The first reviews for my recently-released novel have come in. And they are admittedly pretty good! If there’s one thing a new author who has just released a book will suffer from, its that pins-and-needles feeling that comes with waiting on the first reviews. Good ones will help attract new readers and fans to your book, while bad ones will cast a stink on it which will be hard to shake! So as you can imagine, I was really happy to see these!
In preparation for the release of The Cronian Incident, my publisher sent out Advanced Reading Copies (ARC) to a number of influential people that I just happen to know. The first one came in not that long ago from Professor Abraham (Avi) Loeb. Over the years I’ve had the privilege of speaking to him a few times as part of my job with Universe Today. So when the opportunity arose to get some professional opinions on my book, I naturally thought of him.
He graciously accepted, and wrote the following:
“An exciting science fiction adventure into the technological future. An exhilarating read for scientists and fiction lovers alike.”
Not only is Prof. Loeb the Chair of the astronomy department Harvard University, he’s also the Director of the Institute for Theory and Computation, a member of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) and the chairman of the Breakthrough Foundation’s Advisory Board. Basically, he’s part of the organization that is mounting the largest SETI effort to date, and plans to build a laser sail-driven nanocraft that would make it to Alpha Centauri in 20 years.
As I’ve been talking about non-stop for the past few months, I got a novel in the works. As of the writing of this post, I’ve written 25 chapters and almost 50,000 words (that terrible middle part!) But what I haven’t shared yet is that some lovely websites have promised to promote it as soon as its done. This is a first for me, and something that I’m really looking forward to!
Truth is, this wouldn’t be possible were it not for the professional writing I’ve been doing for the past year and a half. And it all started a few months ago when I was busy updating an article (How Long Does It Take To Get To The Nearest Star). The article was a few years out of date at this point, and my boss wanted it expanded to include all the cool theoretical methods that have been proposed over the past few decades.
While researching the topic to find out how long it would take a nuclear-powered spaceship to make the journey, I stumbled across Futurism.com and saw that they had reposted the old version of the article. I also noticed that they had reposted a few articles done by little ol’ me, which include the very first article I wrote back in Oct of 2014 (about hibernation technologies for a trip to Mars).
While telling them that a newer version would be coming out, the manager and I got to talking. I asked them if they would appreciate some articles on terraforming, and happened to mentioned that I was writing a book where that was a major theme. To my surprise, they expressed interest in both things, and asked if they could interview me when the book was done.
Naturally, I was worried they thought I was someone who was… you know, a big deal! I was sure to point out that this book was fiction and not some professional treatise. I’m not exactly Mike Brown or Neil DeGrasse Tyson here. But they said it was cool! Then I pointed out that I didn’t have a publisher lined up, and it might very well be indie published in the end. They said that this was cool too!
Suffice it to say, I was surprised and flattered. And after talking this over with my boss (I wanted his permission to write content that would be put on another site, he said that was cool!), he told me that Universe Today would be promoting the hell out of it too. I was honored. At no point did I ask or expect that the people I work for would be promoting something I wrote on my own time. But of course, I was sure to let them know that the work I was doing for them is what inspired it.
Were it not for all the research I had been doing about the Solar System and articles I was writing about its various planets, the story would not exist. It actually all started with the article I wrote on Mercury, in fact. Learning about its extremes in temperature, its richness in minerals, its very slow rotation, and its icy poles all made me think that a mining colony would be possible there someday. Especially if it were a penal colony!
Bottom line, when the book is finished, two prominent websites are going to be making a big deal out of it. How cool is that?
And just in case anyone is interested, those terraforming article are now finished and up at Universe Today. There are three in the series now, starting with a rundown of the topic, and ones on how it could be done on Venus and Mars. Next up, the Moon, followed by Mercury and the Outer Solar System. Feel free to leave comments too, especially constructive ones. 🙂
Yesterday evening, an additional review came in for Papa Zulu – another five star one! And I was not really surprised, as the review came from a friend/fan of mine who has been following my zombie writing for a while now. But that hardly diminished what her review meant to me. And I swear without reservation that her review was in no way biased because of our friendship. In truth, we are friends through a mutual friend and barely knew each other before she started reading my work.
