Tag Archives: science fiction

Marketing SciFi Self-Pubs by Thomas Gondolfi

Galaxy Girl

Marketing a novel starts with, “What does a reader want?” They are after a strong story, engaging characters, no errors, and an eye-catching cover. Ok we’ve all heard this before. But there is one more key thing that most fans want – an author they can identify with. Think about your favorite author. Have you ever wanted to meet her/him? Wanted to find out why they made those choices in their book plot? Ever wanted to know what they do for fun? It’s the same whether its movie stars, political candidates, or authors. The public wants to get to know them, maybe even be their friend. In a sense, we need to sell ourselves as much as our product. This means we must interact directly with the scifi public, not from behind a website.

In one respect we, as scifi authors, are lucky. If you count scifi, gaming, anime, comic, furry, horror, and fantasy conventions you have literally thousands of shows of all sizes, shapes, and genres. We can participate in a different convention every weekend. While they can be draining, they can also give you that surge of positive fan energy to move you on with your next work. Convention success requires getting attention, sharing, helpfulness, measuring success/failure, and repetitiveness.

Conventions are like casinos with all the blinking, flashing lights. It makes getting attention difficult. The key is getting people to talk to you. You have to find a method that works for you. I’ve used any number of gambits here, but the one that works consistently is apparel – t-shirt slogans, costumes, football hats, diaper bags. What do these have to do with writing? Nothing, but they give you an inside track into what interests those potential customers. Use that strike up a conversation. Once you are talking half the battle is over.

As our goal is to sell books, our instinct is to launch immediately into our elevator pitch. In the words of Robin Williams, “Buzz – thanks for playing.” No one wants to be sold to. Sharing takes practice in spending more time listening than talking. Remember the reader wants to be friends. They want to be able to brag to their buddies that they know this great author. In the course of any convention I’ll spend 3/4ths of my time talking about anything but my products.

Karma for the win. Even if you don’t subscribe, remember people run the convention that you are attending. People run the conventions you haven’t found yet. Being helpful, with no attempt for immediate gain (no one likes a brown-nose), does pay off huge in the long run. People share your name as a good vendor. They help you get into other events or with problems you have. Going the other way, it takes no time at all to get a bad reputation and shut out of potential marketing / sales avenues.

Everyone has his or her own niche. A show that works for one person may not work for another. You want to be ruthless about those things that work and don’t work for you. That means measuring and math. Was your net higher at this show? Even with a slight loss, was the convention worth it in exposure or contacts made. You must clamp down on the downside outliers and exploit the upside to be successful.

Repeat, repeat, repeat. If I had one piece of advice, that is it. Again, think about it from a reader’s perspective. The worst thing that could happen is to get a great first book in a series and never hear about that author again. One show and you are noticed as something different but probably not many sales. Two shows and you are interesting – maybe there is something to this author. Your third repeat of a show, with new product each time, and you are someone that isn’t going away. You can be trusted.

Face to face marketing isn’t easy, especially for authors who are introverted as a class, but the payoffs are huge. Yes, online marketing is great, but it has a half-life of about three milliseconds. It doesn’t make that lasting impression that sharing about the time at a major convention a stool collapsed out from under you, signing their purchase with a personal touch about something you’ve talked about, or sharing about their book project can have. These things last in reader’s minds for years. The efforts are worth it and build the strongest fan base. Remember that this business is a marathon, not a sprint.

Author Tom GandolfiA father of three, consummate gamer and loving husband, Thomas Gondolfi claims to be a Renaissance man and certified flirt. Raised as a military brat, he spent the first twenty years of his life moving to a new place every few years giving him a unique perspective on most regions of the United States.

Educated as an electrical engineer and working in high tech for over twenty years, Tom has also worked as a cook, motel manager, most phases of home construction, volunteer firefighter for eight years, and even as the personal caregiver to a quadriplegic.

Tom Gondolfi has been writing fiction for over thirty years and doing it professionally for at least fifteen. Most of his short stories have been commissioned for use in gaming products, such as Babylon 5 Wars and Star Fleet Battles. “Toy Wars,” Tom’s first commercially viable novel, was completed almost 20 years ago with a polish just prior to publication in 2013. “An Eighty Percent Solution” is the premiere novel of his cyberpunk “CorpGov Chronicles”. Tom has completed book two, “Thinking Outside the Box,” and book three, “The Bleeding Edge,” with a total of nine books already plotted out for the series.

Author Interview – Brian Guthrie

Based out of Germany, Brian Guthrie is a serial author of science fiction and fantasy. He is currently writing and publishing his Future Worlds series on JukePop Serials. He has plans for another science fiction novel, a bit of historical fiction, and many short stories set in the Future Worlds universe. Please welcome him to No Wasted Ink.

