Wednesday, February 27, 2013

More Lessons Learned From Kindle Publishing

Here are some more lessons I've learned from my experiment with self-publishing short fiction for e-readers.

For starters, using social-media advertising to drive sales for short fiction is a waste of money. I made $13.10 in the last quarter of 2012 and the first bit of January 2013, but I spent at least $60--and probably much more than that--on Facebook advertising. I also spent $25 for one day of advertising on Google that gained a few clicks. Although I've made a few sales during these periods, this represents a fairly large loss in terms of percentages if not outright dollar amounts. This includes "promoting" posts on Facebook linking to short fiction that is for sale or even free--I "promoted" the Smashwords page of "The Beast of the Bosporus" for $5, but only made two sales. I promoted the blog post with a short sequel (of sorts) to "Illegal Alien" and only got 45 or so views despite that many "likes" on the fan page and thousands of views (of the promoted post). Although one of the problems self-published authors face is that there is nobody besides themselves to market their work, it doesn't seem like Facebook advertising is the way to go, at least at this early stage.

(Maybe if I had a novel...)

However, Facebook advertising can be VERY effective for one's Facebook fan page. Before I bought an ad promoting my Facebook fan page, I had around 80 fans, around half of whom which friends or family members. Now I have just over 1,800 fans. When I promoted posts announcing new stories, this gained me a significant number of new Facebook fans even though I got few if any new sales.

One method that has gotten me new sales is to the KDP Select program, in which one's KDP stories can be offered for free for up to five days. In the last month or so I've had two stories offered for free for a few days and each time, I've made at least one new sale of my horror tale "I am the Wendigo," which is no longer part of KDP Select. In fact, checking on my most recent campaign (a free offer of "Melon Heads"), I've actually sold two copies of "Wendigo" and possibly another sale of "Illegal Alien." Although I've been taking stories off KDP Select to post them on Smashwords to widen my sales base, the lesson I've learned from this is to always have something available to offer for free to generate sales of other material.

However, the free promotional campaigns don't generate a lot of reviews. My friend Jeff Baker noticed this before with his own self-publishing effort and theorized that people who get fiction for free are less likely to have as strong opinions on the story because they didn't pay for it. So far my campaign has borne this out.

That being said, I have discovered a reliable way to get reviews--review swaps. So far I have reviewed two books by Chris Nuttall, The Cross-Time Road Trip and The Royal Sorceress in exchange for several reviews of my self-published stories. Soon I will do the same for Bruno Lombardi, a fellow member of my alternate-history forum who has a new novel out, Snake Oil. Although reviews don't necessarily equal sales, they do help.

And spiffy cover art does not necessarily bring improved sales. I paid $45 for a really nice cover of "Illegal Alien" but it's been one of my poorest sellers, even though it's gotten the most reviews.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

New "StarCraft 2: Heart of the Swarm" Trailer: "Vengeance"

This afternoon, a new trailer for StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm went online. For your convenience, I'm posting it here:



Jeez, this one looks dark. Among other things, it strongly implies that over the course of the game, Sarah Kerrigan will turn herself back into the Queen of Blades, this time of her own free will. No wonder Jim Raynor sounds upset. There's also a scene where it looks like the Terran Dominion has Raynor's Raiders in a bad spot.

Hopefully the trailer is cut to make things look worse than they are to get attention, but I think there's a pattern than the middle campaign in a trilogy is darker than the rest. In the original StarCraft, for example, the Zerg Swarm invested the Protoss homeworld of Aiur and the Overmind physically nested on its surface, while in WarCraft III: Reign of Chaos, the Undead overran most of the known world and physically summoned the Burning Legion.

We'll have to see...

Monday, February 25, 2013

AnachroCon Post #2: Useful Things Learned

Here's my second post about the 2013 AnachroCon, which will be more general than my last one.

