Monday, November 16, 2015

How is Climate Change like a Screeching Loudspeaker?

Monday, October 26, 2015

First Official Review of RESONANCE

Hey guys, yesterday an awesome review of Resonance from Hannah Heath went up on

"The worlds in Resonance are so life-like that I have no problem believing that they could be worlds sometime in the future."

Monday, October 12, 2015

Experience Daliona

For the past month, I've been working on a website to help promote Resonance and the Recovery Series. Well, after making the final tweaks, here it is, open for all the world to see!

Take a look through, and make sure you visit all the pages! There's lots and lots of extra content that you guys won't want to miss! (Some drop down menus on the header bar and some buttons on one some of the pages).

Enjoy! And prepare for Resonance, available on Amazon this Friday, October 16th.

Friday, September 18, 2015

YA Sci-Fi Needs to Raise More Awareness for Human Endeavor -- And Here's Why

*originally published January 2015*

Aside from Contemporary Young Adult Fiction, YA Sci-Fi is arguably one of the most popular genres of books out there. It comes in all shapes and sizes: Beth Revis' Across the Universe, Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games, Veroncia Roth's Divergent, Marie Lu's Legend, Allie Condie's Matched... The list goes on and on and on AND ON.

What do all of these books/series have in common?

Humanity (or some part of it) has endured some apocalyptic event.

All those stories are about fighting against impossible odds in a world ravaged by the dark side of nature, or wartorn cities/landscapes, or corrupt governments that have all the citizens in their pockets.

Basically, humanity screwed up and now they're facing the consequences.

But while all of that makes for an action-packed thriller, giving the people in the book the hope that they will live another day...what does it actually do for us, the readers? How are we able to relate to this world, a world so destroyed that recovering it seems inconceivable -- and it is a preposterous notion. Should I mention that although these series end right at the point of the main conflicts, it's ridiculous to think that humanity as a species will survive very long after the story. They don't have the same resource-rich environments to pull from that their ancestors did, so to think that any manageable, enduring, industrious civilization could be constructed is, in essence, a lost cause.

Of course, looking at it like that is probably in the overkill range.

But despite the "rising from the ashes" trope, where humanity has endured this apocalyptic event and managed to get through the worst of it, what do we the readers get out of it? When we read those books, we're stuck rooting for those characters. "Woohoo! They made it out alive! I'm so proud of them!"

Do you see the problem with this in the long run?

Because YA genre fiction is so big in today's society, and most of it consists of these post-apocalyptic, rising from the ashes scenarios, that we collectively associate hope and pride and better futures with these scenarios. We sit back, enjoy the show, and go on with our own lives while imagining how cool it would be to experience those societies.

People, no. It would not be fun to watch your friends die, be controlled by the government, live in a police state, have only one personality, have arranged marriages and punished for breaking them, etc etc etc. Think about those realities, and what they say about humanity, and how humanity got into those scenarios. Humanity had to fall. Humanity had to destroy itself. Citizen slavery had to take hold. The "brighter futures"  of those stories are the "normal lives" of reality.

These stories inspire us, yes, but to do what? Hopefully to avoid these situations. But where do we go from there? What are we as a society supposed to aspire to after reading these books? Sure, we look around and see similar instances around the world that mimic these books, so we point our fingers and shout, "AHA! The Hunger Games is practically real! We need a symbol!"

To be clear, I have nothing against these stories. I enjoyed reading dystopians...when only a few books were dystopians. Now it's so diluted that a lot of people can't imagine our society doing anything but spiraling out of control. Yes, there's a problem with the real world. Yes, we need to be aware of this problem and stand up against our governments when they slap us in the face...but again I ask, where do we go from there?


50 years ago, the science-fiction genre showed us incredible technologies like space ships, devices through which you could communicate wirelessly, an invisible network that anyone anywhere in the world could access, robots, AI, heck, even self-tying shoelaces.

And what happened? We got cell phones, the internet, robots, AI, space ships, and, right on time in 2015, self-tying shoelaces....all because of science-fiction!!! Science-fiction inspired the creation of these technologies, filled us with wonder and awe and made us dream of futuristic cities and holograms! Hell, even the space program flourished in the time when dreams of science-fiction dominated culture (we'll skip over War of the Worlds...hopefully that doesn't happen).

But do you see what happened? Science-fiction inspired people to look forward to the future! We didn't hope to break free of a corrupt government. We were united, and sought to advance the entire species! More than half of all modern technology was inspired by science-fiction and space exploration (seriously, no computers, no toasters, no cell phones, no fluorescent light bulbs, no fiber optics...etc etc etc).

Now we have cat videos, memes, and visions of war-torn, post-apocalyptic, bombed-out cities where humanity is struggling to survive.

And why? Because those scenarios DOMINATE the YA genre.

Is this reversible? My answer: an adamant YES. How, you ask?

Add to the YA genre. Dilute the visions of the dystopias.

Let's have more stories celebrating human endeavor. Show our ingenuity, our desire to explore, our passion for knowledge, our yearning to survive where no one has ever survived before. Take us on a journey across the stars, show how rewarding space exploration can be. Give humanity the reputation of uniting, overcoming nature, and surviving on that planet where the air is toxic, there's no natural food, not a tree in sight....

