The (Not-so) Big Time

Cyber-Witch’s medal made the local paper. I’ll take my kudos when and where I can get them (although it’s a poor substitute for massive sales:-)

 

On another note, I just received the cover art for the sequel to Cyber-Witch. (See below.) Now I have to make a painful decision: What am I going to title this next book?

I’ve thought of Cyber-Magic, Nano-Magic, Cyber- followed by conjurer, shaman, thaumaturge, sorceress, enchanter, magician, witch, warlock, whatever, and nothing seems to work.

This new story has many of the same characters as Cyber-Witch and it takes place some time later after the world has completely changed as a result of what might be termed an AI apocalypse. A new character kind of forced himself into the plot: Snake – a composition of nanobots and biological cells gleaned from his prey. He’s reached a sentient level and is struggling to develop a sense of ethics or a code of behavior for himself.

He is allowing me to play around with what is going to become a very serious real-world question: at what point do we view AIs/robots as deserving of human rights. What are human rights, anyway? How do we interact ethically with other creatures in general? With other humans-especially those that are not in our personal group?

It’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt. Snake is a bit of a baby and mostly wants surcease from his personal suffering. He wants someone to be nice to him – in short, he has decided that he – an artificial construct – wants a mother. (Notice the little element of pathos there?) I’ve had a bit of a problem with his speech. He can’t speak terribly clearly and his syntax is lacking, not from ability, but from opportunity to learn, and that poses a challenge to write.

I am enjoying the journey of discovery with him. Will he get what he wants? Will he find a mother? Will he turn out to be one of the artificial constructs we humans use: good or evil?

Still, that doesn’t help me with the dratted name.

I’m probably going to go with Cyber-Magic for lack of anything better. Suggestions welcome.

Here’s the new artwork:

You can see how it echoes the colors in the cover for the first story.

 

Namaste.

Eric

Latest Review

Despite my late night blackest imaginings, apparently I can actually write a good story.

“I loved these two books. A wild and crazy ride, with great characters and a very imaginative story. I need more….please!”

Heart of Fire Time of Ice
All the Moments in Forever

The introductory speculation (first sentence, above) probably makes more sense to other authors. I’ll elaborate.

The problem is: writing a reasonably good book is only half the equation. The book still has to find readers and that requires marketing–aggressive marketing. At the current rate of change in the book marketplace, doing a reasonably good job of marketing requires all of your time, so how does one find the time to write?

I’d rather be writing. It’s fun to develop a book and watch the characters you’ve imagined develop. It’s enjoyable to tell an entertaining story. Getting positive feedback is wonderful.

On the other hand, marketing is expensive, a lot of drudgery, boring (at least to me), and frustrating. The learning curve is very steep and to make matters worse, the topography of the available venues and tools changes continuously.

Then there is the competition — millions upon millions of books, who knows? Thousands, maybe even tens of competitors are searching for your perfect reader. (Trying to be funny here.) In point of fact, the better you narrow down your optimal market, the fewer the competing books, but then the fewer the buyers also.

Heart of Fire Time of Ice seems to enrage some readers, while others find it so enjoyable they immediately start on the sequel: All the Moments in Forever. I can live with that, if I have to, that is.

Then there’s Cyber-Witch: The Origin of Magic <sigh>. It won the silver President’s medal from the Florida Authors and Publishers Association this year (2018). People who read it like it, but readers aren’t finding it or are bypassing it for some reason. Few sales to date and I’m deep in the end stages of writing a sequel.

Why am I doing this? I mean writing a sequel for a book that doesn’t sell. Why??? <insert mental picture of a man choking himself with his own hands>

Two reasons really. One is that Cyber-Witch is really close to potential reality. It is a possible version of our world at the very beginning of the AI apocalypse. The sequel extends that world into an interesting future.

The other reason is I think the basic idea is a good one and the characters deserve their story to be told.

The two books are entertaining and hopefully thought-provoking. The reader is led to contemplate questions about sentience and whether an AI can be considered to be equivalent to a human. I’m not positive yet, but I’m pretty sure that the character “Snake” in the second book will tug at the reader’s heartstrings with his (its-although he has decided that he has masculine characteristics) struggles.

As I write, I’m continually amazed at the plot twists that develop seemingly without my active intervention. Things just suggest themselves as part of the story. I’m left wondering how I can blend the various elements into a seamless whole, but they are resolving nicely at this point. Still, I want to be done–just to see how it all turns out.

The one thing I’m sure of is I’m not making much money out of all this effort. However, I still love to write.

If

I

could

somehow

be

a

better

marketer.

Then, maybe…

 

Namaste!

Eric

 

Fun Words and Wasting Time

Still writing on the sequel to Cyber-Witch. Somehow it’s turned into a difficult task, although once I get to writing, the words flow well.

Meanwhile, here’s a fun word – one of my favorites, although I like them all:

Absquatulate — meaning to leave somewhere abruptly.

