HOW TO RUN A BLOG TOUR FOR A SEQUEL

This week’s guest post is by author Bryan Thomas Schmidt, a frequent guest on this site. Bryan is on a blog tour to promote THE RETURNING, the second in his Saga of Davi Rhii science fiction series. We considered doing another interview, but as we’ve now interviewed each other at least four times between our two blogs, I thought a guest post by Bryan would be a nice change of pace, and what better topic to discuss than how to do a blog tour for a sequel without spoiling the first book in the series?  So here he is, ladies and gentlemen, Bryan Thomas Schmidt:

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How To Run a Blog Tour For A Sequel Without Spoiling Book 1

Okay, first of all, the fact that Anthony asked for this topic proves he’s not really my friend, let’s just get that out of the way first.  I mean, I suppose it’s a compliment that he thinks I actually have the answers to this. After all, The Returning is only my second novel ever published. And having been a beta reader for me on it, he of all people should know how tightly the storylines interlap as well as how much the success of this particular sequel depends on suspense and surprise.  To be fair, though, I did it to myself. I’m the one who wrote the novel this way, after all. The fact that he’s an opportunist taking advantage of my self-made quandary is just an unfortunate side effect really.

So let’s get on with it then. How do you run a blog tour for book 2 of a trilogy? Very carefully. Just as craft goes into the writing, so must it be applied to your marketing.

First, choose some excerpts and plot/character details which can be shared to tease the book without ruining the rest of the plot. Not easy, but doable. They should involve the old familiar characters, particularly the protagonist and also the antagonist when possible. And they should be fast-paced and tension filled. You can share the romantic subplots sometimes but usually those emotional highs are best saved and it’s the drama of the obstacles which draws most readers in.

For example, the reading excerpt from this book I have been using is a subplot scene involving my protagonist, Davi Rhii, fighting with his girlfriend/fiancée, Tela, witnessed by his archrival Bordox. It’s told through Bordox’s POV and so we get not only character and plot development for Davi and Tela but also for Bordox. Their relationships were all established in book 1, The Worker Prince. We knew Bordox would want revenge because he always blames Davi for his troubles and Davi really put him in his place in Book 1. Davi and Tela’s romance developed in book 1, but most couples go through phases where they have fights, so no surprise there. Thus, that scene is not a spoiler but it does have enough juice to intrigue fans of the series and new readers as to the kinds of issues book 2, The Returning, holds in store.

Second, choose story descriptions which don’t give too much away about the prior book or the latest. You can tell them the basic plot without ruining the ending. You don’t have to ruin the first book’s ending. Instead of saying “they fought and so-and-so won, but now they’re at it again,” you can say: “In book 2, the characters find themselves in conflict over x, y and z and the repercussions of book 1 are impacting their personal relationships and lives.” See how that avoids mention of the ending yet sets up the conflict in the second book as well as characters? It tells you there’s going to be obstacles to overcome and that the events of the first book do play a role in shaping things but also leaves you room for new things as well. (Dang, even when I’m describing generic sentences I’m writing generic sentences. This could ruin my craft.)

What intriguing tidbits can you offer to tease without giving it away? With The Returning, for example, I can say: “Davi and Tela find their future together threatened by difficulties with their relationship.”  Generic? Yes, but promising because our favorite couple, the antagonist and his love interest, aren’t so perfect after all. In The Worker Prince, we rooted for them to get together so now that’s threatened? Readers will want to know why. There’s complication and complications make for interesting drama. Here’s another example: “Xalivar is back with a vengeance seeking revenge on Davi and all those who defied him.” We don’t know if Xalivar won or lost in the last book, but he wants revenge and that’s well within his character so we’re not spoiling anything. People who enjoyed the larger-than-life villain will enjoy seeing him up to his old antics and how the heroes overcome it.

Here’s a third: “Davi, Farien and Yao reunite for a mission to investigate the murders of Vertullians throughout the system by those opposed to their obtaining citizenship, finding their lives and friendships threatened by what they discover.” Our three buddies with great rapport are back and they are hunting killers and in danger? Who doesn’t want to know what happens?

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Here’s the full description I’ve used for the back of the book, Goodreads, etc.:

The Vertullians are free and have full citizenship but that doesn’t mean they’re accepted. Now someone is sending assassins to kill and terrorize them and it’s riling up old enmity all over again. On top of that, Xalivar is back with a vengeance seeking revenge on Davi and all those who defied him. So Davi, Farien and Yao reunite for a mission to investigate the murders of Vertullians throughout the system by those opposed to their obtaining citizenship, finding their lives and friendships threatened by what they discover. Meanwhile, the new High Lord Councilor, Tarkanius, Lord Aron, and Davi find themselves fighting all over again to preserve the unity of the Borali Alliance, while Xalivar’s allies and even Lords on the Borali Council work against them in an attempt to tear it apart. Davi and Tela find their future together threatened by difficulties with their relationship, and Miri’s adjusting to her new status as a non-royal. The action packed, emotional, exciting Davi Rhii story continues.

