What Are YOU Doing for Labor Day Weekend?

I’m in Atlanta, Georgia, with thousands of my closest friends — 70 or 80 thousand, I expect — at the annual Dragon Con science fiction and fantasy convention. In addition to giving a solo concert as part of the Filk Music Track and playing music for folks at the Art Show, I’ll be telling anyone who will listen about my novel!*

Here’s my schedule, at least as it exists right now:

Friday

  • 4 p.m., Science Fiction Literature track panel, “Series Here, Series There: What’s Become of the Standalones?” with Bill Fawcett, Chuck Gannon, Chris Jackson, and S.M. Stirling
  • 7 p.m., “Princess Alethea’s Traveling Sideshow” with Alethea Kontis, Leanna Renee Hieber, Mari Mancusi, Diana Peterfreund, and Zoraida Cordova

Saturday

  • 11:30 a.m., Concert — mixing a few favorites from Distorted Vision and Truths and Lies and Make-Believe with some other fannish tunes, plus some Dragon Con debuts!
  • 2-5 p.m., Baen Books information and author signing booth in association with The Missing Volume bookstore (America’s Mart booth 1301) — as a result, and contrary to the official schedule, I won’t be at the Baen Books Traveling Roadshow and Prize Patrol
  • 6-7 p.m., Bard’s Tower information and author signing booth (America’s Mart booth 817)
  • 10 p.m., Star Wars Tribute Concert with Mikey Mason, The Blibbering Humdingers, The Brobdingnagian Bards, Tom Smith, and more!

Sunday

  • 11:30 a.m., solo busking at the Art Show entrance
  • 2-4 p.m., Baen Books booth @ Missing Volume
  • 4-7 p.m., Bard’s Tower

Monday

  • 10 a.m., solo busking at the Art Show entrance
  • 1-3 p.m., Bard’s Tower
  • 4-5 p.m., Baen Books booth @ Missing Volume

As usual, when I’m not performing or working I’ll probably be attending concerts by my musical friends, or hanging out with my writerly friends or Baen Barflies. Or trying to catch a little bit of sleep!

If you’re in the area, I hope I get to say hello — but whatever you’ve got going on this weekend, I hope it goes well!

___
*That would be Walking on the Sea of Clouds.

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Celebrating My Debut Novel!

This past Sunday, I threw a party to celebrate the only debut novel I’ll ever have. (If you just happened onto this blog, it’s called Walking on the Sea of Clouds, and I’d be much obliged if you would check it out. Folks have compared it to The Martian, if you’re into that sort of thing.) Anyway, we had a pretty good turnout even with a few cancellations — not a packed house, but I think we would have overflowed the room we were originally supposed to be in.

Some pictures made it onto Facebook on Sunday, but I thought I’d hang a few more here on the blog. First up, anyone who’s seen me speak or give any sort of presentation knows that I tend to gesticulate, and that day was no exception:


Making a point during the introductions.

While folks continued to trickle in …


What are we here for, again?

… local “Wizard Rock” band The Blibbering Humdingers provided musical entertainment:


The Blibbering Humdingers! — L-R, Eddie Mowery, Kirsten Vaughan, Scott Vaughan, Chuck Parker.

And because I can’t be satisfied with just talking or reading — oh, no! — I had to play some music, too …


Playing “Tauntauns to Glory” for the folks.

… which folks tolerated pretty well.


They didn’t leave!

And then came the big moment:


Reading from Walking on the Sea of Clouds — first time ever reading from the actual book.

After reading a bit, we ate …


The real reason people stayed!

… and ate …


Fantastic desserts from Once in a Blue Moon Bakery.

… and we actually ran out of barbeque, because more people came than had RSVPed! So it was okay that we had some cancellations, or I would’ve had to order some pizzas or something.

While the Humdingers played a final set, we ended by signing books …


Some folks even bought books!

… and saying goodbye to folks who had come out …


My Aunt Frances (on the left) won the prize for traveling the farthest to the event — all the way from Florida!

… and gathering for commemorative pics:


With the family.

I thought the event went pretty well, and folks seemed to have a good time. I appreciate everyone who came out to help me celebrate, and especially everyone who helped put the party together!

___
Once again, that’s Walking on the Sea of Clouds, a near-future novel of survival and sacrifice, love and loss, in the early days of the first commercial lunar colony. Ask for it at your favorite bookstore!