And yet we live there anyway.

We build a home. We claim it as ours. We don't survive -- we thrive. We use technology to our species' advantage. We mine asteroids, walk on comets, discover organic life elsewhere in the universe (and NOT a far-superior alien race that seeks to destroy us). Maybe the life doesn't depend on water to survive, but methane, or hydrochloric acid, or something weird that isn't life as we know it.

We want to see glass raining from the sky, purple and blue trees in the forest, ugly alien animals that are so spectacular we study their habitats and biologies and how they live... We travel to the centers of stars, measure dark matter, even figure out how gravity works (because as of yet, we have NO IDEA HOW GRAVITY WORKS. We know it's related to mass and distance, but after that...nobody knows).

See, now more than ever we need stories that showcase the spirit of human endeavor. We need the unity, the awareness, the sense of wonder and awe that the world shared 50 years ago. If science-fiction from 50 years ago inspired our modern generation of technology and space programs, just imagine what we could achieve today and in the next 10-20 years. We're talking exponential technological growth. Settlements on the moon, colonies on Mars (I say colonies, because colonization describes the claiming of land that is already inhabited, and technically speaking, only robots live on Mars....)

So let's inspire the next generation to lead humanity to a new frontier. Books and movies have the power to change the future, so which would you rather keep seeing? A world where war has claimed the lives of millions and you could die any second under the ruling dictatorship? Or a world -- no, many worlds where humanity has broken free of its roots?

I, for one, choose the latter.

Society tends to achieve the future it expects. Let's face it. We are a pessimistic society because constantly reading about doomsday inevitably makes us lose faith in humanity. We blame the governments, and say that we need to be prepared for when the governments begin acting like the actual societies in the books...but if we can alter our literature and tell stories about humanity's triumphs, society can become optimistic.

Let's fix the problem before it can ignite into a real-world crisis. Begin the change now, and the future won't have to worry. We won't have to fight the government if we can inspire a government filled with people who seek to help humanity -- our species -- take the next great leap. And it's why I write the books I do: I want to help inspire a love for space exploration.

Because we are the human race.

And we are amazing.


Check out my futuristic YA novel, EMBASSY.
The sequel, RESONANCE, will be available
January 1, 2016.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Sunday, August 30, 2015

The Final Draft of RESONANCE is Finished

It is finished.

The final draft of Resonance is complete. 
  • August 26, 2014 – August 30, 2015.
  • 1 year, 4 days.
  • 8 drafts.
  • 115,000–127,000 words (fluctuated in that range)
  • 42 chapters.
  • Way too much coffee.

Resonance is officially on the path toward final publication.

I hope you guys love this book as much as I enjoyed writing it. From Day 1, it has been an absolutely tremendous journey. In my eyes, it’s the most perfect sequel to Embassy there could be.

Monday, August 24, 2015

How Writing EMBASSY Shaped the Way I Approached Writing RESONANCE

When I began writing Embassy in January 2013, I set out to write a novel about humans and aliens and political intrigue and epic science-fiction warfare, complete with a main character who was the Chosen One, looked up to by everyone to save the day. Everything a good science-fiction novel should have, right?

Those of you who have read Embassy are probably checking to make sure you're not on the wrong blog. "What? Did I read the wrong book?!"

Rest assured, you read the correct version of Embassy that I intended to share with readers.

I wrote 14 drafts of Embassy, and somewhere in the first four, the story COMPLETELY changed. Arman Lance became just another 20 year old guy trying to find his way in life, not some superhero who would bring down the alien takeover in a blazing fury of lasers and rockets. In fact, as you know, dear readers, I toned down the entire story. It became more of an internal journey set in a futuristic reality that humanity could one day experience for themselves.

Even as I neared the final drafts of Embassy, I wasn't totally sure where the series as a whole was going. To be honest, it took me until finishing the first draft of Resonance to fully discover the plot I wanted to tell. I knew enough to include certain bits of foreshadowing and plot points in Embassy that you can go back and find the connections and consistencies that make this story what it is.

As you started reading Embassy, you could probably see the mold I was trying to fit. "A guy loses his father and joins the big *government program* that's divided into three sections into which everyone is effectively sorted according to their strengths."

What does that sound like? Divergent...Harry Potter...the Hunger Games...Matched...Star Wars...

Tell me I'm wrong.

I wasn't letting myself create the story I wanted to create. No matter how much I denied it, I wanted to hit it big. Look at all these other books that used the same mold and became bestsellers! Amazing! Anyone can do that.

Ha. Haha. Hahahaha.

By the time I published Embassy, it was too late to go back and completely reshape the entire story into the story it had the potential to be--and that made the story feel streamlined. I could show hints of the universe within the book, but I trapped myself in a very, very simple plotline. I'll forever live with that consequence.

On the bright side, dozens of readers have told me they absolutely LOVED the book, and I so grateful for that, and that they took the time to tell me. Their praise took off some of the weight I bore from feeling like I held back too much in order to keep the story mainstream.

