Free and 99¢ books for February

Free:

L’enfer, c’est la Solitude

L’enfer, c’est la Solitude

eBook: free!
Two planets on the verge of war. Each has sent a single soldier to a military outpost so remote that the only other people to talk with are each other. What happens when one of them gets shot down—and survives? More info →
Buy now!
Brothers in Exile

Brothers in Exile

eBook: free!
Isaac and Aaron are nothing if not survivors. Their homeworld lost and their people scattered, all they have left is each other. Then, in the Far Outworlds, they find a dead colony with a beautiful young woman frozen in cryostasis. She is also a survivor—and she needs their help. More info →
Buy now!

99¢

Strangers in Flight

Strangers in Flight

eBook: 99¢ sale!
When Reva Starchild went into cryosleep, she wasn't prepared to be the sole survivor of a people that history never remembered. Isaac wants to help her, but he carries a secret that may decide the outcome of the war. Little does he know, the Imperials aren't the only ones hunting him. More info →
Buy now!
Comrades in Hope

Comrades in Hope

eBook: 99¢ sale!
Isaac and Aaron have joined the war effort, and not a moment too soon. The Imperials are poised to strike at the heart of the New Pleiades and obliterate the ragtag flotilla standing in their way. Aaron always wanted to prove himself, but he was never ready to make the ultimate sacrifice—until now. More info →
Buy now!

Trope Tuesday: Death Seeker

The Death Seeker is a character who wants to die, but for whatever reason isn’t willing to commit outright suicide. The TVtropes page has a good summary:

At some point in the past, some characters have had a traumatic experience, found themselves dishonored, committed a crime they could not repay, or lost everything worth living for. For whatever reason, rather than turning to suicide, they went off seeking battles to fight, hoping to find an enemy who would kill them, and achieve an honorable, heroic, awesome, or otherwise acceptable death, sometimes going as far as outright surrendering and offering their life to their enemies.

I’ve written a surprising number of these characters, but more often than not they end up living instead of dying. Quite often, they have a mentor who used to be a death seeker themselves, who makes them promise to find a reason to keep on living.

Escapist fiction is fun, but I like to read stories that are meaningful as well. The two are not mutually exclusive. When the protagonist is a death seeker, the question “what is worth living for?” tends to be a major driver for the story.

One character who’s very much on my mind right now is Mara Soladze from Sons of the Starfarers. A refugee turned marine, she has a traumatic experience in Comrades in Hope that very nearly pushes her over the despair event horizon. She can’t just give up and die, though, because there are people depending on her. As she climbs up the ranks from first mate, to captain, and finally to commodore, that tension never goes away.

Probably the biggest difference between a death seeker and someone who’s simply suicidal is that the death seeker is looking for something to die for. They’re much more likely to make a heroic sacrifice or go out in a Bolivian army ending.

But if something is worth dying for, isn’t it also worth living for? That is ultimately the question.

February Update

So much stuff going on behind the scenes here.

First, Sons of the Starfarers is coming along right on schedule. A Queen in Hiding (Book 7) is now up for preorder, and An Empire in Disarray (Book 8) is with my editor. Should be up for preorder in the next few weeks, with a release date of May 18th.

I’ve made a few changes to my publishing schedule for the year. Sons of the Starfarers is still on track for release dates in March, May, and June. I’ve switched up some of the short stories, though, and decided to focus on finishing the Gunslingers trilogy before I work on anything else. Both of those books (Gunslinger to the Galaxy and Gunslinger to Earth) should be out before the end of the year.

I’d rather have one complete trilogy than three partially completed ones, which is where things stand right now. The first book, Gunslinger to the Stars, has done modestly well for a standalone, and it was so much fun to write that I’m sure the sequels will be as well. I could use a fun project to lighten things up a bit.

The goal is still to release a new book (and/or rerelease an old one) every month this year, and I’m very much still on track to do that.

On a slightly different note, I’m considering whether or not to start a Patreon account. The goal is to set up a small supplementary income stream that enables me to publish more books without taking too much time away from the writing. I still have a lot of research to do, but some of the benefits I’m considering include digital ARCs and entry into a character naming lottery.

What do you think? Should I start a Patreon? Let me know what you think by filling out this short survey.

Other than that, it’s mostly just a bunch of little stuff and adjustments here and there. Data crunching, marketing analysis, and a lot of small and incremental improvements that don’t warrant mention (yet).

Trope Tuesday: The Alliance

In fiction, the fight against the Empire usually follows a clear progression.

First, you have the Resistance, a scrappy band of misfit freedom fighters who take up arms, barricade the streets, and fight back against all odds. Think Rogue One, or Les Miserables.

If they aren’t immediately crushed, the Resistance eventually turns into the Alliance. Only slightly more organized than the Resistance, it’s still not unheard of for members of the alliance to turn on each other if the right opportunity arises. That said, when they’re united, the Alliance can muster a lot more firepower than the Resistance could ever hope to bring.

