Kevin J. Anderson and a Bundle of Science Fiction Adventure!

All Covers Large

Kevin J. Anderson blogged about this amazing bundle of books and I’m re-posting it here about all the books! Click here for the bundle.

Science Fiction is the literature that always set my imagination on fire, sparking my sense of wonder, taking me on adventures into the future, off to the most distant parts of the universe, to alien cultures, and the frontiers of the human mind.

I’m curating a new Adventure SF bundle for storybundle.com that contains fourteen great books guaranteed to set your imagination on fire, and it launches today, June 22—for only a little more than a dollar a book.

If you like grand space opera, we’ve got DARKSHIP THIEVES by Sarah A. Hoyt, TIMEWEB by Brian Herbert, FIRE WITH FIRE by Charles A. Gannon, THE WORKER PRINCE by Bryan Thomas Schmidt, and even TALES OF DUNE, the previously uncollected Dune short stories written by Brian Herbert and me.

For hard SF, there’s LAUNCH PAD, an anthology of science fiction stories edited by Jody Lynn Nye and Mike Brotherton. In traditional fast-paced science fiction, the bundle has HER BROTHER’S KEEPER by Mike Kupari, MORNING SONG by Dean Wesley Smith, and BURIED DEEP by Kristine Kathryn Rusch.

In post-apocalyptic adventure, Aaron Michael Ritchey’s DANDELION IRON fits the bill. For gritty cyberpunk, Todd J. McCaffrey has CITY OF ANGELS. Alan Dean Foster has the undersea epic OSHENERTH. And THE CAULDRON by Jean Rabe and Gene deWeese offers mind-bending, thought-provoking future speculation.

I’m also very pleased to include 2113, a new anthology edited by me and John McFetridge—a collection of stories inspired by legendary rock band Rush (and it includes my sequel to the classic epic “2112”).

With storybundle.com, you name your own price for this grab bag of Adventure SF books. For as little as $8 you get the basic bundle of seven titles, and for as little as $16 you get them all. A portion of the money goes to charity—the Challenger Learning Center for Space Science Education—and, other than a small admin percentage, the rest of the earnings is directly divided among the titles.

For this Adventure SF bundle, I’m adding an exclusive sneak preview for all customers—a first-hand look at the first few chapters of NAVIGATORS OF DUNE (due out September 13), the grand finale of the Great Schools of Dune trilogy, as well as the first few chapters of ETERNITY’S MIND, the climax of my Saga of Shadows trilogy.

This is available for a limited time only, running for three weeks.  The bundle ends on July 12.  Shoot for the stars!

Screen Shot 2016-06-20 at 5.45.36 PM

 

“Down on Vengeance Creek”–The Story Behind the Story

Ever since I first heard the word “steampunk” I had the idea to write a story where a man is turned into a steam-powered cyborg on a mission of vengeance. I wanted to set it in the Old West because, yeah, Hang ‘Em High with Clint Eastwood. Westerns are good for vengeance stories.

So it was inevitable that I would write the story, but I didn’t want to just write a typical steam-powered cyborg story. I mean, come on, how many do we need?

And think about that for a minute. Steam engines require heat hot enough to boil water. Putting one inside a human being is not a good idea. So yeah, this wasn’t going to be a happy story, and I wanted the voice, the characters, the whole thing to transcend what is normally done.

In essence, I didn’t want some white cowpoke going after bad guys, or even some British dandy. No, for this story, I wanted to go back to a paper I wrote in college, which was a long time ago.

In college, I studied slave narratives, and I wrote a paper mimicking the language the scholars used when transcribing their conversations with ex-slaves. So it’s like this. Back in the 1930’s, the former African-American slaves were dying, and scholars didn’t want their histories to be lost. So they went around and talked to the people and then wrote down what they said. Verbatim. Bad grammar and all.

That’s what I wanted to do with my Vengeance Creek story. I wanted it to be from the point of a view of a freed slave whose family was murdered. A brilliant blacksmith turns him into a cyborg to get revenge.

I knew I couldn’t go full-on slave narrative, or yeah, I might come across a wee bit racist, so I softened the language some. And I avoided using the ‘n’ word. Not my place to use that word. It’s funny, but some of the people who read it were worried that I shouldn’t be trying to write like a black man, but if that’s the case, do I only tell stories about middle-aged white guys in the suburbs? Kill me now.

No, I stuck to my guns. I submitted the story to Quincy J. Allen, who agreed to publish it in the fourth collection of Penny Dread Tales. Hurray! And I was given pole position, the first story baby, the alpha dog spot.

Funny, but Quincy thanked me for avoiding the use of the ‘n’ word. However, I talked with an African-American guy who said I should’ve used it, that it would have fit. But again, not my place. That is the true American curse word, and I don’t want to be a part of it. I did have to use it once in LONG LIVE THE SUICIDE KING, but man, I really tried not to.

