https://link.medium.com/2LDqoJTWtlb

I don’t necessarily agree with this guy’s premise, but his map of a Balkanized United States is very similar to what I imagined in THE PONO WAY.

Some of my workshoppers were shocked by that. But a Balkanized future US has been a staple of science fiction for a long time.

I have to say, I didn’t imagine the Republic of Orleans, though. Shame on me. That ties right into my last post, doesn’t it? **makes notes.**

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? 😉

Hurricane Comin’

Hurricane Ida, right on the anniversary of Katrina. I hate how that happens. The end of August is cursed.

Credit: weather.gov

I live in New Orleans and went through Katrina, if you didn’t know. (It affected the drafting of The Pono Way, but that’s another story.)

That is going to affect my rather desultory book launch. As I will shortly run out of power, and possibly have to evacuate. Thank goodness for cloud computing.

I’ll do what I can before the power goes out. We think we can hunker down and ride it out. Where could we go, anyway? Every relative we could go to is in the storm track, some worse than us.

I’f you’re of a spiritual bent, prayers to Our Lady of Prompt Succor, the divine protectress of New Orleans, are welcome.

Otherwise, happy thoughts.

I’ll check in tomorrow. The storm is predicted to make landfall Sunday night.

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!

Inching Closer

Still a couple fiddly layout bits to fix with my manuscript, and then it will be ready to publish! I’m so stoked! Publishing THE PONO WAY was the one thing I actually wanted to accomplish this year.

Credit: OCEANIX/BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group

This picture is much what I imagine my island-state, Pono, to look like, although this is a coastal city and my Pono is in the deep ocean. This is an architectural concept of a floating city called Oceanix. It’s synchronistic how it popped up in the news as I was drafting my novel.

Tomorrow I will share the cover reveal! Meanwhile, here is the blurb for Amazon. What do you think?

A refugee crisis tests a utopian island community to its limits.

In 2050, the United States of America finally crumbled.  Jake Weintraub’s family fled the burned-out ruins of Chicago for the safety of the artificial island steading of Pono. Now grown, Jake works as an independent journalist, but the horrors of the Chicago River Riots still haunt him.

As Pono watches, safe in the Pacific Ocean, the successor West Coast state of Cascadia collapses under a further series of catastrophes.  Thousands of desperate refugees arrive on Pono’s shores – homeless, stateless, and hungry.

Jake throws himself into covering their story, even as their plight evokes memories of his own trauma and flight.  Can Pono, a carefully constructed island society, accept this influx of strangers? Or will this crisis tear Ponoan society apart?

THE PONO WAY is a solarpunk science fiction novel in the vein of Kim Stanley Robinson’s THREE CALIFORNIAS or THE FIFTH SACRED THING by Starhawk. Find out what happens by buying your copy today!

Solarpunk Links

Here, as promised, are some links where you can learn more about solarpunk, as a sci-fi genre and as a social movement.

Read this Notes toward a Solarpunk Manifesto from Project Hieroglyph for a better sense of the genre, and the art and politics that arise from it.

Here’s the Wikipedia entry.

A introductory article on Ozy.com.

A reading list on Goodreads.com. (And here’s me on Goodreads while I’m at it, wink wink.)

An image gallery from Deviant Art

And finally I have a Solarpunk Pinterest board you can check out here.

What is Solarpunk?

My new book, The Pono Way, is coming along well. I am preparing the manuscript for publication. It should come in the next couple weeks. It does take a while.

The book is subtitled, A Solarpunk Novel (mostly for the Amazon algorithm.). So what does that mean? What is solarpunk?

Credit: AJ-Illustrated on deviant art.com

Solarpunk is an emerging subgenre of science fiction. You can think of it a a 21st-century evolution of cyberpunk, except hopeful and positive instead of depressive and dystopian. That’s on purpose. Solarpunk focuses on near-future, Earth-based sci-fi, about ways the human race comes to grip with climate change and learns how to work together to live sustainably on this Earth. It is a variety of “cli-fi,” or climate fiction: narratives about confronting, or falling to, the challenge of global climate change. Solarpunk is notable because it insists on presenting workable solutions to the manifold problems the human race faces as the world heats up. It is intended to inspire optimism and give people hope for the future.

If you’re like me, a lifelong fan, you probably love The Expanse, the book and TV series. Imagine solarpunk as between here and there. Humanity struggling to fix its mistakes. In The Expanse, history tells that we didn’t do a very good job. Solarpunk represents a time and place when all is not yet lost.

Credit: Astral_Requin on deviantart.com

I was inspired to write this by an essay by the noted SF author David Brin on IO9.com, stating that it was time for sci-fi to be optimistic again, to give people hope and a vision for the future.And then a close friend of mine said the exact same thing to me just a couple days later, “I’m tired of dystopia. Where’s the hope?” That’s what I’ve tried to do in The Pono Way. It’s hard won, but I do think it shines a ray of hope.

Solarpunk’s aesthetic is both multicultural and nature-based, inspired by Art Nouveau and indigenous cultures around the world. It politics is generally communitarian and anti-capitalist. Here is a cool summation from the clever entry at TV Tropes:

Solar punk works look toward a brighter future (“solar”) while deliberately subverting the systems that keep that brighter future from happening (“punk”).

People quibble about how “punk” — anti-authoritarian and subversive — solarpunk really is..”Punk” is often just used as a tag for a subgenre of science fiction these days, the way “-gate “indicates a political scandal. I guess that’s up to the individual authors. I happen to think The Pono Way is pretty subversive. Growing up in the Watergate era, it was my childhood ambition to get on a government “enemies” list. Because I had heard about Nixon’s “enemies” list (he was famously paranoid), and I figured if you were an enemy of Richard Nixon, you were on the side of right.

That was back when people could still have some privacy, long before the Internet, before total information awareness. I wouldn’t be so sanguine now.

The Pono Way is also informed by my experience as a Hurricane Katrina survivor. I think about things like climate disaster and mitigation A LOT. About failures of government, and how they can be fixed or avoided. And it comes out in my fiction, whether I intend it to or not.

This is getting kind of long, so I will cut it short, and shoot some links in the next post so you can learn more. . In the meantime, Aloha. (Pono’s culture has many Polynesian influences, it being a Pacific island-state.). Thanks for reading!

.

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!