I tease familiar character names and remind readers new and old that there will be more political backstabbing, family drama, romantic entanglements and life-on-the-line action. All things people loved about The Worker Prince.

Second, choose the types of post you’d most like to feature: interviews, excerpts, reviews, video blog entries, character interviews, humorous dialogues, guest posts, etc. It’s best to have a variety and spread them out so you don’t run a whole week of reviews or excerpts, etc. Then contact the bloggers you’d like to see participate and ask if they’d be interested, offering post options. When guest blogging, it’s usually best to find a topic or way of discussing one that relates to the blog’s theme and offer that. I also use anchor blogs, big blogs with lots of traffic, on Mondays to start my week and Wednesdays for a boost when I can and scatter the others between. When possible, I have each link to the next day’s post.

It’s important to pick a variety of blogs, too. You don’t want all blogs that reach the same audience. You are trying to let as many people as possible know about your book. Now if your book’s family friendly, an erotica blog probably isn’t the best fit (i.e. use common sense) but I’ve had mystery writers invite me to write about craft on their blogs and so on. Small blogs can reach people, too, especially as they grow and the posts sit there over time. Obviously, the more built-in the audience, the better, but still, you can benefit from the variety of sizes just the same.

Third, start writing. It’s best to start a month or more in advance. You’ll have a lot of content to develop and the more time you have to prepare it, the better quality it can be. You’ll also have time to adopt any changes the host sites might request, etc. Remember to capture the excitement you had in writing the book. There’s plenty of elements from craft of dialogue to plotting to genre choices to character arcs and more you can guest post on. By being creative, you can still tease your book and work in aspects of it without a sales pitch, like I’m doing with this post. Readers love to dig in more in depth to the workings of a novelists mind and they find the behind-the-scenes insight helpful and interesting. And, if you want them to buy your book, you need to convince them you’re interesting. Why else should they agree to dedicate hours to hanging with your mind and creative output? Use humor, provide links and examples, and provide pictures and a bio on every post, including links to not just your book page and site but also to other helpful tools and books you might mention in the post.

Fourth, visit the posts and answer comments. Dialogue with the blogger and readers. Don’t just let it post and disappear. A key part of what makes blogs and blog tours successful is the chance to interact with bloggers/authors. Be personable and have fun. If you get a troll, either ignore them or make a joke. Don’t engage in a flame war. Instead, have fun and answer with as much personality, intelligence and interesting data as you can. That will build relationships with whole new readers. I’ve had people buy my book and even become friends doing that. And those people will then help spread the word with no effort from you.

Blog tours are a lot of work. So is book promotion. But in the present climate of publishing, more and more of that onus falls on the authors. The beauty of blogs is that they’re free and you can reach out beyond your own circles to a wider band, helping draw traffic and attention for others doing solid work and writing while, at the same time, promoting yourself. So there you have it, a few tips to doing a blog tour for a second book without ruining the first. Hit me back in a month or two and I’ll tell you if they work or not. Meanwhile, thanks to Anthony for inviting me to Rambling On.

Bryan Thomas Schmidt

Bryan Thomas Schmidt

Bryan Thomas Schmidt is the author of the space opera novels The Worker Prince, a Barnes & Noble Book Clubs Year’s Best SF Releases of 2011 Honorable Mention, and The Returning, the collection The North Star Serial, Part 1, and has several short stories featured  in anthologies and magazines.  He edited the new anthology Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6 for Flying Pen Press, headlined by Mike Resnick. His children’s book 102 More Hilarious Dinosaur Jokes For Kids from Delabarre Publishing. As  a freelance editor, he’s edited a novels and nonfiction.  He’s also the host of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chat every Wednesday at 9 pm EST on Twitter, where he interviews people like Mike Resnick, AC Crispin, Kevin J. Anderson and Kristine Kathryn Rusch. A frequent contributor to Adventures In SF PublishingGrasping For The Wind and SFSignal, he can be found online as @BryanThomasS on Twitter or via his website. Bryan is an affiliate member of the SFWA.

A BATTLE FOR PARANTWER - Space Battles Book

I usually talk about other people (or let them talk about themselves, with me asking questions). But today, it’s all about … ME!

A few months back, I had a short story, “A Battle for Parantwer,” accepted by editor Bryan Thomas Schmidt for inclusion in an upcoming anthology. Today, we got word we could share the cover art and publication info with people. So, here it is:

Full Throttle Space Tales

Full Throttle Space Tales

Space Battles: Full Throttle Space Tales #6

Edited by Bryan Thomas Schmidt

Flying Pen Press, 264 pp., tbp, $16.95, April 18, 2012

Red Alert! Red Alert!