The books in question

Fueled by my regrets and new-found determination to write the story I wanted to tell, I set out to write Resonance. Don't get me wrong--I still love Embassy, and it gave me a solid foundation to work on. I'm thankful for that (can you imagine what it'd be like if I kept that original plot? ughhhhhh...awful).

But with Resonance, I took the universe to the next level. As you'll see, Arman isn't on the singular crash-course with an ill-fated goal like he is in Embassy. One could even argue the plot of Resonance is blurry... Where exactly is the line that connects Point A to Point B?

My answer: there is no Point A or Point B.

Okay, before you start going off about the utter absurdity of that claim, let me explain.

In Embassy, we had Arman Lance. From the very beginning of the book, his goal was always "Get to Ladia." He goes on a journey, and voila, you can guess what happens. From the get-go, it's pretty predictable, despite the new universe you get to explore. (I mean, come on, people. Who wouldn't want to play Hologis????)

Resonance, I'm proud to say, isn't set up the same way. And I'd go so far as to say I don't think it's that predictable of a book. Sure, there are one or two instances where you might foresee something, but in the grander scheme of the story, it's not so linear, not so predictable. And that's because I don't use a string of cause-and-effects to generate the story itself.

The other goal I had when writing Resonance was to make it as realistic as possible--in the world-building, the characters, and the events. I want you to dive into Resonance and feel like this could all happen in real life. I want you to think about the future of humanity and be like, "Yeah, this could be where humanity ends up in 2000 years."

Resonance is complex. Very complex. I tried to develop as many aspects of humanity's future as possible, from the technology and the culture, to the process of terraforming planets and the political discrepancies that might arise from various events that take place.

In creating the worlds seen in Resonance, I spent 50 hours watching nature documentaries to develop ecosystems across the planets. I also calculated the exact mass, density, gravitational accelerations, atmospheric compositions, and other properties of the planets, to make sure that the characters were experiencing what real people would experience if we ever settle other worlds. I also introduce new sports, riding the success of Hologis, and made sure that those were as intense and awe-inspiring as possible (spoiler alert: I made my own heart race with anticipation in several of these scenes).

On top of all that, I drew 13 maps (in MS Paint, of course, but they're still detailed!) so that you, dear reader, could visualize the world in my head on a whole new level. You'll know exactly where the characters are at all times, and trust me, there are some really, really cool locations.

Relatively speaking, Resonance is also much more scientifically-oriented than Embassy. You'll see aspects of General Relativity, planetary sciences, time distortion and gravitational lensing, experimental lucidity interfaces, and even my own proposed theory of dark matter--all which are presented in simple terms, no matter how mind-bending they might seem. Maybe you'll be intrigued enough to give the book a second read-through just to wrap your mind around some of the concepts!

Resonance takes the world hinted at in Embassy and blows it to extraordinary proportions. I enjoyed writing this book to no end, and am absolutely proud of the story it tells. I truly believe it tells a story with no preset boundaries. I hope that when you get your hands on Resonance, you'll dive into the world and never want to come out. If that happens, I've achieved what I was going for.

Thank you for reading Embassy, I hope you're looking forward to Resonance, and I can wait to share this journey with you.

"This isn't about you, or me, or this guy. It's about all of us, Lance. It's about the mission. Why we do what we do." -- Rand Harmat, Resonance; by S. Alex Martin

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Last Planet

7:49:50 am

July 14, 2015


Another chapter in human history has ended. Never again will any person living today see the exploration of a planet in our solar system. Never again will we watch with bated breath as a probe brings us closer to one of our neighbors, three billion miles out, a story nine-and-a-half years in the making.

I was in 8th grade when New Horizons launched. I remember being totally in awe. At the time, it was the most advanced rocket we'd ever built, and it sent this probe hurtling at 36,400 mph into the solar system.

To this day, New Horizons reigns as the fastest rocket we've ever launched.

Through the years, you'd hear whispers of New Horizons and Pluto, but for a long time, it was lost to memory. That is, until December 2014, when New Horizons came out of its hibernation and showed us a prick of light in the distance, an unimpressive speck of pixels: Pluto.

The months dragged on, and New Horizons would beam back pictures every few days, each image a bit clearer than the last. But in June 2015, we began to see the planet and its moons dancing around each, their orbits skewed and wobbly, unlike any orbit of the solar system's other planets.

The months turned to weeks.

The weeks turned to days.
The days turned to hours.

At 07:49 am on July 14, two things happened at the same time: New Horizons flew by Pluto, all seven of its scientific instruments grabbing up data as it zoomed past--and NASA released an image taken 16 hours earlier, the clearest, most amazing picture we have ever seen of the planet.

New Horizons will beam back the data and pictures from the flyby tonight, and NASA will release those tomorrow...but this image right here has taken the world by storm. News outlets, social media, magazines, newspapers. Everyone is spreading this image.

This is the last planet. There will never again be a mystery like this for us to solve, or a journey like this for a probe to take. We have met all of our planetary neighbors. This is the dimming of the dawn of space exploration.

The probes have led the way.
Now it's humanity's turn to follow.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Regarding Embassy Fanfiction

So the question was finally asked by someone outside of my writing group: "Would you ever read Embassy fanfiction??"