Author Brian GuthrieMy name is Brian Guthrie. I’m a husband, father of one, Christian, owner of two cats, lover of all things science-fiction and fantasy, a cosplayer (Trip Tucker, Captain Proton, Luke Skywalker – Jedi Academy era, Captain America Winter Soldier, and Steve Rogers, army class dress), linguist, gamer, and much more. I also spin and eat fire and love to travel (20 countries and counting).

When and why did you begin writing?

I started writing as a kid because I wanted a world I could control. I’ve had issues with this most of my life and certain traumatic events during my pre-teen and teenage years exasperated this. At first, it was a form of therapy, of coping. My imagination provided an escape, a place I could go to get away. Eventually, it blossomed into this wonderful thing that gives me ideas.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Last year when I began serial publishing on JukePop Serials.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

This is the blurb for the entire Future Worlds series, which contains four novels: Rise, Fall, Shatter, and Unite

On a shattered world protected from the cold of space by a water shield, the people are dependent on Ancient technology to survive. Now, that network is breaking down and the water on one shell is running out, setting the inhabitants on a path toward war. The search to find answers brings four complete strangers, each struggling with their own inner turmoil, together to prevent the destruction of the world as they know it.

What inspired you to write this book?

I’ve enjoyed creating this world and filling it with characters for over two decades now. It’s nothing like what it started out as, but the draw is still there: to tell a story that can both entertain and change lives.

Do you have a specific writing style?

If by style you mean voice, then no. I’ve fallen in love with First Person because it creates a limiting factor on POV in a narrative. If by style you mean the actual process of writing, I tend to get bogged down in the behind the scenes preparation and have to just make myself writing. Dramatica helped me a lot with story-boarding.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

I wanted something simple that would stand out. Something that on a book cover would draw the eye. Also, I wanted to give hints into what was going on in the story. Each title for the books gives you a hint into what is coming in that book.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

If I have to pick one, then: Never give up hope, for it will always triumph over fear.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

As this is an entirely made up world, the characters are all fictional. That said, the main characters are modeled after significant people in my life and many of the events, both on a character level and on a grand world-wide level, draw from events in my personal life.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

That is a loaded question. Influence can be good or bad. Authors I have read that helped me in a positive way would be Timothy Zahn, Patrick Rothfuss, Tracy Hickman, and Stephen Lawhead. Zahn always redeems someone in his stories, Rothfuss showed me that a narrative first person story could not only work but be amazing, and Lawhead and Zahn both expanded my world when I was younger beyond the limited Fantasy realm I knew existed. Authors who are a negative influence in that I read them to remind myself what not to do: Robert Jordan, Terry Goodkind, George R.R. Martin.

If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why?

Tracy Hickman. He, literally, taught me in an online writing course he ran for a full year.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

Christopher McElfresh, friend from my previous home. He became my sounding board for ideas, sketching out what he saw as he read to help me visualize what I wrote. When the time came for a cover, he was the first one that came to mind. The idea to make it simple to catch the eye was originally his before I came up with the idea for what we actually put on there.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Write. Every day. Treat yourself like a professional. What do professionals do? They do what they are professional in. A lot. Get training. Take critical advice and give it a fair shot. And just write. Pretend you’re the reader when you write. Would you believe what you just wrote? Why not? Did I mention write? Every day. You’d be shocked how easy it is to hit 100-300 words in just a few minutes. You’re never going to have that big writing session (although I’ve found mixing writing with 4X turn based strategy games makes for a lot of writing) to just rip off 5000 words. But you can easily squeeze 15 minutes in here or there and write a lot of content. Just look at this paragraph. Shooting from the hip, I spit off 140 words in 5 minutes. Easy.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Thank you. You challenge me to be the best at what I do. I hope I can keep on exceeding your imaginations and taking you to places you couldn’t think of before. Even in a familiar place.

Rise Book CoverBrian Guthrie
Frankfurt, Germany


Future Worlds Series. Book 1: Rise

Cover Artist: Chris McElfresh
Publisher: JukePop


Book Review: 2001: A Space Odyssey

Book Name: 2001: A Space Odyssey
Author: Arthur C. Clarke
First Published: 1968

Sir Arthur Charles Clarke was considered one of the “big three” founders of the genre of science fiction, along with Robert A. Heinlein and Issac Asimov. He was a British science fiction author, futurist, inventor, undersea explorer and a television series host. He is the recipient of numerous Hugo and Nebula awards.

Clarke was born in Somerset, England and grew up in Bishops Lydeard. He grew up on a farm and spent his youth stargazing and reading old American science fiction pulp magazines. As a teenager, he joined the British Interplanetary Society and proposed a satellite communication system idea that later won him the Franklin Institute’s Stuart Ballantine Medal and other honors. Later in life, he would go on to become the chairman of the Institute.

