppressed, he epitomizes freedom from tyranny. But behind the symbol is a man haunted by his past. Not even his closest allies know his true identity, and he’s careful to keep it that way.

As the Albatross rallies Earth’s citizens to resist the regime’s dictatorial rule, many are listening, including one of the Establishment’s most talented operatives. To find and betray him is her directive. To fall in love with him is treason.

In this universe, there are no easy answers and secrets cloud the truth. When a new threat emerges, these unlikely few must overcome their discordant history and forge alliances among enemies. The survival of mankind depends on it.

At over 100k words, the Insurrection omnibus brings all five books from the novella series together. An action-packed space adventure, it’s a tale of redemption and sacrifice in the struggle for humanity’s ultimate fate.

Buy it for 99¢ on Amazon or Add it to your Goodreads shelf

Flash Fiction Friday

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Happy almost weekend, everybody!

Some time ago, I submitted a flash fiction story to Daily Science Fiction–an online magazine that sends out Sci-fi short stories to its subscribers for free. And hey, they published my piece:):):) So, if you have a minute (literally), I’d love if you could head on over and give it a read:

The Farewell

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By the way, I’m also told this is National Prime Rib Day, a fact which makes today’s Friday doubly awesome. Just sayin’, look for thine silver linings where they shine, right?

Guest Post: The ESSENCE of Writing Serial Novelle

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JK-BW-headshotToday I’m excited to have indie author and friend J. K. Ullrich as a guest on the blog! An award-winning Science-Fiction author, she’s recently finished an awesome Sci-Fi series called Syzygy and is here to talk about her experience with the novella story form. Enjoy!

The ESSENCE of Writing Serial Novelle

What do Of Mice and Men, Animal Farm, and The Metamorphosis all have in common? Besides a reliable spot on English class syllabi, each of these classics contains less than 40,000 words, technically a novella. While these famous novelle (that’s the plural, thanks to how the Italian language declines feminine nouns) probably wouldn’t have landed a deal with modern publishers, who rarely consider manuscripts under 70,000 words, readers find a lot to like about the format. Lauded author Ian McEwan praised short fiction that can be read in one sitting, “like enjoying a three hour movie or opera”. If bingeable streaming TV is more your taste, however, consider a novella serial. Earlier this year I completed Syzygy, a science fiction novella hexalogy. Fun yet challenging, the project taught me the ESSENCE of writing a serial novelle: Evaluate the master plot, Structure the component parts, use Suspense, Echoes, and Negative space to Concentrate storytelling, and plan an Endgame for publication.

Evaluate

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America define a novella as fiction from 17,500 to 39,999 words (70-160 standard pages). That doesn’t leave room for meandering tales that take chapters to hit their stride. Advance planning is essential, especially if you intend to release each novella as you complete it. Plot the master arc just as you would a novel, and don’t skimp on the details. I learned this the hard way when I reached Pt VI: Right Ascension and discovered that my notes, so precise for the early titles, contained little more for the final installment than “Heroes confront antagonist. The end.” That put me in the awkward spot of reverse engineering scenes that fit with everything I’d already established. Having a comprehensive outline from the start would have saved me a lot of agony!

Once you’ve worked out the big picture, subdivide it into individual novelle. If I framed the entire Syzygy story (about 160,000 words) in three-act structure, the first two installments would be Act I (about 40,000 words total) books three through five would be Act II, ending with the peak crisis (about 70,000 words total) and part six is the climactic Act III (about 40,000 words). Each episode builds on the previous one, adding tension and advancing the story.

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Structure

Component novelle are more than just arbitrary slices of the broader arc: each needs its own internal structure. Let’s zoom in on the plot outline above….

Plot

In the scope of the entire Syzygy saga, Transient Phenomena is only half of act one, but as a standalone, it still reflects classic plot mechanics with its own beginning, middle, and end. This helps every piece feel complete. But not too complete. The key to any good series is tempting the audience irresistibly onward.

Suspense

Notice something different about the Transient Phenomena outline compared to the series outline above? There’s no drop at the end to represent denouement; the action keeps rising. I drew readers through the series by ending each novella with a question or twist that would send them scrambling for the next story right away. Part I leaves Ash’s decision and Skye’s fate unresolved. Part II concludes with a revelation that turns everything upside down. And so on. Identify the suspenseful points in your master plot and divide up the story around them. (I went a step further and tried to end every chapter with a hook as well!) Is it a little cruel to leave readers hanging? Undoubtedly. But is that not an author’s prerogative?

