Friday, August 29, 2014

From a Changeling Star: On Sale Thru September 3!

Today marks the start of my latest BookBub sale, this time on my first Starstream novel, From a Changeling Star. For the next week, it costs just $.99 in ebook, 80% off the regular $4.99! (Okay, get ready for the pitch...) Get it while it's hot! Stock up! It has something for everyone: supernovas, cosmic hyperstring, romance, nanotech, aliens! What else can you want?

Why do I keep doing this? Because it works. The BookBub specials have all brought in extra income, and more importantly, gotten my books into the hands of lots of new readers.

This is a novel that nearly drove me mad when I was writing it, but by the time I was finished, it turned into one of my favorites. Though I had no idea at the time, it connects to The Chaos Chronicles, via the character Jeaves the robot, who first appears in the Chaos books in Sunborn. And the starstream itself is a crucial element in my work in progress, The Reefs of Time, a.k.a. Chaos number 5.

Here's the blurb, saving you the trouble of reading it when you click through to your favorite store:

Into a dying star…

Deep in the fires of Betelgeuse, scientists anxiously await the one man essential to the greatest engineering project in history. But on Kantano’s World, Willard Ruskin battles invisible agents for control of his life, and even his memories. Drawn into a conflict from which not even death will free him, Ruskin must reach Betelgeuse before his enemies sabotage humanity’s future among the stars.

A stunning blend of hard science fiction with moving characterization, both human and otherwise. From the Nebula-nominated author of Eternity’s End.

Original print publication by Bantam Spectra. A Locus bestseller.


“Starts with a bang and keeps getting better. Carver handles not one, but two hot topics, and presents both vividly.” —David Brin, author of Existence and Startide Rising

“Running from the micro to the macro and back again, redefining sentience, space-time, and perhaps humanity along the way, From a Changeling Star is a fast-paced puzzler, rich in invention, and Jeffrey A. Carver’s most ambitious book to date.” —Roger Zelazny

And so on...

You can get it from all the usual suspects.

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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Wardrobe Malfunctions at Worldcon

In my first post on Loncon, I mentioned a couple of wardrobe malfunctions that threatened to derail me at the con. No, I didn't burst out of my bustier. But both stood to be just about as embarrassing.

Scheduled for a signing on Friday afternoon, I went a little early to the green room to have a cup of coffee. Sitting by myself at a table, I was sorting through some of the con literature when I moved my hand in the wrong direction. Oops. Oh frak! I had just spilled the entire cup of coffee across the table, toward me, and into my lap. Yeah, right into the crotch of my pants. Oh shit, what do I do now? I can't walk around the con like this. And my nearest set of alternative pants is forty-five minutes away by tube. Oh damn, oh damn, oh damn. Fortunately, I was saved by the sun and the wind. The green room, by a miracle, had an open-air balcony! I sidled out quickly, and stood facing the sun and open air. And stood. And stood. Thank God, by the time I needed to go to the signing, I was all (mostly) dried out. With no visible stain. Go solar!

The next day, I was all set to walk through the art show, when I felt something snap against my waist. Looking down, I found my belt loose, and my pants sagging. My belt buckle had chosen that moment to snap clean off, leaving me without any means of holding up my pants except to clutch the waistband in my fists. (My pants were a little loose that day, something I usually feel good about.) My nearest other belt was... well, you know.

I checked the dealers room for anyone selling belts, but the only thing I found was a costume belt for fifty pounds, with crossed, full-sized derringers mounted on the buckle. Uh, no.

Then along came my friend Tom Easton, who apprised the situation and led me off to the art desk. "Let's see what they've got," he said. What they had was some jumbo binder clips. Could they be used to clip the two ends of my belt together? Not really. "Let's see what we can fashion," Tom said. He pried the wire handles out of one of the clips. While I was trying to figure out what to do with them, he had already noticed that they could interlock, if there was a way to attach them to the belt leather. And there was. It wasn't easy, but together we managed to squeeze the flared, open ends of the wire pieces through holes in the leather and have the handles come together just so:

The fix worked perfectly (though it took me about two hours of fiddling to get the right tightness), and it lasted the rest of the day! I have officially named it the Tom Easton Belt Buckle Mod. And someday I'm going to find a way to use it in a story. Thanks, Tom!

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Staying on a Boat in London for Worldcon

It seemed like the perfect solution when Allysen found it on Air B&B: Houseboat on the Thames! What could be more charming? Besides, time was growing seriously short, and we really needed a place to stay at worldcon. And it was cheaper than the hotels, which were mostly full, anyway. Besides, it had a double-sized bunk, plus several singles, which was more than enough. Plus, it had a kitchen and a working toilet. What more do you need?  Well...

