Snippet Sunday!

Gosh, it’s been a while since I posted a snippet from a work in progress! 

Astute readers of Farryn’s War may have noticed that there seemed to be one more human on Tolar than could be accounted for.  Here is a bit of her story, which takes place in between The Marann and The Fall. The working title is… Stranded.  Tell me what you think:


Alexia groaned at the pounding in her head. I should not have drunk so much champagne at the ball. She wrapped her arms around her head and curled up on her side.

She froze. On her side? Gravity? The lifeboat. She sat up and threw her arms out as the world spun.

“Hold on,” said a woman’s voice, in English. A hand took her arm. “Take it easy.”

The room steadied, and Alexia blinked up at a woman with startling blue eyes and very long, wavy brown hair. She wore a simple blue robe with white embroidery at the collar and cuffs, and she smiled down with an amused expression on her face.

She was pretty enough. Alexia looked closer. Freckles! What sort of woman allowed herself to sprout freckles?

Not one Mamá would allow her to associate with. She jerked her arm away.

“Feeling better?” the woman asked, one eyebrow lifted.

“No.” Alexia frowned. The fierce pounding in her head put a hair trigger on a temper which, her dueña loved to remind her, was already too easy to set off. “Where am I? I was in a lifeboat–” she swallowed “–freezing to death. Who are you?”

“Oh! I’m sorry, introductions are in order. I’m Marianne Woolsey. You’re in the stronghold of the province of Suralia on the fourth planet of Beta Hydri. And you are…?”

Alexia rubbed her forehead. “Beta Hydri? We should not have been near Beta Hydri.”

“And you are…?”

“Alexia Victoria de la Cerda y Aragon.”

“Welcome to Tolar. May I call you Alexia?”

 

Damn the Cooties, Full Speed Ahead!

This weekend, I had to smile when I saw a new review on Amazon for my latest science fiction novel, Farryn’s War:

I normally read a lot of science fiction and not much romance, so I was a bit concerned we’d be all heaving bosoms and whatnot. Pleasantly surprised to find the ‘romance’ was just part of the plot line and character building.

And that, my friends, is why I always pause and really look at the person who asks me, “What do you write?”

Most of my stories are about a race of empaths, the Tolari, who live on a planet circling Beta Hydri, two dozen light years from Earth.  The stories encompass local and interstellar politics, cultural isolation and societal change, a dozen alien races, war, peace, and everything in between.  Also, men, women, and children, relationships and choices, victories and losses. And there’s the rub. What should I call it, anyway?

Once upon a time, “space opera” was a term of disdain, but thanks to Lester del Ray and others, it came to stand for space adventure, characters, plotting, and a big canvas: vast civilizations, long space voyages, epic battles.

Are the Tolari novels space opera? Absolutely. But over time, the trappings in the genre assumed a life of their own, and the genre called “space opera” became very fluid. Take a look at the space opera bestseller list on Amazon, and it could be 75% military SF, or 75% space adventure, or anything in between, with a sometimes heavy sprinkling of science fiction romance in the top 20.

Once upon a time, there was no such thing as “science fiction romance,” except perhaps in the much older sense by which Edwin Abbott’s Flatland was called “a romance of many dimensions.” But writers in the 1970’s and 1980’s (mostly women, but not all) did astonishing work in drawing realistic characters in SF settings, looking at the ripple effects of technological and cultural change on people, relationships, and societies. And people fall in love: one of the very oldest sources of complexity in fiction. Are the Tolari novels science fiction romance? Absolutely! But over just the past few years, the acceptance (and popularity) of erotica and a dismayingly limited number of tropes mean that virtually every title on the current Amazon “science fiction romance” bestseller list sports a man with a naked chest on the cover — and romance readers know what that means.

Now, I think my writing can stand up respectably next to military SF and “alien warriors and the women they capture.”  But that’s not the point. The point is labeling. And Cooties.

  • Science fiction readers (many but not all male) who see  the word “romance” – or even an obviously female name on the cover, or artwork with a couple holding hands — often have the same sense of anxiety and risk-taking described in the review above: “Hold on, Grampa. Is this a kissing book?” In other words: relationships and sex. In other words: Girl Cooties.
  • Romance readers (most but not all female) may be OK with “science fiction” on the cover, but if they see spaceships, or an alien NOT locked in an embrace with a human of some sort, they may worry that there will be whole chapters about alien cultures, or the effects of technological change, and lots of cardboard characterization. In other words: Science Cooties.

