Dragon Moon and 12 others FREE!

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Hurry: deal expires June 3rd.

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Zeedub Bezzies interview

Zeedub Bezzies is an ongoing series where I showcase talented authors by goading them into random questioning. It’s good fun, a little weird, sometimes awkward, but always entertaining.


What process did you go through to get published?
Scott E. Tarbet is an award-winning author of science fiction, paranormal, and steampunk. If that’s not enough to garner your interest, he’s also a professional opera singer. I’m going to let you re-read that, because I certainly had to. It’s not every day that you meet someone with an affinity for space ships and musical theater. I had to know more, so I convinced (read: begged) Scott to divulge more tidbits for Zeedub Bezzies.

My first piece to see paid print was a novella written in response to a call for submissions to a paranormal anthology. It was the story of an old Texas farmer who is murdered by his money-grubbing descendants but refuses to go give up his land just because he’s dead.

After more accepted short-form pieces, I pitched a steampunk novel idea, then another novel and another and another, along with an ongoing flow of short fiction.

Moral of the story: getting your foot in the door is the hardest part.

Have you ever destroyed any of your drafts?

No, but I have filed a few away forever. I have deleted some long passages, though, when people started doing things and stuff started happening that shouldn’t, and it couldn’t be fixed without clobbering the concept.

My editor, Penny Freeman at Xchyler Publishing, AKA She Whose Name Shall Be Praised, once convinced me that a character I had written in to be a deliberate burr under the protagonist’s blanket (the college girlfriend you love to hate) was a drag on the plot and had to go. “She is using up word count that you need for other things.” After I considered it for days, I eliminated her. The novel went on to win awards, so Penny was clearly correct.

Moral: find a good editor, then listen carefully.

How do you deal with emotional impact of a book on yourself as you are writing the story?

I cry. A lot. No, seriously. My latest WIP, just sent to editing, is super emotional. The final read-through-aloud had my wife and me both choked up in all the right places.

Different projects obviously don’t have that kind of emotionality.

But that’s just me. Others, acknowledged masters of the craft, don’t feel at all the same. At dinner with a multiple-Hugo and Nebula-winning colleague I asked if he cried when he writes, citing a particularly emotional passage. “No,” he said. “It’s my craft. My job is to make my readers cry.”

Tell us about the process of coming up with the cover.

Usually not much to talk about, because the publisher takes care of it, and only allows me to look at the final product and nod or scream bloody murder. I have always been thrilled. They hire good talent.

With the latest WIP, being for a very narrow niche market, I contracted directly with the wonderful artist who did another of my covers. I have been working with her slowly, over months, sending her written character sketches, and she has been developing four characters from my notes. It is a little more spendy–a lot more, since I haven’t had to pay before–but very satisfying artistically and emotionally.

What are common traps for aspiring writers?

The first one that comes to mind is being too in love with one’s own words. Many aspiring writers learn slowly, or not at all, from failures and negative input. It’s not enough to like what you write: others have to as well. Not only that, they have to be willing to pay for it.

I was asked recently to look at the manuscript of a well-known blogger’s first attempt at a novel, with an eye to heavy editing/ghost-writing. I knew in advance it was going to be a bumpy ride, but the paycheck was very attractive.

So I redid his first chapter to salable standards, and got back exactly what I had expected: his “voice” had been lost. (Dang straight.) But my name on a cover is my brand. Without changes of the magnitude I wrote in I could not diminish my own work’s value. We agreed to part as friends.

Are you friends with other writers?

Lots and lots. Hundreds on Facebook, Twitter, etc., dozens in real life. The close ones I give real, straight-from-the-shoulder advice and feedback, and receive the same in return.

Writers, of course, tend towards introspection. I’m no different. I make friends much more easily with people who share the same hopes and struggles.

Is there a genre you absolutely despise, or are written pieces all pieces of art and demand to be respected equally?

Pulp romance. Can’t abide it. I love genuine love and romance far too much to subsidize cheap, formulaic bodice ripping.

Is there lots to do before you dive in and start writing the story?

Ooooh yeah! I believe in thorough preparation. My outlines themselves run dozens of pages. For every character who is significant enough to receive a name, I know (and write out at length) what they want, what and who is stopping them from getting it, and how those conflicts will develop and be resolved. All that in addition to their physical characteristics, relationships, and backstories.