One of the panels I attended was entitled "Viking and Norman Re-Enacting," which taught me a lot of useful information. Much of the information I learned will appear in the Wastelands novels, which feature a Norse-analogue culture known as the Sejer. In particular, the Norse used A-Frame tents whose wooden poles were elaborately carved. I've started tinkering with the second novel Battle for the Wastelands: Escape while I wait to hear back about the first Battle for the Wastelands and the tents of the Obsidian Guard, the tyrant Grendel's personal troops, will be like that. The Norse also used box chairs--no legs and the seat could be used for storage. Grendel's throne will be based on this design.

(Norse shoes were also held closed with toggles, which I'll squirrel away in my files for later. The Sejer in the Wastelands world have shoes with laces.)

I also attended a panel featuring my friend James R. Tuck that discussed the directions writers other than H.P. Lovecraft have taken the Cthulhu Mythos. This included the Delta Green stories about an American covert-operations group fighting the cosmic horrors as well as the works of Brian Lumley. I'll have to check these out--the Delta Green world sounds particularly interesting and I'd love to write stories set there someday. There're also more whimsical works, like a cookbook of all things entitled Cuisine from Beyond.

At the "State of Steampunk" panel, I learned a bit of welcome movie news. Cherie Priest's novel Boneshaker has been optioned as a movie. A bit more digging revealed that the film rights have been bought and work is underway. Although I had my issues with the book, I'd still see the film more than likely.

I also learned about a small press called Combustion Books that is putting out steampunk books. Their business model is unusual--they pay the author a set amount per print run, no strings attached. If there's a second print run, they'll pay for that, and so on and so forth. If a larger publisher expresses an interest in the work, no problem. I'll keep them in mind.

Another publisher I encountered is Georgia-based MV Media, whose representatives were there selling "sword and soul" books. Rather than taking place in faux European environments like most sword and sorcery, they take place in faux African environments. I'd found Griots: A Sword and Soul Anthology on Amazon awhile back, so I'd already known about them. Those of you with an interest in Afrocentric fantasy fiction, whether you want to read some or sell some, should check this out.

Finally, I met up with a member of my alternate-history message-board who is attempting to revive the site's defunct podcast. I have begun discussing an interview with him, since my alternate-history short story "Coil Gun" appeared in Pressure Suite - Digital Science Fiction Anthology 3 and my self-published story The Beast of the Bosporus is essentially "secret history." He's already agreed to host "Beast" tie-in I've already posted here.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

In Which A Short Man Flies: An ASOIAF Fan-Fic

Here's a new piece of A Song of Ice and Fire fan-fiction for your entertainment. It is entitled "The Little Man Flies" and, like "A Parliament of Fowls" it was originally posted on AH.com. I asked the writer to post it on fanfiction.net so I could share it with all of you and so he has.

In this one, the mercenary Bronn loses the trial by combat and so Tyrion Lannister is cast out the Moon Door at the command of the insane Lysa Tully. The consequences of this include the Riverlands being largely spared so Tywin Lannister can ravage the Vale, Kevan Lannister being made Hand of the King to Joffrey "Baratheon," and the death of poor Brienne of Tarth. It's pretty interesting and it's written in the style of ASOIAF. I'd have liked some more "butterflies" from the change--the Ironborn storyline follows canon pretty much exactly--but it's a good story overall.

Enjoy!

AnachroCon Post #1: Christians Should Tip Better

I just got back from AnachroCon, an Atlanta-area alternate-history and steampunk convention, and one of the topics discussed at the panel this morning really stuck to me.

It was a panel about cyberpunk, but at some point, Allan Gilbreath started talking about how servers hate it when certain Christian conventions are in town because they complain about everything and don't tip well, in contrast to the genre fans (people who go to conventions like AnachroCon I guess) who do tip well and tend to be more easygoing. A later conversation with him and another panelist included the claim that many people from these conventions try to game the system by complaining about the air conditioning at hotels in hopes of getting discounts and that they feel they're owed something because of their "long-suffering." The other fellow even made the claim that only 1 percent of the people in those groups are humble, kind, generous, etc.

