Good News… Of A Promotional Nature!

Good News… Of A Promotional Nature!

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 The article was a few years out of date at this point, and my boss wanted it expanded to include all the cool theoretical methods that have been proposed over the past few decades.

daedalus-saturn-9
Artistโ€™s concept of the Project Daedalus spacecraft, with a Saturn V rocket standing next to it for scale. Credit: Adrian Mann

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!

mercury_map
Color-enhanced map of Mercury. Credit: NASA/JPL

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. ๐Ÿ™‚

The Definitive Guide To Terraforming

How Do We Terraform Venus?

How Do We Terraform Mars?

 

Another Five Star Review for Papa Zulu!

papa_zuluYesterday 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 โ€“ 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 โ€“ through whatever means possible โ€“ 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!

Papa Zulu’s 2nd Five Star Review!

papa_zuluWell 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.

New Reviews for Whiskey Delta!

Good_News_EveryoneI 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!

good-reviewAnd, 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 ๐Ÿ™‚

zombies-city-and-the-crowd

Papa Zulu – Second Revision 1/2 Done!

editing1Editing 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!

papa_zuluBut 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.

thumbs upAnd 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!

Reviews Got You Down?

thumbs upIn a word. Yes.

Whiskey Delta has been racking up its share of reviews lately. Unfortunately for me, the majority of them have been rather punitive of late. Despite the release of the 2nd edition, a thoroughly cleansed and updated version of the story, the book continues to get slammed because of what I can only assume are the weaknesses to be found in the first edition.

In total, six people have added their reviews of the book in recent weeks, and four of those six gave it two stars out of five. And, as usual, three of those four had the same things to say, just worded differently:

Good story, bad editing.

You ever hear something so many times it lost all meaning to you? Or so many times that you swore the next person who said it would receive a thorough thrashing? Well, that’s kind of how I feel about these. But don’t take my word for it, here’s what they had to say:

Proofread!:
There is actually a decent story here, but it gets lost due to a strong need of proofreading. Needs more than just computer spell checking.

William Boyles

Good story, awful editing:
This is a solid zombie story – the story gets 3 or 4 stars – but give us a break with the sloppy editing. At least pretend to care about the finished product. The punctuation mistakes, grammatical errors, and spelling mistakes make parts of the book unreadable and confusing. You have seen this complaint several times in the reviews – how hard is it to go through the book, clean it up, and re-post it? The author and publisher should be embarrassed by the condition of the editing. It is the worst I have ever seen in a purchased work.

Justins Are Cool

Good story, horrible editing:
The story itself is good enough to keep you engaged but the editing made it a chore to finish. Misspelled words, missing words, bad grammar all through out took so much away from this book.

Jackie L. Willis Jr. “waterboyjlw”

Ah, and check out this gem. This is the only thoroughly bad review Whiskey Delta has picked up since it was published. And for some reason, this person gave it the same rating as all those above who thought the story was good but the editing was bad. That seem right to you?

boring:
boring and poorly written. Story didn’t flow and there was no cohesive story line. I guess what can I expect for a couple bucks.

Gil L Nicholas

In truth, this wouldn’t bother me so much if these rating weren’t hurting sales, or if these early reviews weren’t weighing down the overall rating. As much as I wanted to believe that the publication of the 2nd Edition might be a fresh start, every review contributes to the overall rating. And now, the book’s overall review now stands at a middling 3.1 stars out of 5. At this rate, I’ll need at least half a dozen five star reviews just to bring it back up to something respectable.

Luckily for me, there’s been some light at the end of this tunnel. In the same stretch of time, two 4 star reviews came in. There was this one, which I can only assume was for the 1st edition, and from a person who didn’t choose to knock me a whole bunch of stars over editing issues:

good book
Great story with interesting people. Spell check was poorly done and many editing issues were present. Would like a sequel

-Light

And then there was this one, which actually sounded like it might be from the 2nd edition since editing didn’t even come up in the review. In fact, this person chose to focus on matters pertaining to the plot and story, God bless their hearts!

good read but…..
Interesting story, but how do they have so many new guys in their unit? Where are they getting the replacements??
Pro’s- The military isn’t completely useless, a strong female character, interesting story
Con’s- The story starts somewhere in the middle and ends before the story seems done.

-DawnG

So that’s where things stand for this book right now. More good news, an advance proof of Papa Zulu arrived the other day and I’m getting down to editing it. By the time it is spruced up, say in a month or so, I hope to deliver on a sequel that is clean and proper coming out of the gate!

