Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Holiday Reading—Oh, the Trials!

I left for our holiday travels with two ereading devices, just to make sure the bases were covered, and that I wouldn't run out of books to read (hah). On Christmas Eve, Allysen was reading a newly acquired SF book by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller on my Sony Reader, Plato—when suddenly it froze like a brick. Aughh! Aughh!

Probably just needs a simple reset, right? Wrong. Plato was bricked right through Christmas and for our trip from Miami to Ponce. I tried everything I could think of. Nada. Then, two nights ago, I left Plato plugged into the laptop to recharge fully while I slept, and also plugged in my Dell PDA (an Axim named Maxim) to top off. (I was reading the latest Vorkosigan book by Lois Bujold, Cryoburn, on it.) The next morning it was bricked, too! Auggghhhh!

What to do? What to do? Running in circles didn't help. Neither did any of the usual techie approaches. Finally, this morning, I plugged Plato into my laptop again, for one last try. Windows Explorer told me it found a file error. It removed the offending file. Voila! Plato lives again!

Maxim is still lifeless. But at least it has a removable battery, so I hope when I get home I can swap in another battery and bring it back, too. Just have to keep the faith on that one.

I realize that my tale isn't exactly the most ringing endorsement of ebook reading, but if you're one of those with a shiny new reader, I've got a hot tip for you. From now until Dec. 31, there's a 25% off sale from many authors of various genres at Backlist Ebooks. Head over and take a look for some great deals!

Meanwhile, here in Puerto Rico we've been having cloudy skies, mugginess, and rain—while back in Boston, I imagine everyone is still shoveling out from a foot and a half of snow. Either one is better than the folks on the west coast pumping mud, though. What a crazy winter for weather. But did I mention the fantastic flight we had over the mountains from San Juan? It was a night flight in a 12-seat Cessna 402, and it reawakened every nerve in my body to a longing to start flying again! Someday, someday!

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Friday, December 24, 2010

Marriage and Gators and Christmas!

But not at the same time!

My brother Chuck was married on Monday, to the lovely Youngmee Kim, who like Chuck is in the psychology department at the University of Miami, Coral Gables, Florida. The beautiful wedding took place at the Biltmore Hotel, which itself is something from another world. Much of Youngmee's family is here from South Korea, so we've had an entertaining multicultural experience. Here's the happy couple:

Yesterday we all headed off to the Everglades and took a 2-hour tram tour, and here are a few of the critters we saw:

Beautiful! And with that, I'm going to wish you all a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a peaceful weekend!


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Book Takes Wing, and So Do We

I'm typing this at 32,000 feet out of Charlotte, North Carolina over a beautiful cloud deck en route to Miami. (Oops, we just flew back into the clouds! Later: a stunning sunset above the cloud deck, just as we started our descent toward Miami. Layered clouds against a crimson horizon band.)

The last few days have been insane, but I'm about to rest. Aside from the usual trip prep, I was busy getting one last book up at Kindle, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords. This is a new one, in a way—an omnibus collection of the first three Chaos books. Called simply The Chaos Chronicles: Books 1-3, it's got a gorgeous new cover by Pat Ryan. I enjoy omnibus collections myself—I've just finished reading through a series of Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan omnibuses that I bought from Baen Webscription. So I thought, why not make an omnibus of the Chaos  books myself, and maybe give the publishers a hint by example? Here it is:

Chaos Omnibus at Kindle | Nook | Smashword

I got that up just in time to see it go live before dropping everything for the trip. No time to make formal announcements—so this will be my first, whenever I have time to get online and post it.  (That would be at my brother's house in Florida.)

Starting this evening, we're with family, and kicking back a little. I hope Chuck's hot tub is still working! 

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Thursday, December 16, 2010

My Computer Celebrates By Dying

Maybe it couldn't stand knowing that I'd done most of the work on my last ebook on my laptop. Or maybe its time had come. But on the very night I got the new Eternity's End ebook up for sale, my office desktop computer Orion kacked. Really? Did you have to do that? (It was six or seven years old, so maybe it did.)