From Tumblr

In the past, my answer used to be, "No. I don't want anyone touching my characters or universe."

But alas, time goes on, and views change. Over the months I've definitely thought some more about how I would react to fanfiction, and I've come to the conclusion, as you'll see in my direct response to the above asker, that yes, I'd love to see fanfiction of my work.

Here's what I had to say:

"Hmmm… Thats a good question, because I’ve always been very back and forth about fanfiction of my own work. But…yes, I would. And here’s why:
 The obvious reason is that I wanna see what people do with the characters and story world. Of course, I’d encourage people to hold out from fanfiction until at least after Resonance is published, because the world opens up a ton and you get a lot more history and setting and information about the world of my series, and I’d imagine people could use that to the advantage of writing fanfiction for it.
Another reason I would is because of the reason I wrote/am writing Embassy and Resonance (along with Books 3 and 4 of the immediate series, both of which have titles, neither of which I’m giving away yet :P). This story, this world isn’t just about Arman, or the other characters. It’s about humanity as a whole. We all have our individual stories, we all experience the world in a different way, and thus, fanfiction of different characters could totally help to add depth to that world and make ever-the-more realistic. I’d love to see how other characters I didn’t even know about react to the events of the series, or what they think of the characters I’m writing about, or what other adventures are out there.
I can tell you right now there's a MASSIVE history behind the Embassy Universe, and I plan to write a few spin offs in the future, most notably “We Cannot Be Content,” which I’ve discussed before and can be found in my blog. It basically surrounds why humanity left Earth for good (and you learn about pieces of it in Resonance). I already began writing WCBC, though it probably won't be done for a few years (but trust me, I can’t wait to get that out because it’s very, VERY relevant to issues in today’s world).
So, yes, I’d be fascinated to see what people come up, and I hope that as the series goes on, more fanfiction will come out because let’s face it: it’s inevitable so there’s no point in resisting and it just adds to the World of the story, which, as I always say, is my vision of humanity’s future, so fanfiction would help diversify it :)"
There's one point I want to expand upon: I would greatly encourage anyone who writes fanfiction to have an impressive understanding the history and physics of the Embassy Universe. If you're writing fanfic and aren't quite sure about how certain physical laws apply in this universe, or need clarification on a piece of the universe's history, please consult me. Send me an email. Shoot me a tweet. Comment on my blog. Whatever. I can tell you literally anything you need to know about the history, about the planets, about the Embassy Program, etc etc, and it would help you maintain your credibility as a fanfic author if you stuck to the same "story universe laws" I use. This is also why I'd suggest waiting until at least Resonance is published in January 2016, because you'll learn sooooo much more about the story world.

Trust me.

One last thing, and I want to make this clear: if you do write Embassy Universe fanfiction: as I stated above, consult me for any questions you may have or help you may need. More importantly, please, do not attempt to make income off it without my explicit permission. People, chances are I'm going to approve, but if you want to make money off it, at least tell me. You'd really have to screw it up for me to not approve. But I stand by my statement: just tell me first.

What better way to get it out in the world than with the Seal of Approval from the author of the original universe? I'm open to that kind of collaboration, where I can run through and check for accuracy and consistency before you release it.

Purchase Embassy Here

Add Embassy on Goodreads

Add Resonance on Goodreads

Monday, June 8, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: Elon Musk - Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future

Summary from Inside Flap: There are few industrialists in history who could match Elon Musk's relentless drive and ingenious vision. A modern alloy of Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Howard Hughes, and Steve Jobs, Musk is the man behind PayPal, Tesla Motors, SpaceX, and SolarCity, each of which has sent shock waves throughout American business and industry. More than any other executive today, Musk has dedicated his energies and his own vast fortune to inventing a future that is as rich and far-reaching as a science fiction fantasy.

In this lively, investigative account, veteran technology journalist Ashlee Vance offers an unprecedented look into the remarkable life and times of Silicon Valley's most audacious businessman. Written with exclusive access to Musk, his family, and his friends, the book traces his journey from his difficult upbringing in South Africa to his ascent to the pinnacle of the global business world. Vance spent more than fifty hours in conversation with Musk and inter- viewed close to three hundred people to tell the tumultuous stories of Musk's world-changing companies and to paint a portrait of a complex man who has renewed American industry and sparked new levels of innovation--all while making plenty of enemies along the way.

In 1992, Elon Musk arrived in the United States as a ferociously driven immigrant bent on realizing his wildest dreams. Since then, Musk's roller-coaster life has brought him grave disappointments alongside massive successes. After being forced out of PayPal, fending off a life-threatening case of malaria, and dealing with the death of his infant son, Musk abandoned Silicon Valley for Los Angeles. He spent the next few years baffling his friends by blowing his entire fortune on rocket ships and electric cars. Cut to 2012, however, and Musk had mounted one of the greatest resurrections in business history: Tesla, SpaceX, and SolarCity had enjoyed unparalleled success, and Musk's net worth soared to more than $5 billion.