What we got was a charming little sailboat called the Catch-E, which really was a nice boat if you didn't think of it in terms of B&B, or even houseboat. It did have the requisite number of bunks, but the smell of mildew and strong cleaners in the cabin caused Julia to immediately decide that she was sleeping on the cushioned bench seat in the upper wheelhouse/dining area. And the tiny kitchenette would have been just a tad more useful if it had had refrigeration. And the working toilet? Technically, it did work. But it also pumped straight out into the marina waters, so it wasn't what you would actually call usable except in extremis. The fact was, we had to hike out to the external bathhouses for toilets and showers. For that purpose, we could choose between the one inside the marina's gated fence (where the toilets worked but the lights and electricity didn't), or the fully functional one that required going through two gates with pass-codes in each direction.

Still, it was cozy enough. And camping can be fun. It was pleasant to fall asleep to the rocking of the boat. And it was a very nice hike around the extensive marina area to the nearest supermarket and tube station. It was only a forty-five minute commute to the con, via foot, tube, and automated (driverless) light rail, which wasn't bad. I had brought several outlet adapters and a power strip to charge our phones and tablets, which would have been great, except that while I had made certain all of our chargers were dual voltage, I forgot to do the same with the power strip. Which fried soundlessly, the instant I plugged it in, popping all the boat's circuit breakers. Still, we were doing okay, in spite of its being... other... than what we'd expected.

Until the night came when—sometime after midnight—I ducked out in shorts and t-shirt to the bathroom and came back to the fence gate to find that the pass-code no longer worked to let me in.


No, it really didn't work anymore. I hollered to Julia, who was reading in her bench-seat bed. She came to help, and she couldn't make it work, either. Finally we were reduced to me walking along the outer fence while she walked the long dock, looking for a boat with a light on inside. (Most of the boats in the marina really were houseboats.) Finally she knocked on a boat window and found a kind soul who lent her his entry fob long enough to blip me in. On returning it, I thanked him and said we hadn’t been told about a change in the pass-code. "The swine," he said. "They never do."

The next morning, I got the new code (it changes fortnightly) from the marina manager, who was surprised to learn that we were paying to stay on the boat a few days. "Really," he said. "Because that's not allowed here." He was perfectly genial to me, but it was clear that the owner of the Catch-E was going to have some 'splainin' to do.

We were able to laugh about it, most of the time. It certainly was different from your cookie-cutter con hotel room. But when we checked out of it after the con, and into a hotel near Greenwich (thank you,, we fell with joy upon the spacious beds and gaped with positive wonderment at the included bathroom, complete with shower!

Back from the showers

Laundry day on Catch-E

Tea time!

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Back from London, But a Bit Under the Weather

We returned from England a couple of days ago, after going to Loncon 3 at the Excel Center and then spending another five days seeing London, Greenwich, and Nottingham (where lives an old friend of Allysen's). It was quite an adventure, starting with staying on a sailboat (more on that in another post), and ending with a very nice train ride into Robin Hood country, where we ate at what is reportedly the oldest pub in England. The worldcon was a bit of a wash for me in professional terms, but Allysen and Julia had a fantastic time and I did enjoy myself despite a couple of wardrobe malfunctions that I'll also save for another post.

Overall, it was a memorable trip, with one major downside. I picked up a nagging cough at the con, and by the time I got home I was pretty nonfunctional with a great, hacking cough and pneumonia. A bit of a setback there. Also, it was kind of a lousy way to celebrate my 65th birthday, which was the 25th. On the other hand, the wonder of still-functional antibiotics was a great way to celebrate my birthday. I'm doing much better now, though I'm still a little sub-par in terms of mental focus and concentration. Not up to writing much yet, but I'm turning into a mean movie-watcher.

There may be a lesson in there, though I can't be certain. Prior to the trip, I had a bunch of really nasty poison ivy (or something) rashes, which were taking forever to clear up. The dermatologist put me on a short dose of prednisone, which did a remarkable job of clearing up the rashes. But it also may have suppressed my immune system just enough to lay me open to the pneumonia. My take-away from this is, try to avoid travel while taking prednisone.

Also, when in London, have the fish and chips!

London parks are beautiful.

 Did you know they have 500 miles of canals in London?
I didn't, either.

 The Tower of London, complete with lions. 

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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Yes, I Am Doing a Signing at Worldcon

If you're at Loncon, stop by and say hello. Friday at 3 pm.

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Sunday, August 10, 2014

Cape Cod Writers Conference

I'm nearing the wrap-up of my long weekend here in Hyannis, Mass., teaching sessions on speculative fiction at a conference that is very much about all kinds of writing. I've met some really nice poets, for example, and reconnected with a thriller writer, Gary Braver, who lives in the same town I do. For some reason, I never see him except at writers events. I met another writer who's getting ready to move to my town, and several students who already do. This is largely, but not entirely, a middle-aged crowd, and quite dedicated to what they're doing. My SF class is small, but focused and quite talented.