During World War II, he served in the Royal Air Force as a radio specialist. His work in the early warning radar defense system helped contribute to the RAF’s victories during the Battle of Britain. He also served in the ranks, starting as a corporal instructor on radar and then was commissioned as a Pilot Officer and later as a Flying Officer. By the end of the war, he was the chief training instructor at RAF Honiley at Warwickshire with the rank of Flight Lieutenant.

When the war ended, he returned to school and earned a degree in mathematics and physics from King’s College London. It was during this time that he wrote many articles about telecommunication relays and geostationary satellites. He wrote many non-fiction books describing the technical details and implications of rocketry and space flight. In recognition of his work in the field, the geostationary orbit 22,000 miles above the equator is known officially as a Clarke Orbit.

In 1956, Clarke emigrated to Sri Lanka, the official reason was to pursue his interest in scuba diving. He discovered the underwater ruins of an Koneswaram Temple in Trincomalee. Although it was not made public at the time, Clarke had become close to a Sri Lankan man, Leslie Ekanayake, whom Clarke called his “only perfect friend of a lifetime” in a dedication in one of his novels.

By this time, Clarke had written many books, both technical non-fiction and science fiction. However, his crowning achievement would be a movie that brought his work into the mainstream. 2001: A Space Odyssey began as a 1968 movie developed in concert Clark and filmmaker Stanley Kubrick. Both developed the story as the film was shot, but in the end, only Arthur C. Clark was credited with writing both the film and the movie. The story is based on various short stories by Clark, but the one used the most was The Sentinel of Eternity (1948), a story he wrote for a BBC competition. Although Sir Arthur C. Clarke has published well over 100 novels, many of them winners of the Hugo and Nebula awards, he is most famous for this novel and the accompanying movie. It is an enduring classic film that has stood up to the test of time.

The author lived in Sri Lanka until his death in 2008, being knighted in 2000 by Queen Elizabeth, although he was in poor health and could not receive the honor in person. He was also awarded Sri Lanka’s highest civil honor, Sri Lankabhimanya in 2005. Clarke chose to be buried with Ekanayake in the Colombo central cemetery upon his death. Although he had been married to a woman for a short time in 1953, it is thought that he chose to emigrate to Sri Lanka where homosexuality was more tolerated at that time. He had no children.

“He was moving through a new order of creation, of which few men had ever dreamed. Beyond the realms of sea and land and air and space lay the realms of fire, which he alone had been privileged to glimpse. It was too much to expect that he would also understand.”
― Arthur C. Clarke, 2001: A Space Odyssey

2001: A Space Odyssey is a series of vignettes about an ancient and unknown race of aliens that use a device in the shape of a monolith to encourage the development of intelligent life. The first occurrence on Earth appears in ancient Africa four million years ago where it helps a group of proto-humans to invent tools. The clubs they develop help them kill animals and thus allow them to eat meat and survive.

The book then moves ahead to 1999, showing Dr. Floyd’s journey to Clavius Base on the Moon. He attends a meeting where another monolith is discovered, this one is the first known in human history. How it got there on the Moon is a mystery. Floyd and a team of scientists are viewing the monolith when the sun touched upon it. The monolith sends a radio transmission to one of the moons of Saturn, Iapetus. The scientists decide to investigate further and plan a mission to the moon.

The next vignette features Astronaut David Bowman and Francis Poole. Their ship is guided by a computer, HAL 9000 who is an AI. HAL tells Bowman that one of the units in the ship is faulty, but when Poole goes to check on it, he finds that there is nothing wrong. Bowman and Poole consult with Earth and are told to disconnect HAL for analysis. The instructions on how to do this are interrupted by a broken signal and HAL informs the two astronauts that the same unit has malfunctioned.

Poole goes EVA to remove the malfunctioning unit and is killed when his spacesuit is ripped. Bowman is suspicious that HAL may have had something to do with Poole’s “accident”. He decides to wake the other three astronauts who are in deep sleep, not only for their safty, but because he feels he needs help. As he starts their awakening process, HAL opens both airlocks. Bowman manages to escape in an emergency shelter and from there he is able to shut down the AI’s consciousness.

Upon contacting Earth, he learns that his mission is not just to explore Iapetus, the moon around Saturn, but to seek out the aliens that created the monolith on the Moon. The astronaut discovers that there is another monolith on the Iapetus, but it is much larger than the one that had been buried on the Moon. As he approaches it, the monolith opens up and swallows him. The last message Bowman sends back to Earth is, “The thing’s hollow – it goes on forever – and – oh my God! – it’s full of stars!”

What happens next is astonishing and you’ll have to read the book to find out all the details.