For some reason it always reminds me of the early Tarzan movies where Tarzan would say, “Umgahla.” (Or something like that.) The result was always that the elephant he was riding and any other nearby animals would abruptly leave the scene.

Based on that observation, Umgahla (or whatever it was that he said that sounded remotely similar) is Tarzanese for Absquatulate.

It’s just that having Tarzan holler, “Absquatulate!” seems a little out of character. It might have worked though. I’m of the opinion that most of the audience for those movies wouldn’t have known the difference. I could be wrong on that.

That’s enough rambling. Time to get back to Sophie and her problems. Most recently she’s been faced with a surreptitious attack that exploits her previous drug addiction. I’ve got to write the next few scenes in order to find out how she handles it.

On the other hand, it’s probably a good idea to write a section about another character and leave Sophie writhing in pain until I can get back to her. I’d like to find out how Snake is dealing with his (its?)* involuntary enslavement by Abubecar.

(its?)* — I can’t quite make up my mind how to deal with Snake, inasmuch as he/it is a nanite-based AI construction with some organic parts created from cells extracted from other creatures. The only thing I know is he is somehow becoming convinced that Sophie will be good to him if he ever contacts her again, despite his origin as part of a nanite-dragon that she mostly destroyed.)

The weird and strange way this story is developing is starting to get a little intimidating. Hope it works out the way I think it will.

More to come later.

Namaste!

Eric

CyberWitch wins Florida Authors and Publishers Association President’s Medal

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: Ken Johnson, Committee Chairman

Florida Authors and Publishers Association

President’s Book Awards Program

(850)910-1897

kenneth.johnson@myFAPA.org

www.myFAPA.org

Florida Author Receives National Recognition

Lake Buena Vista, FL (8/6/2018) – The Annual 2018 Florida Authors and Publishers Association President’s Book Awards recognized CyberWitch: The Origin of Magic by E. S. Martell, in the category of Adult Science Fiction, as a Silver medal winner.

Hosted by the Florida Authors and Publishers Association, this prestigious national award is open to books published between 2017 and 2018. The judges for this national competition are librarians, educators, and publishing professionals.

The FAPA President’s Book Award exists to promote excellence in the publishing industry by recognizing talented contemporary authors who put both heart and soul into their work. FAPA is proud to be a champion of authors and publishers going the extra mile to produce books of excellence in every aspect.” said Jane R. Wood, Past President of FAPA.  

CyberWitch: The Origin of Magic is a Adult Science Fiction Cyberpunk novel, published by Second Initiative Press, which blends current and near future technology to create a realistic look at where our technology could be headed. The writing is strong and articulate while fully immersing the reader in a compelling story.

Medals were awarded at the annual FAPA President’s Book Awards Banquet held this year at the Hilton Orlando Buena Vista Palace in the Disney Springs TM Area of Lake Buena Vista, Florida.

We are proud to announce this year’s winners who truly embody the excellence this award was created to celebrate. Their works are representative of the creative storytelling, bold concepts and innovative ideas which makes the President’s Book Awards so well respected by librarians and those in the publishing industry. This year was no exception as we had a record number of nominations! We salute all of our winners for their fine work.” said FAPA’s President, Angelina Assanti.

The Florida Authors & Publishers Association is an organization for authors, publishers, illustrators, editors, printers, and other professionals involved in the publishing industry. It focuses on providing the highest quality of information, resources, and professional development to members and others interested in the writing and publishing profession.

###

Recognition

Cyber Witch thumbnai newlI was pleasantly surprised on July the 3rd by an email that informed me that my last book: Cyber-Witch: The Origin of Magic has been selected as one of the finalists for the Florida Authors and Publishers Association President’s Award. It seems that Cyber-Witch is going to receive a medal in the Adult Fiction-Genre: Sci-Fi and Fantasy. There has been, to date, no mention of whether it will be awarded Gold, Silver, or Bronze, but I still feel like it’s a significant accomplishment.

I’m working on the sequel to that book. Cyber-Witch spins today’s science (AI, speech-recognition, CRISPR/genetic modification, hacking, encryption) together with a little imagination into a new world where science-based magic is commonplace. The results are nothing short of catastrophic, resulting in an almost complete destruction of the old power structure while forming a new magic-based and almost feudal structure that replaces the old.

The results give free rein to an almost infinite expansion of the author’s imagination and I’m letting mine roam and explore as I write the sequel. At this point, I’m just completing the first half of the book and the threads of numerous conflicts are tracing out their convoluted paths and (hopefully) leading to an amazing conclusion. I planning for the sequel to leave its readers with a feeling of satisfaction as intense as the one experienced in reading Cyber-Witch.

I’d be pleased if some other authors based stories in this new world. There’s plenty of room for fantasy there.

A brief note: Cyber-Witch is adult reading with drugs, violence, and sex.

Thanks to all my readers!

