My beta readers have been weighing in on the latest manuscript Schicksal Turnpike and it has given me some food for thought. In addition, I’m sorting through some of the scientific lingo I will need to turn my new book project Gliese 581: Zarmina’s World into a sequel worthy of interest.
Beta Readers Weigh In
I received a message the other day from one of the beta readers…
Ok I’m having a hard time with your book. I hate dean, he’s a whiny asshole who should have died instead of his family. So I’ve tried skipping ahead a few chapters but he’s still there.
I was amused. And just a little concerned. Had I written him too whiny? Or put too much asshole into the first chapter that centered around him?
And considering that Dean is the main protagonist I wasn’t sure how to respond to her other than to say, “Get used to him because he isn’t going anywhere.”
She promised to start at the beginning and read the whole thing through. And by midnight I received a new message, which I have redacted to avoid spoilers:
Made me hate him then you made me love him damn you!
And those words right there were absolutely what I needed to hear. I want that kind of visceral reaction. It means I’ve done my job right. Another beta reader said something similar, commenting on Dean as being “well written” and how he “enjoyed his life changing turn around.” Which is also the response I hoped to provoke.
Where Do We Go From Here?
With Schicksal Turnpike, even before finishing the manuscript, I have been concerned. There isn’t just the main story, that of Dean’s evolution, but a second story, filled with magic and a race of people who are not of this world. Most of it is barely explained and I have swung back and forth on this – Shicksal Turnpike was created in my mind as a bridge between a story from our world and as a set up for the series The Chronicles of Liv Rowan which takes place mainly in the other world only barely described in Schicksal Turnpike.
In essence, it is a prequel. A story before the real story. One that you toss out in the middle of a successful series, not before.
At first, it was really hard to imagine waiting to publish this book. Especially after having spent so much time on it. More than a year of writing, editing, adding, correcting. Surely I could publish it and then move on to Chronicles immediately.
But as I sat down and began to sort through my notes for The Chronicles of Liv Rowan I could just feel my mind slip sideways. Not to mention that my readers of Gliese 581: The Departure have responded with, “What do you mean I have to wait YEARS for the sequel?!”
So as the beta readers picked their way through Schicksal and I resigned myself to learning far more scientific principles than the teenage me would EVER have been willing to do, my resolve on what to do with Schicksal wavered and changed.
I’m going to shop it out to literary agents and sit on it for a while. I look at it like this:
- It is a prequel, therefore it probably needs to wait until at least a couple of the Chronicles of Liv Rowan books come out (I have twelve stories planned).
- It could be doing the work of finding a literary agent I could work with while I’m busy writing Gliese 581: Zarmina’s World AND Chronicles of Liv Rowan: The Glass Forest
I’m painfully aware that marketing my books is required if I am to be a self-published author. It is also something I’m not particularly good at. That is, after all, one of the main reasons authors retain a literary agent. So I’ve finally got a book that I’m not going to lose my mind over not getting to publish right away because it can’t be published right away. Not until the other books are out.
Goals for Now
So I’ve got my assignments for the next six months to a year. I need to:
- Learn the science and get the sequel to Gliese 581: The Departure finished
- Finish writing the first book of The Chronicles of Liv Rowan when I can’t handle dealing with Gliese (and vice versa).
Taking Notes from Another Science Wunderkind
As I struggled to learn some of the scientific principles behind planetary orbits, atmosphere, and more yesterday I was also juggling kiddo activities. And while we are not homeschooling this year, I have maintained my membership with L.E.A.R.N. and was looking forward to hanging out with some homeschool mamas while Em played with her friends at Double Digits Game Night.
I sat down at the mama table and pulled out my Gliese binder which has a picture of the planet on the front cover. I figured I could work on my planet maps and maybe get some help naming the continents and other features of the world.
However, the sight of a planet immediately caught the interest of one mama (I’m embarrassed to admit I don’t know her name) and her eleven-year-old son Nate. And young Nate was soon firing questions at me.
Nate: So, Mars doesn’t have an atmosphere.
Me: Right, but the colony lives in Habs and they have atmosphere generators pumping CO2 to create a greenhouse effect.
Nate: But that won’t be enough to create an atmosphere.
Me: Well not yet, no. But in 300 to 500 years, it could.
Nate: [shakes his head] No, to do that it would need more heavy elements. CO2 wouldn’t be enough.
Me: Like what kind of elements?
Nate: Well Mercury is nice and heavy.
Me: But isn’t that toxic?
Nate: It sure is.
His mother later told me that he reads the periodic table of elements before going to bed at night.
We must have talked for an hour or more. The kid was beyond fascinating and I smile now because I cannot wait to see the adult that will form from this curious and thoughtful young mind. We discussed trajectories for asteroids, the effects of gravity on Mars colonists (1/3 earth gravity) and also the Gliese colonists (1.2 earth gravities).
He explained solar winds and how sun flares affect the gravitational fields of planets. He poked a few holes in my assumptions (easy to do since I know little or no science), gave me a few ideas to consider, and even drew a sketch of how one particular scenario/plot twist might work.
I have a ton of notes – things I need to research now and double check. His mom was listening in the entire time and, as a writer and a lover of all things learning-related, it was fascinating to see her interaction with him. The questions, hypotheses, and answers were flying thick and fast among the three of us.
As the evening wound to an end, he came back to the table and asked me, “So what kind of books should I bring next month?”
I told him to bring anything he had on orbits, the periodic table, and if he could figure out the speed of an asteroid after collision that would be amazing too.
And I am really looking forward to seeing him the next Tween Game Night in four weeks or so. Fascinating kid, he helped me immeasurably and gave me quite a bit to think about.