Audiobook Giveaways … Plural!

… and you can enter as many times as you like!

As announced previously, the Walking on the Sea of Clouds audiobook is complete and available for your listening pleasure direct from Audible or, if you prefer, from Amazon — and between now and Tax Day, we’re going to hold multiple drawings to give away free Audible downloads for it!

Why Tax Day? Because somebody ought to get some good news on that day!

Why multiple giveaways? Because anything worth doing is worth doing more than once! (And because the good folks at Wordfire Press gave me several download codes to do with as I pleased, so I’m giving a bunch away.)

How do you enter? Just sign up for my newsletter using this special link, and then every time you share the link and tag me, I’ll enter you in the drawing again!


(Image from Wikimedia Commons.)

If you’re not quite sure whether Walking on the Sea of Clouds is your kind story, here’s what some folks had to say about it:

  • 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
  • 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.
    Abyss & Apex
  • … as entertaining as some of Heinlein’s early fiction, …. closer to the type of fiction Jerry Pournelle wrote in the 1960s and 1970s…. captures a pioneering era that once was and could be again.
    Ad Astra
  • 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
  • Everything about Walking on the Sea of Clouds feels amazingly authentic.
    –Edmund R. Schubert
  • 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
  • This is meat and potatoes for the hard science fiction fan.
    –Martin L. Shoemaker

It’s a near-future story of survival and sacrifice during the very early days of a lunar colony, and explores the reasons why people sign up for such daring enterprises and the price they’re willing to pay to help them succeed. In addition to Audible, you can also find it in other formats on Amazon and other online sources including Baen e-books.

I hope you’ll give it a listen (or a read), and let me know what you think!

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What’s That I Hear? An Audiobook? Yes, Indeed

Ladies and gentlemen, the Walking on the Sea of Clouds audiobook is complete and available for your listening pleasure! You can score a copy direct from Audible or, if you prefer, from Amazon.

As pleased as I am to announce that the novel is in audio format, I’m even happier to announce that the voice actress who narrates it is … my daughter, Stephanie! (Surprise!)

Stephanie auditioned under her married name (Minervino), so the folks at WordFire Press didn’t realize who she was when they forwarded her audition to me. They agreed she was the best choice and worked with her through the production process long before we ever let on that we were related. (Sneaky, I know.)

If you click through to the Audible website, you can listen to a sample. And while I admit that I may be a little biased, I think she did a fine job. It wasn’t easy, with so many different accents among the characters, but she managed to give each character a unique voice!

And not only that: Stephanie did a great job portraying the emotional depth of the story, and actually added to the emotional depth of some scenes. She made me very proud! I just wish her name was a little bigger on the cover:

I hope you’ll check out this audio version of Walking on the Sea of Clouds, and if you know someone who prefers audio to print I hope you’ll let them know about it. In case you’re still unsure whether the story might be worth your while, here’s what some folks had to say:

  • “[As] entertaining as some of Heinlein’s early fiction…. closer to the type of fiction Jerry Pournelle wrote…. captures a pioneering era that once was and could be again.”
    Ad Astra
  • “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
  • “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.”
    Abyss & Apex
  • “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
  • “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
  • “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

Spread the word! And if you give it a listen, I’d love to know what you think!

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What Would C.S. Lewis Think of WALKING ON THE SEA OF CLOUDS? (Part 1)

(I originally wrote this as an item in the Lorehaven Book Club Facebook group.)

Have you read C.S. Lewis’s essay, “On Science Fiction”?

He divided the field into a number of “sub-species,” as he put it, and I think Walking on the Sea of Clouds would fit into a couple of them — though he admits that he wouldn’t have been in the audience for it.

My novel doesn’t fit into the first sub-species that Lewis identified, wherein

the author leaps forward into an imagined future when planetary, sidereal, or even galactic travel has become common. Against this huge backdrop he then proceeds to develop an ordinary love-story, spy-story, wreck-story, or crime-story.

Lewis didn’t think very highly of that kind of science fiction, and presumably would bemoan its popularity. (And it is quite popular! If I could think of a good story like that, I’d surely write it.) Anyway, he then wrote (emphasis added),

Having condemned that sub-species, I am glad to turn to another which I believe to be legitimate, though I have not the slightest taste for it myself, [which] might be called the fiction of Engineers. It is written by people who are primarily interested in space-travel, or in other undiscovered techniques, as real possibilities in the actual universe. They give us in imaginative form their guesses as to how the thing might be done….

That seems to describe my near-future technological drama, does it not?

C. S. Lewis
(Image: “C. S. Lewis,” by Levan Ramishvili, on Flickr under Creative Commons.)

Lewis continues,

I am too uneducated scientifically to criticize such stories on the mechanical side; and I am so completely out of sympathy with the projects they anticipate that I am incapable of criticizing them as stories…. But heaven forbid that I should regard the limitations of my sympathy as anything save a red light which warns me not to criticize at all. For all I know, these may be very good stories in their own kind.