The first thing that came to mind was Romans 2:24 in which the Apostle Paul said the words, "The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you." Although the passage is referencing Jews (who had God's law revealed to them) who did not follow the Law and those brought their faith into disrepute with outsiders, the principle expressed in this passage just as easily applies to Christians today.

For the record, I do not deny having done things that have given people cause to mock our faith. I will not go into detail here, but those who know me will know. That being said, that does not affect the wisdom of my point one iota. Hitler and Stalin, two of the most evil men who ever lived, both thought the other a monster and both were right. And the purpose of this post is not to brag about how good a tipper I am.

For starters, the Bible says that Christians are to be ambassadors of Christ (see 2 Corinthians 5:20). One role of an ambassador is to make the country who sent them look good. If an ambassador acts like a fool, it rightly or wrong reflects poorly on their whole country, not just them. Jesus Himself says in Matthew 5:16 that Christians should let their light shine before men so that people would see our good deeds and praise God.

Secondly, the Bible exhorts believers to be generous. There are many, many Bible verses exhorting us to be generous with our money. There are so many that rather than posting them individually, I will simply post this article here that references a whole bunch.

Thirdly, the Bible exhorts Christians to remember the poor. One account of the coming Judgement Day states that the nations will be judged by how they have treated "the least of these my brethren." Here is a list of dozens of verses exhorting the good treatment of the poor. Servers are not paid minimum wage; instead, they're paid a significantly-lower figure (in Utah, for example, it's $2.13 per hour) and expected to make the rest of the money in tips. If people tip poorly, wait staff do without. In fact, servers rely on food stamps much more than the rest of the population.

Fourthly, if you're trying to get discounts in a dishonest way (like complaining about problems that don't exist or are really quite minor), that's lying and stealing. There are lots of verses condemning such things--here's a selection. Remember, it is written that the love of money is the root of all sorts of evil.

I am not suggesting tipping waiters/waitresses more if they do a poor job. I once tipped a particularly bad waiter $0.10 on a $3.00 Steak and Shake milkshake to make a point. That being said, most restaurant staff who've served me have done a decent job and should be tipped at a proper rate (I was always taught to tip 15 percent).

One objection to my argument I can think of right off the bat is that times are tough and one might not be able to afford to tip as much. Well, if you need to cut expenses, why are you eating out in the first place? If you're already going out to eat at a restaurant where there's a wait staff attending to your needs, you can afford to tip decently. Doubly so if you're going to a religious convention in another city.

And lest anyone think I'm making too big a generalization from the claims one or two people are making, here's an article on why servers hate Sundays. Here's another one with more links.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Incursion Report: Highway 86, Arizona

ABOVE TOP SECRET

TO: (Redacted)

FROM: (Redacted)

SUBJECT: Arizona Incursion

THE INCIDENT

The day we have all feared has finally arrived. The extraterrestrial conflict that has been brewing in the outer solar system since the late 1990s has finally spread to Earth.

Although our reconnaissance has been spotty at best, our space telescope detected energy spikes indicative of a large space battle near Jupiter. (Redacted) will have more information as to the specifics of the battle, but we do know three small Snake vessels pursued a larger Gray craft toward Earth. Based on the report of a surviving eyewitness, the Gray craft was damaged and its crew was making repairs. That they would need to land here seems odd given how both species have space technology centuries in advance of our own, but perhaps the Grays' extra-vehicular repair capability was damaged or destroyed.

The first reports of a shooting star were made at around noon, while radar from the Tuscon airport briefly detected the Gray ship as it passed over the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. The three Snake ships came hard after it and just barely avoided a massive follow-up radar sweep by the alerted airport and some local National Guard aircraft. Our supplying them a fabricated report from Kitt Peak National Observatory about an expected meteor shower got them to stand down their AWACS aircraft and impose delays on local civilian aircraft for much of the day, avoiding an immediate breach of secrecy and likely preventing the substantial human casualties unprepared National Guard units would have incurred encountering even a small alien force.

