Re-release of The Marann!

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Tuesday, Oct 15, 2013, Sky Warrior Books will republish The Marann. I will unpublish the self-pubbed version before the Sky Warrior edition goes live.

This is the same story, but the re-release contains new and expanded scenes, and the writing is richer and tighter (I’ve learned a lot since pressing that Publish button last October!). The new material doesn’t change the plot. If you’ve read the original book, you can rest assured you won’t be blind-sided in a later book by some great honking change.

Daughters of Suralia will probably be republished next.

Meanwhile, I’m writing the final climactic chapters of The Fall (book 3), and I’ll keep everybody informed as to its journey through the publishing process.

So next Tuesday please enjoy a shiny new version of The Marann, and check out some of their other great new releases (click on the picture below).

2013 Prism Finalist!

2013-Finalist-Badge

Late last night, I got an email from the Fantasy, Futuristic & Paranormal Special Interest Chapter of RWA that started out like this:

Hello Christie,

Congratulations! I’m pleased to inform you that your entry, The Marann is a finalist in the Futuristic Category of FF&P’s Prism Contest for Published Authors!

OH. MY. GOD.

Snippet Saturday

            Someone giggled.
I stretched, feeling every one of my sixty years, and opened my eyes to see
Marianne standing over me, almost doubled over trying to stifle herself. The
Sural stood next to her, looking bemused.
            It wasn’t
broad daylight yet, but it looked like sunrise wasn’t far off. I was still in
the garden, under one of those trees that kind of look like apple trees, and
Thela curled into my side, dead to the world. She looked more peaceful than
I’d seen her since her father’s sudden death, the poor little thing. We must
have fallen asleep counting the stars.
            “Oh,” I
said, because there wasn’t much else to say. I patted the girl’s shoulder.
“Thela. Thela, sweetie, wake up.”
            Thela
started and sat up, looking around wild-eyed. Marianne only giggled harder. I
rolled my eyes at her, but I only remembered too well what it was like to have
a sudden fit of the giggles while pregnant.
            The Sural
said something to Thela in their own language, and she jumped up and ran off into
the keep. Then he extended a hand to me. “Do you require assistance?”

Daughters of Suralia is LIVE!

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Three women, two planets, and a whale.
For Marianne Woolsey, linguist and tutor, being empathically
bonded to the leader of the Tolari turns out to be a bed of roses – complete
with thorns. Especially thorns.
With diplomatic relations severed and humans kicked out of
Tolari space, the Earth Fleet ship Alexander
is gone … for now … but Earth Central Command hasn’t given up trying to get
Marianne back. As she struggles with surprises, nightmares, and a bond-partner
who can’t be tamed, she just wants to figure out where she fits in a society
that isn’t quite human.
Laura Howard, the Admiral’s widow, only desires to be left
in peace to gather the fragments of a shattered heart, but Central Command has
plans for her, too.
Meanwhile, the Sural’s apothecary is a serene and gifted
healer who knows what – and who – she wants. Circumstances have conspired to
deny her the man she’s always loved, but in the pursuit of his heart, she has
an unexpected ally – in the depths of Tolar’s oceans.
Daughters of Suralia is
a sweet scifi romance.

Kirkus Review!

Kirkus Reviews gave me a Valentine’s Day gift in the form of a wonderful review, quoted in full below:

“In the first in a series, Meierz’s debut, a rich sci-fi love story about a female teacher sent to a foreign planet to tutor the daughter of its rulers in various Earth languages, could be described as a space-opera spin on Anna and the King of Siam.