Echoes

A good hook may pull readers through your series, but it takes more than a core plot line to fuse separate installments into a cohesive, satisfying whole. One way to cultivate connection is to draw parallels between the pieces. Plot and character development accomplish some of this, but I found it was the nuances that really pulled the story together. For example, Ash and Skye’s quips about their respective name meanings in the first book establish an inside joke between them, and variations on it play across the series. Offhand dialogue from early installments, echoed later at a critical point, resonates with new meaning. This technique adds thematic depth and facilitates narrative cohesion. It’s like the baseline in a piece of music, a common rhythm beneath the changing melody. In novelle, even the background is important!

Negative Space

“Negative space” in visual arts describes the sometimes-empty area around the main subject of an image. Narratives have negative space, too, in the ambient details surrounding major events.  Novelle writers can use it as a canvas for implications, making the most of their limited pages. In the opening scene of Transient Phenomena, Skye steals equipment from the Colony and detects a radio signal emanating from Earth. Two simple plot points, right? A lot more appears between the lines:

  • The harsh living environment of lunar dwellers (and the presence of rival settlements, at least one of which is struggling to survive);
  • Skye’s status as an outsider in her community (and the existence of a leader who would punish her for disobedience);
  • Her habit of talking to herself (suggesting chronic isolation);
  • Her skill with telemetry and electronics (which she’s been prevented from using); and
  • A previous discovery of the same signal, ignored for unknown reasons.

By integrating all these clues into the background, I avoided exposition and saved precious wordage. (Transient Phenomena is available free for Kindle and Nook if you want to read the whole scene and judge for yourself.) Leveraging negative space helps writers get the most out of every paragraph.

Concentration

The prologue I just described introduces a protagonist, implies parts of her backstory, establishes key world-building elements, and poses questions that keep readers turning pages…in only 566 words. Concentrated storytelling like this helps maximize impact in the pithy novella format. As you edit, appraise the manuscript with economical eyes. Can you condense any sequences, combine any scenes? Can any characters do double duty? For example, the supporting character Violet is Hazel’s mother and Ash’s father’s work partner and the mechanic responsible for the Colony’s plot-entangled power grid. I could have created a separate person for each of those roles, but combining them makes for a more interesting character (and helps keep the cast from becoming unmanageably large over the course of the series). Once you’ve streamlined the narrative, pare down the prose. My prolix English major habits struggled at first, but I came to appreciate the brisk elegance of novelle.

Endgame

Your novella may be as fast and trim as a well-engineered spacecraft, but don’t launch it just yet. Publishing a novella serial involves a few more decisions than publishing standalone work. Will you release each installment as you write it? A steady flow of new titles can build a reader base hungry for more, and but you risk continuity errors or writing yourself into a corner if you haven’t planned the story well. What about completing the whole series first? That enables comprehensive revision, but it might take years to complete the entire thing, and having your name off the market that long can be problematic (especially for Indies).

Whichever path you choose, Novelle are a hard sell—people are already reluctant to pay a few dollars for “full-length” novels, much less shorter works—but serials enjoy the advantage of various marketing options.

  • Make the first story “permafree” to entice readers to give it a try (hopefully all those suspenseful hooks will drive them to buy the rest).
  • Once all the installments are available, Amazon allows authors a series page where shoppers can buy all the books in one click.
  • Release the complete series in a single-volume edition. Bonus content, like a new epilogue or spinoff story, can make the omnibus an especially appealing purchase.

With swift storytelling honed to its ESSENCE, novella series offer a unique and rewarding experience for authors and readers alike!

Anela says: Many thanks to J. K. Ullrich for an insightful look into the structure and execution of writing a novella series! Check out her website to learn more about her work and find other great articles about speculative fiction and more. 

You can grab the first installment of her Syzygy series for FREE on Amazon! It’s a fast-paced story with plenty of twists and awesome characters, so don’t miss out!

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Ash was never supposed to visit Earth. After a genetic engineering catastrophe wiped out civilization, the survivors—inhabitants of a lunar mining colony—planned to rebuild on Mars. That was before a group of rebels seceded to the dark side of the moon, taking critical data with them. Now conscripted teenagers scavenge the ruined planet for species to use in terraforming. At fifteen, Ash is the best diver in a generation. But when tragedy strikes, he vows to end his colony’s dependence on its old homeworld at any cost.

Skye has never set foot on Earth. It’s not even visible from the moon’s far side, although the exiles’ mystic leader promises they will return home someday. Skye has discovered something that could realize this long-awaited dream, but she’s an outcast among outcasts, and no one will listen to her plan. To save her people, she might have to betray them.

Worlds collide when Ash and Skye meet, blurring the boundaries between enemies and allies, deception and truth. Their choices could win a future for humanity…or finally drive it to extinction.