By the time our personnel arrived, the battle was largely over. Two Snake craft had been forced down in different places, while the third was in the process of finishing off the already-wounded Gray ship a fair distance from the original landing site. Fortunately two companies of our specialist troops were close enough to move overland and surprise and destroy the remaining Snake craft and detain the survivors after an hour-long firefight, albeit at the cost of twenty dead and forty wounded.

If any head must roll for the deaths of our brave men and women, let it be mine. Any spacecraft would probably have radar or something approximating, but unless it was a dedicated ground attack platform, I doubt it would have anything resembling JSTARS. It was my decision to limit aircraft involvement to helicopters lifting off from trucks once the aliens were engaged rather than hitting the aliens from beyond visual range with artillery and aircraft to soften them up first. Alerted, the craft would have been able to inflict significantly more damage and if not triumph (a very real possibility), flee and alert the Snake fleet.

Captured in the incident were three small Snake craft suffering varying degrees of damage and a larger Gray craft that was all but destroyed. Five live Snakes and seven live Grays have been captured, while we have recovered twenty Snake and twenty-three Gray bodies.

IMPLICATIONS

It appears we've retained secrecy, but we were lucky. The one surviving civilian eyewitness, apparently an illegal immigrant from Mexico, died of wounds inflicted by the Grays before the battle despite our best efforts. He did not know if others survived, but there's been no noise even from the usual suspects. If anyone else saw what happened, they're being awfully quiet. That will suit our purposes for now, but if there were any other witnesses, rumors will spread and this will attract unwanted attention. (Redacted) is already cooking up a sufficiently gruesome "training accident" to account for the military dead and wounded, which will hopefully at least delay any deeper investigation into the incident.

Even if their arrival was a fluke, the fact a battle has taken place between the two species on our own ground has changed the situation drastically. Both will no doubt suspect we have captured some of their technology and may attempt to retrieve it, which we will not be able to successfully conceal. Although either side will try to prevent the other from attacking, we cannot count on their being successful. We may face a larger alien incursion in the very near future, especially if secrecy efforts fail and the aliens learn from Earth-based transmissions what happened.

As long as the war was stalemated and they thought us ignorant, we had a chance to build our capabilities in secret, unmolested by any preemptive strike or attempt at alliance. We cannot count on this any longer.

RECOMMENDATIONS

The nuclear mines and kinetic projectiles launched into orbit along with the private-sector satellites over the last five years have given us a bare-bones orbital-defense capability, but a small incursion was able to avoid them and a larger incursion would simply overwhelm them. I recommend increasing the number of mines as quickly as possible, increasing the production of aircraft-deliverable anti-satellite weapons, and constructing thunderwells near strategic sites. Perhaps the president can be nudged to resume strategic-arms reduction talks with the Russians, which will free up strategic weapons for this purpose. Now that we have substantial alien technology, I strongly recommend shifting black-budget monies toward reverse engineering so we can have something more capable than Cold War projects to defend ourselves.

If the alien forces in our solar system alone turn their full might against us, there is no way we can withstand them. However, as long as each species keeps the bulk of the other's military power occupied, we might be able to defeat a smaller incursion and use that (and the alien prisoners in our possession) as bargaining chips to preserve some semblance of independence or the more likely outcome, inclusion in one species' sphere of influence under somewhat better terms. When elephants fight the mouse best stay unnoticed, but we may no longer have that option.

So just what happened in the Arizona desert? Find out by reading "Illegal Alien," available on Amazon.com!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Strange Death of Sokullu Mehmed Pasha

From A New Look at Sokullu Mehmed Pasha, published at Miskatonic University.