Maybe then this bad mojo will dissipate and I can get to entertaining fantasies of becoming a successful author and writer, the kind that has money, power, and access to the depths of sleaze that these things provide! Well… I’ll settle for money and power, thank you very much! Until next time…

zombie_keepcalm

Whiskey Delta, 2nd Edition!

zombie-wallpaperWell let me start by saying that Whiskey Delta continues to do well. And though the sales appear to be slowing down a bit, the overall number has just passed 900 copies! Good news, but in truth, I am concerned that interest is waning and I can’t help but wonder if the mixed reviews are to blame. After a total of ten, the overall rating is now at a 3.4 out of 5 stars, which puts it in the good, but not great section.

So here’s what some of the latest reviewers have had to say on the subject of the 1st edition. As you can see, it was more of the same:

J. York (3.0 out of 5 stars):
As others have said, i enjoyed the story itself but stumbled a lot in the reading due to the editing. It didn’t read smoothly as there were so many words misspelled and put in the wrong part of a sentence. As i said, I totally liked the plot but found the flow of it hard to read.

Bob Gawler (3.0 out of 5 stars):
The plot and story were actually pretty good, but the edititing let the store down. Too many grammatical and spelling errors.

Can’t help but notice some typos in these comments, glaring ones too. I know, I need to stop mocking commenters who are just being honest. But the irony, man, the irony! Ah, but then there was this one, which was the second five star review this book earned:

Rosie Reader (5.0 out of 5 stars):
This is a really gripping read; awesome story, great characters. Yes, there were typos, but the story kept the pages turning quickly. Great work Matthew S. Williams!
I’m looking forward to the next one.

That makes for a grand total of two 5 star reviews, three 4 star reviews, 2 three star reviews, and 2 two star reviews; which as I said, averages out to a total of 3.4 stars out of 5. Like I said, good, but not great.

Luckily, as the title suggests, my wife and I finally finished work on the 2nd edition of Whiskey Delta, the one that doesn’t have so many typos and errors. Yes, after a few short weeks of tinkering, the process of creating a novel that I can truly be proud of is finally complete. Good thing too, because I can’t take another comment about how my “story is good but it desperately needs editing”!

And of course, now that the 2nd edition is complete, I will be getting to work on turning Papa Zulu, the second installment in the series, into an typo=free, error-proof manuscript. Then I will be making it available on Amazon-Kindle for all to see. May it receive a greater reception than the first…

More News!

zombie_graveyardGood morning all! Once more, I have some good news from the world of publishing and zombie writing! First up, my newest book to hit the shelves, Whiskey Delta, has just passed 650 sales. Woohoo and woohoo! And yet, I am mourning the fact that the people I dedicated it to are unable to read it yet. C’mon people, you got to get on that! Uh, but you might want to wait until I finish with all the edits.

Speaking of which, the creation of Whiskey Delta’s 2nd edition is coming along nicely. My trusty editor and I have polished the first quarter of the book, which seems to account for the majority of the typos and errors.ย  But of course, we won’t stop until it’s done. And then I plan to get on the second installment and make sure it is in prime shape before it’s release. I am hoping it is received well, since the sequel came up in more than one review.

And in other news, I just bought a copy of World War Z. It only seems fair that I read the book of the man who got me off my ass and made me publish this work (with Rami’s help of course). It was actually during a conversation with a teaching colleague of mine that I finally decided to buy a copy. I was telling her about my story, and she brought up Max Brooks. As I waited for her to finish, I began chuckling to myself. She paused asked me what was so funny, to which I replied “you’re going to laugh”.

I then proceeded to tell her how a friend of mine (hi again Rami!) mentioned me to Max Brooks and how he went on to mention my name and the name of my story in his speech. She laughed, and then told me exactly how awesome his book is. I’m only a few sections into it, but I can tell you she was right. The book is a work of genius, much as the reviews would have us all believe. If y0u”re looking for a good read and a twist on the zombie apocalypse, I say invest in a copy!

Dealing with Mixed Reviews

thumbs upEvery writer knows that bad reviews are a part of the trade. But what do you do when the bad is mixed in with the good? Aren’t mixed messages kind of worse than consistently bad ones? Well, that’s what I’m wondering as I peruse some collected reviews of my books, as posted on Amazon. Some of them only came to my attention by accident, as I happened to be cruising by not long ago, and I must have turned my prompts off.

In any case, here are some of the reviews, good and bad, that came in with regards to Source, my first indie-published work. As you can see, the first one wasn’t so good, ranking the book at a mediocre three out five stars. The second is from Katy “Obsessive bibliophile” Sozaeva, a pro reader/reviewer who specializes in evaluating indie works, which was posted over a year ago. Compare if you will:

Source_2

Inventive and Imaginative, but Scientifically Flawed.ย I read this with some enjoyment, I admit. But that pleasure was diminished somewhat by the nagging voice that kept saying, “That wasn’t necessary/easiest/realistic.” It happened in just too many places for it to be assuaged by simply pushing the “I believe” button.

