We got the okay to show you the cover for Stars Beyond. It looks great.
Book news. We have a new publication date for Stars Beyond. It’s
22 October 2019* 20 January 2020. We’re looking forward to it.
We have also seen the cover, which we can’t show you yet. Love it.
The completed rewrite of Stars Beyond is due at the end of January. Sherylyn has her headphones on, listening to the Microsoft Read-Aloud function.
I’m following her edits, accepting or rejecting changes.
We try to read all our books aloud. Reading aloud to each other is good, when you have the time, because you smooth the writing together. However, even when you do this, you miss some basic issues because you read the words you expect to see, so you don’t always pick up things like missing words.
A total stranger reading aloud will read the words, but we read what we expect to see. That’s why it was so great when Mum was with us. She read each word.
The read-aloud function in Word reads each word, and it reads it in a monotone. It picks up things we don’t see.
Sherylyn’s been listening for three full days now. It’s a big job, but important. She’s found a lot of missing commas, commas that should have been full stops, typos (if the reader can’t understand the name, it spells it out, which is a definite indicator there’s a typo) and just jerky words in general.
She’s also picking up lots of missing words, repeated words and awkward paragraphs.
We’re starting to think about the story we want to work on next.
* Date has been changed since we originally wrote this.
Let no one tell you that the internet is a waste of time. You learn things on the internet. The other day on Twitter @rainbow1973 posted an image of a rainbow eucalyptus tree.
Rainbow eucalyptus? Australia is the land of the eucalypt, but I had never heard of them.
It turns out that they’re not native to Australia. Here’s me thinking all eucalypts originated here. I was wrong.
Rainbow eucalyptus, also known as Mindanao gum or the rainbow gum (I wonder where they got that name) grow in warm, tropical climates and can be found in places like New Guinea, Indonesia and the Philippines. They’re the only eucalyptus that grows natively in the northern hemisphere. The image above is of a tree in Hawaii.
Stars Uncharted is finally out
Publication day has come and gone. It seemed to go well, and we had wonderful marketing for it. Things are quieting down now. We hope those of you who bought the book enjoy it. This has been the most nerve-wracking release since Linesman, in a way, because it’s not a Linesman book.
As promised, we said we’d put interviews up for you. Here are the first few.
Over at SyFy Wire we talk about writing together, world building, and media that influenced us when writing Stars Uncharted.
On Jean Book Nerd we talk about inspirations for developing Nika and Josune, and some influences/turning points in our lives.
One thing I did notice, my IT background crossed over and I didn’t even realise. Before ‘publication’ day I kept calling it release day, and I have trained Sherylyn to say ‘release’ as well. I have learned. Next time I’ll do better.
Tuesday is book release day. It’s coming fast.
We spent the last week answering interview questions. We’ll let you know where to find the interviews (if you’re interested, that is), once we know the links.
To date, they’ve mostly been email interviews. That is, the interviewer sends us a list of questions and we answer them. This type of interview suits us, because of the time difference between Australia and the US. We can answer in our own time. It’s especially handy when you both work full-time.
I once had a job once where I was the English-speaking liaison for a software product, so when someone from the US wanted to know about that product they’d call me. Or I’d call them. Only we’re GMT+10, and New York is GMT-4, so office hours in the US are night time for us. I can tell you, it wasn’t fun. So I really like the luxury of being able to email our answers back.
As we worked through the last interview, I realised that we work on them exactly the way we work on stories.
We start with the idea. In this case, the interview questions. We talk about our answers. One of us goes away and writes down, roughly, what we said. She sends it to the other one, who edits the answers and adds extra bits. We discuss it again, to see if we have answered the questions. One of us fine-tunes the words. We read the answers aloud. Finally, back it goes to Alexis, in the Publicity department at the Publisher’s.
Which is pretty much how we write our books nowadays, too.