The consensus of historians on the assassination of Grand Vizier Sokullu Mehmed Pasha on October 11, 1579 AD (or 20 Sha'ban 987 AH in the Islamic reckoning) is fairly well-known in our field. The Ottoman Sultan Murad III, alienated from the vizier who had served his father and grandfather so long and ably by his mother Narbanu Sultan and Venetian-born wife Safiye Sultan, took steps to reduce the vizier's influence on government. The vizier's allies were sent to faraway positions or assassinated. Ultimately, a mentally-unstable dervish talked his way into the vizier's office and stabbed him. This kind of intrigue was fairly common in the Ottoman Empire, especially during the period known as the Sultanate of Women.

However, some recent discoveries by Miskatonic University researchers of documents thought lost forever during the civil unrest that wracked Constantinople when the Janissaries were suppressed has shed new light on the circumstances of the vizier's assassination and an incident that took place in 1571.

These documents paint a far more sinister picture of the vizier. They include accusations of dealings with agents of Safavid Persia, with whom the vizier had counseled peace as opposed to the usual border wars, and even black magic. The documents accuse the vizier of, under the influence of an agent of Persian Shah Tahmasp I, acquiring a book of black magic from an Armenian merchant who had visited the long-vacant shrine of a corrupted Sufi order that had been destroyed by Turkish nomads not long before. The use of this book resulted in an incident in Constantinople that killed dozens of Ottoman soldiers, destroyed one war galley and forced the scuttling of a second, and caused significant damage to the Bayezit II mosque.

These accusations against Sokullu are not new, but have been long dismissed as the slanders from his political enemies. However, the mosque was damaged somehow, necessitating repairs by the famed Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan in 1573 and 1574. Furthermore, it is often said that converts make the best zealots. Safiye Sultan was a Catholic before she became a Muslim, while the most recent evidence suggests Narbanu was an Orthodox Greek from Corfu before her conversion. If Sokullu was involved in the dark arts, or was widely believed so, this could have provoked the ire of the Imperial women. They would not wish one so tainted to continue virtually ruling the Ottoman Empire in place of their son and husband. And the dervish orders might be willing to provide an assassin to dispose of the vizier, especially given his (tangential) connection to a Sufi order that had become warped by dark forces.

Of course, this is all just speculation. The documents describe how the soldiers killed in the incident were buried in a mass grave outside Constantinople that was given special attention by Muslim imams, Orthodox Christian priests, and even a Jewish rabbi, while the materials used by Sokullu in the incident were confiscated, burned, and abandoned in Persia. Should this mass grave or the dumping site be found, it would lend credence to the incident described in the documents.

So just why was the Grand Vizier assassinated, and is the author's theory about dark powers manifesting in Constantinople actually true? Read "The Beast of the Bosporus" either as a standalone short story or as part of the collection Flashing Steel Flashing Fire.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

A Constitutional Roman Empire? An Alternate History of Rome

Here's an alternate timeline I found on my message-board this morning and decided to post here for you:

Interauctoritas et Renovatio: A Roman Timeline

The point of divergence from our history is that Nero Claudius Drusus, stepson of Caesar Augustus, is only injured in a fall from his horse while on military campaign rather than dying. His presence as a viable heir means that Tiberius can't get away with, among other things, abandoning his responsibilities in Rome to go live on an island. As punishment, Augustus formally exiles Tiberius and later only allows him to return on the condition he stay out of politics, making Drusus his heir.

Drusus (supposedly) had republican sympathies, so upon Augustus's death, he decides to reorganize Roman government with a new constitution rather than simply pretending the old order was still intact all while maintaining de facto monarchical power himself. The new system retains an emperor who serves for life, but he is elected by the Senate from among the highest-ranking Senators, and many of his powers have been returned to the Senate. Furthermore, the Senate's control over the army has increased in order to prevent future military strongmen. The popular assemblies and other aspects of the Roman government are revamped as well.

Meanwhile, the longer life of Drusus has led to the incorporation of Germania to the Elbe River into the empire, which will have major ramifications for the future "barbarian" threat to Rome. There's also a reference to Drusus being remembered as a saint in "Roman Christianity" despite being a pagan, which means the divergence will have had a major effect on religion as well.

