Review: Dropnauts

I’ve recently gotten more involved in a professional society of science fiction and fantasy writers (SFWA) and through my volunteer work I’ve gotten to know a wider range of authors. It’s been a wonderful experience, and now I’m trying to read the works of some of my new online contacts.

J. Scott Coatsworth has a wonderful blog called Liminal Fiction. He writes mostly space stories mostly about queer people and describes himself as someone who “inhabits the space between the ‘here and now’ and the ‘what could be.'”

Skythane is probably his most famous work, but I decided to check out his most recent. Here is my review.

Dropnauts

Dropnauts is an intriguing story with a hopeful ending, and I have a fond spot for such tales. Though the first chapter throws an exploding spacecraft at the reader, be warned that this isn’t all action. A complex story follows. Stick with it through the build-up as it does sort itself out and soon you’ll be rooting for this unusual cast of four young people as they set foot on what they believe is a planet devoid of human life. It isn’t of course. We’re a more resilient species than that, and much of the story involves these dropnauts coming to terms with the survivors they meet.
Two small things took me out of the story. The dropnauts are barely in their twenties and if I were one of 12,000 surviving humans on a failing moon colony, I’d have sent a more mature group. Also, one pocket of survivors is truly cringe-worthy to an old feminist like me. You’ll know what I mean when you encounter them.
However, the book is also packed with things I loved. One favorite was the way the moon colony worked from afar to return Earth to livable status. Another was the intriguing involvement of AI entities. I enjoyed this part so much I would have liked more details.
Do I recommend this book to you? Well, it depends on what you enjoy. I liken this novel to eating crab legs. You have to work a bit at first, but what you get for your effort is well worth it. Me? I eat crab legs every chance I get, so, you know, I really liked the book.

 

 

Isn’t she beautiful?

I understand cover reveals can be a big deal, but it’s just not my style. I’m happy to get an attractive cover I like and one that represents my books well. When I do, well, I want to share it. Like right away.

So …. here is the gorgeous cover for book 5 in the Seven Troublesome Sister Series.

It really is beautiful, isn’t it?

What is she holding? It’s called a psaltery, and it’s a stringed instrument that was quite popular in the 1200’s.  This 5th sister is a musician. (It’s one of the reasons she can’t keep quiet.)

Like it’s predecessor (cover 4) this was done by the fine folks at Deranged Doctor Design and arrived almost perfect. The way it showed up is on the left. I had a few minor concerns. A psaltery is too heavy to be held the way she holds it. The lighting effects made her hair look like she was going gray. She seemed rather too tall and thin to be a real woman and her arms, in particular, looked off.

Most if not all of these, of course, were artifacts of the sort of photo manipulation DDD does to make their stunning but still affordable covers.

Back came this version, which corrected most of my concerns, except for the oddly long and skinny arms. We had one more round to improve the arms, and then I decided I wanted the castle on her other side. I was all excited about how our brains are accustomed to going from left to right and felt that the castle on the left would better convey that she was leaving to go somewhere else. (See my post Better Covers: Does Your Brain Prefer Left to Right?) Flipping the castle didn’t make as much difference as I’d hoped, but I liked it okay and was happy to call it good with only these three minor revisions.

I’d love to know if other authors are more, or less, picky than I am about their covers. If any of you reading this self-publish, please speak up and let me know!

It’s a big day for me

Hello.  I have a favor to ask of you.

My brash and intelligent 13th-century hero and her story will be available in paperback and kindle starting TOMORROW. You can order a copy for yourself today at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08BY4RLX1.

My situation is that any purchases made in the next 24 hours benefit me a great deal more than a later purchase because sales during my book launch make a huge difference in how many new readers can find me. So if you’re thinking of ever buying a copy …

Honestly I’m quite excited about this new series. One of my first reviewers said “From the first page … She’s the One Who Thinks Too Much pulls the reader into a diverse, colorful and plausible world, with its own geography, culture, language and politics. S.R. Cronin has done a wonderful job creating Ilari and its peoples.”

If you’re willing to go one step further and share my good news on any social media platform at all, I’d be even more grateful. Use the blurb below so you don’t even have to think about what to say.

Thanks for considering this, and if you do try it, I hope you enjoy the book.

Paste this anywhere:

I know someone who has just published a fantasy adventure book. If you like thought-provoking speculative fiction and reading about diverse, colorful and plausible new worlds, check out She’s the One Who Thinks Too Much, the first book in an exciting new series.

c3 is dead

What prompts an author to kill her own book?

A few weeks ago my fourth novel, c3, was killed by own hand. It made me sad. I finished writing c3 in late 2013, and released it on Kindle February 6, 2014. I’ve been told its hero, teenager Teddie Zeitman with her exuberant heart and a talent for out-of-body experiences, is one of my best creations. Green happens to be my favorite color, and the ethereal cover for c3 was my favorite of all the six.

But times change. Goodreads shows only three people currently reading my novel. Sales have gone from small to nearly zero.

I’ve never totaled up the exact sales, because it’s hard to separate a sale from a give-away but I suspect I’ve been paid for about a hundred copies (if you don’t count friends and family.) I’d hoped for more sales, of course, but every time a stranger liked my book and let me know, it delighted me. No regrets.

A few months ago, I attended a conference of science fiction writers, and signed up for a mentor. It may have been one of my more useful decisions. This professional writer pointed out that I could still have a marketable product in this particular story, but I needed a more genre-appropriate cover, a much better title, and an updated and aggressive marketing plan.

I can change the title of my book? Apparently I can. I need a new ISBN number (no problem). I  need to acknowledge to the new reader what has been done (just in case he or she is one of the 200 or so humans who already read this story.)

And …. I needed to kill c3. That is, it had to go off the market completely. No electronic versions for sale, although those who have it obviously always will. No new paperbacks printed and sold, although nothing can prevent current owners from reselling their copies on Amazon and elsewhere.

Over the years, I’ve eliminated all the hyperlinks in the book, and the text that went with them. I’ve made corrections and done minor clean-up. Why not. But I’ve refrained from doing anything major.

Because this will be a new book, I have the chance to do some serious editing. So I am. I’m giving more attention to point of view. I’m taking the techniques I’ve learned over the past six years, at conferences, from other writers, and simply from practicing my craft for hours every week, and I’m doing my best to fold those learnings into telling my story better.

It is still a work in progress, but so far I’m pleased with the result.

So while c3 will soon cease to exist, it will give birth to a new and better novel, to be called Layers of Light. I’ll be blogging all about it here soon.