At a time when many American companies are more interested in chasing easy money than in taking bold risks on radical new technology, Musk stands out as the only businessman with enough dynamism and vision to tackle--and even revolutionize--three industries at once. Vance makes the case that Musk's success heralds a return to the original ambition and invention that made America an economic and intellectual powerhouse. Elon Musk is a brilliant, penetrating examination of what Musk's career means for a technology industry undergoing dramatic change and offers a taste of what could be an incredible century ahead.


When I walked into Barnes & Noble two weeks ago, I wasn't actually looking to purchase a book. Usually, I go in, browse for 30 minutes, and get out. But when I walked around to the Physics and Science section, the first thing I saw was Elon Musk's face.

Inevitably, I picked it up and began reading.

2 pages in, I decided I was in this for the long haul and sat on the floor, right there in the middle of the store. 15 pages in, my friends finally found me and forced me to leave. But I couldn't part with this. I needed this book. Those first 15 pages captured me like so few books do (in fact, only one book in the past year has totally stolen my attention like this).

So I bought Elon Musk feeling on top of the world and excited to keep reading.

I travel a lot between Pittsburgh and Harrisburg, PA, so, since I'm in the middle of taking classes in Pittsburgh, I swore to only read this book on the bus, because I knew once I picked it up again, I wouldn't put down.

I was right.

The next day, I got on the bus, got to reading, and tuned out the world. Three hours later, I was nearly halfway through -- and WOW. Vance's writing style flowed right through my mind. No clunky sentences, no jarring phrases. It's such an easy book to read, despite the complex nature of the contents.

Elon Musk, if you don't know, is a biography. Yes, a biography. You'd expect the case-study of someone's life to be boring and uneventful, dragging until the very end.

This wasn't the case at all.

Vance opens the book at an interview with Elon Musk himself. The first line, a quote from Musk, "Do you think I'm insane?", perfectly captures the whole context of the biography. Because as you experience the story, as you see the challenges Musk went through to reach the pinnacle he's at today, the question nags at you. Musk isn't soft-spoken, or easy on his employees, or a man who kicks his legs up on his desk and snoozes while his companies mill around him. Vance shows how Musk is both the CEO and an employee of his companies, simultaneously the teacher and student. He gets in the work, asks all the right questions, gives all the right orders. His vision is THE vision, and if you get in the way, Musk has been known to fire you on the spot.

Musk breaks every convention, every tradition, every standard. Vance takes you deep into the details, from Musk's childhood and lineage in South Africa, all the way to Canada and the United States, where the bulk of the story unfolds.

When Musk looks at big businesses, he sees unmovable behemoths that refuse to change their methodologies. American innovation became a thing of the past. Technology and industry was growing - but nowhere near as fast as it should. So we follow Musk's journey from his small start-ups, Zip2 and, and move into his larger, more permanent ventures, namely SpaceX, Tesla, and SolarCity.

I myself am a huge fan of Elon Musk. Still, until the past year or two, I only thought of him as "that guy who made SpaceX" and "that guy who runs Tesla." Until reading this book, I never knew the struggle -- no, the hell he went through to make and keep these companies. You think, oh, he just has a lot of money.

Yeah, now he does. But did you know SpaceX and Tesla were hours away from going bankrupt? Did you know that the Falcon 1 rocket kept failing, and one more failed launch literally meant the end of SpaceX? Did you know SpaceX tested these rockets on an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, and would fix problems they encountered in a matter of days, as compared to months by standard companies?

This book is the first time Musk has explicitly let anyone interview him for a biography. Aside from a few questionable quotes that have been publicly denounced by Musk after the publication of this book, we're still given a tremendous amount of insight into his head and how he runs the companies. Vance interviewed more than 300 people and spent over two years compiling this account. And I have to give credit to how up-to-date the information is. There are several events Vance mentions that occurred into 2015, such as the first landing attempt of Falcon 9 on the sea barge, which took place in January, and he refers to the second attempt as being in a couple weeks, which means that Vance included this information on a very tight deadline, probably mid-March (the second landing attempt happened on April 14, 2015).

I want to congratulate you, Mr. Vance. Well done. Very well done. I'm going to reread this book in a few weeks (probably after the scheduled June 19th third Falcon 9 landing attempt, this time on solid ground, as opposed to a barge). Anyone who wants a ridiculously thorough insight into Elon Musk's life and companies should read this book. It had me from Page 1 all the way to Page 363, and even the appendices that come after.

This is an incredibly inspiring book, a important look into a game-changing business strategy, and a valuable lesson to the world. As Musk says, "If something is important enough, even if the odds are against you, you should still do it."


Monday, May 11, 2015

The Inverted Pyramid of Revising a Book

  • This should be self-explanatory. You write the first draft. For novels, 75-150,000+ words of the world inside your head.

  • Go back and fix it all up. Did you tell the story you wanted to tell? Did you include scenes and events that add up to the conclusion you present?
  • Are there any unnecessary scenes you could delete, or scenes that are redundant to other scenes? Get rid of them. If this means entire chapters have to go, wave bye-bye.
  • Do your main characters have believable back stories and arcs, and do they act appropriately in character at all times?
  • Is there any point in time when your characters do something that they literally WOULD NOT DO? Change that up.