At the big coming out party for The Penny Dread Tales Volume IV, we each read a part of our stories. I was soooo nervous to read mine because yeah, writing it was one thing, speaking it is an entire different thing all together. But I stepped up, and in my best black voice, I read the first few pages of the story. People were swept along. I was a big hit and no one was offended. Thank God. And now I am dying to read the whole thing! It’s such a fun shoot ‘em up and the ending is so righteous.

As a side note, I am loving this movement in the steampunk community toward more diverse stories from around the globe. The 19th century really was the start of globalization, and yeah, everyone has a story to tell.

And I have an idea for another multi-cultural steampunk story…this one in India, with a transgender spy working against the British empire. Oooooh, just typing those words gets me itching to start.

And yeah, that one I’ll send to Quincy as well. I am just loving his Penny Dread Tales anthologies. I’m in volume III and IV and I feel very fortunate.

You can find them online and all over the place electronically. If you want a physical copy, I have some. Just hit me up.

Thanks everyone!

I Needed a Win–The Kirkus Review Fallout

You have the right to work, but never to the fruit of work.  You should never engage in action for the sake of reward, nor should you long for inaction.  Perform work in this world, Arjuna, as a man established in himself – without selfish attachments, and alike in success and defeat.

–The Bhagavad-Gita

That bit of Hindu goodness is the ideal.  Ideally, I would write and not really pay attention to outside voices, because, in the end, the praise is candy and the criticism is poison and only the act of writing, editing, and publishing nourishes me.

Yes, at all parts of the process I need to be open-minded.  I need to listen.  Criticism I can’t ignore, I have to follow.  Anything else I can ignore, I should.  Truth floats and all else should be forgotten.  The end.

And when a book is launched?  It’s best I focus on the next project and the bread of the writing, not the candy, not the poison; the bread of writing, the broccoli of editing (unpleasant, but good for me), and the meat of publishing.  The end.

But after weeks, months, years of nothing but stale compliments and half-hearted ‘atta-boys,’ I need more.  I do.  I’m weak.

I needed a win.

It’s been a long fall and winter.  I’d had some issues in my inner circle of writing friends.  I’d been summarily rejected by all my favorite publishers and agents when I shopped the book of my dreams, which I figured would happen, but I had high hopes anyway.  I had some failures getting blurbs for another book, and then I got a bad rejection from a publisher who said my scenes lacked focus and my characters were overblown.  Ouch.

My first book sold solidly for a while, but then sales dropped off.

And now I’m walking that long road to promote my second.

I needed a win.

I sent my book to Kirkus Reviews, hoping that it would review well.  It was a gamble.  The day I sent it off, a writer friend said Kirkus bashed them up good.  I was frightened.

I needed a win.

Kirkus said that their deadline was Friday, February 7, but when I saw the email on the Wednesday before that, February 5, well, I opened it immediately.  I’d been waiting for two months.

Remember, I’d spent years opening emails saying all sorts of nice things, only to add their own, “BUT”.

I liked it, but…

You’re great, but…

You’re a rockstar, but…

So in this review, I looked for the good stuff, hoping there would be good stuff.  I saw the word “powerful”, I saw “witty”, I saw “compelling”.

I saw those words.  Then I read the whole thing.

And sat in my chair, rocking back and forth, face in my hands, repeating over and over and over…

“I needed a win.  I needed a win.  I needed a win.”

Maybe I shouldn’t have, but I needed a win.  And I got one.

I really thought that after the review, the magic would be gone in a few minutes, and I’d get back to work, shrugging off the nice things the reviewer said about me.  You know, all other praise I’d never really taken seriously.  I could see all the reasons why it was invalid.  It didn’t matter.  I wasn’t as rich and famous as J.K. Rowling, so it didn’t matter.

I found something with this review, though.  I’d go back to it, savoring it, sipping at it like water from an oasis.  I might not get another win for a long, long time, but I got this win.

And I think maybe that’s one of the nice things about being a writer.  Some of us get wins when we need them, others get wins out of the blue, huge wins, and others go a lifetime with very little other than the joy of creating, the joy, the struggle, the sorrow, the sense of victory.

I remember a story about Richard Bach.  He didn’t know he was a bestseller until someone finally pulled him off some airstrip and told him he was a big deal.  And I think of Poe Ballantine who won a huge national award for a story he wrote years before, and it led to a book contract with a huge press.  Stephen King had Brian de Palma make Carrie into a movie with Sissie Spacek.  Both Jeanne C. Stein and Mario Acevedo were in Barnes and Nobles top 20 Urban Fantasy writers in the first ten years of the 21st century.  Wins, all of them, big wins.

I don’t know if I’ll get another win, and on some days, I don’t care.  My day-to-day remains the same: How can I write as much as possible and make it as good as possible?  That’s the end of the story.  That’s what I need to do.  Praise or vitriol, that’s my job.

But this win?

I needed it.  I needed a win and I got it.  Thank God.

Of course, here’s the link:

https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/aaron-michael-ritchey/long-live-the-suicide-king/

Share the news!  It even got selected to be in the March 1, 2014 edition of Kirkus Reviews with a big ol’ blurb at the top.  Which happens with less than 10% of submissions.  A win.  A solid win.  I needed it.  Again, thank God.