Writers Conference Redux

I’m finally getting around to writing about the Surrey International Writers Conference, which was held last weekend. It was my very first writers conference, and I wasn’t disappointed. I had, at the back of my mind, expected the seminars to be simplistic and filled with platitudes, like too many “educational” venues.

Not even close.

This is a conference for experienced writers, and it showed. From seminars that examined the psychology of your characters, to ‘SIWC Idol’, in which the first page of your novel got the Simon Cowell treatment, it was an eye-opener. For the record, they didn’t get around to my first page in the 75 minutes available, and I was relieved more than anything else. I think perhaps three first pages got through the entire reading without getting buzzed out. Scary.

I also got my first pages critiqued by Robert J. Sawyer, which was a thrill for me as he’s one of my favorite authors. I think I managed to keep a straight face. 🙂 And he liked my opening pages, which was a huge bonus.

There are too many seminars to keep up with, of course. In each time slot, I had to make a choice between several attractive possibilities. Hopefully at least some of them will have a summary on someone’s web page.

I got the three-day package, but not the full-meal-deal. Next year, I think I’ll not only get the full package, I’ll rent a room for the two nights. All in all, it was well worth it.



Oh Yeah?

I’ve got another “fan”. And yes, the quotes are on purpose. That’s what you call “irony”.

Here’s his take on We Are Legion:


(I’m not embedding the video because I don’t have permission or copyright).

So, uh, Loki seems pissed. He also called me a meth-head, I think.

Okay, not really, but he is pissed. He’s also loud, abusive, profane, and right.

Wait, what?

No, not about the meth-head thing. Loki is pissed that Legion didn’t seem to wrap anything up, being more like a Batman episode: Stay tuned, next week, same Bat-time, same Bat-channel. And yeah, there’s a lot of that.

But one thing I have to be clear on: it wasn’t a marketing ploy. Pfft. Like I’m going to do marketing willingly. If I die and find myself in hell, I’ll be sentenced to eternity in Sales and Marketing. Because that’s how hell works.

Anyway, Loki isn’t the only one. A small but significant fraction of my reviews on Amazon and Audible complain, one way or another, about there not being a satisfying ending.

Um, yes. Mea Culpa. But here’s the thing. Legion is a big story. It’s not two books, it’s actually three. And every single plot-line continues right through the third book. Bob is still dealing with Deltans; Riker is still dealing with Earth; Bill is still in Epsilon Eridani making like a mad scientist; and the colonists on Vulcan (Omicron2 Eridani) play a significant part. I even add some more plot-lines.

Sorry, no spoilers.

But none—not one—of those plot lines could be resolved without chopping a major part of the book. Now, I could make one book be all about Bob and the Deltans, and one book be all about Riker and the Terrans, and so forth.

But here’s the problem. First, these sub-plots all happen in parallel. And the various Bobs interact. A lot. Especially once they all start getting the SCUT plans and communicating instantaneously across interstellar distances. How do I publish a whole book about Bob and the Deltans without revealing the big finish, or even spoilers about the other sub-plots? Only by being what’s called an “unreliable narrator.” I can’t speak for anyone else, but I hate unreliable narrators. You’re basically just lying to the reader to keep them in the dark.

So, yeah. I had to leave a lot of stuff hanging. I tried to break things at a logical point. For instance, Bob’s sub-plot ends with the Deltans arriving at the promised land; Riker’s sub-plot ends with the Colonists arriving at their promised land. And Milo’s sub-plot ends with the Bobs having more or less kicked Medeiros’ ass in 82 Eridani.

But none of this goes away. In fact it gets worse. By book 3, there are somewhere between 500 and 1000 Bobs in the galaxy. This is technically a spoiler, I supposed, but I doubt it’ll be a surprise to anyone: the Others that Mario finds evidence of, turn out to be a major pain in the butt, and the Bobs have to mobilize.