When the government informs high school teacher Marianne that she has been selected for a mission to the Tolari homeworld, where she will be the sole human occupant on that planet for 26 years, she hesitates, although she’s aware of the unpleasant consequences that would befall her should she ignore this “request.” Once on Tolar, a planet that houses a humanoid species known for being technologically primitive by Earth standards, she comes to discover that things are not quite as they seem. Meierz’s novel charts Marianne’s slowly budding romance with the Sural, the Tolari leader, as well as her gradual acclimation to this new world that is perhaps not as bizarre or backward as she originally thought. Meierz writes admirably, conjuring an alien planet and culture in a manner as straightforward as it is succinct. Her assured, no-frills approach to worldbuilding makes it easy to suspend any disbelief one might have regarding the novel’s more fantastical elements. Her realistic  characters and their relationships build organically. The romance that develops between Marianne and the Sural, as well as Marianne’s shift in allegiance, might not come as a surprise to any reader, and there’s a predictable, overly melodramatic revelation regarding a trauma in Marianne’s past, but Meierz captures readers’ attention through her naturalistic character development and pacing. She also makes Earth’s government truly frightening and reprehensible.

A beautifully realized story that proves that politically driven space opera and tender love stories do not have to be mutually exclusive.”  Kirkus Reviews

Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award – Second Round

The Marann made it into the second round!

You can find the rest of the novels that made it into the second round here.

For those unfamiliar with it, Amazon invites authors to submit unpublished and self-published (provided they retain all rights) books to their Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest. The submissions period closed on January 27, or when they received 10,000 entries, whichever came first.

The first round was judged based on a 300-word pitch of the book and narrowed the field to 2,000 entries (top 400 in each of five categories). Apparently, the judges liked my pitch. 🙂 The results were announced today.

The second round ends March 12 and will be judged on an excerpt of up to the first 5,000 words of the book. This round will narrow the results to the top 500 entries.

I’m so excited! Wish me luck!

Snippet Sunday

This little scene occurs during Marianne’s first few days on Tolar. It’s not in the book. 
            All those Christmas presents, Marianne
thought. And she hadn’t been allowed to bring a single one of them with her to
Tolar. They were at Susan’s house now, along with her goldfish. She heaved a
sigh and glanced around the refectory.
            “Does
something trouble you, proctor?” 
            She looked
over at the Sural. He was staring at her, his brows drawn together, concern darkening his mahogany eyes. 
            “No, high
one, everything is fine,” she said, taking a bite of her roll and chasing it
with tea to neutralize its spiciness. Tolari bread really took some getting used to. 
            He didn’t seem to want to let it go. “You seem lost in thought.” 
            “I have a
lot to think about.” 
            “Because you
left a great deal behind.” 
            She tried
not to flinch. That was too close to what she’d been thinking. She shrugged. “I
miss Christmas.” 
            “Who is
Christmas?” 
            Now she
laughed. “It’s a what, not a who. A big celebration near the beginning of
winter. People spend time with their families, exchange gifts, eat and drink
together. It was Christmas when I left Earth.” 
            “I see,” he
said, nodding. “Perhaps you will enjoy our seasonal celebrations. They may be
similar. There is music and dancing, and friends share meals and drink
together.” 
            “Drink?
What do you drink?” 
            “Spirits. To
relax the body and lighten the heart. They are made from grains and mixed with
fruit.” 
            Alcohol. It
had to be alcohol or something very like it. The Tolari drank? That wasn’t in any of Central Command’s information about them. “When is the next one?” 
            “High
summer.” 
            She did a
quick mental calculation. That was only about four months off. Something to look forward to. She smiled and
dug into her food with more enthusiasm.

Reflections on 2012

I’m doing my New Year’s Eve reflections on the past year a little early.

Honestly, when I released The Marann, I expected it to fail. I thought, My friends and relatives will buy this, I’ll sell maybe a couple dozen copies, and it will sink without a trace.

Little did I know.

The Marann sat relatively unnoticed for about 2 weeks, and then… something happened. I don’t know what, because I didn’t do any marketing. It started climbing Amazon’s charts, eventually peaking at #2 in Space Opera, #10 in Futuristic Romance, #20 in Science Fiction, #49 in all Science Fiction & Fantasy, and #468 in the Kindle Store. I didn’t sell just 12 copies. I sold well over four thousand.

That’s amazing for a new and unknown author.

