J. C. Conway Newsletter Mailing List

If you would like to be notified by email of new releases and/or promotional giveaways or discounts, please sign up to the “J. C. Conway News and Updates” mailing list. I do not barrage my list members with a flood of emails. In fact, list mailings occur far less frequently than posts on my blog (which you can also follow). The most recent newsletter announced the weekend giveaway of my Another Wrong World anthology. I’m working now on an update that will include an excerpt from Towers of Earth.

I do not share my mailing list with anyone. For the time being, I use Mailchimp for these email announcements. There are other services that I might try in the future, but to date, I’ve found Mailchimp’s free services to be quite satisfactory.

It is a nice way for you to receive succinct notices related to my writing and occasional special offers. So consider signing up. It is always nice to know who wants to hear when I have a new release to share.

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Weekend Giveaway — Another Wrong World

In response to requests for more stories, following the release of Towers of Earth, I’m offering this weekend (Friday March 24, 2017 through Sunday March 26, 2017) through Amazon free kindle copies of my short story anthology, Another Wrong World and other off beat tales. It includes ten stories, each of which is a fairly quick read.

A collection of short stories by J. C. Conway. From asteroid bars to a child’s front yard, from the eyes of a veteran star pilot to the paranoia of a city elf, nothing can be taken for granted. The only thing that can be relied upon is that J. C. Conway’s worlds are far from certain. They are at times uplifting, puzzling, depressing or funny. But each offers a glimpse into some aspect of humanity, be it pleasant or otherwise. Enjoy the spin around the universe.

CLICK HERE to download the anthology for free from Amazon Friday, Saturday, or Sunday. Reviews and feedback are welcome.

Here is a list of the stories, and where they first appeared:

  • Early Retirement (Static Movement)
  • Separation Anxiety (NewMyths)
  • Exit Strategy (365 Tomorrows)
  • Procyon Descent (Farther Stars Than These)
  • The Bender Beamer (Lark’s Fiction Magazine)
  • Letters to the Luminiferous Aether (Bewildering Stories)
  • Seed of Doubt (Untied Shoelaces of the Mind)
  • A Flash of Insight (The Science Fiction Show)
  • November Elf (Hogglepot)
  • Another Wrong World (Indigo Rising Magazine)

Posted in Battlespace, Colonization, Fantasy, Flash Fiction, News, Offer, Promotion, Publication, Reading, Science Fiction | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Colonization — Generation Ships

There are countless tales that involve space colony missions moving at sub-light speed, covering the vast distance between stars over the course of hundreds, or even thousands, of years. There are two main options for these extraordinarily long voyages–sleeper ships (with everyone in a state of suspended animation) and generation ships. We’ll investigate sleeper ships another time. The one method that requires no “new technology” (beyond ironing out the engineering and construction challenges) is generation ships.

The basic idea is that the ship includes a sustainable habitat for the colony population. The initial members of the mission do not live to reach the destination. Rather, their descendants do, and all the generations in between live their entire lives in the habitat.

The problems that can arise are many. One enormous issue is maintaining all of the ship’s functions over the long haul. Parts break. Metals corrode. Very few things on Earth are designed to last centuries. For instance, consider the lifespan of any personal computer you’ve owned. How long did it last? Or automobiles–they wear out over time, and very few survive more than a lifetime, even if meticulously maintained. Deep in interstellar space, there are no options for repair or replacement that don’t rely solely on the materials taken. A new degree of reliability must be designed into every piece and part, and a wide assortment of replacement parts would be essential, but would it be enough? 3D printers would help. But printers break, too.

Maintaining the habitat is similarly challenging. The vessel must be big enough to house a robust ecology. The colony ship, Peerless, in my recent novel, Towers of Earth, would be suitable (although in that story the ship moves fast enough that less than one generation passes in transit). Still, size is not enough. Kim Stanley Robinson hit the problem with precision in his terrific 2015 novel, Aurora. The ship is robust, with twenty-four separate biomes housing thousands of people each. Among other things, after seven generations, the difference in the evolutionary rate of change between macro-organisms (big things like animals and people) and bacteria, becomes a special problem in the contained environment.