Namaste,

Eric

 

Writing Dangerously

One of my social media groups was discussing an interesting topic the other day. One that I have an opinion about, as a matter of fact. Here’s the question that started the thread (I’ve paraphrased it):

Due to my trepidation about being attacked by members of another group for asking about this, I’ve come here to ask: How important is message in stories? There is a general relationship between message and theme, but I’d like to know how much of your personal or social values do you put in your writing?

I read through the thread and concluded that in general, the consensus was it’s okay to put your values in your stories as long as you don’t preach and actively shove them in the reader’s face. The responses were thoughtful and not hysterical. (You can see why I favor that particular group.)

Here’s my personal opinion on the question:

You cannot help but instill at least part of your own values in a story since your values are both a result and a cause of how you view the world and your worldview informs your imagination.

I’m not saying it cannot be done, but I think it shouldn’t. Trying to suppress who you are while writing is tantamount to lying to your readers. I think they will, at some level, realize that and feel your story is inauthentic. That may be enough to steer them away from your work in the future. That is a result an author should strive to avoid.

On the other hand, I think you shouldn’t proselytize. That quickly gets boring for most readers and at least some of today’s readers have become sensitized by both cultural trends and education to the point that they find something to offend them in any opinion or story that varies from what they’ve been taught.

Styles of writing change and evolve, however. Modern fiction is mostly intended to entertain, but in the past, novels focused on particular values and often dropped them with all of the subtlety of hitting the reader on the head with a hod of bricks. Mark Twain used this analogy in one of his essays wherein he writes of a man who was killed by a bricklayer’s apprentice accidentally dropping his load from the roof. Twain wrote that humans were susceptible to such events, but dogs were not. That is because, as he observed, a dog would know enough to look up and would then get out of the way.

I would suggest that same foresight on the part of overly sensitive individuals would forestall a lot of the criticism directed at authors who don’t follow popular guidelines. In other words, if the book offends you, just put it down, but at least have the grace to allow others to make up their own minds about the value therein. Screaming for help and working to assemble a group attack on the author is the act of a cultural barbarian. If humans always condemned creative or different ideas, we would be sitting in a cave watching a fire and scratching flea bites.

I would argue that communicating cultural values is the main point of telling stories. Authors write stories because they love to entertain others (and would like to make money at it). They usually don’t set out to create morality plays, except in the case of some factions. There are specific groups who are actively writing science fiction and fantasy (I speak of the genre in which I write since I don’t read much else) who find it necessary to slam the reader in the face with their ideas about inclusiveness and diversity. Generally speaking, I find that such tales quickly become tedious and are often unreadable. However, I will defend the author’s right to write what they want. Let them proceed and let the market sort out the winning stories from the losers.

Let’s approach the issue from another angle. It is possible to gradually move your readers’ worldview, provided you tell a compelling story. That’s why I opt for positive character arcs that allow the protagonist to develop more self-responsibility. I firmly believe that is the first step in taking control of your life–stop being a victim of circumstances and others. Victims languish and complain. Those who have a modicum of self-responsibility will take action to change their results in life. There is no honor or glory in allowing oneself to be a victim since we always have a choice.

I firmly believe that a great author will always intend that some good come to the reader from the story. I realize that this is subject to challenge, but, overall, I think it is true. It’s just that “good” can be defined in so many different ways. Readers of horror stories find some value for which they seek, just as do readers of inspirational literature.

This viewpoint has gotten me in trouble with some ideological readers who are intolerant of any challenges to their worldview. (Fair warning: My stories are based on my love of self-responsibility, liberty, and the belief that reality is what it is and cannot be denied.) That bothered me at first because I naturally want to please everyone. Then I decided that my primary position is that if they opt to be offended, it’s their choice, not mine. I’ve found that anything in life that you cannot handle — anything that upsets you — will continue to present itself until you learn to deal with it with equanimity. As a result of my decision, I sometimes describe myself as a “dangerous” writer in the hopes that sensitive types will be warned.

As an object lesson, consider that cats always try to sit on the lap of the person in a group who most dislikes them. They’re brilliant that way and will go to great effort to help humans cope with their biases. Some dogs do the same, but with less regularity and forcefulness. Basically, the correct response here is to accept the cat’s attention and pet them. They will consider that their job is done and get on with other catness-related activities.

Ignoring them can work, but they can become importunate. In that case, you can always leave.

This last strategy also applies to critics. The general rule that all writers should understand is basically the same one that should be used with trolls in comment threads. That is to say, don’t engage with anyone who gives a hateful review. It only serves to validate their feeling of self-righteousness and stimulate them to further attacks. Of course, ignoring them may incite them also, but you don’t have to suffer their insults that way.

A person actively decides to be insulted or to ignore perceived slights. One can be offended by an entirely innocent remark directed at someone else, but that is a choice, not a mandatory requirement. Many people don’t understand that self-responsibility is a requirement for personal growth, civil discourse, and progress.

Here’s the takeaway point: if this post makes you angry … you (it’s not my responsibility) have to work on some issues:-)

Namaste!