This Can’t Go On

After Hurricane Ida last month, our power went out for, it turns out, a whole week. The eight major transmission lines for the city of New Orleans and suburbs went through one single decrepit tower, which collapsed under the storm, draping the lines into the Mississippi River and leaving the whole region without power for days.

After a late-summer hurricane it always becomes extremely hot. The storm sucks up all the moisture over the Gulf of Mexico and precipitates it, so after the storm passes, the sky is clear and the sun in August or September is absolutely brutal. And with the power out, no AC. People die in these circumstances. My husband couldn’t handle the heat, so we decamped to his parent’s house north of Baton Rouge. Their power was out for less than a day.

“We can’t keep doing this, ” I said as we drove north, skirting Lake Pontchartrain, the water and sky a vista of blue.

“We can go to my sister’s if we can’t go to Mom’s next time,” he said.

“No,” I said, “I mean Louisiana! This is going to keep happening. These storms that spin up from nothing to a Category 4 or 5 in 48 hours. That’s not enough time to prepare. To evacuate.”

“Nope,” he said.

“And we can’t keep cleaning up these messes. My God, all the power going through one tower, what the hell! It’s climate change. These storms are going to keep happening. We need to harden this place, south Louisiana. We can’t keep getting caught with our pants down. Spending billions of dollars we don’t have for recovery.”

“That’s not going to happen,” he said. Louisiana is a very poor and red state.

“It has to! Somehow.” I looked at the marsh grasses beside the lake, shining in the sun, ideas tumbling in my head. “Maybe I should write a book about it.”

“You just did!” he said.

I did, sort of. Climate change and the ensuing havoc are part of the backstory of THE PONO WAY, an integral part of the character’s lives. The very first page mentions how coffee, real coffee, has become a scarce and expensive luxury. The second page lists a litany of chaos and destruction that is the normal course of events “two centuries into the Anthropocene era of mass extinction and climate change.” The destruction of the environment is part of the background tenor of everyday life in Pono, my island state. It’s largely why Pono was created (it’s an artificial sea-steading) and why many of its inhabitants migrated there, to escape the instability of the mainlands. Including my protagonist, Jake Weintraub.

But the Ponoans come to discover that even a thousand miles of ocean can’t really protect them from the danger and dysfunction of the broken, corrupt remnants of North America forever.

So yes, calling attention to climate change and its ensuing disasters is part of why I wrote that book. Part of why I write at all. My last book was about an epic, civilization-ending apocalypse too. [Daughter of Atlas: A Novel of the Fall of Atlantis, if you haven’t read it yet. 😉 ] And that, too, was caused by unchecked human greed and pillaging of the earth.

It’s important to me. Society has been talking about ecological collapse and doing nothing about it for my entire lifetime. This is my way of doing something.

But there’s more yet to write. I was imagining a story where a bunch of solarpunk misfits take over Baton Rouge and turn it into a green, sustainable, New New Orleans. Baton Rouge is as far north as the Mississippi is safely navigable for the huge container ships that provide so much of Louisiana’s revenue. Far enough north that it won’t be under water in a hundred years. It is the state capitol and a university town, home of LSU, my alma mater. It’s the logical place to migrate to.

Because we will have to migrate, one day. Everyone in south Louisiana. I hope it’s done in a just and peaceful manner. Instead of some kind of Mad Max land rush.

To make something happen, you first have to imagine it.

That’s what I do. You can help me by reading my books, yeah? 😉

Home and safe!

We evacuated subsequent to Hurricane Katrina — er, Ida. Ida hit on the 16 year anniversary of that monster storm. You better believe that was pretty hard for south Louisiana to take.

My husband just couldn’t take the heat without AC, and he has a medical device which needs electricity. So we decamped to his parents north of Baton Rouge. They only lost power for a night.

We were there for about a week, but now we are home: cool, dry, and safe.

Sixteen years ago, in Katrina, we lost our home, my job, and everything we ever owned. So believe me, this last week was NOTHING. A minor inconvenience. My heart is with the people who lost. everything this time. I’m angry. South Louisiana should be more prepared. We all know this isn’t going away.

But now I am home with power. You don’t know what a luxury that is until you don’t have it for an extended time. The Internet is spotty, but that’s okay.

I am continuing to work on getting my full paper and ebook copies of THE PONO WAY properly online. Let’s say it’s an iterative process. My friend Charlie is helping me.

So I am good. I feel good. Very grateful and happy to be able to work. Check back with you soon.

It’s ALIVE!

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09CKFV48X/

My new book is live in paper on Amazon! Check it out!

Still working on the ebook.

If you want to help me with it, the best thing you can do now is buy a copy. Or, if you’ve already read it, write a review on Amazon and/or Goodreads. Even just a couple lines greatly improves the book’s rep in the eyes of the almighty Algorithm. Especially now that it is new and fresh. 