I then outline a loose three act structure, with a complete list of scenes and their objectives.

Then the writing starts. Pretty soon the characters start telling me where the outline was wrong, so I go back and fix it, and keep it up to date all the way through the writing process. That’s the only way I can keep the pacing and structure right.

Do you reply back to your fans and admirers personally?

You bet. Maybe someday that correspondence will grow to the point I won’t enjoy it all, but for now I’m glad to hear from anyone who likes my stuff or has questions.

Did you have a lot of differences with your editors in the beginning while you were still becoming used to getting your work edited?

At one point in the editing of my first novel Penny sent back a set of edits with a note that said, “I’m not going to respond to anything you send back for forty-eight hours, so you can cool down before you answer.” She was 100% correct, both about the big edit and about me needing to think about it carefully before responding.

As I said earlier, beginning writers have thought a lot about their words, and have strung them together that way because they love them. It’s tough to let go and learn new craft, but learning how to learn eases the process. I hope I never stop learning.

Learn more about Scott Tarbet at:
ScottTarbet.timp.net
twitter.com/SETarbet

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The race is on!

#DragonMoonNovel much?

The U.S. government might not be funding the human return to the moon, but at least it acknowledges that there is a dangerous space race underway.

VP Mike Pence passed along Trump’s direct threat to NASA that heads will roll at the agency if it doesn’t put Americans back on the moon within five years–six years ahead of the optimistic target already in place.

Yes, sir, there is a threat. It must be met. But meeting it only with threats to your own people isn’t going to get it done. Actually appropriating the money is the first step.

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Egle Zioma: one of the best cover artists ever

I woke up to a wonderful surprise this morning: the first character study of the hero of my forthcoming novel, Rise of the Stripling Warriors, by the best cover artist I have ever worked with, Egle (Cathy) Zioma.

Young Mayan warrior. Character sketch. Ixtil, son of Lamoni

Character study. Ixtil, son of Lamoni

Ixtil, son of Lamoni, lives for the Mayan ballgame pok-a-tok. He and his friends, the Cloud Jaguar team, drill and train, run and hunt, all in service of the game. The wars of their old enemies, the Lamanites, and their protectors, the Nephites, seem far away.

New converts to the worship of the God of Israel, their fathers and leaders, once the elite of the Lamanite war machine, have made a covenant with God to bury their weapons of war, never again to shed human blood.

Now genocidal war has found them in their mountain refuge. Homicidal King Ammoron has vowed to destroy the People of the Covenant and drink the blood of his enemies, the old royal family. Ixtil’s family.

The People of the Covenant face a stark choice: break their oath and take up arms to help the Nephites defend them, or be extinguished from the face of the earth.

 

Egle (Cathy) Zioma, the character artist of the enchanting cover of my novel A Midsummer Night’s Steampunk, is brilliant, both technically and artistically. Her images done on my behalf are only the tip of the iceberg of a wonderful body of work.

Egle is a native of Lithuania. She studied Graphic Design/Fine Arts at VDA KDI (Vilniaus Dailes Akademija, Kauno Dailes Fakultetas)

Tour her amazing work on:

 

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The Sisters Sorenson and the Mechanical Man

Steampunk and Mormons? A natural fit!

Sister-wives Solveig and Hilda Sorenson bend their considerable skills to protect their aging husband from a corrupt deputy U.S. marshal.

The second in an ongoing series of Steampunk Mormon anthology volumes by Immortal Works Press, released in early 2019.

“Even at twelve feet tall, Iron Porter’s hair hung well below his shoulders, and his beard reached his midsection.

In the dark the effect was perfect. With the shock of the monstrous apparition looming from the winter night, the lights glaring in the marshal’s eyes, and the hair swirling, Solveig was confident the marshall had no idea he faced a mechanical man. An oversized visitor from hell, maybe, but not a mechanical man.”

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How do authors create major characters for their novels from scratch?