Anyhoo, this is what she had to say:
Without reservation, I heartily recommend Papa Zula and its predecessor.,
A true page-turner full of gripping martial action, starring realistic and well-developed characters, Papa Zulu is a great follow-up to Whiskey Delta.
Set in the zombie apocalypse, the story focuses on a conflict between two surviving militant factions – one that is working towards stopping the spread of the virus by creating a vaccine, and the other towards getting their hands on this vaccine – through whatever means possible – for mysterious and dark ends.
Throughout the story zombies pose an ever-present threat. Williams puts a fresh and terrifying spin on our flesh-eating foes, who display an eerie intelligence, making them much more than mindless. Think ambushes. Strategy. Zombie hoards with tactical sense.
All in all a riveting tale of intrigue and battle, Papa Zulu will leave you eager for the next in the series!
It’s no nice when people like what you have to offer. Makes the whole enterprise worthwhile! And after some of the mixed reviews I received for the first book, three consistently good ones is a really nice change of pace! Stay tuned, hopefully more book-related news is on the way!
Well folks, Papa Zulu has now been available through Amazon.com for just over a month. And thus far, two reviews have come in, and both are both highly favorable! I tell ya, it pays off to hold back on publication so you can make sure that everything is nicely polished and edited. And while I’m still waiting on a few more people to chime in on what they thought about the book, I am pretty happy with what people had to say so far.
Here are the reviews, with some minor omissions to make sure no spoilers were included:
(5.0 stars) So Good
By Rosie Reader
Lots of action and excitement once again; a great follow-up to Whiskey Delta! I hope there is another one in the series because I want more.
(5.0 stars) Excellent Sequel! By S.O. “SO” (NY)
What can I say about this….except it’s an incredible follow up to Whiskey Delta! I almost wish I’d given WD a lower rating, just so I could rate this a higher one LOL. It picks up pretty much where book 1 left off, but it is written in such a way that if you didn’t read WD you wouldn’t be too lost. It’s not so much about the zombies this time, but the aftermath of that and the internal conflicts both within the Army and within each person.
(Spoiler, spoiler, spoiler)…
There are a few loose ends where the end of the book is concerned and to quote Braun “this can’t be the end…there has to be more…” His relationship with Saunders is brought to attention, there’s a traitor (or 2) in their midst, and his platoon might have a new leader.
You can check the full reviews by going to the books Amazon page, but I warn you, they do contain spoilers! And it might just be a coincidence, but I did notice a slight uptick in sales since the second review came in. So far, Papa Zulu has sold some 13 copies since publication, and Whiskey Delta and the unrelated Data Miners have even made some added sales. So, for obvious reasons, I am pretty happy right now.
And to my fellow indies, keep hammering those keys and pushing those books! Every copy we sell is a small victory and every favorable review is a big one. After all, that’s why we got into this business, isn’t it? To share what we love, think, and what inspires us, in the hopes that other people draw from it the same things we do.
I have just received word that Whiskey Delta has received its fifth review over at Goodreads this afternoon. And the review was pretty good, 5 star good in fact, and pushed the overall rating of the book up to a full four stars. The reviewer was woman named Seregon (I’m omitting her full name to protect her anonymity), who is an actress, model, and fan of indie writers who enjoys reading and reviewing.
When I learned this last bit about her, I couldn’t help but contact her and send her a free copy in exchange for an honest review. And here is what she said (just the first part to avoid the biggest spoilers):
This wasn’t your typical horror/zombie book. It was more about survival, much like the Walking Dead. If you’re a fan of that show, you’ll really like this book. Taking place in SoCal, the military has a special team designated to find Patient Zero, aka Papa Zulu, aka the first person known to have contracted the virus that turns people into Whiskeys (zombies…
I was impressed with the dialogue and references to getting by in life that involved a lot more than dealing with zombies… I like that each character has his/her own personality and is three dimensional. The reader follows and can relate to each character on some level and there’s no feeling of “fluff” anywhere in the story.