I grew up on Andre Norton and Frank Herbert, Isaac Asimov and CJ Cherryh, as well as my mother’s Harlequin romances. I’m a science fiction writer, but I refuse to limit my scope to anything less than everything. If that means I sometimes call what I write “space opera,” and sometimes “futuristic romance,” and sometimes just “SF,” I’m going to be asking my readers to take a chance. If you like romance, read The Marann (winner of the 2013 PRISM award from the Romance Writers of America — the same award won by quintessential space adventure writers Sharon Lee and Steve Miller). If you like space opera, read my latest, Farryn’s War. It’s not military, and it’s definitely not erotica, and if you absolutely hate spaceships or romance, you might want to look for another author more to your taste. But if you find one of my books that you like, take a risk and try another.

I’m about stories, and a sense of wonder, and unforgettable characters, and I’m a sucker for happy endings, though in the middle, it may get rough for a while.

Who knows, I may someday be one of the women who destroy science fiction.

But whether they’re the physics kind or the kissing kind, I am done worrying about Cooties. There are just too many good stories I want to tell.

The Fall_cover_200
Farryns War cover 200
Marann_cover_200
Daughters_cover_200

Why Exiles of the Drift?

Astute readers may have noticed that the Amazon page for my forthcoming novel Farryn’s War has it listed not as Tales of Tolari Space Book 4, but as Exiles of the Drift. What (you might ask) is up with that?

In my Tolari stories, the Drift is a dangerous region of K-space adjacent to humanity’s Six Planets, and within easy reach of at least four of the other races of the Trade Alliance. Beta Hydri – the star that Tolar circles every 2.03 standard years – sits on one of the few safe routes through the Drift, and much of the action of my first three novels involves Earth’s attempts to convince the Tolari to allow humans to build a trade station in the Drift.

Now, if you’re writing about, say, the jungle, you can tell stories about the people who go into the jungle; the people who live in the jungle, though they might occasionally dare to go Outside; and what happens when people from the jungle go Outside to stay. The Tales of Tolari Space series followed the first humans to be invited to Tolar, and the decision of the Tolari to gradually abandon their isolation and end their pretense of being harmless primitives. There are a lot more stories in the offing, set on Tolar and adjacent regions of deep space. These will all be Tales of Tolari Space.

Meanwhile, this new series, Exiles of the Drift, will explore what happens to those Tolari who leave their world and its relative safety, to wrestle with the Outside. There will be adventure, and love stories, and occasional disasters, and comings and goings between Tolar, the Drift, and the worlds beyond, for a good while yet. And Farryn’s War is the first installment.

A Beginning is a Very Delicate Time

You may have noticed the new look. This blog has moved to WordPress, where it can be attached to my official website. This will take some getting used to on my part; I spent an embarrassing 5 minutes figuring out how to log in with sufficient privilege to post. Hopefully, I’ll remember next time!

Going to the old blog URL will redirect you here; or you may come directly to christiemeierz.com/blog. Either method works quite nicely.

So! How do you like it?

This comes at another beginning: for the past week, I have been contemplating how to begin the next book. Also, I have been contemplating where to start it, and thus we come to a delicate choice. I know the story, and I know where it’s going, but where, indeed, do I place the reader to best advantage?

Meanwhile, Farryn’s War is in final adjustments, and we’re in discussions with Madame Publicist on how to begin Letting People Know A Book Is Imminent — yet another Beginning.

And summer is… not quite here, at least not today. We’re back in the land of unseasonably cool, wet weather. What about you?

Which Way to Go

Here in Tolari Space, things have been rather quiet, which has resulted in an absence of posts to this blog. This time, I’m not going to apologize for being such an extreme introvert that even a daily tweet required more energy than I was left with after the book launch. It is what it is. Sometimes, I just need a break. But I’ve got a little energy back today, in the aftermath of a migraine that crippled me for close to a week, so my thoughts turned to What to Do Next.

The Fall is available (have you purchased your copy yet?), and the next book, Farryn’s War, is ready for my new editor. It’s time to look ahead to the next story. The problem is, there are lots of stories backed up in my head, and since none of them are pushing harder than the others to get out, I don’t know which one to write next.

1) I could, of course, continue the story where Farryn’s War leaves off. That would make a great deal of sense.