Another problem is sociological. The problem that comes up in many generation-ship novels is the loss of knowledge. The people of the ship grow to consider the ship their home. Information about Earth and the mission gets lost as the stories are passed down among the generations. Ultimately, either through a forgotten mutiny or the natural progression of facts becoming legends, becoming myths, and being forgotten forever, the inhabitants of the ship can become completely ignorant that they are on a great space ark. The ship can become lost, and proceed aimlessly, with its passengers indifferent about its course. Robert A. Heinlein’s 1963 novel, Orphans of the Sky, is one such story. David Gerrald’s Star Trek novel, The Galactic Whirlpool, is another.

Then there is the ethical question. Even if the mission is remembered, and it is clear where the ship is going and why, what right did the mission founders have to commit their descendants to it? The youth of every generation questions the decisions of their parents. A generation ship traversing interstellar space is an extreme example of a decision future generations on the ship might resent. This is the case in my work in progress, Plymouth Bound.

Each writer approaches the setting with a new angle and the results are often intriguing. While some of the big ideas have been explored, there is a lot of room for more. Three novels exploring the setting that I have not yet read are Dust by Elizabeth Bear, Starglass by Phoebe North, and The Forever Watch by David Ramirez.

 

Posted in Colonization, Science, Science Fiction, Space Vessels, Work in Progress, Writing | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Book Trailers

I haven’t yet learned a great deal about making book trailers. I’m interested. I am aware of a few resources that have been useful, and some others that might become useful. While it seems clearly possible to build a book trailer with the multi-media tools available to almost anyone with a computer, there is quite a learning curve to the task, and it is difficult to create an effective trailer without some artistic skill. On that note, there appear to be many professionals whose job it is to make beautiful and captivating book trailers.

That triggers the issue of cost, which in turn triggers the issue of reach. Does a professional book trailer draw enough new readers to warrant the expense of the trailer? I believe it can, but I would like to know more. Ultimately, of course, it is up to each writer to determine whether to use professionals (a) after drawing enough market attention to afford a professional with book income, or (b) as part of a plan to obtain market attention with the goal of later making enough to warrant the early investment.

Is this one of those expenses that should be worked into an initial release marketing plan, or is it something to boost sales later in an already successful launch? Suggestions or thoughts on this subject in the comments section below would be appreciated.

On the question of self-made trailers, here is a short book trailer I created for my 2014 release of Hearts in Ruin using Animoto. It didn’t take much time, and Animoto makes it fairly easy to accomplish. It offers free sample tools, which I used here, and offers paid packages with greater variety, longer videos, and other features.

Other tools include Prezi and Photoshow. If you do it yourself, you need to obtain the rights for your images and music. There are services for those. There is no shortage of how-to instructions on the internet. If you use a professional, that should hopefully be included in the package price. Either way, given the popularity of short videos, it seems worthwhile to look into it further.

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Persons of Interest — Dorothy Davies

Dorothy Davies is one of my favorite publishing editors. She has put together countless themed anthologies for various publishing companies, presently editing anthologies for the Thirteen O’Clock Press imprint of Horrified Press.

Dorothy Davies lives on the beautiful Isle of Wight (reputed to be the most haunted place in the UK). As an acquisition editor, she is no pushover. She certainly has not accepted every story I’ve submitted. According to her, “I’m not the sweet and sugary type.” She reviews stories critically and she has a keen eye for what works and what doesn’t. In addition, she is among those few editors in the industry that often says something about why she rejects a story when it isn’t quite right. That kind of feedback is worth its weight in gold for writers serious about honing their craft.

In addition to being an accomplished editor, Dorothy Davies is an avid writer. Her list of published works is too long to itemize here. Her first love is horror, with history running a close second. This accounts for her varied output and those fine stories that have historical content with horror overtones. In addition, she has written an excellent guide to writing, How Many Miles to Babylon, about which she says:

We are at the gates of Babylon now. There’s very little else I can tell you, except that you will hear people talk of your developing your own ‘voice’. That’s shorthand for your own distinctive style of writing. It comes from endless writing, developing itself as you go without you realising it.
If I’ve gone the tiniest way toward helping you achieve that, this journey to Babylon and the chats we have had along the way will have been more than worthwhile.
See you there.

– Dorothy Davies (editor & author)

For writers and aspiring writers, How Many Miles to Babylon is written by an editor that has read more stories than most of us can imagine, and one that has a true passion for the craft as well as a sincere appreciation for writers, aspiring or otherwise. So I recommend the book as a wise addition to any writer’s library.