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Congratulations! Prizes Are Going Out Today

Last week we held a drawing for several copies of Walking On The Sea of Clouds — we organized a fun little “Facebook Live” event where three friends drew names out of an actual hat — and I announced the winners in my newsletter.* The prize packages will be on their way very soon, and here’s a look at everything in the Grand Prize:

If you didn’t win, you can of course pick up the novel on Amazon as an e-book or as a trade paperback. In addition to Amazon, it’s also available on the Barnes & Noble website, on Kobo, on Smashwords, and a few other places as well.

You may prefer to support your local bookseller, and you can certainly get them to order a copy for you. Fair warning, though, whether ordering online or at a bookstore: the paperback is a bit pricey — turns out it’s a pretty thick book!

If you like realistic science fiction, Walking On The Sea of Clouds might fit the bill for you — but don’t just take my word for it! Among other testimonials I’ve posted now and then, these get the point across quite succinctly:

Everything about Walking on the Sea of Clouds feels amazingly authentic.
— Edmund R. Schubert

This is meat and potatoes for the hard science fiction fan.
— Martin L. Shoemaker

I hope you’ll give it a try, and that something in it resonates with you! Let me know what you think — and if you like it, tell your friends!

___
*I try to share different things in my newsletter than I do here on the blog or over social media, so if you’re not already getting it, I’d be pleased if you would sign up on my mailing list. At the very least, I think you’ll find it to be more personal, and more conversational, than the blog. Plus, you get a free nonfiction e-book for signing up!

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We Need Government, But Not Necessarily Governing

(Another in the series of quotes to start the week.)

Fantasy fans may be expecting a quote from the Harry Potter series this morning, since today is J.K. Rowling’s birthday; while that was tempting, I decided to take this in a different direction.

In addition to being Ms. Rowling’s birthday, today is also the birthday of US economist Milton Friedman (31 July 1912 – 16 November 2006). Friedman received the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1976, and is something of a hero to libertarians because he argued for smaller government and a freer economy. However, it’s important to note that Friedman understood the importance of government, as he said in 1973:

We need a government to maintain a system of courts that will uphold contracts and rule on compensation for damages. We need a government to ensure the safety of its citizens — to provide police protection. But government is failing at a lot of these things that it ought to be doing because it’s involved in so many things it shouldn’t be doing.

And in 1978 Friedman said:

We have to recognize that we must not hope for a Utopia that is unattainable. I would like to see a great deal less government activity than we have now, but I do not believe that we can have a situation in which we don’t need government at all.

The problem is that often government spends too much time and effort governing — that is, imposing requirements and restrictions on citizens as to what they must and must not do. If we as citizens need governing, it is only because we have failed to govern ourselves; and if we freely impose upon ourselves a government to rule us rather than to operate alongside us — if we accede to be governed in that way — then we will have admitted that liberty is too great a burden for us to bear.


(Image: “US Capitol at Dusk,” by Martin Falbisoner, on Wikimedia Commons.)

I prefer the idea of a government that governs itself well; that leaves the rest of us to govern ourselves as best we can; and that intervenes and interferes in our lives very little.

___

And now, if you’ll permit me an aside on “This Day in History” … I was interested to read on the Internet (so of course that means it’s all true) that today marks three separate events in the US space program, each having to do with the Moon:
– In 1964, the Ranger 7 spacecraft sent back the first close-up photographs of the Moon;
– In 1971, Apollo 15 astronauts David R. Scott and James B. Irwin became the first to ride across the Moon’s surface in the lunar rover; and
– In 1999, NASA crashed the Lunar Prospector spacecraft into Shoemaker Crater at the lunar south pole.

I was interested in all of those things, of course, because last week my lunar colonization novel, Walking On The Sea of Clouds, was published. And not just that, but I mention the Lunar Prospector mission in the novel! It comes up as a group of colonists pass Shoemaker Crater on a journey to retrieve polar ice needed to keep the colony alive.

Walking On The Sea of Clouds is available as an e-book on Amazon or as a trade paperback on Amazon, or if you prefer it’s also available as an e-book from Kobo and Smashwords.

___

Thanks, and have a great week!

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First Sighting in the Wilds of the Internet: Smashwords

If you want an electronic copy of Walking On The Sea of Clouds, you can now buy it on this Smashwords page.

Amazon and other links for print versions are still pending, but you can get it for your e-reader now!


That really is a fine-looking cover, don’t you think? (Click for larger image.)

Hope you like it!

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Today is … Not Quite the Day …

I don’t pray for patience, because someone taught me long ago that the answer to a prayer for patience is to be put in situations that require it.