Only four weeks until Stars Uncharted is published. Eek. It feels like only yesterday that we tentatively sent off three sample novels to our agent to say, “Which one do you think we should work with?”
Her answer, “Well, that was easy.”
And that’s how Stars Uncharted came about. If you’re interested, you can read the first chapter now on our website.
The Japanese versions of Linesman arrived in the mail the other day.
They’re so tiny and cute. Smaller than a paperback and half as thick.
Look at the covers. If you put them together, as we have above, they combine to make one long picture.
With the help of Google translate and a helpful reader (thanks Elizabeth) we’ve worked out that the book is called Starship Eleven in Japanese, and we think that one version is less complex than the other. (Blue dot is simpler, possibly)
The cover illustration is by K. Kanehira. The cover design is also credited, but sorry, awesome cover design person/people, we can’t read your name, and we don’t know how to get the name from the book to screen.
Likewise, we’re not too sure who the translator is. Google Translate gives us Triangular Kazuyo. Hmm. That might be right, but we think we’ll have to confirm this. More as we find out. If anyone knows, please let us know.
Update 25 April. S.E. Jones mentioned that the book is in two parts, and told us the name of the translator. (See comments, below.) Kayuzo Misumi. Here are twitter posts from @kzyfizzy on 14 February, which was when the book was released.
I do like the way our name translates phonetically into Dance Tall. It sounds so much better than it’s literal translation of the ‘brown stone’.
Thank you, S. E. Jones.
I pulled a muscle in my back this morning while cleaning the bath. I’d like to say it’s living proof that writers shouldn’t do housework, but unfortunately the reality is that this particular writer hasn’t been doing enough of anything active, housework included, to keep herself supple. Many writers are notoriously bad at keeping fit.
So while I wait for the Nurofen to kick in, let me tell you what’s been happening in our writing world lately.
We’re making good progress on the next batch of rewrites for Stars Book 2. It has a current, tentative title of Stars Beyond. We don’t know if that’s set in concrete. We’re at that stage in writing where every change we’re making is a positive change. “This will sound better if we do this,” or “If we move that section down past here the timeline will flow better.” Of course, some of those changes have flow-on effects, but that’s the way it is with rewrites.
We’re heading toward the deadline. We have to deliver the novel in six weeks.
Based on prior novels, there’ll probably a couple of obvious issues we discover really late. It’s amazing how you can go over a book ten, twenty times and still not see something so obvious until the last minute. Sometimes you can’t see it then, either, and your agent or your editor has to point it out to you.
In other news. The ARCs for Stars Uncharted have started going out to book bloggers and reviewers. The publisher has given some away on Goodreads. Keep an eye on the giveaways there if you want a copy, as we don’t always know about these when they happen so we don’t publicise them.
We’re busy putting the finishing touches to our April newsletter. This will include the first chapter of Stars Uncharted, so it’s going to be mammoth. Chapter one’s pretty long, so we’re trying to pare down the newsletter to a reasonable size. We’re getting there. Slowly.
But first … a Goodreads giveaway.
The advanced reader copies (ARCs) for Stars Uncharted arrived at the editor’s office the other day. We haven’t seen them yet, but our editor says they look good.
Then, lo and behold, Sherylyn is searching Goodreads and what does she see? A giveaway. ARCs for Stars Uncharted. The Ace marketing department is on the ball. And they’re giving away lots of copies.
So, if you want to read an advanced copy of Stars Uncharted, head over to Goodreads and enter the giveaway. They’re giving away 30 copies, so the odds are good.
The giveaway ends on 1 March. Go for it.
Warning: Australian spelling. Colour is one of those words that can jar when you see it spelt with a u if you’re not used to it. The u is meant to be there. (Remember, grey is a colour, but gray is a color. :-))
The internet is a writer’s research paradise
Back in my early working days I worked on online shopping software for a hardware company. It was an old green-screen program, with a modem that plugged into the phone line. (Showing my age here.) I forget how the whole thing worked, all I know is that the buyer logged into the computer, dialled the hardware company’s computer, connected, and then laboriously loaded their order in.