On top of that, my website was down for pretty much a full day (Monday, I think it was). No connection between the two, unless you think forces we aren't meant to know about were at work. Something kacked at SFF.net the service that hosts me, and they spent pretty much a full day getting Verizon to fix their end so that service could be restored.

I've got a new computer up and running (typing on it now). I hope I like it. The budget's tight, so I went for an econo model on sale at MicroCenter. It's not like I do gaming or anything, so I didn't need to go for power, particularly. But I did want a full-sized tower unit, so I could put in a couple of extra drives salvaged from the old one. It seems uninspired, but I've named it Orion-2, mainly so as not to confuse Allysen, who already has trouble keeping the names of the computers on the home network straight!

We're hitting the stretch here, at the Starrigger Ranch. In just a couple of days, we wing our way south. My brother's getting married, in Miami, and that's where we're spending Christmas. Then to Puerto Rico for a little while. Can we get everything done before we leave? Sure. We eat problems for breakfast around here. Don't you?


Monday, December 13, 2010

Eternity's End Gets Kindled (and More)!

Until now, Eternity's End has been my only book not available in the Kindle ebookstore. That changed a few hours ago, when a new ebook version went live, complete with this new cover. I had this one designed by a pro, and I think it's great.

Eternity's End in the Kindle | Nook | Smashwords stores

I'm excited to have this novel, which was a Nebula finalist, up for sale as an ebook at last. As I write, it's working its way through the conversion queue at Smashwords; maybe it'll be done by the time you read this. (The Smashwords edition will be of interest for folk who prefer an ePub or PDF version, or any of several others. And eventually for those who'd rather buy at Sony, Apple, Kobo, Diesel, etc. However, even if you buy the book in the Kindle store, it's DRM-free—so you can convert it to any format you like with Calibre, my favorite free ebook software.)

This has been a long push, and I'm very happy to hit this milestone.

EDIT v.2: I had problems getting it through the system at Smashwords, but now it's up at Barnes and Noble (Nook) and Smashwords, as well as Kindle. In due course, it'll be in the other locations, too.

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Friday, December 10, 2010

Google Ebookstore Opens

Long promised, the Google Ebookstore opened its doors this week. Naturally, I went to take a look. Also naturally, the first thing I did when I got inside was to see if they had my books. To my surprise and delight, when I clicked on Science Fiction, I found Sunborn on the first page! Whoa, wasn't expecting that. Further examination found most of my other publisher-issued books. Unfortunately, they're not all on one page, because some of them are under Jeffrey A. Carver and some are under Carver, Jeffrey A. (The sort of thing that drives you crazy. But they're there, and we'll get it straightened out eventually.)

What's the big deal with Google Ebooks, besides their being one more bit of competition for Amazon? That's a little hard to parse out, because the information on the site isn't exactly crystal clear. I know this: you can buy books in PDF or Epub format, and you can read them while tied to the web, and you can read them on a wide variety of devices. There's a feature that will somehow enable you to patronize your favorite independent bookstore, while buying ebooks from Google. (How that works, I don't know yet.) There will be books from indie authors, and from backlist ebook types like me. But that's really murky at the moment. (First report I heard from an author who had tried was...waiting...waiting...for the system to respond. Still waiting...)

Bottom line, I'll probably get my self-reissued ebooks up there in time. But I'm going to wait for things to shake out a little bit first.

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SpaceX Falcon 9 Launches Dragon Into Space

I almost missed seeing this in the Globe's electronic edition, but Space.com clued me in. SpaceX successfully launched another Falcon 9 rocket, and this time it had a mockup of their Dragon spacecraft on top. The Dragon, which is slated to eventually transport cargo and possibly crew to the International Space Station, went into orbit for a couple of rounds and safely reentered for a Pacific Ocean splashdown. This made Paypal / SpaceX / Tesla Motors tycoon Elon Musk ecstatic. It made me pretty happy, too. With the space shuttle coming up on retirement, the sooner we have less expensive, privately operated spacecraft hitting the Up and Out, the better.