It’s sinking back down now — more slowly than I was told (what “6 week cliff”?) — and the first contact stories (Into Tolari Space) have just rocketed up the Free charts, landing at #2 in Science Fiction Short Stories (right behind Hugh Howey’s Wool) and #5 in Space Opera (keeping company with the likes of Eric Flint and Andre Norton).

This is way cool. There actually aren’t very many new SF/F authors who have done something like that this year.

I certainly wanted to create a compelling world that readers would love. Despite a few bumps — some readers really don’t like the apparent infidelity of my Tolari — I have hopes that I have managed to do just that.

My. Most. Amazing. Year. Ever.

Christmas 2543

            Marianne looked
around at the other passengers gathering in the seating compartment. The ship
was rather a lot like a high-class passenger train in space, with sections
fitted together as need arose: dining rooms, observation lounges, seating
compartments, berths. For a sixteen-hour trip, Marianne had declined a berth,
though the government had offered her one. She was regretting it – a late
Christmas Eve party and an early flight to the Chicago spaceport had collided
to result in about four hours of sleep. She was alert by virtue of the large
amounts of high-octane coffee she had forced down, but she knew that wouldn’t
last. The trip to Tau Ceti was more than twenty-four hours, if she included the
flight to Chicago, the brief layover, the shuttle ride up to Interstellar’s
orbital station, and another brief layover there. She wished she hadn’t turned
down the berth.
            A man she
didn’t recognize stepped over her to get to the window seat. He offered her a
large cup of what looked like mocha.
            “Compliments
of Clare Wilson,” he said with a slight wink and a smile. “Double mochaccino
with a hint of mint. Happy Christmas.”
            Marianne
groaned. She’d had enough coffee for one day, but chocolate and mint were too
tempting to pass up. She took the cup and sipped at it. Bliss crossed her face,
chased by annoyance. “Merry Christmas,” she muttered. “Are you here to make
sure I make it to my destination?”
            “I’m here
to make sure you’re safe, ma’am.”
            “I don’t
need a babysitter,” she said. “Where am I going to go? Out the airlock for a
nice breathtaking walk? You should be
home with your family. It’s Christmas.”
            He laughed.
It was a nice laugh, she thought. He was a man no one would look at twice –
she’d bet real money his forgettable face got him his job – but she would
remember his laugh. A rich rumble seemed to emanate from his entire chest. He
stuck out his hand.
            “Garrison Harding,” he offered. “Call me Garry.”
            She shook the hand and tried to plaster a sincere smile
on her face. “Marianne. But I bet you already know that.”
            He chuckled.
            “You’re way too cheerful, Garry.” Marianne took several
swallows of her mochaccino.
            His eyes twinkled as he took a sip of his own coffee. It
was black and smelled like a dark roast. “I wasn’t up late at a Christmas Eve
party,” he commented.
            Marianne frowned. Everybody from Central Command seemed
to know everything she ever did. “It was my last chance to see my friends for a
very long time,” she pointed out.
            Garry cleared his throat and looked sympathetic. “Right,
sorry.”
            “So why are you here, Garry?” she asked. “It can’t be
just to make sure I don’t run away, when I have every intention of arriving at
my destination.”
            “Are you sure about that?”
            “What, that you’re here for some other reason, or that I
intend to reach my destination?”
            There was that cheerful twinkle again. “The latter.”
            Marianne took another long drink. “I’ve spent the last three
weeks getting used to the idea. I’m okay with it. Why is everybody so
suspicious of me? I never even threatened to run away.”
            “You should slow down on the mochaccino,” he said,
ignoring her comment. “It’s high test. You might buzz yourself into an alternate
dimension.”
            “I already have. I come from a dimension where I’m
cheerfully passing out Christmas presents to lonely old people with no
families.”
            Garry’s response was lost to an announcement over the
comms that passengers were now free to move about the compartments. Garry
unbuckled and got to his feet. Marianne stared at the seat he’d just vacated,
