Monday, December 21, 2009

Twitter, Facebook, and Other Things I Should Really Ignore

There is a TMI* Tsunami taking place right now, and I'm realizing that my life and my work suffer whenever I go near it.

Twitter, Facebook, and blogs about writing sucked up a massive amount of my time during September, October and especially November this year and I didn't realize until the first week of December how much it hurt my writing.

Twitter and Facebook don't seem to take up much time, but a minute here and another minute there add up, not to mention those intermittent distractions break up work flow without providing any real breaks. You feel like you stepped away from your desk sometime, but really, you went no where and didn't do anything of any importance. I found myself checking Twitter in the middle of chapters instead of focusing on transporting myself into a character's shoes, as I normally do while writing a passage.

Blogs on writing and publishing wasted a lot of my time as well, as I mentioned earlier. My opinion on most of them are the same as a dog chasing its own tale. Cute, and entertaining for a short time, but generally useless and dizzying. Sure, there are a few articles and blogs out there that are well informed, but when it comes down to it fiction writers all have their own creative process.

As for blogs on the publishing industry, well, that's a space that's even worse. eBooks are changing a lot, but in the end, people are still reading, Publishers, publicists, book stores and agents are still sucking up massive percentages of the average published authors income (over ninety two percent on average). That hasn't changed, in fact, the independent writers are having a better time than ever connecting with their audience and reaping more rewards than ever. Some signs point to publishers changing or perishing, others are pointing to the eventuality that publishers are going to swoop in and take it all away from the Indies again. Basically that's what hundreds of industry blogs are saying and arguing at length. It's all the same thing over and over again without any redeeming knowledge. Once you know the argument and watch for REAL news, you can ignore the hundreds of blogs that discuss that sort of thing at length.

That is why, dear readers, I don't talk about the how-to of self publishing. There are plenty of sites about that sort of thing and this site is for you, it's about the fiction I've produced and you (hopefully), enjoy. I'd much rather announce progress in my latest book, survey you for your opinion, or raise interesting questions about the story than preach about getting to the top 10 on Smashwords or Mobipocket.

My whole point is that for a few months I produced less than half of normal and found new ways to interrupt my work but now that's over. Twitter and Facebook may occasionally get a nudge or a wink, but I won't be browsing to either one during the work day. Blogs about writing and the publishing industry won't be getting so much as a nod or a further thought. I'm too busy writing for your entertainment to stop and consider my navel along with all the others who like to tell others how it's done.

Now, back to work.


[If you'd like to contact me in a public forum, feel free to visit me on the KindleBoards where I have my own conversation thread.]

*TMI = Too Much Information

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Spinward Fringe Fragments: Release Date, Cover & Another Announcement

Spinward Fringe Fragments, Broadcast 6 will be available on February 28.

I know people expected this to come out sooner, but the days of releasing unpolished work are coming to an end, and that means involving more people in the proof reading and editing process. Whenever you include more people and refine something to a greater degree, you add time to the process. It will be worth it.

That being said, let me talk about this book a little.

As it is the book is daring, looks at a lot of characters and situations from a completely new perspective and delivers on the promise I made to myself; to make something new that introduces a fresh, interesting, exciting setting.

Some of your favourite characters are dropped into an unfamiliar, dangerous situation. The epic layer of the big picture story comes back into play in this book as we ramp up for the end of some of the oldest plot lines in the series. This book has been challenging to write, exciting to experience, and is already near the end of its second draft.

Sadly, material that was earmarked for the Spinward Fringe Strange Horizons and Close Encounters anthology has been pulled back into this book, and I'm spending too much time working on this and the last part of the Rogue Element Trilogy to write more material for the anthology. It'll have to wait until these books are finished.

Writing a trilogy is different. This isn't one book split up into three parts, these are three books that have different feels, very different events, and leave a different impression on the reader. Knowing that the current plot cycles are coming to an end in the third part of the Rogue Element Trilogy adds a level of immediacy and completeness to the set.

That's right, all those plot lines you've been following since The First Light Chronicles Omnibus*, are coming to an end.

