Dear Readers:

We appreciate the fact the current political environment is highly charged, but we want to keep Spacefreighters Lounge a stress-free place for everyone to visit and exchange ideas about SFR.

Therefore, we ask that you please refrain from making political references that may antagonize those with differing viewpoints. Thank you for your consideration.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

The secret to selling books

Shhh - don't tell anyone. It's just you and me here, right? I'll bet you're like me, teetering on the brink of giving up because nobody's buying your books. I've been like that for most of the year. Maybe even the year before. You know the feeling. You tried every which-way to get your books noticed. Ads with Book Gorilla, had another go at getting BookBub to accept one of your novels, did blog tours, got into NetGalley, did guest posts on friends' blogs. Even had a series book one as a freebie.

All to not much avail. The figures went down and down until they bounced on the bottom. Some stories didn't make sales in months.

Mind you, the perma-free book (The Iron Admiral: Conspiracy) did make a difference. Sales picked up in that series, with quite a few people buying the subsequent books. Nowhere near as many as those who downloaded the free book, but many people don't actually read free books. And while we're on the subject, I've not seen any discernible reaction to my contribution to the wonderful Portals project.

Anyway, as you know, I recently girded my loins and finished a book. Eye of the Mother. That was about a week ago. Sales weren't great. After all, not too many people not on Facebook would even know about it, because I didn't do any of the things mentioned above. But what has happened is that people are buying all my books. Even stories that have sat on the shelf for the better part of a year have a '1' next to their name. Don't get me wrong, I'm not making any best seller lists, but it's a heartening trend.

So it looks to me that if you haven't published anything new for a while, and you're wondering why your sales have tanked - get on with it. Get another book out there. Go on. You can do it.


Tuesday, June 28, 2016

It's the End of the World: Civil Wars, Apocalypse & Brexit #scifi #politics

I guess it's oddly appropriate that at a time when my country is tearing itself apart and in turmoil over the EU referendum that I finally saw Captain America: Civil War and X-Men Apocalypse. Maybe I should finish it off with Independence Day: Resurgence for the full dose of doom, gloom and destruction. Lol.
I haven't found much to be happy about in any of them. After over an hour of boredom in Civil War, the only highlight for me were two action scenes: the chase with Bucky, Black Panther, Captain America, and Falcon, followed by the odd humorous twist (finally!) during the big airport fight. After that...well, by the end of the film I pretty much hated all of the main characters. I get the film is about friendship, loyalty, choosing to do what you think is right vs what the rest of the world thinks is right (rather like Brexit, and look how that's turning out), and the futility of revenge. But I've never been a Cap fan, and this film didn't change my feelings. I liked the Iron Man films but in the Avengers Stark has become more of a jerk than he started out as (even if he had good reason in Civil War, and that was a great, unexpected twist). My boys enjoyed it, which is okay I guess. But I think I'm done with Avengers films.

I am and have been a much bigger fan of the X-men films, but again Apocalypse left me cold with only Quicksilver and Nightcrawler (and Jennifer Lawrence and Nicholas Hoult) keeping me watching. I'm confused. Have we now negated everything from the original films? I thought Days of Future Past put the timeline back on track, but Apocalyspe seemed to take it away again. And why didn't Quicksilver tell Magneto who he was?! Surely that would have made for a better turning point that a few memories of Xavier?

Whatever, the characters now seem to have more multiple reality origin stories than Spiderman and Batman. I'm pinning my hopes on Guardians of the Galaxy 2 to restore any faith I had in Marvel. And there's Rogue One coming from Disney: I have high expectations based on The Force Awakens.

As for Brexit... Our PM has resigned, there's no new leader though we're likely to end up with blond buffoon Boris Johnson, our economy is tanking, businesses are abandoning the country, racism has sky rocketed, the Leavers are suffering buyers' regret, and no one knows what the hell is happening next. Apparently not even our government had actual plans in the event of a Leave vote. Kinda thought that was the job we voted them in to do. I'm starting to feel we're entering Neal Asher's Zero Point. O.o Right now we need our very own Toruk Makto to reunite the tribes of our not so United Kingdom. Sigh.

Happenings
The Summer of Magic blog hop starts on the 4th of July, and while there's no fireworks there is a $50 Amazon gift card and ebook bundle giveaway, plus visitors to my blog have the rare chance to pick up a bundle of my short stories. The theme is all things summer so I'm sharing a never-before-published excerpt featuring my characters from Keir's Fall on an all too brief holiday.