  • Now pay attention to the deeper aspects of the story. Delve into the world your characters live in. Do they react appropriately? Does any part of society influence them more than others?
  • What does your world look like? Delve into the setting. The cultures, the technology, the history.
  • Work with your secondary characters and how they interact with your main characters. What role do they serve overall? Does the main character’s journey affect them at all, or vice versa?
  • Tighten up plot points. Stay concise if possible.

  • Now that the major parts of your story have been patted down, you can begin focusing on the technical stuff. Start broad.
  • Do you have redundant sentences? Do you start multiple sentences the same way?
  • Throw in short sentences.
  • Drop the pronoun from the beginning of a sentence every now and then.
  • Use commas instead of ‘and’ if you find you use ‘and’ a lot.
  • Does the flow of sentences and paragraphs fit with the tone of the scene?
  • Chop sentences apart. Use quick, sharp words.
  • Or combine sentences and flowery language and soft words.

  • Now that you’ve really patted this thing down, find people willing to read your work (hopefully for free).
  • Ask them to point out inconsistencies. Are they confused by anything?
  • Beta readers can tell you when things are boring or exciting. They’ll laugh. They’ll fangirl. They’ll beg you for more chapters.
  • Your brain is soft from so much revising. Beta readers are fresh, and will pick out things you’ve glossed over from seeing it so many times.
  • Shake things up and host a video chat for you and your betas! It’s a great way to make friends 
smile emoticon
  • NOWWWWW you’ve finished all the major revisions and your story makes sense!!! All that’s left to do is get the broom and sweep it up (or the vacuum cleaner, or generate a black hole from the Large Hadron Collider to suck out all the errors because that’s super-effective**).
  • This is the nitty gritty stuff, and I highly recommend either forcing yourself to read really, really slow, or better yet, read your book out loud, start to finish.
  • You’ll trip up over misplaced commas and periods.
  • You’ll literally hear when a sentence is awkward.
  • Your brain will get confused when there’s a missing word.
  • Fill in the gaps, hammer down the boards, clean up the place.

  • OMG
  • OMG
  • OMG
  • Email the newspaper (I’ve appeared multiple times).
  • Email the local TV station (I’ve appeared on live TV).
  • Email book talk radio shows (I’ve had a Q&A for an hour on live radio).
  • ……..Marketing is hard.

N.B. **please do not ask CERN for permission to use the Large Hadron Collider to create black holes that suck out all the errors in your book. You’ll look silly, and you might destroy Earth in the process.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Cover Reveal of RESONANCE

Well, here it is. the cover of Resonance, Book 2 of 4 in the Recovery Series.
A secret I can't contain any longer!

Image © Mike Andrews Photography
Release Date: January 1, 2016
Pages: ~530

Description: Belvun is dying, but recovery efforts to save the planet are well under way. In the meantime, General Orcher chooses Arman Lance to restructure the archives program in the hope of creating the Undil Embassy's first comprehensive planetary database. This sends Arman on a greater journey than he could have hoped, first traveling to Orvad, Undil's city by the ocean, then on to Daliona, the oceanic world rich with culture, nature, technologies, and sports he's only ever dreamed of.

On this new journey, Arman will challenge himself in ways he never imagined and begin to make friends he never thought he'd have. And as he learns what it really means to devote your life to the Embassy, Arman will experience the strength, diversity, and resilience of humankind.

You can grab a copy of Embassy on Amazon and all other major online retailers, and add Embassy to your Goodreads shelf!

Also, be sure to add Resonance to your Goodreads shelf.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

We Cannot Be Content

So I've begun a side project, which will become my main focus once I finished editing Resonance. The new book is called We Cannot Be Content and stems from some of the history in Embassy and Resonance (in fact, they mention it a lot in Resonance).

I wrote the first chapter a couple weeks ago, and have been adding to and tweaking it since, so here's the final version I've come up with for now.