Will there be more Spinward Fringe books? Yes. There are plenty of adventures left for many of the characters, but not all.

Keep that in mind when I say that at the end of the Rogue Element Trilogy there will be no plot questions left regarding any surviving main characters.

As you can tell from the above cover, and hopefully from Spinward Fringe Fracture, I'm working with some great people to bring the books up to the quality one would expect from big publishing houses. As many readers know, this has been happening in stages, and I'm proud of how far things have come since early 2008.

Thank you and happy holidays to new readers and long supporters! I appreciate all of you picking up the books, reviewing, reading and talking about what I do. If it weren't for your support I wouldn't be doing this full time.

Again, have a safe and happy holiday season!


*The First Light Chronicles Omnibus is to be re-released as the Spinward Fringe Origins Trilogy when the final revision is complete in early 2010.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

I Won NaNoWriMo

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo for short), takes place in November. It challenges writers to turn out fifty thousand words in 30 days, which might seem like a lot, but for most full time writers, it really isn't.

For example, when I'm working on a book that's properly plotted and researched my average is over twenty five hundred words per day, six days a week. It's a pace I grew accustomed to during 2008, when I pledged to write every day of the year. I missed fewer than a dozen days, and found that I'd grown into writing as a continual habit by 2009.

That's what NaNoWriMo is all about, writing for long enough, often enough and consistently enough so it becomes a habit, something you just do like brushing your teeth, breathing, or shovelling the step in winter. I won NaNoWriMo, finishing with over fifty thousand words in November even though I was still planning for most of the time. I also rediscovered my deep hatred of word counts.

Most NaNoWriMo books are dropped at the end of November because the focus is on quantity, not quality, so most authors discover that writing can be a part of every day life to some extent, so future works benefit a great deal. Some authors even do word sprints (timed writing sprees between 15-60 minutes long), long after NaNoWriMo is over. If that's part of your process, fantastic.

I enjoyed word sprints when I was writing in a person to person group. The company of other writers in the same room was a nice change, and the collective creativity there was astounding. Did I get a lot of writing done during those events? I certainly did, and I appreciate the work of our coordinator and other volunteers, who did a fantastic job this year.

What does winning NaNoWriMo mean to me?

Well, I got most of the way through a book I was writing anyway, and I met some impressive writers who had a great deal of determination. Will I participate next year? I certainly will in some capacity, but I won't be tracking my word count. I already write over three hundred days a year, it's a part of life. My focus is on creating quality work so I can entertain my readers in new and exciting ways. If there's some way I can help others do that next year, then I'll gladly step up.


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas Comes Early To

On January 1, 2010, I'll be celebrating two years of writing science fiction. I've written a bit in other genres, sure, but science fiction has become what this little known author is recognized for.

I appreciate all the support you readers have given me since this journey began. That support has come in the form of buying and reading the books, offering advice on eBook formatting, catching a couple errors that wriggled past my editor and myself, and more recently, regional folk who have become beta readers. I'd be remiss if I didn't also recognize the people who were kind enough to post reviews on Amazon, Mobipocket, Smashwords and others. You guys spread the message in the most accessible way, often inviting other readers to join us on the Fringe.

Recently, The First Light Chronicles Omnibus became the 7th most downloaded book on Smashwords, and it's still the number one Science Fiction novel on Mobipocket. That means that a lot of people are still just joining us, nearly five thousand over the last three months, actually. Since the Holiday Season is almost upon us, and I feel like celebrating, I'm offering all the books at Smashwords for 50% off (see Coupon Codes below), until January 14, 2010.

It's a good time to start reading in this universe, with work on the Rogue Element Trilogy going exceptionally well and an announcement as well as a cover for the second book forthcoming, things are getting very interesting. There's a lot of material, and this Friday I'll finally be telling you what the Rogue Element Trilogy is really all about. The first book in that set, Spinward Fringe Fracture, is already available, and I'll be setting firm dates for the second and third.