And no sooner does the Summer of Magic end than the SFRB Summer blog hop begins! The grand prizes will be three $50 gift cards and book bundles. The theme is Other Worlds so I'll be taking you on a short tour of some of the planets featured in my time travel romance Keir.

And as that ends on the 15th of July, there'll be a stellar SciFi Romance sale event coming up. To receive details on that, please sign up to my newsletter HERE.

In less than three weeks I'm off to the Europe Star Wars Celebration, and I'll be meeting up with another fellow Brigader - Patty Hammond. I'll be going in cosplay, and my equally Star Wars obsessed 11yo will be joining me for one day in his Hux cosplay. I'm so excited!!!

Status Update
Gethyon is ready to go back to my editor but she's taking a well deserved holiday right now. Revived and Reunion are still awaiting my attention.
The Rey cosplay is coming along nicely, but I'm now being held up by lack of funds to buy more fabric. I need to tweak my own Jedi outfit for the Star Wars Celebration in less than three weeks! Then a week later I'm off on my seven week social media break. Eep! Too much to do! *runs away*








Monday, June 27, 2016

Technology Catches up with Outer Planets...Again

Writing a novel set in the 2040s--just a little over a couple of decades from now--has presented some ongoing challenges for me as a writer. Our current technology is changing and evolving so quickly, it's hard to envision what we'll really be capable of in twenty years.

Think back in time. What was technology like in 1996? Back then, 16MB of ram was cutting edge, Apple was a failing company, MP3 didn't exist, CD-RW was just announced and DVDs wouldn't be invented for a year or so. Monochrome computer monitors were pretty much the standard. Cell phones were called "bricks" though some had a nifty flip-phone design. A very early version of digital cameras existed, but they weren't affordable (and they definitely weren't integrated into cell phones). GPS had just become fully operational in 1995 and Google Maps wouldn't be on the scene for another nine years (launched February 8, 2005). Things that we take for granted today as part of our everyday lives were just beginning to evolve.

In order to create the world of the 2040s, I had to consider the leaps in technology we've had in that time span and launch my imagination an equal number of years into the future. But technology has frequently caught up with (and sometimes validated or invalidated) my world-building.

For instance...this.

NASA is planning suspended animation cryosleep.

In The Outer Planets, the astronauts spend the first part of their voyage to Jupiter in stasis--what they also refer to not as cryosleep, but as hypersleep, suspended animation or S/A. It's hardly a new idea in science fiction (Aliens, 2010, Prometheus, Red Dwarf, etc.), and the reasons for taking this measure are pretty clearly explained in Chapter 2 of my novel:

Stasis. Suspended animation. S/A. Hypersleep. No matter what you called it, it was a necessary evil. Lissa took several deep breaths in an attempt to calm her jitters.

Humans did inefficient things like breathe, eat and drink. Hypersleep conserved massive amounts of air, food and water—precious commodities where they were going. Robot supply ships would arrive at intervals with fresh provisions once they were revived, but putting the crew into stasis for the year of travel both outbound and inbound made the five-year voyage possible.

Lissa fixed her attention on a middle-aged male being wheeled away in a sleeper, his body in a state of near-perfect suspension. His pale, lax expression reminded her of her father resting in his coffin. She clenched her jaw against a sudden surge of grief.

Not the time to be thinking those thoughts.

The current NASA planning only calls for a duration of two weeks, where my crew is put into S/A for about a year...in both directions.

It works for both the reasons stated above, and also plot-wise, because what reader needs to slog through a year of their journey before they actually get anywhere interesting?

NASA though is looking at utilizing cryosleep to get astronauts to Mars, not Jupiter, so the duration is estimated to be only six months each way, rather than the year from Earth to Jupiter and Saturn to Earth (yes, Saturn is hugely further away than Jupiter, but a gravity assist from Jupiter will give them a lot of added velocity, plus they have this nifty tech called Gravity Gain that amplifies the Sun's gravity and only works for inboard flights within our solar system).

But this is where things start to get really exciting. And troubling.

On another front, science is exploring the EmDrive--a "propellant-less propulsion system" that shouldn't work...but does--which could get us to Mars in about 70 days (give or take on the orbital positions of the two planets). Now combined with cryosleep, we might really have some range. If we can reach Mars in 70 days, pairing the cutting edge propulsion technology with hypersleep--er, cryosleep--could easily make exploration of the entire solar system a reality by getting a human crew there in a matter of months--much, much faster than is currently feasible.