BENEDICT – 2305, Earth

He didn’t like giving interviews. He preferred to write his own questions and answer them without the pressure of a live interviewer and audience. Posting an insightful video on Wander Enterprises’ site would do, or even a FAQ section. Both alternatives were more appealing than his current situation, staring at himself on the small monitor hanging below the camera that was focused on him and Johna Radizzo for their one-on-one interview.
The man working the camera raised his hand and counted down from five—
And we’re live.”
“Welcome back to Today in the Plaza,” Johna immediately said, turning her hips more toward the camera to open her stance. Then her voice relaxed. “Twenty years ago, we received a positive signal from the crews of the Almanac and the Endurance that they had landed safely on two exoplanets, each between six and eight light years from Earth. Scientists across the solar system lauded the mission as the greatest of humanity’s achievements since the Mars and Europa missions. Humankind had not only inhabited the solar system—it had inhabited the stars.
“Now I’m here with Dr. Benedict Drake, the current CEO of Wander Enterprises, the company responsible for those missions. We’re so glad you could join us, Dr. Drake.”
Benedict cleared his throat. “Thank you.”
“Dr. Drake,” Johna went on, shifting her posture toward him, “you are about to embark on your own tour of the exoplanets I just mentioned. You leave in two days. The question everyone wants to know is: are you scared?
He averted his eyes and attempted to laugh. “I think everyone gets scared in some way, you know, before they go on a trip of any kind. There’s always something…nagging in the back of your head.”
“Like whether or not you remembered to turn off the oven,” Johna joked.
That got a real laugh out of him. He loosened up a bit, felt some of his nerves diffuse.
“Of which I’m guilty,” he responded, even though it was a lie. He wasn’t forgetful, especially not in clumsy ways. Besides, he didn’t have an oven. He couldn’t even remember the last time he’d made his own supper, because he hadn’t in years. Either way, Benedict figured that was a good time to drop a joke. Rose told him to appear more likeable, more relatable than he tended to act. Today more than ever, Benedict needed to be liked. It was a crucial part of the plan.
“Dr. Drake, you’re thirty-three years old. You’re one of the richest people alive, you own the company some of the world’s top minds say have brought about the greatest age in space exploration humankind has ever seen—and now you decide to leave Earth for seventy-five years. You say you aren’t afraid of this intergalactic trip—”
Interstellar, Benedict thought, though he didn’t correct her.
“—but what does the future hold for Wander Enterprises while you’re gone?”
Benedict bit his lip and tried to force another grin, as if the answer was a simple one. The truth was, the future of Wander wasn’t what Benedict considered secure. Honestly, it hung in the balance, and was dependent on two factors: the trip he was about to embark on, and the hope that Rose could carry out Phase 3 in his absence. They needed public support. His fortune meant nothing if the world didn’t see the value of keeping Wander Enterprises around for at least the next five generations, and Benedict knew it would be difficult to inspire the world as it was today.
“I have my assets in place,” he said. “If… If I die during this trip… I’m confident Wander Enterprises will continue to thrive.”
But not the program he was trying to implement. Benedict knew if he met some ill fate, all his work would be for naught. Less than fifty people knew about the Gateway Program, and in two days’ time, all but a few of them were boarding the same space cruiser—the Meridian—and embarking on a trip through the stars.
“Out of curiosity: do you think you will make it back?”
He tried to be funny again. “I guess that depends on if I like these exoplanets.”
Johna laughed as if there was nothing to worry about. Of course, she’d never been to space, never flown out to Mars, or Venus, or Europa, or Titan, or any of the other settlements the Global Space Initiative had erected. In fact, the GSI was the only reason humans went beyond Mars. History proved how fickle the inspiration that drove human endeavor truly was. One great leap would be made, and people would rally around the world’s space programs proclaiming the next space age had arrived. But before long, the excitement would die, the people would forget their fragile love of the cosmos, and the world would go on, content to remain as it was.
More than anything, Benedict sought to end that contentment once and for all, but it would take more than a leap—it would take a blind lunge into the unknown.
“Yours would be the first crew to make it there and back again.”
“This is true.”
“Do you think there will be a day when we won’t need to come back to Earth? We’ve heard of plans from both Wander Enterprises and the GSI to relocate several of Earth’s species to these exoplanets. Do you think we’ll ever need to relocate humans in the same way?”
“If we have a cruiser big enough.”
They laughed together, except only Johna’s was real. Benedict faked it again, and his ended several seconds before hers, at which point he leaned forward and put his palms together.
“No, no. In all seriousness, I think that one day, yes, we’ll have to give Earth up. Some people speculate we should’ve left when we colonized Mars—however impractical the idea—and let nature reclaim Earth. We’re only borrowing it, after all.”
“Borrowing it?”
In the corner of his eye, Benedict saw the screen zoom in on his face, saw the caption scrolling under his chin: ‘Richest Man Alive is Leaving Earth. He ignored the tagline. They made him out to be some sort of celebrity, as if all his work was an overnight success, as if managing Wander Enterprises was something any kid who loved the stars could do. They overlooked the years of solitude, the painstaking work of developing faster hyper drives and crafting new cruiser designs—and it still wasn’t enough for him. Benedict was never satisfied with his work, no matter how revolutionary it was.
And that’s what drove him to organize the Gateway Program.
“There’s, what…somewhere around nine billion people alive today? Only a few thousand live elsewhere in our solar system, all of them scientists.”
Johna deliberately shrugged and faced the camera to show off her white teeth. “You’re the man with the degree, Dr. Drake,” she said with a laugh.