Announcements aside, this discount offering is meant as a welcome to everyone just joining us on this journey. For everyone who's been along for the ride and has sent me an Email in the past, there will be a different surprise coming your way. Without further delay, here are the coupon codes and links for everything on Smashwords:

Science Fiction / Space Opera
Book List Link:
First Light Chronicles Omnibus - Free Forever At Smashwords
Spinward Fringe Resurrection and Awakening - YH56P
Spinward Fringe Triton - UY26G
Spinward Fringe Frontline - AR79E
Spinward Fringe Fracture - BX83P
Spinward Fringe Strange Horizons and close Encounters- Free (Read Last)

Dark Arts: Rising - Free Forever

Obligatory Legal Stuff:
Files downloaded from Smashwords are non-DRM (without copy protection), and will not expire after the codes become invalid. Each book is still copyright protected, do not share them with unauthorized parties. These codes and the books are authorized for personal use only.

Regardless of the legal stuff above, I have to admit that Smashwords is the only eBook distributor who makes giving an eBook as a gift easy. They offer the files in every eBook format, so if you're buying for someone else, you can simply buy the book, download the file onto a USB key or whatever you like, then pass it to them. Most distributors / retailers make this impossible thanks to copy protection, but Smashwords leaves the files unprotected. [Editor Insert: Please buy a copy of Randolph's books once for each time you give the gift, this is how he makes a living, after all.]

Thank you once again for supporting me so I can write full time. I'll do my absolute best to continue to entertain you in the future!


Monday, December 14, 2009

Which Spinward Fringe Character Would You Kill? An Inconclusive Survey

It was a surprising survey subject, according to the emails I received. Several readers sent me a pleasant digital note to simply tell me; "I won't be voting. Don't kill any of them."
Thank you for the emails, everyone, I honestly didn't expect such a response. Surveys can tell you a lot, even when the voting is split four ways.
Here's how it worked out including the survey results, private messages and emails:

Ayan: 1
Liam: 4
Oz: 2
Jason: 4
Alaka: 1
Agameg: 4
Fin: 4

Six people emailed to tell me they wouldn't vote, one going as far to say that putting the survey up was a terrible idea. Several others sent private messages via Twitter or Facebook either voting for other characters not on the list (one told me I should kill Alaka's wife and children!), or to tell me they wouldn't vote.

That tells me that Ayan, Oz and Alaka are favoured characters, while the rest are regarded as less important or less liked. I may be reading too much into this, but I also think many people voted with a hesitant hand, unsure of which way to go.

Some of you are probably wondering if a character will die in the Rogue Element Trilogy. Well, one already has. Will others? I would rather not say. Being a hater of spoilers, I'd rather not tip anyone off.

Will I pose similar questions in the future? Why yes, I'm sure I will, but I'd also like to see what you think about readers voting on major events in an ongoing series, so chime in!


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Spinward Fringe Resurrection and Awakening Arrive On Mobipocket, Together

After being available on Smashwords for months, this combined edition eBook of the first two volumes in the Spinward Fringe series, now it's available at Mobipocket with a proper linked index. This edition is also available on

Resurrection and Awakening are the smallest books in the series, so it's only natural that they be collected so the length matches the price. The funny thing about this is that no one complained about the size or price of either book aside from yours truly. I always thought they were a little slim separately, and now that's been remedied.

People are still just discovering the Spinward Fringe series. In terms of readership it's a young, or small niche body of work, but anywhere from ten to fifty people download the First Light Chronicles Omnibus every day, so something will eventually come of it, I'm sure. I'm very pleased with the response the Smashwords edition of the trilogy has gotten, and a few people have gone on to read the Spinward Fringe series as well. It makes me even more eager to get the final revision of the trilogy into circulation (my editor is currently finishing her work on it), and to complete the Rogue Element trilogy.

Things are progressing with Spinward Fringe and other projects at a nice pace, especially since I took time away from Twitter and other social networking, which was sucking time and attention away from writing. More on that in an upcoming post.

For now, I hope Mobipocket customers who are just finishing the First Light Chronicles Omnibus will enjoy the next pair of books in one shot!