Here's proof that I showed up at the conference center:

And here's how I demonstrated by example how one can seek out necessary rest and inspiration. I needed it, since they scheduled me for 8:30 in the morning sessions. Anyone who knows me knows that is a profoundly risky idea! (Still, it worked out okay.)

The ocean is always good for a few ideas for me, and sure enough, after about a half hour of floating and swimming in the Atlantic, a couple of ideas came to me for the rewrite of Reefs, things that happen down the road a ways.

Day two, after a class and a private mentoring session, I hopped in my trusty Landshark and drove to my favorite place in Sandwich, the beginning of the bike path along the Cape Cod Canal. I got in a solid hour of roller blading, and returned just in time to shower for the banquet. (We won't mention that I forgot that the keynote speech was before the banquet, not after, and I sort of missed—no, I said I wasn't going to mention that.) Anyway, as usual, I'm drawn to the water when I have the opportunity. Best way to clear the head, reward myself for doing some good work, and gather thoughts and impressions for later.

And maybe dream a little.

Tomorrow we wrap, and I head home. (With a stop, I hope, for a bit of biking. I brought both skates and my bike.)

As usual with these events, the best part was the people I met. I hope to cross paths with some of them again. Maybe even at my local Trader Joe's.


Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Reality Runs Free!

Actually, I don't know if reality, per se, is running free, but my book Reality and Other Fictions, is free in ebook for the month of August! Really!

Why would I do such a crazy thing? Because I want more people to give a try and see if they like it. And if they like it, maybe they'll give it a good review somewhere.* And they might even try some of my other books, while they're at it.

*Please do! It hardly has any reviews in the stores. And as I've said before, reviews matter.

Here's what it's about, according to the blurb writer (me again):

Five science fiction stories to ignite the imagination.

Explore an Earth being devoured by entropy, in the ultimate runaway environmental crisis. Dive the depths of the sea to prevent the mother of all oil spills. Rocket into space as a tourist. Mine the asteroids with your enhanced border collie, in the can-do spirit of classic science fiction. These stories appeared in publications as varied as Science Fiction Age, F&SF, and the Boston Sunday Herald. They include Carver’s first published short fiction, and his most recent. With new introductions, all from the author of The Chaos Chronicles and Eternity’s End.

Reality School: In the Entropy Zone
Of No Return
Seastate Zero
Rocket Ride!
Dog Star

There's a pretty big range of types of story in this one, and I hope you'll find something to your liking. It's free to try! And for that matter, to keep.

Right now it's free at Book View Café, Kobobooks, and Smashwords. Soon it should show up free at Nook and Apple. If you see it free there, you could do me a big favor by going to Amazon and reporting a "lower price elsewhere" (scroll down to Product Details)—in hopes of getting them to make it free, too. (You can't do that directly at Amazon, unless you go into one of their exclusive programs, which I prefer not to do.) Thanks a million. Oh, and grab a free copy while you're at it.

Book View Cafe | Smashwords | Kobo — free now!
Amazon | Nook | Apple — free soon!

(Okay it's free at Kobo again. Still waiting for Nook and Apple, though, and I can't make it free at Amazon until it's free at one or both of those places. Amazing how hard it can be to give something away.) 

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Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Rocket Raccoon Rocks in Guardians! Groot, Too!

I saw Guardians of the Galaxy with family and friends on Sunday (in 3D), and then again on Monday (in 2D). If you're guessing that I liked it, you win! What a great movie! And quite honestly, what made it great were the wise-cracking, machine-gun-toting raccoon and the walking, talking tree. (If you count "I am Groot" as talking.) The other people were excellent, too, and so was the music. And even the reason for the music.

Science fictional ground it does not break. But who cares? You'll love the characters, and you'll laugh a lot. And that pretty well covers the price of admission, in my book.

I'm buyin' this one on Bue-ray.


Upcoming Appearances!

I haven't posted about this in a while. I'll be showing my face in public in two very different events in the next couple of weeks.

This coming weekend, August 7-10, I'll be conducting several workshop sessions in science fiction writing at the Cape Cod Writers Conference, in Hyannis, MA. It's not too late to sign up! (At least, I don't think so.) This one is for the general public, and last I heard, there was still room in my workshop, which is just part of a much larger conference. So if you're in the area, and you're interested, check into it right away!

After that, I'll be in London for Loncon, the annual World Science Fiction Convention! This will be the first worldcon I've attended in a number of years, and I'm looking forward to it. Cool fact: My wife Allysen went through Air BnB and got us a place to stay on a boat on the Thames! How can you beat that? I was late in registering, and apparently too late in asking to be put on the program—because they didn't schedule me for anything, not even an autograph session. Ah well, that may make it a more relaxing trip, after all. 

If you're at Loncon, keep an eye out and say hello if you see me!

EDIT: I'm signing at 3 pm Friday. Please stop by!

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