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Messages - Jonathan C. Gillespie

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51
The Book Corner / Nineteen Eighty Four vs. Brave New World
« on: December 01, 2016, 09:43:22 am »
Having read both, I can now confirm I am all-in for Nineteen Eighty-Four. Reading Brave New World, I get a sense instantly that it is a solid book, and ahead of its time, but the dark, tragic beauty of our protag's struggle in 1984 struck me and stayed with me much more than the plights of the characters in Huxley's work. I've got a model of devastating fiction to idolize, and it's definitely Welles' work.

52
Writers' Cafe / Re: Science Fiction Anthology - Release 28 November 2016
« on: December 01, 2016, 05:55:10 am »
I blasted it out yesterday. Looks like we are at six reviews now, too.

53
Writers' Cafe / Re: Science Fiction Anthology Call - Entries Closed
« on: November 18, 2016, 09:43:30 am »
Did I miss it, or did we discuss pricing already? What is it going to drop at?

54
Writers' Cafe / Re: Science Fiction Anthology Call - Entries Closed
« on: November 14, 2016, 09:47:14 am »
Fantastic work, Alasdair. I'll start lining up some promo posts and the like.

55
Writers' Cafe / Re: Science Fiction Anthology Call - Entries Closed
« on: November 10, 2016, 04:02:34 am »
Good to hear. I liked the blue lady as well, but honestly, that cover does a great job of communicating the genre and theme.

56
Writers' Cafe / Re: What would you do to make Amazon great again?
« on: November 07, 2016, 10:07:44 am »
If Amazon is your only game in town, shame on you for going for the low-hanging fruit for immediate gratification instead of doing the hard work of building an audience outside of Amazon.
This also goes for those people that work with Amazon affiliate marketing.

There's a lot of judgement of your fellow authors in that quote.

I gave other markets four years to match what I was doing on the 'Zon, which granted, wasn't much, and they never came close. I've been much happier with my results in Select. I'm still not selling like gangbusters, but at least I'm seeing something approaching momentum. I'm not beholden to you, or anyone else, to make peanuts in wide release when Select has been better for my books.

By the way--I stand by my idea of an opt-in random free books program, targeted to the KU-subscriber's category preferences. No one's talking about dumping content onto Kindles without consent. I thought I made that clear in my post.

57
Writers' Cafe / Re: Joining a Facebook author collab site as my page
« on: November 03, 2016, 11:25:55 am »
Thank you. Sounds like the solution is just making a new author-specific user account. Jeeze, come on, Facebook.

58
Writers' Cafe / Re: What would you do to make Amazon great again?
« on: November 03, 2016, 06:49:50 am »
Create an opt-in program whereby subscribers to KU receive one random book--completely random--a month, on Amazon's dime at perhaps a reduced royalty rate, from random Select-enrolled authors. Allow the subscriber to the program to check which categories they'd prefer to receive a random free book from, then allow Select authors the ability to enable their book for the program. Add a line item in the reports where you can see which, if any, of your books had free copies sent.

This will add to Select a massive carrot.

59
Writers' Cafe / Joining a Facebook author collab site as my page
« on: November 03, 2016, 04:22:13 am »
I just figured one of you guys has probably run into this before...I'm trying to join a collaboration site on Facebook. I have my personal account, but I'd prefer to be able to join the page as my formal author "page" account. In the past, Facebook had it so that you could switch between "using facebook as" your personal account or page account. Happily, because that functionality made too much sense, Facebook removed it. So I now I see no way to apply to join this page as my page/author account. Anyone run into this with Facebook groups? Is the only solution to create a brand new personal account?

60
Writers' Cafe / Re: Blurb clinic my military sci-fi thriller
« on: November 02, 2016, 04:56:47 am »
Okay, so here's the blurb as it sits with the first approach, though of course I can still groom it a bit. Yes, I know there are sentence fragments here, and I don't care. I've seen other authors do it--and I've done it before with blurbs I've gotten compliments about, including in stories I've sold to other markets. It actually works rather well if you can yoke it.