Grab it on Amazon!

 

The Insurrection Omnibus is Coming!

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Were you waiting for all five books of the Insurrection series to be offered in a single volume? Of course, you were;) Right now, you can pre-order the whole thing for just 99¢ on Amazon. The release date is April 29th. Grab your copy while the sale is on!

The awesome new cover:

insurrection

For twenty years Inquisitor Gemson Agaton used torture and interrogation to root out subversives undermining the Establishment. He earned his cold, hard reputation, setting morality aside in the name of a strong state. Now he’s on the subject’s side of the interrogation table, duty to the regime he believes in pitted against loyalty to the one person he always protected.

Gemson isn’t the only target on the Establishment’s radar. An insurgency challenges its authority. Every attempt to capture the Albatross, the rebels’ enigmatic leader, has failed. To the oppressed, he epitomizes freedom from tyranny. But behind the symbol is a man haunted by his past. Not even his closest allies know his true identity, and he’s careful to keep it that way.

As the Albatross rallies Earth’s citizens to resist the regime’s dictatorial rule, many are listening, including one of the Establishment’s most talented operatives. To find and betray him is her directive. To fall in love with him is treason.

In this universe, there are no easy answers and secrets cloud the truth. When a new threat emerges, these unlikely few must overcome their discordant history and forge alliances among enemies. The survival of mankind depends on it.

At over 100k words, the Insurrection omnibus brings all five books from the novella series together. An action-packed space adventure, it’s a tale of redemption and sacrifice in the struggle for humanity’s ultimate fate.

Pre-order for 99¢ on Amazon

Book Release! Syzygy: The Complete Novel

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A century after a genetic engineering disaster eradicates human life on Earth, two young rebels risk everything to save their struggling lunar outpost: Ash, reluctant champion of a DNA archive effort that runs dangerous missions back to Earth; and Skye, a cunning scavenger from a tribe of outcasts. Their fractious alliance reveals shocking truths concealed for generations and sparks one desperate hope for the future of their species.

This complete edition unites all six installments of the Syzygy hexalogy—Transient PhenomenaOpposition EffectRetrograde MotionEscape VelocityRed Shift, and Right Ascension—along with a previously unpublished prequel novelette.

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Anela says: I’ve read all six installments of this thoughtful and thrilling Sci-Fi series, and can’t recommend it enough!

Book one of the series is free so grab it today, or better yet, download the full omnibus! The eBook is available for $4.99 on Amazon or via Kindle Unlimited.

Book Trailer!!

Right Ascension (Syzygy Book Six)

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Title & Author: Right Ascension (Syzygy Book Six), J. K. Ullrich

Genre & Publication Date: YA Sci-Fi/Cli-Fi, January 30, 2018

Book Description: *Spoiler, sorry*

First Line: *Also spoiler*

My Take: This book was provided to me by the author for review.

I’ve been reviewing installments of this series for some time and I’m happy to report the finale brought everything together, delivering an awesome conclusion to an incredibly unique story.

Reviewing the last book of a series is tough because I don’t want to spoil any of the twists or reveals. Just know there are plenty of them. Plenty of action too, and the experiences Skye and Ash (our main characters) went through, together and separately, in the course of these adventures felt true and real. Bit by bit, they got to know each other, and found there was plenty to learn even from someone they thought was their enemy: Trust and acceptance. Confidence and loyalty. The lesson of blind belief. Survival comes not in a vague sense of purpose and a fuzzy concept of the future, but in accepting hard truths with a willingness to change direction because of them. That’s real courage.

The Magical: The science! This author excels at putting the ‘Science’ in Science-Fiction. From atmospheric realities, to DNA sequencing, to the components needed to create a viable ecosystem, all of this amazing info is expertly folded in with a fictional story in such a way that it feels incredibly real. Not to say that I’m rooting for the apocalypse here, but if it happened, I am now totally up on facts I need to know:)

The Mundane: Just a small nit: One of the characters was on a mission that isolated them from everyone for a really long time. I’d anticipated more readjustment when they returned and were around people again, like discomfort to the noise and nearness of others, especially groups of them. This person seemed to roll back into the swing of things with an ease I doubted. I can barely stand crowds even without long bouts of solitude.

Summary of Thoughts: Well researched, full of thoughtful themes and developed characters, this is a marvelous Sci-Fi series that I think everyone will love, from YA to adult. Grab the first installment free on Amazon.

I really can’t wait to see what new ideas are coming next from this author.

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Many thanks to author J. K. Ullrich for providing a copy of the book to review.