Walking On The Sea of Clouds is almost ready. We are waiting for all of the e-commerce dominoes to fall — they’re lined up, and the first one has been pushed, but the rest of them are behind a curtain and we have to trust that they are falling in order.

Stay tuned — I’ll blast out every link I can, as soon as I get them!

Meanwhile, we are still holding the Debut Novel Giveaway Drawing today at lunchtime. The local event will be at Rally Point Sport Grill starting at 11:30, and if we can get it to work we’ll run a “Facebook Live” event from there.

I know I promised the book would be released today, so if you can’t wait any longer, shoot me an e-mail and I’ll send you an electronic Advance Reader Copy.

Otherwise, it’ll just be a little longer …


What happened to the Moon? (Image: “Lunar Eclipse on 10th of December 2011,” by Anton Cross, on Wikimedia Commons.)

Thanks for your patience, and sorry for putting it to the test!

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How Did We Get to This Point?

We’re one week out from releasing Walking On The Sea of Clouds into the world! In case you’re still wondering whether the novel is your kind of read, here are some comments made about it:

Much like The Martian, Walking on the Sea of Clouds puts you on a lifeless rock and makes you think about why we explore new frontiers even as it explains how it can be done.
— Booklist Online

This book will be treasured by anyone who has ever dreamt of visiting the Moon, walking on another world, or bathing beneath the light of a distant star.
— David Farland

Annoyed you haven’t been to the Moon yet? Then pick up Walking on the Sea of Clouds; you’ll feel like you’re there.
— Charles E. Gannon

If you’ve ever wanted to be a colonist on the moon, this is as close as you will ever get without going there yourself.
— Wendy S. Delmater, Abyss & Apex

In other words, if you’re not a science fiction fan, and space exploration holds no fascination for you, then my novel is not for you — and that’s okay. Maybe you know someone who likes such things; I’d be honored if you told your friends about it!

Since we’re down to just a few days before the book will be available, it seemed like a good time to review how this all came about, for folks who might wonder just how long the road to publication can be. Unfortunately, that in itself is a long story — since the road to publication was over a decade long — but because I value your time I cut down my original retrospective by more than half. (You’re welcome.)

So, briefly:

  • In 2000-01, when I was stationed in Greenland, I wrote my first novel about an environmental engineer working to keep a lunar colony alive. (Sound familiar?) I was offered a contract on it by a small press, but backed out because I could not accept the terms.
  • In 2003, I had the good fortune to attend Orson Scott Card’s writing workshop, where I learned why every other publishing house had rejected or ignored that first novel. The next year I attended his “Literary Boot Camp,” where the lesson was reinforced: that first novel was not up to par.
  • I turned my attention to short fiction, but the general idea of that first novel still appealed to me. In 2006, I wrote a novelette starring one of the main characters but that story never sold.
  • In 2007, I began writing the new novel under the title Mare Nubium, which is the lunar formation — the “Sea of Clouds” — where I located the colony.
  • In 2008, I set a goal for myself to finish the novel that year, and even cataloged my progress on my blog. I also had the good fortune to attend Dave Wolverton’s novel writing workshop, which challenged me in terms of structuring the story and presenting it in the best way I could.
  • In January 2009, I finished the novel. (Not only do I write slowly, but I was working two jobs during that time.) Shortly thereafter I sent it out to a number of readers for their feedback. I received a great deal of helpful comments, and in the process of making changes I re-titled the novel Walking On The Sea of Clouds.
  • In mid-2009, I started sending it to agents and publishers. Over the next few years I sent inquiries to over 60 agents, of whom about 40 actually wrote back to reject the novel. A grand total of four agents asked to see the whole manuscript, but they also passed on the project. (I never did get an agent.) At the same time I sent submissions to a variety of publishers — sometimes including a personal referral, sometimes referencing having met them at a convention. All told, I sent the novel to ten different publishers, most of which were at least kind enough to respond even if their answer was “no.”
  • In early 2016, WordFire Press said “yes.” There’s an interesting side story about that, involving interest from a newer small press that eventually led to WordFire speeding up their decision, but I’ll save that for another day. (Ask me at a convention sometime.) In May 2016, I believe, we signed the contract and the novel went into the publication pipeline.
  • Through the fall of 2016, the novel went through a “developmental edit” with Bryan Thomas Schmidt. I had worked with Bryan on two anthologies, and I was a bit surprised (but pleased) that he didn’t suggest any major structural changes to the story itself. I found his editorial suggestions to be very helpful.
  • In late 2016, the novel went into production: cover art (which is tremendous), interior design (also top-notch, with touch-up work being done even now), and so forth. By way of confession, some of the changes I asked for during this part of the process contributed to delaying the novel from the Spring to the Summer. I apologize for that.