That’s why I think Lewis just wouldn’t be in the audience for my story. And that’s okay! Every story isn’t for everyone. But he goes on (emphasis added):

I think it useful to distinguish from these Engineers’ Stories a third sub-species where the interest is, in a sense, scientific, but speculative. When we learn from the sciences the probable nature of places or conditions which no human being has experienced, there is, in normal men, an impulse to attempt to imagine them. Is any man such a dull clod that he can look at the Moon through a good telescope without asking himself what it would be like to walk among those mountains under that black, crowded sky?

Ahem — Walking on the Sea of Clouds, anyone? It sure seems to fit that description.

But what do you think?

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Writing that Crosses the Spiritual Divide

(Cross-posted, with some light edits, from my 12 June 2018 guest post on the Speculative Faith blog.)

The conventional wisdom is that authors shouldn’t read reviews of our own work.

If the reviews are good, they can inflate already outsized egos, and if the reviews are bad, well — egos don’t always just deflate. A hot-air-balloon-sized ego, pierced by a bad review, might slowly settle into a mass of hard-to-wrangle canvas, but a smaller, more fragile ego might burst into shreds that are impossible to reassemble.

Nevertheless, some of us are drawn to reviews like moths to flame. If we’re lucky, the flame is a gentle candle and we just get singed if we get too close. If we’re unlucky, it’s a napalm-spewing flamethrower and we get terribly burned.

Sometimes we just get confused, as I was at two contrasting reviews of my novel, Walking on the Sea of Clouds. First, an Amazon reviewer gave the novel three stars and noted that it was a “good story” with strong character development but was “a bit bible-preachy [sic] for [their] tastes in hard science fiction.” Then the first issue of the Lorehaven online magazine included a brief, positive review that warned those seeking discernment that the story “only briefly referenced Christianity.”

Same story. Bible-preachy. Only briefly referenced Christianity.

I think this illustrates the fact that every reader brings their own experiences, attitudes, and expectations to the stories they read. Orson Scott Card told us in his writing workshop that whatever we’ve written is not the story, because the real story is in the reader’s head — and what’s in your head when you read a story is different from what’s in another person’s head when they read the same story. You might agree on some points, but you’ll disagree on others, and that’s okay.

In the case of my novel, someone who was not used to reading about believers and faith in the context of hard science fiction was put off by it. I have no way to know whether that person is a believer who was just surprised or a nonbeliever who was repulsed, and that really doesn’t matter. Their reading of the text is just as valid as anyone else’s — including the Lorehaven reviewer who might have been looking for more overt Christian themes. Was that person disappointed not to find them, or just surprised? I have no way of knowing, and again it hardly matters because however they read the story was the right way, for them.

Same story. Different readers. Different results.

It reminds me of what the Apostle Paul wrote to the church at Corinth, about the message of the cross seeming foolish to the lost, but representing the very power of God to those of us who believe (1 Corinthians 1:18). Same message. Different audience. Vastly different results.

Even within the body of believers, though, we can differ in our interpretations of Scripture. How much more should we expect to differ in reading science fiction and fantasy stories?


My friend Keith Phillips (Colonel, USAF, Retired), with whom I served in the 4th Space Operations Squadron, showing off his copy of Walking on the Sea of Clouds.

What does it take to cross the spiritual divide effectively in a literary or artistic work? Is it foolish even to try? I hope not, because in this age of growing doubt and disbelief I believe that Christian ideals, values, and themes still have a place in literature and art, whether science fiction, fantasy, or more mundane creations. And not just Christian principles, but Christian characters belong in fantastical stories — even in technology-heavy hard science fiction — just as surely as Christian people belong in every profession.

Unfortunately, sometimes the Christian characters in these stories end up being caricatures more than characters, reflecting the authors’ preconceptions rather than being portrayed as individuals, as people. I’ve found this to be true in stories by believers and nonbelievers alike, and it was something I tried to avoid.

That is, I tried to cross the spiritual divide by including Christian characters where they’re not always found — and by representing them as individual people with their own virtues and flaws, and even with different attitudes toward and expressions of faith. Some talk about it, some hide it, some deny it. Some ignore it, some sneer at it, some question it. That seemed realistic to me, and above all I tried to make the story seem realistic.

And maybe those two contrasting reviews — too much Bible to some people, not that much to others — show that I struck the right balance after all.

If you’ve read the story, I’d love to know what you think! And if you haven’t read the story, then now you know a little more of what you might find in it.

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Are We Headed Back to the Moon?