And I’ll reveal this as well: The resolutions at the end of book 2 won’t be any more satisfying than the end of book 1, if by “satisfying” you’re looking for “and they lived happily ever after.”

However, at the end of book 3, I think (at least I hope) that I deliver that comfortable just-had-a-good-meal glow.

So, okay, Legion has very much the feel of a serial, and I’m sorry for that, and I wish I could have done it more as independent books. In fact, the reason I wasn’t able to get it published by a traditional publishing company is specifically because of that. Big publishing companies won’t take a chance on a series (even a trilogy) from an unknown author. But the series wrote itself. I just supplied the fingers.

But look at the bright side: at least I didn’t end book 1 with Bob pushing a canoe out into the river while Guppy scrambles desperately to catch up with him.



At the Surrey International Writer’s Conference

I’m at SIWC this weekend — my first writer’s conference. Very, very interesting. I got to meet Robert J. Sawyer–sort of–I was in one of his seminars. He has a very practical attitude toward the whole business of writing.

I tend to expect these types of events to just reiterate platitudes and obvious advice, but some of the stuff, so far, has been very perceptive.

I’ll post more after it’s over. Right now, it’s time to head back there.


Sample Chapter Posted

If you look up at the top of the page, you’ll see “Sample Chapter.” That’s from the second book of the bobiverse, For We Are Many.


Update On Book 2

Just a quick update:

Had some email discussions, and it looks like book 2 (For We Are Many) will be out in March. And Ray Porter is confirmed for narrator.


Legion Discussion Thread

I’ve had a request from a reader to put up a post where people can post guesses about Legion. Almost a mini-forum.

Well, okay, then, Mark. Here you go.

I’ll try to stay out of it, of course.


Where’s the Sequel?

I just got asked that question last night, as a matter of fact. By Audible. The Legion sequel is written. Actually, #3 is about half-done as well. I’m going to give #2 a good going-over and email it to my agent this weekend. The wheels of commerce grind slowly, of course, but I’m hoping this will move a little more quickly than the first book. As soon as that’s in the queue, I’ll get #3 finished and get that going as well.


And Going Strong

It’s now ten days later. And I am completely boggled. Legion is taking off–as I write this, the book is #2778 on the Amazon Kindle Sales Rank. I keep doing spontaneous happy dances, which gets me odd looks.

Thanks to everyone for the kind words, especially those who have taken the time to post on my site. I think the worst thing that could happen to a writer is having their work sink without a trace. Seems to me that would be even worse than bad reviews. At least with the latter, you’re getting attention and some feedback to use to improve.

Because Legion is published through a publisher’s account, I don’t have access to the sales figures and KENP numbers. All I can do is use the Amazon sales rank, and the Kindle Calculator. The ranking gets updated every hour, between half-past and twenty-to. And yeah, I’m checking my numbers obsessively. Maybe I should try getting something done, instead. 🙁

I’m doing some final edits on Legion #2 (For We Are Many) and will try to get it into the pipeline for publishing in the next couple of weeks. The lead time for Amazon e-books is fairly short, but for Audible it’s, um, significant. And yes, I’m going to wait for Ray Porter’s schedule to free up. I think everyone’s on the same page on that subject.


And It’s Done

It’s the 20th, and I’m now “published”. Of course, I was published when I put out Outland, but this time I have an agent and a publisher.

And I suddenly realized that I have some things I need to do. For instance, I have a mailing list. It’s not a big mailing list, but that’s not the point. The five or six people on my list presumably would like to know when a new book comes out. Okay, I’ll get going on that.

I’ve also discovered a big disadvantage of being “published.” I don’t own the Amazon account through which Legion is posted, so I can’t log on multiple times during the day and obsessively check my sales. Oh, wait. Maybe that’s a good thing.

Well, anyway, the adventure begins.

ETA: Audible has supplied me with a link to a sample from the audiobook Have a listen:



And now Amazon

And Legion is now available for pre-order on Amazon!

Legion on Amazon

The 20th can’t come soon enough.