I also have to smile that the Falcon rocket series is named after the Millennium Falcon of Star Wars, and the Dragon capsule is named for Puff the Magic Dragon. Check out the great pix of the flight at http://www.collectspace.com/news/news-120810a.html.

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Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Top Ten SF/F Movies of the Decade

I took part in another one of SF Signal's Mind Meld editions today. The theme: What are your favorite SF/F films of the first decade of the 21st Century?

Check out what I said--and what Paul Levinson, Julie Czerneda, and several other writers had to say!

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Monday, December 06, 2010

Online Auction for Vineyard Community Servings

The Boston Vineyard church in North Cambridge has a terrific group dedicated to community service: kids' soccer, college help for high schoolers, food pantry, etc. They're holding an Ebay charity auction right now, with a lot of nifty items and services up for bidding, all proceeds going to the community service program. The full list of items is at

I'm one of many folk who donated items—in my case a collection of five autographed, first-edition, hardcover science fiction novels. The market value of the books is around $125, and the current bid is way low. So if you'd like a shot at a deal on some collectors-item hardcovers for the SF-lover on your gift list, here's a chance to score some books  and contribute to a good cause at the same time!


Guest Blogging Today

Today I'm the author-guest at Linda Wisdom's blog. She's a romance-fantasy writer, and one of my colleagues in the getting-books-up-on-Kindle effort.

Here's the beginning of what I have to say...

What's a science fiction writer doing in a place like this? he asks himself, looking around warily. Book lovers, from the appearance of the joint. Romance, okay... [more]

Why don't you drop by and have a cup of coffee?

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Thursday, December 02, 2010

Busy Day Yesterday

My downloads page took on a whole new look yesterday. I spent the whole day pounding the keys, revamping and reordering the page to reflect the shift in emphasis from a whole bunch of free stuff...to some free stuff, plus purchase links for my new, low-cost ebook editions. Dreamweaver and the html got a workout, and so did Word as I created new sample PDFs of all the Chaos books, plus Eternity's End. I'm now giving out excerpts of the first 8-10 chapters, which I hope will let folks decide if they like the story enough to drop a few bucks on the whole story in their preferred format.

Eternity's End isn't quite ready for upload of its ebook yet, but it's close. I'm working with a cover designer on this one, and I've been working hard at trying to nail down the concept and the art pieces that will go into it. I hope to have the book up for sale in the next couple of weeks.

To celebrate all that work getting done, I took another crack at something I started a couple of weeks ago—writing a new afterword for the Sunborn ebook from Tor. They're fixing some typos for me, and letting me add some value to the for-sale edition of the book while I'm at it.

And finally...some work on a particularly thorny subplot in The Reefs of Time, which—fear not—I am still hard at work on.

If you haven't visited my downloads page in a while, I invite you to take a look.

Oh yes—I had a nice dinner with my family, too!

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Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Holiday Special on Autographed Books!

Last time, I promised some specials. Here's a Christmas special for you, also good for any holidays you celebrate this time of year. Did you know that autographed books (especially hardcovers) make excellent gifts for the readers in your family? You didn't? Well, they do. And I've got 'em. Boy, have I got 'em. You can have 'em, too!

Now through December 14, you can order any of my hardcover science fiction novels for 25% off, and paperbacks for 15% off. Choose from any of the books listed on my Autographed Books page (note—some are sold out, and I have no way to get more). Tally up your order, apply the discounts—but not to the postage, please!—and send it to me. I'll sign the books and get them out right away.

One exception: the four-volume set of Chaos Chronicles hardcovers is already discounted. I'll apply the 25% discount to the list price, so that set will be $75 instead of the regular discount price of $85.

I need to have your order in my hand by December 14, or I cannot guarantee shipping for the holidays. I'll be traveling myself after that, and this is a one-man operation.

The quickest and easiest way to order is to click the Paypal button and email the details. If that doesn't work for you, the good old Postal Service and a check will do, too. Note: If you don't see anything about the special on the ordering page, don't worry. Just mention the discount when you send it.

If you want the books personalized to somebody, be sure and let me know!

What better way to save yourself a shopping trip?

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