And that opens up all sorts of possibilities for space exploration of our solar system ala The Expanse.

But it does raise some potential problems for this author. The Outer Planets has a particularly tricky timeline where certain events must happen at certain points, and if EmDrive capabilities do prove to be feasible, the faster transit time to Jupiter and Saturn would definitely render my next novel obsolete (along with many, many other science fiction stories by much more famous authors). Though I've frequently had to "spiff" the near future novel as new technological advances are unveiled, the EmDrive would change everything.

I'll be keeping a close eye on these two evolving technologies in the months (and years) to come.

Have a great week!

Laurie



Friday, June 24, 2016

FIRST RULE OF INTERSTELLAR RESCUE SQUAD . . .



 

Is: Talk about Interstellar Rescue Squad! Apologies to FIGHT CLUB, but what good is an online group to share information and fun with other readers of the books you love if you don’t talk about it?

As most authors who have a “professional page” on Facebook have discovered, it’s difficult to get your message out to all the folks who have Liked your Page simply by posting. There are “rules” and “algorithms” and the "Evil Facebook Gnomes” to overcome to reach all the fans who you want to reach every time you post.

Some authors skip FB altogether and use an email newsletter. I choose to use a private FB group dedicated to my books and readers. I post news about my upcoming releases, cover reveals, blog posts, events and other exciting author stuff on the group page, and the page is open for members to post about my books if they are so inclined.

Anyone can see the page, anyone can join the group, but only members can post to the group. And the best part? Anything I post actually gets seen by all the group members. Right now that number is small, but I hope it will grow!

The group serves a double purpose, too. As soon as I post something to my Author Page, I Like it and Share it to my Interstellar Rescue Squad Page. (I also Like and Share as Donna Frelick on my personal timeline.) That gets picked up as activity by the FB algorithms. So the post gets sent to more of the Likes on my Author Page. Ha!

I’m overdue for some work on my group, it’s true. But some truly cool author news is coming soon. My Rescuers will be the first to know, even before I post it here! Wanna be in with the In Crowd? One of the cool kids? At the top of the A-List? It’s easy! Just follow this link to the Interstellar Rescue Squad Page to check it out, then message me at DonnaSFrelickAuthor on Facebook to request membership!

Cheers,
Donna



Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Meet Brent Walker. He's a very nice guy


After far too long I've finally hit the 'publish' button on a brand new story, set in the Dryden Universe. I've posted a few articles about it already, so everyone should know it's on the way.

Eye of the Mother features brand new characters Brent Walker and Tian Axmar, with a guest appearance by Admiral Ul-Mellor, who starred in A Matter of Trust. Here's the blurb:

A distant star has exploded. The ripples of its passing will rock the Empire.

When fate throws Brent Walker and Tian Axmar together, it's strictly a business arrangement. She's an Imperial agent with a problem to solve, he's a space jockey with an empty bank balance and a tramp freighter for hire.

Somebody's murdering Yrmaks and Humans, and leaving a mysterious calling card. Somebody wants interspecies war. Tian hires Brent to help her investigate, delving into Yrmak customs and beliefs to understand what's going on. It's an increasingly dangerous game, with more than just lives at stake. Before it's over Brent and Tian will be faced with choices which will change both of them forever. 

******************************************************
This book is a little bit different from most of my other space opera romances. The Iron Admiral, Morgan's Choice, A Matter of Trust, and Starheart all had alpha characters, AKA 'hot admirals'. Be warned, this one doesn't. It's a different sort of romance that (needless to say) I hope works for readers. It certainly worked for me.

For anyone who might be disappointed in this new tack, rest assured I'm not over hot admirals. I'm sure you'll LOVE Admiral Jak Prentiss, whose story is developing in my current WIP.

Meanwhile, I hope you'll all fall in love with Brent. He's a very nice guy.

Buy the book at Amazon Nook Kobo  iTunes




Monday, June 20, 2016

What is this DEDspace of Which You Speak?

If you've spent any time in the universe of Inherit the Stars or Farewell Andromeda (same universe, 200 years later), then you'll probably remember the references to Dark Energy Drive and DEDspace. But what exactly does that mean?

Like most of my fictional technology, it was based on solid foundation of research with a liberal application of imagination.