Overall, it's an interesting read, especially for those of you who are into the classical era. I'd check it out.

Character Interview: Ian Barnes

Today we at The World According To Quinn have the pleasure of sitting with Ian Barnes, a junior at Ohio University.

Author: So, where are you from?

Ian: I grew up in the Huntsburg Township, in northern Ohio. My father helps manage the East Branch Reservoir there, for the city of Akron. My mother is a teacher in Cardinal High School. I graduated from there in 2009.

Author: Did you ever have your mother as a teacher?

Ian (reddens): Nope. Although I had friends who had parents for teachers, my mother was always careful to avoid that. Even if there's no favoritism--or overdoing it to avoid favoritism--it still doesn't look good to a lot of people.

Author: That's cool. How is school going for you these days?

Ian: It's going well. I'm now a staff writer for The Post, the Ohio University student newspaper. My beat is student activities, so I do a lot of stories on the Greek system, clubs, and the like. It's really interesting.

Author: That's how you met Sarah, right?

Ian (raises eyebrow): How did you...oh, wait, you talked to her already.

Author: Yep.

Ian: Cool. I was doing a story on the work they were doing for the local food bank. Every Saturday--and I mean every Saturday--a bunch of them go to the Southeastern Ohio Food Bank and help organize donations. I went along with them a couple of times to get a feel for the story, interview some of the girls, and talk to officials at the food bank.

Author: Did you start dating her then?

Ian (shakes head): Nope. When I first came to the school, I had a tendency to... (Swallows) Ask girls out too soon. Pouncing on someone I just met would just be doing the same thing I'd done before and likely get the same results. I think that's what Einstein called "insanity."

Author: Makes sense. So how did you end up dating?

Ian: Well, I'd taken some Advanced Placement classes and that allowed me to finish my core curriculum up a bit early, which in turn freed up more time to take interesting electives. One of them was folklore. I'd like to be a novelist, you see, even though I'm majoring in health communications. Guess who was in the class with me?

Author: Sarah.

Ian: I didn't want to be too eager at first, but if you see someone fairly often and get to know them better, that makes this less, well, "now or never." Plus she actually lives pretty close to me, so we can see each other during the summer.

Author: Awesome.

(Ian smiles.)

Author: So what about folklore interests you?

Ian: Well, I always did like urban legends. The class has a good bit of material on urban legends originating in Ohio, including some from my neck of the woods. It's always interesting to know where these stories come from and how they change over the years.

Author: Do you think any of those stories are true?

Ian: I'm sure some started out with a grain of truth, but the tale grows with the telling, you know. The "melon heads" story, for example. A bunch of hydrocephalic kids escaping a doctor who was abusing them? That makes sense. But them living out in the woods long-term and actually reproducing? Seems far-fetched, especially since I've heard hydrocephalus will kill without treatment.

Author: Makes sense. What kind of novels are you interested in writing?

Ian: Well, I've always figured I could write the Great American Novel, but let's be realistic--I need more life experience. In the meantime, I think I can write some good comedy. One writer I like is Christopher Moore. I really liked his vampire trilogy, at least the first two, while The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove and Lamb were pretty funny too.

Author: Have you started writing anything?

Ian: I've been taking notes for the last couple of years for a college comedy. Think Van Wilder, but not nearly as vulgar.

What will Ian do when he finds out the Melon Heads aren't just a story? Find out by reading "Melon Heads," available at Amazon.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Steampunk Star Trek Augments: A Fan-Fiction Idea

On my alternate-history message-board, the member whose handle is Analytical Engine has been writing a Star Trek alternate timeline. Since it's posted in a members-only section of the forum, you'll need to be forum member to access it (although I've suggested he start posting it on fanfiction.net much like how I've done with "The Dragon and the Bear" to allow wider access), but it diverges from our history in the late 1980s and early 1990s with the Soviet Union reforming rather than collapsing (New Union Treaty). The Eastern Coalition forms in the aftermath of a global depression triggered by economic problems in China and the collapse of various dictatorships in the Islamic world. World War III begins in 2053 and lasts until 2057, with Khan Noonien Singh and Col. Phillip Green making their mark on history after the war--in fact, after First Contact with the Vulcans.