2) I give hints in The Fall and more hints in Farryn’s War of a story taking place alongside them; it begins in the time between the end of The Marann and the beginning of Daughters of Suralia, and it ends during Farryn’s War. It might be novella length; I’m not sure, as it hasn’t completely gelled.

3) The inimitable Bertie, whom I just love, deserves his own story.

4) A story involving Farric-as-Monral and his heir, a few years down the road, is brewing in my head. It would explain a few things, such as why I’ve made a point that Tolari have peds rather than feet. That wasn’t, by the way, a pointless mummery of deciding to use a different word to describe an everyday object. There’s a reason, and there are hints of it scattered here and there…

5) Backstory: the Sural’s rise to power, and the tragedies that accompanied it.

6) Backstory: Storaas. A man of many secrets…

7) Backstory: the Jorann.

8) Forwardstory: Rose as the Terelia. Pay careful attention to offhand comments in Daughters and The Fall and you won’t be surprised where that story goes.

9) And more.

As I said, lots of stories backed up in my head, but those are the main ideas at the moment. If you have a preference what you’d like to read about next, now’s the time to speak up!

Do You Wanna Win a Gift Card?

Or maybe a set of ebooks?

Click on Rafflecopter link over there on the right, or go to my website, to enter the contest.

One person will win a $25 Amazon Gift Card and all three Tales of Tolari Space ebooks. One person will win an ebook copy of each of the three Tales of Tolari Space novels. And three people will each win an ebook copy of my PRISM Award-winning debut novel, The Marann.

Good luck!

Anticipation

The-Fall_coverComp-Master02R2E-Recovered

I have sadly neglected my blog, and for that I apologize. All my energy is taken by the upcoming release of The Fall and the many guest posts I’ve been writing to go along with it, along with still working hard on Farryn’s War, which is due at the editor the first week of April.

I do love being busy!

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00T35EUM2/
 The Fall
coming March 2, 2015
As bitter enemies scheme against each other with the fate of
Tolar in the balance, Laura Howard, made a powerful empath by the Jorann’s
gift, loses everything—again. Now she must recover and find her place, and
herself, while fighting against the ghosts of her past and the expectations of
everyone around her.
Loss after tragic loss shakes the Paran to his very soul.
With his allies vying for control of the planet and his own province caught in
the middle, he must risk his life as well as that of the woman he loves to take
the one action he never thought he would: fight for leadership of the ruling
caste.

On Trying New Things

We (the married we, not the we of royals or people with worms) have hired a publicist, in an attempt to rebuild the momentum Tolari Space once had. One of the publicist’s considered suggestions was — a Street Team. Those who join it get early access to review copies of my books.

She designed a very nice banner, started up the group, and now there is Christie Meierz Official Street Team on Facebook. Color me speechless.

You’re welcome to join, of course, if you would like to review my books (in e-ARC form) on Goodreads and such ahead of the crowds. You can find the group here, I believe. Also, feel free to friend me (where I yak about my authorial life), or like my author page (where I post  sniplets).

Meanwhile, I have learned a new way to tear apart a book chapter by chapter, and experimented by executing it on Chapter One of Farryn’s War. The method involves color-coding everything: narrative, internal and external dialog, visceral/physical reactions, action. The only things that get spared are dialog tags. I think.

Fun with colored pixels. The eventual goal is to deepen the experience for the reader. I’m eager to see how it works.

That was my Monday. How was yours?

Various Updates and Announcements

Wow. I am busy and loving it.

Pretty new editions of The Marann and Daughters of Suralia are now available. They are simple and clean, and they are copy-edited to within an inch of my life. The interior is printed in an attractive font and mildly stylish chapter titles. And, I promise you, the covers are not not not blurry. These editions look very nice.

But just wait until you see what I’m going to do with the next series. Mwah.

The Fall has various things going on. Advanced Reader Copies have gone to the publicist, who will be sending them out for reviews Real Soon Now ™. We are working with an artist to produce the cover, and it looks like I will get a signed #1 print of it. That’s very exciting!

Farryn’s War has turned into the first book of a new series. It’s a combination of SF noir, space opera, and romantic suspense, and it’s been one heck of a lot of fun to write. It’s enough of a departure from the atmosphere of Tales of Tolari Space, I think, to warrant its own series. I’ll announce the name of the series when I get closer to release. Right now, I am perhaps a few thousand words away from finishing the first draft. There will be nothing like the delay with this book that there was with The Fall.

How has the first week of 2015 been for you?