Dan Melson: October 2019 Archives

Rediscovery 4 Book Omnibus

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Got the file uploaded for the Rediscovery omnibus edition both to Amazon and Draft2Digital. E-books are fine and will launch November 4, but Amazon is not liking the file length for print as it's above their Print page ceiling.

In order to get the paperback within Amazon requirements, I had to move the type size down to 10 point, which is less readable than I would like. It's also 8.5x11, as opposed to most paperbacks being 6x9. The good news is that it's only $22.99, which is basically four books for the price of two. The pre-order link for the actual paperback on Amazon only is: Rediscovery

Draft2Digital could also only do the print edition in 8.5x11 trim, but they could do it in more readable 12 point, so I recommend that edition. $32.99, which is still better than ten bucks off the price of the four novels in print individually, available from Kobo, B&N, Apple and all of the other Books2Read Retailers (and library services!) but not Amazon: Rediscovery

The e-book will be a heck of a good deal, either on Amazon or through all the Books2Read retailers: All four books for $9.99, which is essentially buy two, get the third for a buck and the fourth one free. They are basically the same with only slight differences to tailor them for specific reader hardware, as with e-books you get to control the print size on your reader.

The Books2Read retailers' link for Rediscovery (also useful if you want your local library to acquire a copy) is here: Rediscovery

The e-book link for Amazon is here: Rediscovery

Ten seconds later, we grounded with a thump-KLANG. Harder than I liked to put my ships down, but with a full hull charge, I had no reason to believe Ugatu had endangered the ship or anyone in it. Weight returned as the impellers went dormant. I stayed buckled and so did Asto; nobody had told us we were getting off here.

A few seconds later, Ugatu came back into the cargo bay and did just that, "Unstrap yourselves and grab your bags. Follow me out in reverse order to how you came in. Welcome to Sharanna Military Reservation Twentythree, the Empire's newest initial military training facility for Guardians. You'll be here until you pass or they allow you to quit."

The lone man who'd been on the opposite side of the ship followed him out first, followed by the left side from front to back, reversing the order we'd loaded in. We debarked on a much larger landing field, with many ships of varying sizes from Starbird all the way up to convoy craft at least, and it was just that I didn't see anything bigger, not that I was certain it wasn't there. First, we trotted at the same speed away from the ship as we had in approaching. This area of Sharanna was a lot cooler and less humid than Fulda or even Sumabad; maybe the equivalent of five degrees Celsius outside. Cold enough for natural state humans to be uncomfortable, and you could feel a hint of rain in the air. Classic towering cumulus and cumulonimbus clouds occupied a good slice of the horizon, approaching rapidly, and you could see the rain approaching. Overhead, the clear sky was rapidly turning to grey. Once the weather got up steam here, it could really move fast and grow powerful enough to make a joke of any Earthly storm. Imperial construction was tough; people just didn't go out when storms were bad. Sharanna was a completely artificial environment, so unless there was an intentionally created barrier, storms could travel millions of kilometers, alternately waxing and waning the whole way until they did run into something that stopped them for good. Kind of like the Great Plains states, or the oceans of Earth, times a thousand or so. My dog farm was in the prevailing wind-shadow of Band City with its massive ten and twenty mile high arcologies spreading across a swath a million kilometers or more in any direction, and no major sources of storms between the city and the farm. I gathered that this place was not so sheltered.

Another operant was waiting for us, a woman in a uniform like none I had seen before. It was Imperial forces field uniform, but with a large white tabard over each shoulder, like enlarged epaulets, as if she were staff, only more so. On each, an insignia of rank the size of my hand was emblazoned, about four times the normal size. It was a private's circle of rank, split by a horizontal white line. Below the line was purple, as in a Senior Private, above was green, as if for a Team Private. "This is Instructor Jereya," Ugatu told us, "She will take you to your barracks and your training units." Then without further ado, he headed back for the cutter.

"This way," the woman said, moving us quickly behind a safety line. As soon as we were all over the line, the cutter was off in a trailing vortex of wind, no sign of its presence remaining. "We're going to start with military discipline now. You jondats will keep step and interval as you follow me. You're all operant, so there's no excuse for violating a ninety isixths interval or getting out of step." The distance was just shy of one Earth meter, a little over three feet. "Each pace is seventy-five isixths, always step off with your left foot. First Step is four paces per second, Third Step is six." Eighty-two Earth centimeters, roughly thirty-two inches per step. Imperial seconds were 1.7 Earth, so first step was about 140 paces per Earth minute - a brisk walk - while third step would be 210 or so, a moderate trot about equal to what we'd done with Ugatu. "Third Step, march! Left-right-left!" she called the pace for three steps, by which time everyone was with it and she ignored it thereafter.

She yelled over her shoulder as she moved. "I am Instructor Jereya! Instructors are specialists, utilized at need to help instruct you pathetic losers in hopes of achieving a marginal competence. We are technically civilians, but unlike Staff, Instructors and Leaders are in your chain of command until you are promoted to Trained Private! All recruits are to treat Instructors as superior to Senior Privates, subordinate to Team Privates! Similarly, Leaders are superior to Team Privates, subordinate to Squad Privates! You will have one Leader to a squad, learn your current Section Leader and otherwise let the Leaders sort out who's a Section Leader! There is one active duty Section Private assigned to command each platoon; they will have final say in all matters having to do with your training. You must have your squad Leader's permission before initiating contact above that squad Leader."

