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.
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!
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?
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.
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 Wayis 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!
I’ve always loved weird science. Since I was a little kid reading the TIME LIFE Mysteries of the Unexplained books at the public library. UFOs, Bigfoot, poltergeists, all of it. The Philadelphia Experiment. “Fortean phenomena.” Weird science. I love it! It fires my imagination.
I’ve been studying the UFO phenomenon my entire life.
So I have some thoughts about the Pentagon report on “Unexplained Aerial Phenomena” that dropped last week.
Much of the “UFO community” are infuriated at what they find to be weak tea, after 70 years of waiting.
But really, anyone who thought the report was going to include high-definition video of classic flying discs was letting their imagination run away with them.
If you read carefully, there are two major changes of policy in this report.
First, the report says, “UAP clearly pose a safety of flight issue and may pose a challenge to U.S. national security.” [emphasis mine]
Since the Blue Book era onwards, the official position has been that UFOs/UAP represent no threat to national security.
Second, the report suggests the phenomenon requires actual scientific study to increase understanding.
The conclusion of the Condon Report back in the 1960s stated that there was no scientific value to studying the phenomenon. This gave the Air Force the excuse it wanted to shutter Project Blue Book.
Actually, three policy changes, now that I think of it — there are now formal procedures for the military to report UAPs.
Previously, doing so could end a pilot’s or a scientist’s career through ridicule and ostracization.
This represents a 180 degree turn from previous policy. For generations, the official government position was ridicule and obfuscation. “Swamp gas.”
Now, suddenly UAPs are a threat to national security requiring rigorous scientific study (and more funding.)
Why? What changed?
Mind, I don’t think it’s great that the phenomenon is suddenly being couched as a threat, a potential enemy.
But at least “the powers that be” are taking it seriously.
They’re spoon-feeding us information here. But they ARE feeding us. That is a huge change.
Here is the report, so you can read it yourself. It’s only nine pages. Including two appendixes.
The plague year changed things for me. Changed how I think about things. I had a non-Covid-related health scare myself last year — I was in hospital during the spring lockdown. It was rough and scary. Since then, I’ve thought a lot about what I value, what I want to do with my life. Which may not suddenly be as long as I always imagined. (My family is long-lived. I have grandparents on both sides who lived to be 100.)
So when my employer, ravaged by the Covid depression, offered early retirement at the end of the year — I took it.
When my friend Christian Martin moved out to LA a couple years ago to try to break into TV writing, I was happy for him. But I was ravaged by regret for myself. That I hadn’t done the same and given writing my all when I was young. That I had always played it safe.
I should have taken that leap of faith. I should have bailed on one of my succession of shitty McJobs, told my boyfriend (now husband) that he had to support us for a year, and worked full time on writing. Given it all of my energy and attention. Who knows how far I might have gone?
So, when the retirement option appeared, I thought, People don’t often get a second chance like this. A chance to make writing my full focus while I still have some energy and mental focus left.
(Okay, I’m making it sound like I’m at death’s door. I’m not. I’m managing my issues and doing well. But when I first got sick I was in a dark place for a while, and it colored my subsequent thinking.)
So I took it. The chance. It’s not even like I’m throwing myself on the mercy of the universe. I have a pension — that’s unheard of for Generation X! It’s less than I made, but better than I expected. And if things get tight, I can always get another job.
So, this year I have been working finishing my latest book. It is almost ready for publication. The genre is Solarpunk and the title is THE PONO WAY. I’ll tell you more about it in subsequent posts.
Come along with me as I put some actual skin in the game. Wish me luck!
I’m in Las Vegas for the 20 Books to 50K indie author convention, the largest of its kind in the world. 1000 indie authirs, and reps from a lit if the big players in the field – Amazon, Reedsy, Bookfunnel and more. I hope to bring back some good information for my indie peeps.
In the meantime here is a picture of a cat trying to help pack.
I’m trying to stop screwing around, and get more serious about my branding and marketing efforts, now that I have a new book ready to come out, The Pono Way. (Oh yeah, I have a new book ready to come out. More about that later.)
To that effect, I created some new social media pages for myself, for my author identity. Here they are:
Follow them! And I’ll follow you. Let’s all follow each other’s accounts in a big daisy chain and rip a hole in the space-time continuum!
They say you shouldn’t exhaust yourself posting to every social media platform, but stick to the ones you like and feel comfortable with. I use all of these personally, but for different things. We’ll see which ones work for me as an author. I kind of hate Twitter, but it has a dedicated #WritingCommunity, so you kind of have to be there right now. I’m on Facebook personally all the time, so that will probably stick around. Instagram is image-based — you can’t post without an image — but you can also right surprisingly long captions. And it has a committed #Bookstagram community too, so it’s good to try and hook into that.
Two years from now, this may all have changed, of course. But you can see my current contacts, whatever they may be, on my Contacts page.
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.
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.
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!