Incredible feeling. The one thing I actually wanted to accomplish this year is publish this book. And now I have!

Cover Reveal!

Today’s the day! I said I would do it and I am. So happy to be able to reveal the cover for my next novel, THE PONO WAY!

I’m very happy with this cover. I got it pre-made from The Book Cover Zone, with a couple tweaks. Both of my covers so far are pre-made, and I’m very happy with both of them.

For an indie author, a cover needs to signify your genre/subgenre of fiction clearly in a small thumbnail, and I think this cover does that well. If you Google “solarpunk” in Image Search, you quickly understand the aesthetic — futuristic white cities with lots of greenery tumbling everywhere. I think his cover captures that very well.

The PONO WAY should be live early next week! Publishing this book was the one thing I actually wanted to accomplish this year. So I feel PRETTY DAMN PLEASED with myself right now.

Have a great weekend, everybody!

Indie Author Day Report

IAD_group
Indie Authors!

Indie Author Day at my library was a success! Ten people attended, just the right amount for our small meeting room. Most of them were indies who had already published a book or two, or were working on one. So we had a very collegial discussion.

Author Rob Cerio presented on “How to Know When Your Manuscript Is Ready” – technically as well as artistically.

IMG_2865
“The” Rob Cerio

Romance Author Farrah Rochon spoke about being a “hybrid author,” one who publishes both with a traditional publisher and independently. When the rights to her early novels for Harlequin Romance reverted back to her, she re-published them independently, while continuing to work with other New York publishers.

One thing Farrah said which I found very interesting, is that she feels her trad-published books provide her with discovery — marketing, being in brick and mortar bookstores — but her indie books are where she earns more money these days. That seems like a sound strategy, I wonder how many authors are trying that.

Farrah
Farrah Rochon

Author Zach Bartlett, who is also one of my librarian coworkers, presented on working with a small press, which is kind of in between indie and trad: you can get into bookstores, get professional book production, but you usually don’t earn an advance, and have to do a lot of marketing yourself.

I also want to thank my workshop partner, Xavier DeSoto, who came by to help me set up for the event, and took the pictures. Thanks, Xavier, that support meant a great deal to me!

We also watched several education videos from the Indie Author day website, on topics like designing a book cover and marketing. They had good information.

There is some other useful stuff on that website, which we didn’t get to, or wasn’t appropriate for the venue. Ingram Spark, the POD publishing arm of the book distributor Ingram, has a podcast about indie publishing, and there are a couple episodes of it there, on Print on Demand publishing, and on using ISBNs (International Standard Book Numbers, the UPC code for a paper book that allows it to be ordered and moved through the various retail systems, including library purchasing.)

There are two videos about leveraging Wattpad for your writing platform, which I found very interesting. Wattpad has always gotten very mixed reviews, but it obviously works for some people. It even has its own publishing imprint now, and a development arm that shops Wattpadder’s stories to Hollywood for film and TV. Are Wattpadders being fairly compensated for that? I don’t know, you would certainly have to do your research.

There is a PDF “Guide to Self Publishing” from Elite Authors, which has some solid information in it, if you can hack your way through the hard, hard sell on the first five or so pages.

You can also see what went on at other libraries across the country on social media by using the hashtag #indieauthorday2019 on Twitter and Instagram.

All in all, my day went very well and I hope to do the same next year. Next year, Indie Author Day is on November 7, and it is being co-marketed with Nanowrimo. So we have to think of some way of combining the two. Maybe a day-long write-in, with breaks for workshops, games, and food.

Attendees, stay in touch. Let’s work together over the course of the year. I hope to see you all next year!

Indie Author Day

IAD-Flyer-2019

I will be hosting Indie Author Day at my library tomorrow from 11:00 AM — 3:00 PM.  Please stop in if you are interested in self or independent publishing, and to get an idea of what’s involved.

Local authors Farrah Rochon, Rob Cerio, Zach Bartlett and myself will be presenting.

Robert E. Smith Library, 6301 Canal Blvd, corner of Harrison Avenue.

Happy #indieauthorday to all!

You Just Have to Do It, Part the Second

 

 

Cover1

 

When I was shouldering my way into Geek Fest, April, one of my colleagues, encouraged me to donate a few copies of my book to the library, so that attendees could check them out.  Which is something I always intended to do, but never got around to, because of my shyness.  Another way I just “had to do it,” as Alys Arden said, but didn’t.

But with April’s encouragement, I did, and the cataloging department kindly had them ready in time for Geek Fest.

Of course, I earmarked a copy for my own branch that I manage.

That’s it above. One of my staff members put it on display. They were excited to finally see it.

“They could make a movie out of this!” my coworker Belami said.

(I think so too, but find the possibility unlikely.)

And now, all three copies of my book are checked out and there is even a waiting list!  I have to tell you, that makes you feel like a real author.