Even if you’re not a zombie fan, you might still enjoy this book. As I said, it’s less “horror” and more about completing an important mission.
Wasn’t that nice? Always good to be differentiated from the rest, not to mention being compared to one of your favorite franchises (she mentioned The Walking Dead in the post and compared this book favorably to it). Reading it put me in a good mood instantly!
And, in truth, this is the second 5 star review I’ve received in recent months, I just happened to forget to post about the other one. In that case, it was a woman named Kellie, also a fan of the new literature and someone with a soft spot for zombie and horror novels. In her case, she responded to a discussion thread I started months ago where I was asking for reviews.
She responded, and a few weeks later, this is what she had to say (Once again, the reviews is edited for spoiler content):
This is a badass Zombie book. Braun and his crew have a very important classified job to do as its classified im unable to tell you about it… This book is awesome! Very suspensful… The threat of the zombies have you wondering when they are going to jump out and bite someone. The whole crew is likeable you don’t want anyone getting hurt… This author really knows what hes talking about with all the military terms and the battles. Wait for the battles, you feel as if your there and the zombies in this book don’t just shuffle, moan, and bite. They run and fight back… I said it once ill say it again AWESOME! I hear there’s a sequel. I will be on it.
Again, wasn’t that nice? I tell you, a good review makes it all worthwhile, and a bad one is enough to put a writer (this one, at any rate) in a funk for a good while. Having heard kind words about my writing like these, I’m all the more pumped to get Papa Zulu ready for publication. In fact, I’m itching to do it now, but releasing the last one too soon is why I got some of the mixed reviews I did. Very interested in avoiding that this time around.
In the meantime, to all indie writer’s, keep hitting those keys and your eyes firmly fixed on the prize. If you love what you do, nothing should stand between you and recognition and respect, not to mention some decent sales figures! I hope we can all look forward to some of that too 🙂
Editing is such a slow moving process, which is why I hate it so! As it’s not enough that you go through your initial draft and make all those pesky corrections, then you have to go over the whole thing and implement them. Then, assuming you haven’t made additional mistakes, you got to wait on beta readers to pick out anything you missed. Only then can you finally submit your work and wait for the kudos and criticisms from the reading public to come in.
At least, that’s the process when you’re working from a paper manuscript and doing most of it yourself. Were it not for the fact that this way is actually faster for me than scanning line after line of a doc file, I would have abandoned it a long time ago! And of course, its become a necessity since I can’t afford most editors rates. Oh, the slings and arrows of being an indie writer/teacher!
But alas, this post was supposed to be about good news. After finishing the edits on Papa Zulu‘s first draft – the sequel to my Whiskey Delta zombie-apocalypse novel – I am now half done implementing all the edits and rewrites I made there. The process has felt arduous, but I’m actually surprised by the progress. I seem to be able to get four to five chapters a day done, far better than my initial prediction of say, one!
And in case its not patently obvious, I am very anxious and impatient to get this done! I was so hoping to have this novel finished by the end of this past summer. Despite its initial success, Whiskey Delta has been accumulating dust over at Amazon and the reviews have ceased since the last few (which were all really good). So I am determined to get the ball rolling and figured the sequel would be the best way of doing that.
And of course, part of why this editing process is taking so long is that I am determined to get it right this time. Whiskey Delta still only has a rating of 3.5 stars thanks to all the people who penalized it for having editing mistakes. In my haste to get it out there after Max Brooks mentioned it by name (thanks again, Rami!), I took some serious flak for that. This time around, I want there to be no mistakes, or at least as few as possible.
I’m also hoping that getting the sequel out will help me get the ball rolling on the third one – Oscar Mike. I tell ya, that book has been through two starts and stops now, but I just can’t seem to capture the essence of what the third book should be about. Somehow, I feel that some sales and some feedback on the second installment might help me get my priorities straight for the latest.
Such is the life we’ve chosen isn’t it, my fellow indies? I sincerely hope you’re all doing well with your own pursuits and your works are garnering praise or at least some constructive criticism. And may we all find our way to that lovely person, known as an editor, who can take some of this arduous process of our hands and help us to do better!