As an elite, alien-enhanced Serpican soldier, Reed Barowe believed everything he was fed, especially about the long-dead conqueror Tak Akasa. But now a routine mission has ended with an ambush, his squad slain, and his commanders out to kill him. And to Barowe's horror, his only ally appears to be Tak Akasa reborn.

Despite amnesia and regret, Akasa is still a military genius. And he has plans. Vast, dangerous plans. Like not just surviving, but striking back. Against the Serpicans, who hold sway over the planet, and against the alien Nartuni and the corrupt governments who cater to them. It will all begin in the drone-infested wastes of the American Midwest with a guerilla war against a brutal dictator.

If Barowe joins this campaign across a shattered United States, he won't just turn his back on everything he was taught. He'll hunt Serpicans. And the path to the truth will lie with a man he was trained to kill.

Revenant Man is the first book of The Tyrant Strategy.

61
Writers' Cafe / Re: Blurb clinic my military sci-fi thriller
« on: November 02, 2016, 04:21:11 am »
Thanks for taking another stab at it, guys. Lummox, I like what you've done, but I think I need to put my on spin on it :)

As I was reading this thread, it occurred to me that since the setting/plot and the characters are "equal weight" in the novel, and since there's been a minor debate as to which is the best to craft the blurb around, perhaps this would be a good opportunity to try both approaches. Then maybe we could all learn something.

So, I could go with one approach for, say, November, and the other for December. And I'd update back here with how they each go. At the very least, it'd give folks another data point.

62
Writers' Cafe / Re: Ready to Tame a Dragon...Do u use Home or Premium
« on: November 01, 2016, 01:19:09 pm »
Come on. If a man wants to chase a lawnmower, let him do it.

63
Writers' Cafe / Re: Blurb clinic my military sci-fi thriller
« on: November 01, 2016, 01:18:20 pm »
I'll have to mull on this a bit, but I think a blurb can be written to cover the setting properly and also lay out the emotional tone you're going for.

That's exactly the balance I'm trying to find. I hesitated dumping too much into the blurb about the backstory, but it is relevant to the struggle the two characters find themselves in.

Sorry if I've omitted too much earlier, all.

64
Writers' Cafe / Re: Blurb clinic my military sci-fi thriller
« on: November 01, 2016, 09:21:14 am »
Okay, so let's clarify some things:

A book can of course possess both a grand setting *and* strong characters who go through character arcs. I keep thinking there's some sort of middle of the road approach between the two approaches two of you are advocating--that there is a blurb somewhere that captures both the macro and micro struggles in the tale.

Let me expand the background some and show you what I mean, and why this blurb is proving challenging for me to write.

***MAJOR SPOILER WARNINGS FOR POTENTIAL READERS***

The Shattered Earth, as I label it in my own thinking, is a nearly post-apocalyptic landscape still recovering from Tak Akasa, a brutal warlord who rose in the Phillipines about eighty years earlier and almost conquered the planet. Luckily for mankind, the Nartuni made first contact during the war and decided to intervene in the conflict, augmenting special forces troops with biological and cybernetic implants, and helping the tide turn so that Akasa was eventually cornered and killed at Fortress Everest.

The Akasa War had permanently wounded most of Earth's nations, especially the United States. To "help" mankind never engage in another such conflict, the aliens oversaw the creation of the Serpican Police, an organization that strikes from an orbital base in a covert fashion, knocking out potential insurrectionists, radicals, and revolutionaries before they can gather troops to their banner. If humanity can "prove" themselves peaceful for a hundred years, the Nartuni will teach them the secret of FTL travel, finally giving them a way off their broken world.

So it's a grand setting book, right? Except...