Sometimes the phone line dropped out part-way through. When that happened, the poor buyer had to dial back in and start the whole process again.
Even I, working in the computer industry, wondered if online shopping would ever take off.
Look at us now, buying books and other things online with one click.
Online shopping is wonderful, of course, but there’s another part of the world wide web that is a writer’s paradise.
In the second Stars Uncharted book we have a character who can see into the infrared and ultra violet spectrums.
Where do we start even thinking about what he might see?
Once upon a time we’d have hit the libraries. Not just the local library, either, but some of the university libraries. It would be a long and arduous process.
Now we hit the internet first.
Yes, there is a lot of incorrect information on the internet, but it’s a great starting point for research. People put some amazing stuff on there. Especially the science. And the architecture, and the pictures of places, and the … I could go on forever. There is so much good information, good images, good detail.
I mean, look at this amazing post, 10 Examples of How Animals See – Images That Show Us The World Through Their Eyes. By Morgans Lists*
This is exactly the sort of research we need for our book.
What did we get out of this?
If our guy can see fully through the visible spectrum and into ultra violet and infrared, how might he do it? (He’s been modded. Modding is introduced in Stars Uncharted.)
Here’s what we got just from the Morgans List article above.
- Birds are tetrachromats. Their four types of cone cells let them see red, green, blue and ultra violet together
- Dogs only have two cones, blue and yellow but not red and green. Their vision can be compared to a human who is colour blind
- Mantis shrimps use a set of filters to separate ultraviolet light into discrete colours that get picked up by the animal’s photoreceptors
- Bees have colour receptors for blue and green but also for the UV spectrum
There is so much information here.
From here we look up rods and cones and photoreceptors, and the information expands.
How much research is enough?
Yes, even soft science fiction requires research.
It’s a rabbit hole, and it’s easy to fall into a research heaven and reader hell.Putting all that lovely research into your book, because it’s interesting, and because you know it now.
That’s why, nowadays, when writing the first draft of a book we stop at the internet research.
We make notes on what we think is important, but enough is enough. Later on, once the book is closer to completion, we go over some of the science to be sure it’s as correct as we can make it. Talk to experts, if we can. Research more.
Science fiction still needs to make that leap from science to fiction
You can research as much as you like, but somewhere along the way, as a science fiction writer, you have to make the leap that takes you away from real science into the science fiction.
We did that with Stars Uncharted.
Elements high in the periodic table are unstable. They take massive equipment to generate, and they only last for a fraction of a second. But there’s a theory called the island of stability, where the protons and neutrons in the atoms balance (magic numbers) and remain stable, meaning that the element might remain stable too.
You won’t find the island of stability or magic numbers in Stars Uncharted (at least, I don’t think you will), but it was such a cool idea. We had to use it.
* Morgans Lists—it’s not clear if Morgans Lists the name of the site or the name of the author. Apologies if I’ve failed to credit the author. (And if you are the author, let me know, because it’s a beautiful list.) The site is now on Google+.
Having a book published takes time, but there are landmarks along the way.
Selling the book. That’s a given.
Signing the contract, which can often happen later than you expect it to.
Delivery and acceptance, which is when your editor finally says, “Yes, I’m happy with the edits you have made to this book.”
Copy edits, when you start to see what the finished book looks like.
The first time you see the cover.
Advanced reader copies, when you get physical books to hand out to people.
The first time you see the cover
The first time you see your cover, however, isn’t necessarily the first time you can share it. We first saw a cover for Stars Uncharted in early November. It went through another iteration after that, and we saw the nearly-final one in early December. Even then, you can’t show anyone until the publishing team sign it off. So you end up sitting on this awesome cover, bursting to show someone, and you can’t.
So here we present, at long last, the cover for Stars Uncharted.
We think it’s awesome. Don’t you.