Jereya took absolutely no notice of the impending storm. I didn't believe for a moment she hadn't noticed, but she didn't show that she had. We trotted past several boomerang-shaped assault cruisers and empty, recessed berths in the white pavement intended to hold others as large raindrops started splattering on the pavement and on us. Within minutes, it had become solid rain with occasional sheets, and we were all soaked. She trotted on, apparently oblivious, as the wind began driving the rain into our right side. After perhaps fifteen minutes, we came to a portal, which she programmed and led us through.

We emerged into the middle of a multistory building, kind of an atrium without glass. The light was artificial. Around us, snowflake-like, six wings of barracks in six levels. "This is Operant Training Barracks Two, your new home! Each bay holds one section in three squad rooms! The squads I am now assigning you to will be your place here until you are otherwise notified! The assignments have been made at company level and are not subject to appeal! Your squad leader has been apprised of your joining their squad and has your records! Your first assignment will be to stow your gear, change your wet disgusting clothes and report to your squad Leader! Move"

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If you're one of those who gets attacks of the vapors, look away now.

I'm serious. Last chance. Abort now or be prepared to deal with it.

The dirtiest word in science fiction and fantasy is 'retcon'.

Short for 'retroactive continuity', it means going back and altering previously published events.

Let's be clear on what retconning is and is not. It's not a different point of view or different opinion from a different character. It's not fixing typos or spelling errors or genuinely ambiguous conflicts between events or character viewpoint. It's not even new information that changes how the reader views the event (aka 'gutpunch'). It's an unambiguous change to a major event or consequence of a previous point in the story line. Comics are notorious for 'retconning', which is one reason I rarely read comics.

Let's consider one of the best known retcons to a major media property. It's decades old, so if I'm spoiling it for you, you have only yourself to blame. In Star Wars (The original movie) after Luke and Obi-Wan leave the cantina, Han Solo is accosted by a bounty hunter who's got the drop on him, pointing a blaster at Han from a such a distance even a toddler who's never seen a pistol before would have difficulty missing at. Han sits down, distracts the bounty hunter with a line of patter, draws his weapon under the table, and calmly shoots the bounty hunter.

When Lucas was gussy-ing up the original trilogy, he added a completely unbelievable prelude of the bounty hunter shooting first - and missing across the small table before Han shoots. Which is completely unbelievable, unless Han is a member of some weird mystical order with the power to bend light ("Beware! I'm one of the authorprotectedcharacters"). The bounty hunter is a professional, and guns are a tool he has to have some ability with in order to survive in the profession more than a day or two. But for some reason a bounty hunter with a gun pointed at you, wanting to force you to go to a mob boss who's going to kill you isn't enough 'self-defense' for the later George Lucas. It also short-circuits our understanding of the character of Han Solo. It was a perfect Han moment - until it was retconned.

I've never seen retconning be justified. Frankly, I don't think it can be. It's a tool for a lazy writer who can't handle the corner they've written themselves into. You got the benefit of whatever reader or viewer emotion was when you wrote that scene. Now suck it up and deal with the consequences. If you can't make it make sense, go write something new instead.

P.S. In comics, it is to be admitted the writers are doing everything by direction, so it can be laid of the feet of greedy and often lazy executives with the comic company. In their defense, however, comics fans keep letting them get away with it. When the fans stop letting them get away with it, retconning will stop.

How I Respond to Reviews

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(1) As a reader what prompts you to leave a review for a book you have read?

As a reader, nothing really, just experience. As an author, though, I understand how important they are. But since I'm not being paid, I generally ask 'would I want this review?' before I post it. Occasionally, though, something just leaps out and has to be posted even though the answer is no.

(2) As an author, what do you do to encourage readers to leave a review for your book?

Ask for them. (Won't you please read and review my books?)

(3) To what degree do you think reviews and ratings are important in helping book sales?

Amazon is where the largest number of sales happen. And on Amazon, the number of reviews often controls whether they see your book - particularly if you're not paying for it to be seen right now. 25 reviews seems to be the first 'magic number' - when Amazon starts showing your book as an 'also bought'. The second is around 75 reviews when they start including it in newsletters.

(4) What advice would you give to a novice author regarding reviews for their book?

A: Good or bad, don't take it personally.

B: Seriously, don't take it personally

C: It's just their opinion. I recently had a review that was evidently offended by something. They flat out ignored things that were stated plainly more than once, instead attacking the book for everything they could dredge up and going so far as to accuse me of having nothing but 'friend reviews' thus far but they were going to Set Me Straight (in fact, precisely one of my friends has reviewed the book in question, out of a double digit number of reviews). This applies to good reviews as well: It's just their opinion.

When reviewing, I try to differentiate between story telling choices I disagree with (which I'm as charitable about as I can be) and things that do not make any kind of sense or which flat out do not work that way and ten seconds of research should have told them better. I'm also charitable about things that are boring in real life - boredom is a mortal sin in entertainment (I'd put you to sleep writing about the detail work that's really what's important in real estate - real life is not HGTV). But not everyone does this.

E: Good or bad, Don't take it personally

F: If someone makes a valid complaint about your work, pretending it's not valid doesn't help. The only time I have engaged a review is to thank the reviewer for valid criticism. Uncomfortable as it may be, they're actually helping you.

G: Did I mention not to take them personally?


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The Man From Empire
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A Guardian From Earth
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Empire and Earth
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Working The Trenches
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Rediscovery 4 novel set
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Preparing The Ground
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Building the People
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Setting The Board

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Moving The Pieces

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The Invention of Motherhood
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The Price of Power
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The End Of Childhood
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The Fountains of Aescalon
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The Monad Trap
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The Gates To Faerie
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The Book on Mortgages Everyone Should Have!
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The Book on Buying Real Estate Everyone Should Have
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