Barowe has grown disillusioned serving in the police. Taken "upstairs" as an orphan and beholden to his commanders ever since, he's watched good people die in these broken, corrupt rat holes of countries, and he can no longer articulate why. It's while he's escorting a Nartuni ambassador through Elizabeth City (the capital of the Eastern States of America) that he's ambushed by radicals, captured, and eventually escapes with a man who reveals himself to be nothing other than an Akasa doppleganger. But the other man has no memory, and when he finds out what Akasa was responsible for, he's horrified. And determined to do something about it. An opportunity to do just that arises when the two men secure passage to Partana, a pocket nation in the old American Midwest, where a former-sheriff-turned-tyrant named Moreno holds the local population under his boot. Akasa (now going by the alias "Fujita") and Barowe are inducted into an underground resistance, but Fujita isn't happy with the leadership, which he views as too passive, and of course he knows he could do better. This sets off an explosive chain of events and a clash not just with the resistance's leader, but with Moreno as well, and when it's over the first of many secrets pertaining to both Barowe and Fujita come to light. And there's another plot line in there, about a woman named Karmen, who finds herself having to go to Moreno for help with her missing children. She winds up being a major character as well.

But ultimately, the book isn't just about battles and bullets, it's about what it means to be an orphan. And it's about nature vs. nurture. Barowe is this walking dichotomy of brawn and skill transposed against the fact that he's now adrift and rudderless. He has no idea what to do other than run, and he has to discover a new him that isn't just a killer. Fujita is a living monster ("Well, isn't he?" the book asks Barowe and the readers), and doesn't want to be that, but isn't sure how much of his latent talent he can safely harness without turning into what his forebear was. Karmen Kizoreck has been suspected of being a collaborator with Moreno for years, even though she despises the man, and as such wrestles with ever being able to trust anyone again.

Can you see my dilemma?

65
Writers' Cafe / Re: Blurb clinic my military sci-fi thriller
« on: November 01, 2016, 04:38:31 am »
I appreciate it. The issue is that there are really two main protags in this book, and to get the sense of one you have to introduce the other, and give at least a *little* of his backstory. At least, that was always my thinking. This is a high-concept book as much as it is mil scifi. It's hard for me to divorce the high concepts from the characters.

Nevertheless, having sort of run the other approach to its far conclusion, let's try Timothy's next. I'll just hurl it out here, and we'll see what all of you think vs. the others so far in this thread. I'll even do this in the style of one of your own blurbs, Mr. Ellis :)

At first I started with this...

Everything Barowe was taught by the Serpican Police was a lie. That's his only conclusion after getting ambushed, being framed for killing an alien ambassador and forced on the run by his own commanders. Barowe isn't just adrift, he's lost in a sea of violence and paranoia. Luckily for him, he's got a potential ally. Only this man is everything he was trained to kill. A legend. A ghost. A genius who once brought Earth to its...

...Then I realized I was back to giving history and backstory. So--and this is painful for me--let's try this:

Everything Barowe was taught by the Serpican Police was a lie. After what they've done to him, he's not just adrift, he's lost in a sea of violence and paranoia, questioning not just his indoctrination, but what else he might have wrong. All of his former comrades are out to kill him, and the only ally he has is not just dangerous, but appears to be the living incarnation of a long-dead military genius. Barowe's every instinct screams that he must kill this man. But he needs him. Just like he needs to know the truth. And he needs to go on the attack.

I should point out this is somewhat counter to prior advice in this thread to openly advertise the presence of big battles and the like, given the genre the book is in. One of the things I've learned over time, though, is that there are often multiple approaches that will work for a book. So let's see if anyone feels like one is stronger than the other.

66
Writers' Cafe / Re: Blurb clinic my military sci-fi thriller
« on: October 31, 2016, 09:25:26 am »
Okay, so here's what I've got now. Part of the issue is Akasa was an infamous historical figure in this future Earth's timeline, but Akasa in the book is what appears to be a reborn doppelganger, and he goes by a different name (Fujita).

And I feel like I have to provide *some* backstory before I outline the meat, or there's no context, you know?

So:

Reed Barowe is one of the most lethal agents in the Serpican Police: a powerful, alien-equipped agency enforcing peace on Earth. Barowe believes everything he's been fed, especially about the long-dead madman Tak Akasa, who devastated the planet. But when a routine mission ends with Barowe in captivity and his squad killed by radicals, his commanders seem to want him dead.