2001 A Space Odyssey book coverI have not read many of Clarke’s novels. They always seemed to be a little dry to me, more high concept than character driven. Yet, I can not deny the impact that this “big three” author has had on the genre.

I was introduced to the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey at filmschool. Stanley Kubrick is a much studied and renown filmmaker and the collaboration he did with Clarke created a piece of cinema that is a stand-alone classic that should be seen. Until I researched this book review, I had not realized that Kubrick and Clarke had worked as partners on the story and I believe this accounts for the highly visual and emotional impact of both film and book. The details of Clarke’s novel are similar to the movie (the book goes to Saturn and the movie to Jupiter), but the science is more explained by Clarke and the ambiguous ending of the film is not a part of the book. Clarke gives you a resolution worthy of a grandmaster of science fiction. I am glad that I have read 2001: A Space Odyssey and seen the movie. Both are classics that every lover of science fiction should partake.

Scifaiku – Butterfly Effect

Scifaiku - Butterfly Effect

Butterfly Effect

stalking a T-Rex
hunter steps on butterfly
past shifts future forward

*poem published in Far Horizons Magazine – August 2015

A Scifaiku by Wendy Van Camp
Illustrated by Wendy Van Camp

Scifaiku poem is inspired from a famous time-travel story of science fiction literature.

You’re Writing What? by Katherine Sanger

College Students

I’m one of those people who feels like I can never learn enough or get enough education. Whenever I can, I attend any workshops or events that are local. I get to as many conventions as possible. And I have gone to school for far too long now.

My last degree was an MFA in Creative Writing.

I selected the program carefully, making sure that it didn’t have dismissive language or didn’t specify that it only wanted ‘literary’ fiction. From research, I knew that many programs looked down on genre writing, and I saw no reason to make myself suffer for two years by writing things I had no interest in.

I’d heard, many times over, that “good writing is good writing.” That genre shouldn’t count in determining if something is good or bad. Writing should stand on its own, regardless of what type of writing it is.

Yet still, during my MFA, when we had a presentation on genre work one day, the “literary” authors giving the talk trashed genre work and mocked it. But then, ten minutes later, they used examples from “Carrie” by Stephen King to show us how passive voice can be used successfully in fiction writing.

Something was clearly wrong.

Later that day, I was in a student-led workshop, and talk turned to the third-term papers that we had to write. They had to be serious research papers, ones that could potentially get published. I brought up the fact that I intended to write one about horror. Another student told me that I couldn’t possibly do that – horror was not “academic enough.” Apparently, the fact that I had actually taken classes in horror, science fiction, fantasy, and gothic fiction while working on a previous Master’s degree didn’t count. Clearly, to him, there was no value to anything that fell into a “genre.”

My frustration level was high during that residency period. High enough that I eventually talked to the director of the program. I asked him flat out if genre fiction was considered “not good enough” for the program, and I told him of the discouragement that I’d encountered so far. He was not happy. He assured me – and re-assured me – that what I had always heard was right: good writing was good writing. He saw no reason why my paper on the use of humor in horror would be rejected by a faculty member, and he wondered if I had misunderstood the presentation. I hadn’t, but it was encouraging that he thought that way.

Throughout my MFA, I ran into the same problem again and again. However, I finally figured it out. The biggest problem was that the people who felt that genre fiction was a lesser form were just not familiar with it. It sold well, and so, in their minds, it was “commercial” fiction and had no value from a literature standpoint. Of course, these same people were all trying to write the next great American novel which, as far as I could tell, would also have to sell well. Didn’t that count as a commercial writing project?

I got lucky during my final semester. My mentor, who happened to be completely unfamiliar with anything genre, was extremely open to learning. When I told her my intent was to write a short story collection of stories that centered around Cthulhu eating people who were staying in a basement apartment over time, she asked me to send her reading material so that she could learn about Lovecraft and Cthulhu. She may not be able to pronounce Cthulhu, but she could read it, and she happily (it seemed to me, anyway), critiqued my stories. She would note where she was unsure if something I had included would be known by my intended audience, but otherwise, she focused on writing. Because good writing is, after all, good writing.

Katherine SangerKatherine Sanger was a Jersey Girl before getting smart and moving to Texas. She’s been published in various e-zines and print, including Baen’s Universe, Black Chaos, Wandering Weeds, Spacesports & Spidersilk, Black Petals, Star*Line, Anotherealm, Lost in the Dark, Bewildering Stories, Aphelion, and RevolutionSF, edited From the Asylum, an e-zine of fiction and poetry, and is the current editor of “Serial Flasher,” a flash fiction e-zine. She’s a member of HWA and SFWA. She taught English for over 10 years at various online and local community and technical colleges. You can check out links to her many, many blogs at or find her at Facebook or twitter.