This time, he couldn’t even work up a smile. Anger was creeping up inside of him, boiling in his chest. He both loved humanity for its achievement, and hated it for its contentment, the plateau it reached, with only a few more small steps ever few decades. He wanted to shout at the camera. Yell at the millions of people watching his interview before their daily commutes. Stop what you’re doing and listen to me! he screamed inside his head. Have you lost your sense of wonder? Look up! We need to be out there! That’s where the challenge lies.
But he didn’t say it. His lips never moved. His eyes never so much as flickered at the camera.
“Dr. Drake, you were saying?”
“Yes.” He shook his head and looked up at Johna. “I don’t think we can call ourselves a spacefaring civilization when one hundred percent of the general population still lives on Earth. That’s like…claiming I traveled the world, when in reality I just drove down to my local Thai restaurant. Only a few humans have had a taste of the spacefaring life—why aren’t we all trying to set foot on other worlds?”
Johna looked back at the camera and raised her eyebrows in an expression of confusion mixed with curiosity.
“I’m sure there are many people wondering the same thing, Dr. Drake. We all share your dreams.”
If everyone shared my dreams, we wouldn’t be having this interview.
“Finally, we’ve all heard about MACE’s most recent rallies.”
Benedict’s muscles went rigid with hatred the moment she said the name, but Johna either didn’t notice or didn’t care. She was too busy looking down at her cue and waving her hands in the air.
“The organization has made a name for itself these last few decades, with open protests against the GSI and Wander Enterprises, causing public support of space programs to drastically decline to a historical low of thirty-eight percent—according to the latest polls. Can you tell us how you’ve gone about handling that situation?”
He began to speak, but stuttered. He hated MACE and all it stood for. The Movement Against Cosmic Exploration spanned centuries, but didn’t gain any traction until scientific settlements began popping up around the solar system. MACE sought to sway public interest away from space exploration, publishing magazines and books and airing television shows devoted to mocking astronomical discoveries and condemning space programs as worthless, flashy demonstrations to keep the people distracted from the goings-on down on Earth.
Yes, on Earth. Where half the major cities on the American seaboards were partially flooded and desert regions had expanded to the temperate zones and droughts had ruined the dryer regions. Where living in areas prone to hurricanes and tornados and wildfires was a death sentence, and natural fresh water was a memory no living person had. Where more than three hundred species of animals and plants and insects went extinct every single day.
“We’re aware of the…opposition MACE presents,” Benedict finally answered, doing his best to keep his voice steady. He couldn’t let them hear the truth in it. “The reality of the situation is that we’re moving forward with our projects. My supervisors and I agree that MACE hasn’t…how can I put this?…fully come to terms with Earth’s current state.”
“How do you mean?”
Benedict wanted to gawk at her. Was this an interview question, or was she really asking him why he thought Earth wasn’t suitable for sustaining human life much longer?
“Political and foreign affairs aside… Consider our resources. More than half of all our mining is done on asteroids we’ve slung into orbit. Rocket fuels, construction material for cities, computer chips, cars, the hyperloops—most of these materials aren’t accessible here on Earth in quantities that were available in the past.”
“So you think MACE disagrees?”
He took a deep breath, hoping to calm his nerves.
It didn’t work.
“They don’t disagree. Not…not necessarily. They just don’t think we have any right to move beyond Earth. That the human race—the only intelligent civilization we’ve ever known—deserves to die when Earth dies.” He paused and looked at the feet of the cameraman. “That notion is… That…”
He shook his head. He knew what he wanted to say, but he couldn’t say it on a live stream. Not yet. It was too early. Too risky. Rose had warned him not to let his anger show if Johna brought up MACE. Now he saw why. Because MACE could use it. Would use it. Even now, they were watching, and they would know they had dug into him. If Benedict slipped too far, they could use his own words against the campaign Wander Enterprises would launch in the coming months, the campaign that would stretch three-quarters of a century until Benedict and the crew of the Meridian returned from their tour of the two exoplanets.
Johna shot him a glance. He barely caught it before she looked back to the camera, but it looked skeptical, unimpressed, as if she found his answer underwhelming, even crazy.
“It was certainly a pleasure speaking with you, Dr. Drake,” she went on, hardly missing a beat. “We all wish you the best of luck on your trip. We’ll see you when you get back in…well, seventy-five years.”
Benedict took a deep breath and grinned for the camera. One last joke to fix the mood.
“I’m sure you won’t have aged a day.”
Johna laughed, then introduced the next segment of the newscast before Benedict was allowed to leave. The cast director thanked him for giving the interview and ushered him to the exit so the crew could prepare. Benedict knew the way out from there, and soon found himself in NBC Studios’ lobby.
Outside was the rally.
People leered at him. They shouted, spat insults, cursed at him. They hoisted signs—DOWN WITH SPACE!DRAKE THE MISTAKEBECAUSE KILLING EARTH WASN’T ENOUGH! Someone had started a chant, and it was spreading. Part of the crowd shouted, “Earth to Drake!” and another part shouted, “Come in, Drake!” And then they’d all laugh.
Though the sentries were holding back the crowd, Benedict refused to look up. In the corners of his eyes, he saw they all had the small, symbolic canister of mace dangling from their belt loops, their wrists, their backpacks. Seeing those fueled his anger even more. He wanted to shut his ears, close his eyes. Then they could laugh, but he wouldn’t hear, and their efforts to enrage him would be childish at best. When they’d had their fun, they’d stop.
But he could hear them, and they knew it, so they were relentless.
The rally filled all of Rockefeller Plaza, even spilled into the Avenue of the Americas, though the ranks grew thin there. The throng of the crowd was the worst, but out here, Benedict saw signs supporting him and Wander Enterprises—though they were few.
“Dr. Drake.”
He looked up at the voice: a man and son stood at the corner of the block. The boy, who might’ve been nine or ten years old, gave Benedict a young, giddy smile and two thumbs up.
After he had passed, Benedict regretted not having smiled back at him.