You see, in order for certain plot elements in the two stories to work, I had to create some sort of travel or propulsion system that could span vast distances of space (roughly 25,000 light years) in a very short period of time. Just to put that in perspective, our outgoing Voyager sister probes, launched in August and September, 1977, have been traveling outbound for nearly 40 years and have just recently passed beyond the edges of our very own solar system. If they were to reach the nearest star to our own Sun (Alpha Centauri at a mere 4.3 light years away), provided they were even traveling in that direction (which they aren't), it would take tens of thousands of years.

Well, what about New Horizons, the much more advanced probe launched in 2006 that just gave us those spectacular first looks at Pluto after traveling 9-1/2 years to get there at some 36,373 mph (or 58,536 kph). Faster yes, but it would still take NH another 40,000 years to reach Alpha Centauri. Forty thousand years just to reach our neighboring star. And that's at a speed of nearly 37,000 miles per hour!

How about a Space Shuttle? They were really fast, right? Ha! The shuttles traveled at a paltry 17,600 mph. Plan on 165,000 years to reach Alpha Centauri. (Check out: EarthSky.org: Travel Time to Alpha Centauri)

So yeah. Wow! The distances we're talking about are mind-blowing. I had to find a much faster--or more inventive--way to get around the neighborhood in the 35th century and beyond.

Even with the star-hopping that their decidedly advanced technology can manage, allowing them to travel system-to-system in a matter of days and span a number of systems inside a couple of weeks, we're talking months of travel to reach the outlier points of the Milky Way, which is one of their destinations in both stories. And that just wouldn't work. I had to find some form of "Galaxy Express" transit.

And Dark Energy provided that magic carpet.

You see, scientists aren't even sure what Dark Energy is just yet. Only that, in theory, it must exist in order for the universe to work, along with Dark Matter. We can't see it. We can't sense it. We only know that, mathematically, there's something dark and mysterious out there, and it accounts for nearly 68% of the actual universe. Dark Matter makes up an additional 28%.

Nearly ninety-six percent of the universe may be Dark Energy and Dark Matter!

That's a whole lot of something that's nothing!


You see, in order for galaxies to not spin apart, there has to be something they call Dark Matter that accounts for the mass and the gravity that holds it all together, and in order for observations from deep space (which also means deep time) to make sense, there also has to be something stretching the universe apart--and they dubbed that Dark Energy. In tandem, Dark Energy and Dark Matter create the theoretical dynamics that might explain how the universe functions as it does when normal mathematics say it shouldn't function at all. (I'm paraphrasing here.)

When I started researching Dark Energy, the theory that made the most sense to me is that Dark Energy actually exists in another unknown dimension. Okay, I can get my head around that. (And better yet, my muse seemed to latch onto the idea big time.) I'd read theories that some scientists believe there could be up to nine dimensions--though trapped in our mortal bodies, we're only programmed to function within three--height, width, depth. Or maybe four, if you consider time a dimension onto itself.

So Dark Energy may form another dimension--one that we could actually enter if we found a way and a means to access it. And in doing so, we might be able to span huge distances in space by slipping the surly bonds of 3D. But...there's also Dark Matter, which some scientists believe might even provide a galaxy-wide transport system. Other experts are exploring the idea that Dark Energy and Dark Matter are connected. (In my universe, they are, and the combined phenomena is simply referred to as DEDspace, meaning Dark Energy Dimension space.)

Fifteen hundred years in our future, a man named Zaviar Mennelsohn did (or will) discover a way to access DEDspace. Or at least, he will in The Inherited Stars universe.

He built a few prototype ships. The first with a rudimentary Dark Energy Drive was called Phantom. After Phantom, he built two final ships that perfected it, along with other state-of-the-art uh...enhancements--Specter and its big (much, much bigger) sister ship, Spirit. (You may have heard of them?) And two hundred years later, his discovery resulted in specialized deep space shuttles that employ DEDspace to reach exotic locales in the galaxy--or the very edge of it.

But DEDspace is not fun. It takes an iron constitution to pilot in the Great Nothing. It alters the senses and perceptions, and it's downright painful for crew and passengers alike. So it's not a practical way to travel from point A to point Z, even if it is a necessary one. And that's the reason DEDspace isn't exactly a popular place to be in The Inherited Stars universe, and DEDspace travel isn't at all commonplace.

That's why most of the subspecies that inhabit these stories just stick to their system-hopping drives, thank you very much.

More About Dark Matter and Dark Energy (for Those Who Dare)
The Universe's Dark Matter and Dark Energy