On the way home from some errands — which included delivering a signed book, grabbing lunch with my lovely bride, and getting a haircut — I heard on the news that President Trump is supposed to issue (or possibly already has) a space policy directing NASA to start planning for a return to the Moon. I’ll be interested to see what happens with that!

Also, while I was stopped for a freight train passing through downtown Cary, Larry Correia posted a plug for Walking on the Sea of Clouds on his Monster Hunter Nation blog. Thanks, Larry!

Sarah Hoyt mentioned the book on Instapundit last week, and of course there was the National Space Society review that compared the novel to early Heinlein and Pournelle. Between all that, I hope we can generate some pre-Christmas buzz!

Thanks for spreading the word!

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A Surprising and Humbling Comparison

“… as entertaining as some of Heinlein’s early fiction …”

As I mentioned in this past week’s newsletter,* that’s what a reviewer for the National Space Society wrote about Walking on the Sea of Clouds. I never thought I’d have my work compared to someone of Heinlein’s stature — and the reviewer didn’t stop there:

Although as entertaining as some of Heinlein’s early fiction, it is not Heinlein, despite many Heinlein tropes. It seems closer to the type of fiction Jerry Pournelle wrote in the 1960s and 1970s. The style is clearly Rinehart’s own, both readable and involving….

Walking on the Sea of Clouds is the type of story seen too rarely today. It captures a pioneering era that once was and could be again. Those who seek to explore space will read this and say, this is what pioneering space would and should be like.

Not just Heinlein, but Pournelle also? As you might imagine, I was blown away by that!

You can read the whole review on the National Space Society site at this link. I’m given to understand that the review is also supposed to appear in an upcoming issue of their print magazine, Ad Astra.

Success
Being compared to a Grand Master of Science Fiction is one way of defining “success.” (Image: “Success,” by {Flixelpix} David, on Flickr under Creative Commons.)

What does all that mean? Maybe nothing more in the grand scheme of things than that my story resonated with at least one reader. But: if you know any science fiction fans who might appreciate a story of survival and sacrifice on the Moon, but either hasn’t heard of my novel or is unsure about whether it might be for them, you can point them to that review. I’d sure appreciate it if you did!

___
*You can subscribe to my newsletter here.

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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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When the Darkness Comes

(Another in the series of quotes to start the week. I’m considering doing a few of these by video, to see how that works….)

It seems fitting today to present quotations relating to eclipses, in recognition of the eclipse that will cross over the continental U.S. this afternoon. Without further ado …

William Wordsworth recorded his impression of an eclipse over Italy in Memorials of a Tour on the Continent. His poem opens,

High on her speculative tower
Stood Science waiting for the hour
When Sol was destined to endure
‘That’ darkening of his radiant face
Which Superstition strove to chase,
Erewhile, with rites impure


(Image from NASA video of 13 November 2012 eclipse, from Wikimedia Commons.)

A couple of stanzas later, he wrote,

No vapour stretched its wings; no cloud
Cast far or near a murky shroud;
The sky an azure field displayed;
‘Twas sunlight sheathed and gently charmed,
Of all its sparkling rays disarmed,
And as in slumber laid,

Wordsworth, then, had an unhindered view of the event. In contrast, I’m afraid the forecast calls for clouds where I will try to see the totality of the eclipse, but the weather is only one of many things out of my control. Hopefully the clouds will scatter at the right time.

Moving on, it seems apt to quote Victor Hugo from Les Miserables, given the rancorous discourse we’ve heard in our cities recently:

Nations, like stars, are entitled to eclipse. All is well, provided the light returns and the eclipse does not become endless night. Dawn and resurrection are synonymous. The reappearance of the light is the same as the survival of the soul.

In some respects, the struggle in our polity is a struggle for our national soul. Will we be a nation dedicated to a proposition, and specifically to the proposition that all men — all people — are created equal before God and before the law? Or will we be a nation that turns its back on that proposition?

Though in some respects it seems dark now, and cold, the light will dawn again. But whether what we experience is an eclipse — a brief interruption — or a long night, remains to be seen.

With that in mind, permit me to close with the first stanza of my as-yet-unrecorded song, “When the Darkness Comes” —

When the darkness comes, who will bring the light?
Who will run and hide? Who will stay and fight?
When the darkness comes, will we survive the night?
When the darkness comes, when the darkness comes

I hope you get a good view of the eclipse, and that the sun shines warm upon your face.

___

P.S. I would be a poor self-publicist indeed if I didn’t use the occasion of the Moon blocking out the Sun to draw your attention to my lunar colonization novel, Walking On The Sea of Clouds. It’s available as an e-book on Amazon or as a trade paperback on Amazon, and in many other venues as well. Ask for it at your local bookstore! Thanks, GWR

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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 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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