That’s the story, in a pretty small nutshell. It seems like a case study in Danish poet and mathematician Piet Hein’s “cryptic admonishment”: TTT — things take time. Like many other pursuits, this is a marathon rather than a sprint, and sticking with it requires either dogged determination or an irrational stubbornness. (In my case it may have been both.) But thankfully we should be able to enjoy the fruits of all these labors in just a few days!


(Click for larger image.)

When the time comes, I will send out links for ordering the book from Amazon or wherever. Ordering from Amazon has certain advantages, but WordFire Press is making the book available in other venues as well. The novel will be available electronically or as a trade paperback, and if you prefer you will even be able to get your local bookstore to order a copy for you.

Meanwhile, you can still register for my giveaway: I’m going to hold a drawing to give away several copies of the novel, and the Grand Prize will consist of the novel, both my CDs, and other goodies totaling over $50! All it takes to get your name in the hat is to sign up for my newsletter. Go ahead, do it now — somebody’s going to win, it may as well be you!

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Book Giveaway! Register Now

I’m going to give away several copies of my debut novel, Walking On The Sea of Clouds, which is to be released on Wednesday, July 26th.

As I tell anyone who will listen, two reviewers so far have compared Walking On The Sea of Clouds favorably to The Martian, so if you liked that story you might like mine as well. (In all humility, that comparison is probably unfair to The Martian, since it was amazing and I don’t consider mine to be in the same league … though that clearly doesn’t stop me from referencing those reviews, now does it?)

For the giveaway, we’ll conduct a drawing for multiple prizes and the Grand Prize is a package of books and CDs worth over $50. So be sure to sign up!

You can register to win by signing up on my mailing list at this link or using the form in the sidebar to the right. Good luck!

And, I hope you enjoy Walking On The Sea of Clouds!

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We Will Congregate with the Congregation at ConGregate

This weekend I’ll be in the bustling metropolis of High Point, North Carolina, for the ConGregate science fiction and fantasy convention — which is also hosting DeepSouthCon this year!

Here’s where you’ll find me:

Friday:

  • 4:30 p.m. — Concert — playing a mix of songs from both of my albums, plus new music … and some extras!
  • 6:00 p.m. — Panel, “On Writing Short Stories,” with Steven S. Long, Arylias Nova, Edmund R. Schubert, and Stephen J. Simmons

Saturday:

  • 10:00 a.m. — “Allen Wold’s Regionally Famous Writers Workshop,” with Allen Wold, Edmund R. Schubert, and Darcy Wold
  • 2:00 p.m. — Concert — presenting an overview of “filk,” the music of SF&F fandom
  • 5:00 p.m. — Baen Books Traveling Road Show, with Toni Weisskopf and Alan Pollack
  • 7:00 p.m. — “Java & Pros,” with Nicole Givens Kurtz — where I will in all likelihood read from my novel, Walking On The Sea of Clouds … which is coming out in less than two weeks!

Sunday:

  • 9:00 a.m. — Non-Denominational Prayer Service
  • 10:00 a.m. — “Allen Wold’s Regionally Famous Writers Workshop” (conclusion)
  • 12:00 p.m. — Signing, with Chris Kennedy — stop by and sign up for my mailing list to register for a drawing to celebrate my novelGrand Prize over $50!

Of course there are plenty of other things going on as well: ConGregate is a great little con, and since it’s hosting DeepSouthCon 55 this year I expect it to be better than ever. At least, I intend to do my best to help!

So, let’s have some fun!

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Book Your Trip to the Moon, Two Weeks from Today

Bad puns aside, Walking On The Sea of Clouds is scheduled for release on Wednesday, 26 July!

Next week I’ll have more information about the best way to order a copy if you want one, and then as the actual date gets closer you may get tired of hearing from me about it. But, as I wrote to some friends last night, I’m only ever going to have one debut novel — and this is it! So I’m going to make the most of it.

Many thanks to the WordFire Press team for their hard work — and for putting up with my trouble-making!

Lunar Landscape
(Image: “Lunar Landscape,” by RDPixelShop, on Flickr under Creative Commons.)

It’s going to be a real thing, real soon!

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