The Alliance is what happens when the local powers commit to the fight. It’s what happens when a low-level insurgency turns into a full-blown civil war. Whether or not everyone in the alliance trusts each other, together they have all crossed the Rubicon in the fight against the Empire.

If the Alliance is successful and defeats the Empire, it will either turn into the Republic or the Federation. The Republic is much more centralized and behaves like a single nation, whereas the Federation is a collection of semi-autonomous states united under one banner.

To pull a page from history, the United States started as the Resistance, with the patriots dumping the tea at the Boston tea party. With the Declaration of Independence, the Resistance turned into the Alliance as the minutemen became the Continental Army. With the Constitution of the United States, the Alliance became the Federation, which (depending on your reading of history) has either endured to the present day, or transformed into the Republic and/or Empire.

Star Wars used to have a very clear progression from Republic to Empire (episodes I-III) and Resistance to Alliance to Republic (Rogue One, episodes IV-VI, and the expanded Star Wars universe), but the new movies have apparently thrown all that out and moved us from Resistance to Alliance to… Resistance again? And the Empire went from Remnant to Empire, even after losing Starkiller Base in episode VII? Yet another reason why The Last Jedi really did not impress me.

In my own books, this progression figures prominently in Sons of the Starfarers. It starts with the Resistance in Comrades in Hope, but soon transforms into the Alliance and stays that way for most of the rest of the series. It’s on my mind right now, as I finish An Empire in Disarray and get ready to write the last book, Victors in Liberty.

 

Early January Update

The holidays are over. Blergh.

I don’t generally do well when my routine gets broken up by outside forces, which is why this blog has fallen by the wayside for the last week or so. I’m also not very good at creating structure in my life where none exists, so during times like the holidays I don’t tend to do very well. This is definitely a skill that I need to work on.

In any case, the holidays are over, which means it’s time to get back to work. Thank goodness!

I am about 10,000 words from finishing my current WIP, An Empire in Disarray. With the work on my friends’ basement finished and my roommate starting school in Salt Lake today, there shouldn’t be any more interruptions between now and the end of next week. This bodes well.

When that’s done, I’ll jump right into work on Victors in Liberty. I’ve got to admit, there are other projects I’d really like to work on right now, but finishing Sons of the Starfarers takes priority.

The series was supposed to be finished way back in 2015. But I underestimated the volume of work I’d taken on—and that was before I got a girlfriend. I fell behind on my writing as the relationship got really serious, and then we broke up, which didn’t help with productivity either.

Long story short, I did a lot of things wrong back in 2014. But I learned from my mistakes, and I think my books are better because of it. So instead of finishing up Sons of the Starfarers in 2015, I’m finishing it now in 2018. And then I’m moving on to other projects.

Edenfall is at the top of that list. It’s been years since I started the Genesis Earth trilogy, which is another ball that I’ve dropped. Genesis Earth does stand alone, but I’ve been promising to finish the trilogy since I published it in 2011, and judging from the reviews (as well as the slow but remarkably steady trickle of sales), this is a WIP that deserves to get priority.

One thing I’m really trying to do this year is to get better at structuring things: my writing, my publishing and marketing efforts, my daily routine, etc. Towards that end, I’ve put together a publishing schedule for 2018. Here it is as it stands at the beginning of the new year:

  • JANUARY — Patriots in Retreat (Sons of the Starfarers, Book 6)
  • FEBRUARY — The Janus Anomaly: A Short Story
  • MARCH — A Queen in Hiding (Sons of the Starfarers, Book 7)
  • APRIL — Time and Space in Amish Country: A Short Story
  • MAY — An Empire in Disarray (Sons of the Starfarers, Book 8)
  • JUNE — Lizzie-99XT: A Short Story
  • JULY — Victors in Liberty (Sons of the Starfarers, Book 9)
  • AUGUST — Edenfall (Genesis Earth Trilogy, Book 2)
  • SEPTEMBER — Sholpan
  • OCTOBER — The Sword Bearer (The Twelfth Sword Trilogy, Book 2)
  • NOVEMBER — In the Beginning: A Short Story
  • DECEMBER — Gunslinger to the Galaxy (Gunslingers Trilogy, Book 2)

Lots of book 2s and finishing series. I suppose you could say this is the year where I start to finish what I’ve started.

And while the schedule may seem a bit daunting, the first four books are already ready to go, with Patriots in Retreat and A Queen in Hiding already up for preorder. Of the ones that are left, half are already written. So even though it seems ambitious, it’s actually quite doable, even if something crazy happens and I end up eloping to Mongolia before the end of the summer.

So that’s what I’m up to. I’ll get back to blogging as I can, but my first priority is writing, followed closely by publishing. Lots of behind the scenes stuff happening which I don’t have time to get into right now.

Take care, and thanks for reading!

Joe