For short story writers, most of the anthologies Dorothy Davies edits are themed anthologies. She does not limit the stories she accepts to horror or history. I do not write what one would consider horror or history (although some of my works can be called dark with a ray of hope). Strong characterization, a good theme, a well-executed storyline, and a good finish can do the trick, provided it is well polished. I have submitted quite a few stories to Dorothy Davies, and I’m honored to say that she accepted and published stories from me for several of her anthologies, including the recent releases, Rain and More Tales from the Blue Gonk CafeEach anthology is a treat, and I’ve discussed each as it was released.

On top of that, Dorothy Davies communicates regularly with the many writers that contribute stories to her anthologies. She keeps us informed about the word-count progress and new acceptances of each, tells us about new themes as they arise, and she properly and honestly rejects stories when they do not meet her standards. Most of the anthologies require well-written stories of 5,000 words or less. The submission criteria and open calls for submissions can be found by CLICKING HERE. And for the flash fiction writers, the BLUE GONK series of anthologies are a particularly interesting challenge–five flash stories of 500 words or less.

Posted in Call for Submissions, Flash Fiction, Persons of Interest, Publication, Reading, Reviews, Uncategorized, Writing | Leave a comment

Last Day of Short Story Giveaway

This giveaway has been well received by Amazon readers. Muphy’s Traverse was within the top 20 30-minute free reads all day Saturday, and Bingham’s Deep Woods Fairies reached a similar position in the Teen and Young Adult category, with a good showing also in Science Fiction and Fantasy.

The free kindle giveaway is scheduled to continue until midnight this evening, Pacific Time. So please, if you haven’t downloaded either yet, get one or both (depending on what tickles your fancy), and then read them whenever you have fifteen or twenty minutes to spare.  I hope you enjoy them. Reviews are welcome.

Also please consider, for your novel reads, my new release Towers of Earth. Readers of all ages have enjoyed the story, from middle-grade to adult. The print edition is a little under 300 pages. The e-book version page count varies depending upon the format. A couple of five-star reviews have already been posted on Amazon. And please join my email list if you would like updates from time to time.

TOWERS OF EARTH

At the brink of an impending dark age, 15-year-old Allison Taylor escapes Earth on a colony ship to the stars. But a catastrophic quark drive failure forces a desperate, near-light-speed return a millennium into Earth’s future. Allison is surprised to find humanity in a “New Renaissance” and to see the Great Geostationary Towers her father engineered still stretching majestically from ground to high orbit, now housing Earth’s billions.

When Allison learns the “New Renaissance” is a mere façade, she struggles against crushing odds to reunite with her fellow colonists. Finally gaining the opportunity to flee again, she realizes her special knowledge of the Towers may empower her to break the Tower Administrators’ tyranny—but at the cost of her means of escape. Allison is torn. Will fulfilling her father’s dream be worth abandoning her chance to finally reach the stars?

TOWERS OF EARTH is available as an e-book at:

Kindle | Kobo | Apple

The print edition is available on Amazon.

Published by Double Dragon Publishing
Edited by Felicia Sullivan

Posted in Fantasy, News, Promotion, Publication, Reading, Release, Reviews, Science Fiction, Space Vessels, Writing | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Plot

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The things that happen in a story. We’ve all experienced stories with terrific plots. We’ve all been disappointed by (or simply tolerated) weak plots. One quote that emphasizes the importance and place of plot is attributed to George Lucas: “Storytelling … Continue reading

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Weekend Short Story Giveaway

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Two of my short stories will be available free for Kindle this weekend, March 11-12, 2017, to mark the release of my new novel, Towers of Earth. One story is Bingham’s Deep Woods Fairies, a fantasy tale about Carolyn, a young … Continue reading

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Towers of Earth Print Edition Now Available

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The print edition of Towers of Earth is now available on Amazon. It is 294 pages, and the list price is presently $17.99. Towers of Earth is also available as an e-book at Amazon, Kobo and Apple. It is anticipated … Continue reading

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Large Space Vessels — Other Designs

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We’ve look at cylinders and toroids–popular shapes for large space vessels using artificial centrifugal gravity. These shapes obey the canon that form follows function. Almost everything humanity has learned to do has been learned in Earth’s gravity well. The human … Continue reading

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