Entertaining and enlightening sci-fi story. The Earth and its colonies are running out of water. The government, left with no options, decides to hedge its bets by creating a colony ship and sending off the best and brightest to colonize the stars, while at home strict rationing and a lottery system to decide who should live and who should die will be instituted. Millions will die, either of thirst or through…

Not exactly consistent is it? And consider this: the first review seemed to have far more of an impact than the second. When Katy reviewed my work and looked on it kindly, I honestly filed it in the “Oh, she’s nice” category. On the other hand, the semi-negative review hit me where I live. It actually made me consider pulling it from the shelf and putting a stop on its sequels.

Eyes

And then consider this review from one of the short stories in my Legacies series, otherwise known as Eyes in the Dark. This story I began years back and completed for NaNoWriMo 2011. Some initial opinions I got on it were quite good, all from my writer’s group, but I was happy to see a positive review posted on a professional site:

I liked the story. It had a convincing science fiction scenario and an intriguing dilemma at the core of the plot. I liked the characters, which always helps. I’d recommend this book and read any others Matthew’s written.

I liked that review, especially the last line since it might actually lead to a rise in sales! But I have to admit, I was surprised by it seeing as how I felt the entire thing was a bit rushed and hurriedly written. As it’s writer, I am abundantly aware of its flaws and I keep waiting for someone to say the same bad things that I fear they will notice.

LiabilityOh, and I should also mention the one review which haunts me to this day. It had to do with this oldie, a short known as Liability which I wrote back in 2005. Since I merged it with another short, I can no longer find the review on Amazon anymore. However, I do seem to remember the general nature of it, which ought to tell you something!

The story is nothing special. The ending is a fairy tale of course and is totally unrealistic, but if you’re looking for a cheap read, it’s worth the price.

I’m paraphrasing, but that’s the gist of it. Harsh huh? And the worst part of it is, I took it seriously. And even though that review was one of five that were quite favorable, I still seem to put more stock in it than the others. Here’s what these other people said, just to be inclusive:

Grabs your attention immediately. Is well written IMHO.

It’s a well conceived and beautifully delivered novel. I wish it has more pages for a more lasting reading.

Good story. Gets you wrapped up in the action right away and doesn’t stop till the end.

Don’t look behind you when you read this novel, they may be watching you. thoroughly enjoyable reading.

And I can imagine what seem people would say, since I’ve said it enough time myself to know it word for word. “Hey, [insert your name here], you can’t please everybody. And there’s always going to be idiots and haters. You can’t take what they say seriously.” Yeah, but when it’s me, I say the words, but I don’t feel it. Somehow, the bad reviews always see to make more sense and leave the lasting mark.

So I put it to all the other indie writers, artists and authors out there. What is it about negative feedback that we find just so believable? Why do we treat positive reviews (I’m assuming it’s not just me) as if they are obligatory or motivated by the desire to not hurt our feelings? Are good reviews only meaningful if they come from people who are usually cruel and hard to impress?

I don’t know… All I know is, I want to get better. And the appearance of a single bad review makes me want to work harder and convince them of my worth as a writer. Funny, considering that if it were a friend of mine being poorly reviewed, I’d be telling them they rock, and telling the haters: “Screw you, with some sexual harassment on top!”

Anybody else got mixed reviews to share? This experience feels somehow cathartic and I recommend it highly. Don’t worry, it won’t hurt your bottom line. Hardly anybody reads this site anyway ๐Ÿ˜‰

15,000 hits! Weeeee!

Wouldn’t you know it? As of yesterday, on May the 4th of all days, I discovered that my hits tracker had just broken 15,000 views. I could scarcely believe it! This little blog which I started just over a year ago to publicize my thoughts on sci-fi and share my writing seems to be reaching far more people than I ever thought possible. Yes, what stated as a humble hobby to one day be able to write for a living seems one step closer to becoming true. I’m feeling happy, grateful, and a little smug… I’d like to chase that feeling!

So here’s what I’m thinking. Over the next few days I totally want to complete my reviews of the Star Wars franchise in honor of the Star Wars Day. And this will include the newer movies since someone was kind enough to ask me what I thought about them (thus enabling me to talk some more!) After that, I will be finishing up with my posts on Data Miners, which I’ve decided I will stop after chapter 12. First ten percent is free, you gotta follow the links to get the rest ๐Ÿ˜‰ And of course, I will be getting back to what’s become a segment-in-itself, the Cool Ships thing. And of course there’s Crashland and all our work over at Grim5next to talk about, plus that review of Hunger Games I promised way back when. Gotta get on that before the movie’s finished!

So that’s my plan for the next few weeks and months, part of my hope to maintain this momentum and the lovely following I seem to have built up. Thanks be to all of you for making this little hobby of mine work. Now if I could just make it pay, I’d really be in business ๐Ÿ˜‰ Good day all!