One of the consequences of this situation is that the sleeper ship that Khan and his loyalists flee on, the Botany Bay, is equipped with an early model warp drive rather than a slower-than-light engine. I suggested a consequence of this might be that Khan and friends find a world to settle and establish a new Augment society relatively soon after they leave Earth or they contact one of the canonical races of Star Trek before the Federation does. AE said his plan would be that they'd run out of fuel and get found by the Enterprise in a similar manner to the episode "Space Seed."

Oh well. It's his story. That being said, since the Botany Bay has a warp drive, that will definitely put it in a different location (probably significantly farther out) than when the Enterprise encountered it in canon. That means if Khan and friends try to take over the Enterprise and fail and Kirk maroons them as he does in the show, they'll be on a different planet, one that will not suffer the tribulations of Ceti Alpha V. In "Space Seed," Spock was concerned about the consequences of Kirk's actions a century down the line (i.e. during the time of Star Trek: The Next Generation). Spock was probably concerned about what the Augments might do with a virgin world and nobody to keep an eye on them, but things turned out rather differently.

I suggested to AE that a sustained Augment colonization of a different world with only the Botany Bay itself and supplies loaned from the Enterprise would end up at a probably 19th Century frontier level of development due to lack of infrastructure (although they'd have some gadgets and modern medical knowledge), but what if, say, a warp-capable alien ship were to crash there? The Augments, who'd have 22nd Century knowledge (Khan's reading the Enterprise's technical manuals and whatever Lt. Marla McGivers knows as well) even if their physical technology has regressed due to lack of infrastructure, might be talented enough to repair the ship or reverse-engineer technology from it in order to return to space. Given how their tech base would be rather primitive, whatever they could cobble together would have a distinctly steampunk or dieselpunk look to it.

AE has not gotten back to me, so I don't know what he'll do with Khan in the distant future of this timeline, but for those of you who are Star Trek fan-fiction enthusiasts, consider this a challenge. Take my scenario of Khan and friends colonizing a different world and run with it into the TNG era at least. Be sure to use steampunk space technology. Bonus points if Khan himself lives long enough to trouble Picard, Sisko, Janeway, or others from that time period.

(Hmm...an older Khan throwing down with Worf like he once did with Kirk? That'd be hilarious.)

Friday, February 1, 2013

Lucky Seven Challenge: "Battle for the Wastelands"

Gary Henderson, a member of the Lawrenceville writing group I've referenced, just tagged me in the "Lucky Seven Challenge." Here are the rules:


Go to page 7 or 77 of your latest work. Read down to the seventh line and then post online the next seven lines or sentences. Then head off and tag seven more writers.


So here are seven lines, beginning on the seventh line, of page seven of my novel Battle for the Wastelands.


He wiped the blood and bits of brain onto his sleeve. Not wanting to let anything go to waste, he picked a particularly large bit off his arm. He swallowed it whole, ignoring the unpleasant taste and texture. 
He looked at his kills. There was no way he could carry both of them home. He’d have to cut them up and pack the meat into his leather bag.

This tidbit provoked a particularly vivid expression of disgust from one of my fellow group members, but this isn't an exercise is gratuitousness. The "he" in question is protagonist Andrew Sutter and he's hunting a dangerous post-apocalyptic mutant critter known as a "ripper" for food during a drought that has left his hometown on the verge of starvation. He's just killed it, at ranges far too close for comfort.

Now here are my seven nominees for the contest: Sean CW Korsgaard, Nicolas Hoffmann, Matt Schafer, Chris NuttallAlex Shalenko, Rob Gilliam, and J.M. McDermott.