In answer to a Quora.com question:

For me there are essentially three ways novels are born. When I start a novel, I start with an interesting:

  1. Character. If this is how your brain works, the question (how to create the major characters) is already partly answered. Ask yourself: what does she want? What is stopping her from getting it? Then fill in some blanks for yourself: who are her parents? How does she look, dress, behave? Where did she go to school? Is she a dog or a cat person? What did she have for breakfast? Ad infinitum.For the antagonist and secondary characters, you go through the same process: what do they want? What is stopping them from getting it? Etc.Different authors are more rigorous about this than others. Several successful ones I know write themselves copious notes—even essays—about the characters.

    Then, once you know the world the characters inhabit and the story they are involved in, you give the readers the details they need to know to move the story forward. Be careful not to over-indulge yourself: the reader doesn’t need to know everything you know.

  2. Story. If your novel is story-driven, who do the characters need to be to move the story forward? Then go through a similar process as in Step 1.
  3. World. For those of us who work in Speculative Fiction (sci-fi, fantasy, paranormal, horror, etc.), a lot of our settings are not the one the reader lives in. For some readers, that is why they are attracted to a particular genre. If a different, interesting world is what prompts the novel in the first place, we must ask ourselves, what is different about this world that makes it somewhere a reader would want to spend the hours it takes to read a novel?Then we ask ourselves what the story is that illuminates the world, and finally, who are the characters that drive the story.

Myself, I tend to work top down: the stories and worlds are born of the characters, not the other way around. But many successful authors vary the order.

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How do I write a character that is emotionally traumatized without making the character boring?

In answer to a Quora.com question:

In this case, don’t tell me the character is emotionally traumatized, especially by having him ponder it inside his own head. Instead, show me the effects of that traumatization. Especially show me how it is important to the story. If it has no effect on how the narrative unfolds, ask yourself why the average reader would actually care about the fictional mental problems of a fictional character.

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FyreCon 2018!

Once again I’ll be appearing at Fyrecon, Thursday-Sunday, June 21-23. Weber State University campus, Layton, Utah.

Fyrecon is a three day conference on the Art and Writing of Science Fiction and Fantasy that offers over 180 workshops and classes facilitated by published authors and working artists. Fyrecon also features four and eight hour master classes by bestselling authors and nationally recognized artists.This is a great opportunity to meet and greet your favorite authors and artists for free!

The night before Fyrecon I’ll be moderating a panel at the Fyrecon Preview at the Viridian Event Center! Master guest authors and artists will participate in a panel discussion on heroes and villains and will sign books afterward. The panel will feature:

  • Shawn Carman, Lead Writer for Legends of the Five Rings & Creative Director for Kyoudai Games.
  • Dave Dorman, Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Illustrator, best known for his Star Wars artwork. He earned an Eisner Award for his work on Alien: Tribes.
  • Dr. Charles E. Gannon, National Bestselling Author, best known for his Caine Riordan series, and his work with Eric Flint and Steve White on the Ring of Fire series.
  • David Farland, New York Times Bestselling Author of the Runelords series and author, under the name Dave Wolverton, of Star Wars: The Courtship of Princess Leia.
  • Preston Stone, Artist and Art Director for Fantasy Flight Games.
  • Chad Hardin, Artist for DC Comics, probably best known for his work on the bestselling comic book series Harley Quinn.
  • Christie Craig, a.k.a. C. C. Hunter, New York Times Bestselling author of the Shadow Falls series, the Divorced and Desperate series, and the Texas Justice series.
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Dragon Moon honored

Dragon Moon has been honored by the League of Utah Writers (LUW) with its
Gold Quill award as the best speculative fiction novel of 2017.

The novel, the tale of the new clandestine, high stakes space race that explodes when the People’s Republic of China places a new super weapon on the lunar surface, was in sterling company with Everstar, the last installment in the Vivatera series by fellow Xchyler Publishing author Candace Thomas, which took the Silver Quill.

The announcement came at the conclusion of the LUW’s Fall Conference, held on the campus of Salt Lake Community College.

Many thanks to the editorial team at Xchyler Publishing, including Penny Freeman and Jessica Fassler, for making this long-simmering dream a reality.

 

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A Dragon Moon review that made me smile

This quote from the Amazon review of Dragon Moon from Verified Purchaser Jamey made me smile:

“Don’t start reading it unless you are prepared to neglect all other aspects of your life.”

Thanks Jamey!

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