wondering what use was a seatbelt on a spaceship.
            “Come along,” he said, offering Marianne a hand up.
            She glanced at his hand without moving. “Where?”
            “Your berth.”
            “I don’t have a berth.”
            He chuckled. “Yes, you do.” He held up an Interstellar
Spaceways keycard.
            Marianne’s eyes glittered. “And you think I’ll go there
with you?”
            Garry tapped his foot. “Oh really, Miss Woolsey, I can’t
bloody well brief you out here. My plan was to impart the information my
superiors want you to know until you’re too sleepy to absorb another fact, then
read a good book in the observation lounge while you nap off your Christmas
party. Does that meet with your approval?”
            “Anything your superiors wanted me to know, they could
have imparted to me yesterday, without any risk of being overheard by innocent
or not-so-innocent bystanders.”
            Garry’s eyebrows lifted. He grinned. “Very good. You’ve
learned a few things over the past three weeks.”
            Marianne allowed herself a small smile. “Thank you,” she
said. “I think.”
            “The dining room then,” Garry decided. “Are you hungry?”
            She let Garry escort her to the business class dining
room. It looked like an oversized train car, with tablecloths and breadbaskets
instead of rows of seats. Garry declined to let the maitre d’ seat them,
instead choosing the booth at the end of the dining compartment, as far from
other passengers as possible. He ordered breakfast for both of them before the
maitre d’ could get away. Marianne wasn’t surprised that he ordered her usual.
            “You’re quite the cranky traveler, Miss Woolsey,” Garry
commented, helping himself to a chocolate muffin in the breadbasket. “Your file
indicates that you’re usually even-tempered.”
            “I didn’t get much sleep last night.” She watched in
horror as Garry spread butter on his muffin. “Butter? On a chocolate muffin?”
She shuddered.
            Garry shrugged and took a bite, nodding with pleasure.
            “What do you mean, ‘my file’?”
            Garry smiled and didn’t explain. Instead, he pulled a
small tablet out of his left coat pocket and fiddled with it.
            “What are you doing?” she asked.
            “Making sure anyone who tries to listen gets an earful of
white noise,” he said. He shoved the tablet back in his pocket and turned his
attention back to Marianne. “How much do you know about the Trade Alliance?”
            “Um, that they’re a bunch of weird alien races we trade
with?” She shrugged. “The Terosha look like giant walking sticks, the Kekrax
look like upright geckos with four legs, four arms, and two tails, and it just
gets stranger from there.”
            Garry laughed. “Fair enough. What if I tell you they all warned us to leave the Tolari
alone?”
            Marianne
looked confused. “Why would they do that? It’s not like we’re going to hurt
them.”
            “They
weren’t concerned about the Tolari,” Garry clarified. “They don’t want us blundering around.”
            “Blundering
around what?”
            “We’re not sure, but we want you to keep your eyes and
ears open. Some of our associates in the Trade Alliance think there’s more going
on in Tolari space than meets the eye. None of them will say what.”
            “But the Tolari haven’t even invented air travel yet.”
            “Yes well.” Garry paused while a waiter delivered their
breakfasts. When they were alone again, he continued. “We have no doubt Tolari
technology is backward, though the culture is quite civilized. Perhaps you can
find out if there’s something else going on, or if our space-faring friends are
simply skittish.”
            “I’m not a spook,” Marianne protested, digging into her
poached egg on toast and spooning some yogurt over her fruit.
            “No,” Garry said, “and we don’t want you to be. If the
Sural is astute, he’ll expect anybody we send will be watching him and
reporting what they see, but we didn’t train you because it would cause changes
in your behavior that he would notice. Instantly. The Tolari are keen
observers. They can almost read your mind from your body language, and they
know if you’re lying or hiding something.”
            Marianne grimaced.
            “Yes, we know what a private person you are. Just be
yourself. That’s all they want.”
            She heaved a sigh. “That I can do.”
Excerpt from The Marann, Chapter Two.