To Barowe's horror, his only ally appears to be Tak Akasa reborn. And Akasa has plans. Vast, dangerous plans. Like not just surviving, but striking back. Starting with a guerrilla war against a brutal dictator...

If Barowe joins this campaign across a shattered United States, he won't just turn his back on everything he was taught. He'll hunt Serpicans. And the man he'll help is a man he was trained to kill.

Revenant Man is the first book of The Tyrant Strategy.

67
Writers' Cafe / Re: Science Fiction Anthology Call
« on: October 31, 2016, 08:54:39 am »
Thanks for the update.

68
Writers' Cafe / Re: Blurb clinic my military sci-fi thriller
« on: October 31, 2016, 08:53:49 am »
I appreciate the detail, Lummox and Patty. You've definitely given me something to think about.

Quote
The quoted section and the journey through the devastated land makes it sound like one of those literary finding inner-peace kind of books. MilSF readers want shoot-em-ups and big battles. If there are big-picture threats and fights, bring them into the blurb. If there are not, milSF may not be the right genre for your book.

There absolutely are big-picture threats and fights, so I'll need to emphasize that in the blurb rewrite.

Great stuff, guys.

69
Writers' Cafe / Re: Blurb clinic my military sci-fi thriller
« on: October 28, 2016, 06:28:43 am »
Wow, I remember seeing the earlier version of this book. Seems like ages ago now. :o

I wasn't happy with the way the first version of the novel turned out. I believed the world and the characters within it deserved better. So here we are...along with a sequel having been released, as well.

I thank you all for your feedback. Let me toss some of these ideas into the grinder; I'll let you guys taste the fresh coffee soon.

70
Writers' Cafe / Blurb clinic my military sci-fi thriller
« on: October 27, 2016, 12:05:22 pm »
So this is the blurb for Revenant Man I settled on a while back, but things are sort of luke warm on the sales side; thus I just wanted to see if anyone saw anything glaring. The book is also linked below, in my signature, if you'd like to check it out on the 'Zon.

Many thanks.

Quote
Since adolescence Reed Barowe has served in the Serpican Police, a powerful, alien-equipped agency enforcing peace on Earth. But running covert ops across a world still recovering from the madman Tak Akasa is dangerous work, and on a routine mission radicals kill Barowe's squad and capture him for interrogation.

Though able to escape, Barowe is betrayed by his unit and finds himself on the run with a living ghost--a man appearing to be none other than Akasa himself. In their journey through a shattered United States and into a guerilla resistance waged against a brutal dictator, Barowe and his brilliant ally will make unlikely friends. And Barowe will find everything he was brainwashed to believe replaced by one question:

Will he help a man he's been trained to kill?

This is REVENANT MAN, book one of THE TYRANT STRATEGY.
           

71
Writers' Cafe / Re: Alone in my stupid sff subgenre?
« on: October 27, 2016, 10:12:55 am »
When I first read your description, I thought of the old "Dark Sun" setting for AD&D. Yes, this genre is out there and you're not the only one writing it. Heck, technically I think Dune is post-apocalyptic, at least as far as Arakkis is concerned. Am I wrong, guys?

72
Writers' Cafe / Re: Science Fiction Anthology Call
« on: October 27, 2016, 10:08:04 am »
RE: The covers:

Given that the theme is "the newcomer" and not something generic sci-fi, I actually like the first one you posted, which is eye-popping and gorgeous (the blue-haired girl). The font would have to be something other than black, however.

Are we looking at the same cover with "Star Gazer"? I cannot imagine something more generic, but generic in a bad way, as in dull, not eye-catching, and like someone whipped it up in ten minutes. It would vanish in thumbnail alongside its kin.

Of the others posted, "The Invasion", then "Contact" and then "New Horizons" in that order.

73
Writers' Cafe / Re: Science Fiction Anthology Call
« on: October 27, 2016, 10:00:36 am »
Okay, I'm in! Under the wire, but I wanted to run it through an editor. Thanks for the opportunity!

74
Writers' Cafe / Re: Science Fiction Anthology Call
« on: October 25, 2016, 10:08:54 am »
Yeah, I agree that the cover really needs to pop.

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