Want to know more about the author and her work? Check out her website here

Fanged Series

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Title & Author: Fanged (Book One) & Fanged Outcast (Book Two), Elisabeth Wheatley

Genre & Publication Date: YA Paranormal, Nov. 26, 2013 (bk 1), Dec. 3, 2013 (bk 2)

Book Description: From Book One: “Family dating rules were pretty clear—no humans. But the undead heart wants what it wants and Haddie’s high school boyfriend ended up dead because of it. Now her brother Damian is repeating history and the same fate’s lined up for a very non-vampire, Madelyn.

With the girl’s throat on the line, they don’t have many options. Soon all three of them are on the run. Hunted across country by dear old dad’s enforcers, they’ll need help from the humans who hate them most. Assuming they all live that long.”

First Line: “Are you here to kill her?”

My Take: This book was provided to me by the author for review.

It has been a while since I’ve gotten into a novella series. The last one was the Flash Gold series by Lindsay Buroker (go read that by the way). It’s also been a while since I’ve delved into the world of vampires and I’m reminded now why I love them.

Haddie, the book’s lead and the voice of the first-person narrative, was easy to sympathize with and admire. When her baby brother makes the same mistake she did (falling in love with a human), she makes it her mission to save him from the pain and grief she went through. No waffling. No should-I-or-shouldn’t-I. Her brother has her loyalty and her protection without question, even if she does think he’s an idiot. I loved her voice: wry, world-weary, yet somehow hopeful and fiercely determined despite it all.

Did I mention she’s pretty kick-ass? No really, she literally kicks ass. You might think, yeah, yeah, that’s always the case with YA, but it was handled well here and included doses of reality. You get knocked around in a fight, you make mistakes, and hey, sometimes you even lose. It made the action more intense and the outcomes more meaningful. And there was never a dull moment in these two installments!

The Magical: Besides the awesome heroine, there are hints at a huge fantastical world of supernatural beings that exist unbeknownst to humans. Different clans of creatures with their own borders, cultures, and protocols–and histories between them. Can’t wait to see where this leads!

The Mundane: The bad guys seemed a little one note. I wished the rule behind ‘no dating humans’ had more depth than ‘no playing with the food’, especially given the consequences. Didn’t bother me while reading.

Summary of Thoughts: Book one of the series is FREE on Amazon. A nice YA twist on the vampire legend and definitely recommended. I loved that these installments center around Haddie’s love for her brother. There’s the potential for something romantic down the line (an enemies to friends thing which I adore) but it’s not the focal point. This is about a brother and sister whose loyalty to each other transcends sibling annoyances and disagreements. Refreshing, heartwarming in a gut-wrenching way, and a ton of fun to read.

four-star-review

Many thanks to the author for providing a copy of the book to review!

Curious what others thought? Check out Amazon’s reviews here

Want to know more about the author and her work? Explore her website here

Cover Reveal! New Book! Cyberpunk!!

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A while back I mentioned I have a cyberpunk novel planned for 2018. My newsletter subscribers were the first to get these details and I’m super excited to now share the cover and synopsis on the blog!

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There is only one rule: Never leave the settlement

Nobody remembers when human civilization fell to the living computer known as the Interspace. Trapped within its massive expanse, what remains of humanity struggles to survive. There are no maps to the outer grids, and drones patrol the network. Escape is impossible.

Except seventeen-year-old Sol can access the network’s secrets in her dreams. The information comes at a physical cost, but with food and medical shortages threatening her community, it’s a small price to pay for survival. The supply runs are also the best way to prove she can still contribute, especially after her recent epilepsy diagnosis took away the role she’d been training for.

When a grave mistake alerts the drones to her trespassing, Sol finds herself running for her life. She never expects to encounter Echo, a stranger who may hold the key to humanity’s freedom.

Together, Sol and Echo will attempt to reach the central core of the Interspace and shut down the system. To survive the journey, they will need to evade drones, signal towers, and a dangerous enemy known only as the Override. Even with Sol’s access to the network and Echo’s incredible abilities, they may still fail. The Interspace is always watching, and if they’re discovered, it will mean the final extermination of all mankind.

The book is available for pre-order for only 99¢ on Amazon.

Add it to your Goodreads shelf here

Publication date: May 20th

Not all books are fun to write but this one was the exception. Echo and Sol’s quirky dynamic and the dangers they faced together in their bid to save humanity was a joy to write. Teaser coming soon:)

Big props to Jenny at Seedlings Design Studio for creating that awesome cover! Her work is amazing, as is her talent with dealing with writers who flap around helplessly when asked what they’re looking for in a cover (Not me, um…it was someone I know who goes to another school…)