It was lovely to receive this support from my coworkers.  It’s encouraging.

That’s the thing about “just having to do it,” — it’s not all nerves and anguish.  It can be good too. You get support.  There are rewards. (Besides, you know, selling books.)   This is what I learned from this.

And the more you do it, the easier it gets.

So, if you are an indie author like me, you might look into donating a few copies of a book to your local library.  Particularly the first book in a series, if you have one.  It’s another way for people to discover your work.  If they like it well enough, they may be moved to buy your subsequent books.

If you work exclusively with e-books, you might look into the SELF-e platform libraries use.  Again, it’s a donation, but it’s a way to get noticed.

It’s up to the inclinations of individual libraries and librarians whether they collect indie authors or not.  Some libraries are very supportive of their local authors. Some are not.  But it can’t hurt to offer.

DON’T, however, try to sneak in a purchase request for your books as if you were just a regular patron.  We librarians can always tell, it smacks of desperation, and it just pisses us off.  Be above board and donate a few copies if you can.  If nothing else, they will go to the library book sale. You will get noticed and help the library earn a couple dollars.

 

You Just Have to Do It

I had a great time at the Geek Fest down at Main Library Saturday.  I sat on an author’s panel, and we had a really good talk, “Can Science Fiction inspire change in the real world?” (Spoiler: Yes.)

Geekpanel
Left to right, authors Claudia Gray, Brandon Black, Maurice Ruffin, myself, Zach Bartlett, moderator.

 

I met bestselling author Maurice Ruffin, author of WE CAST A SHADOW:

 

GeekMaurice

 

Alys Arden was running the Tubby & Coo’s table, and she hand-sold my book! (Or tried to anyway.)

 

GeelAlys

 

Alys was a real team player Saturday, helping out and supporting other authors, like having an impromptu panel with Bryan Camp:

 

GeekPanel2

 

Big shout out to Alys, whose third book in the Casquette Girls series, The Cities of Dead, just came out.  I appreciated her support Saturday.

Bryan’s second book, Gather the Fortunes, sequel to The City of Lost Fortunes, comes out later this month!

So I did have a really great time.  But the thing is, I had to force myself to do it.  Represent myself as an author allied with the library, who deserved to be there.

I have real issues with marketing my work.  I’m so introverted and socially avoidant, I quail at the thought of putting myself or my work out there, even if it’s just online. God forbid actually in public in front of real people.

But you have to do it.  No one’s going to read your books if they don’t know they’re there.

When my book was first published, I asked Alys, “How do you make yourself market your book?”

And she said, “You just have to do it.  You just have to put yourself out there.  It’s hard. But you just do it, and it gets easier.”

Well, I struggled and avoided it for a long time, but when I learned of Geek Fest, I thought, I have to be involved in this.  I thought, Hey, why aren’t I on that panel?

So I talked to the organizers, some of my colleagues at Main Library, and said, “Hey, I want to be on that panel at Geek Fest.”  And they said okay.

And it went well.  And there are rewards too:

 

GeekBethany

 

This is Bethany.  She came up to me after the panel.  I thought she was going to give me grief for trash-talking Laurel K. Hamilton.  (An unpopular opinion.)

But no. She said, “I’m Bethany. I work with your husband.  He gave me your book to read, and I loved it!”

Wow! My first time hearing from a fan out in the field. What an incredible moment.  Isn’t this why we write at all? To reach people, to be heard? Thank you, Bethany!

“She said, “I just wanted you to know.”  I offered her one of my cards with this website on it, and she said, “I have one, Sam gave it to me.”  So, hi Bethany! Great to meet you!  We talked about my follow-on book to Daughter of Atlas, which isn’t a straight sequel, but shows what happens elsewhere when Atlantis falls.  Which Bethany said was what she was curious about in a sequel. So that was wildly encouraging.

They say that’s the way indie authors build their fan base, one reader at a time.  The only way you can do that is by reaching out to them, both on and off-line.

So, if you are struggling with marketing your books, don’t be afraid.  If I can do it, anyone can do it.  Go ahead and shoulder yourself onto a panel at your local sci-fi con.  You never know who you might meet.

 

See You at Geek Fest

Tomorrow is both Star Wars Day (May the Fourth be with you) and Free Comic Book Day.  And to celebrate, New Orleans Public Library with have its third (I think) annual Geek Fest, a one-day mini-con of all things geek.  There will be vendors, a cosplay fashion show and workshop, gaming, snacks, and more. The Best Buy Teen Center makerspace will be open for everyone to play.

I’ll be on the Science Fiction Writers panel at 11:00 AM with other local authors.  The topic is , “Can sci-fi affect change in the real world?” What do you think?

Here is the schedule. There’s a lot going on!

GF Program Guide

Hope to see you there if you are in town!