This is not a drill…

Anna Paradox’s “Between The Rocks”: The Courtly Vizier, a utility truck, renders aid to a colony ship but when they return to their asteroid home from supply runs to mines on Old Lumpy from Jupiter’s atmosphere, the colony ship they once helped attacks them. But the situation is not what it seems, and strange circumstances are at hand.

David Lee Summers’ “Jump Point Blockade”: While pirating a mine on an asteroid, Captain Ellison Firebrandt and the crew of the Legacy find themselves forced into battle by Captain Stewart of the New New Jersey, serving as shields against the Alpha Comas at a jump point to Rd’dyggia. But instead of obeying Captain Steward, Firebrandt has plans of his own.

Jean Johnson’s “Joystick War”: Scavenging a storage bunker for salvage, Scott Grayson and Rrenn F’sauu stumble onto mint condition Targeting Drone A.I.’s, joystick controlled combat suits and can’t resist taking them for a test run. Then an old enemy, the Salik turn up, and instead of joy rides, they’re fighting for their lives and their people…

Mike Resnick & Brad Torgersen’s “Guard Dog”: Watchfleet sentinel Chang leads a lonely life of extended, dream-filled sleeps in between frenetic, life-or-death battles. The Sortu had almost defeated humanity and the lives of everyone, including his wife and son, depend on men like him. Then, called to battle again, he finds himself up against the last opponent he’d ever expected…

These and more stories await inside…

All personnel,

report to battle stations!

CONTENTS:

Introduction – Bryan Thomas Schmidt

Between the Rocks – Anna Paradox

The Thirteens – Gene Mederos

Like So Much Refuse – Simon C. Larter

Jump Point Blockade – David Lee Summers

First Contact – Patrick Hester

Isis – Dana Bell

The Book of Enoch – Matthew Cook

The Joystick War – Jean Johnson

Never Look Back – Grace Bridges

The Gammi Experiment – Sarah Hendrix

Space Battle of the Bands – C.J. Henderson

A Battle for Parantwer – Anthony R. Cardno

With All Due Respect – Johne Cook

Final Defense – Selene O’Rourke

Bait and Switch – Jaleta Clegg

The Hand of God (A Davi Rhii Story) – Bryan Thomas Schmidt

Guard Dog – Mike Resnick and Brad R. Torgersen

Yes SF fans. You see that right. I’m in an anthology alongside Mike Frakkin’ Resnick. What a way to debut.

WORKER PRINCE by BRYAN THOMAS SCHMIDT, Author - Interview

I’ve interviewed author-editor-TwitterChatMeister Bryan Thomas Schmidt before, and we recently posted a Dialogue Between Writers. Bryan’s visiting us again as part of his month-long blog tour promoting the release of his novel THE WORKER PRINCE, the first installment of the Davi Rhii Saga.

The Worker Prince

The Worker Prince

ANTHONY: Welcome back, Bryan! This time around we’re going to concentrate more on your upcoming novel release, which I was honored to receive an ARC of. So first let me say how much I enjoyed it. I’ve been talking it up to friends who like good solid SF.

BRYAN: Thanks, I appreciate that.

A: You started the story as an intentional reworking of the Moses story set among the stars. Davi Rhii is sent off by his natural, slave-born, parents and inadvertently adopted by the sister of the High Lord Councilor of the ruling society. As an adult, he learns of his background and has some hard decisions to make. One of the things that interested me is how your main characters map onto the Biblical originals in terms of their story function but also their personalities. Can you talk about your decision-making process as to when you opted to stick close to the originals and when to move a character in a different direction?

B: Well, I think a lot of that was sub-consciously done, to be honest. Obviously, between the Charlton Heston film, the Dreamworks film, and the oft-told Biblical story, some of those things are iconic, so they kind of just become tendencies when telling the story, you know? For example, the High Lord Councilor (aka Pharaoh) character, Xalivar, is obviously going to be strong willed and “an evil dictator” type. In this case, I decided to show his genuine love for Davi (aka Moses) and how his emotions tear at him a bit. It makes him more well-rounded and human and far more interesting that he’s conflicted. I’ve had readers tell me they really didn’t know whether to like or hate him, which is good. The Davi character (Moses) is also complex in similar ways with less obvious evil tendencies, although he’s imperfect. I did avoid things like the siblings Aaron and Miriam, but used Miri as Davi’s mother’s name in tribute to Miriam. I also skipped the whole father-in-law with beautiful daughters desert escape sequence. Davi’s love interest, Tela, has no father figure around really. And they meet in a more conventional way. Part of that is done because departing from the familiar is the only way to keep such an oft-told story fresh. And part of it because, frankly, it was more interesting for me than rehashing what’s been done before. But making Tela a strong-willed, independent fellow pilot, for example, also allowed for some relationship dynamics which are far more interesting. And it allowed for another strong female character. I have four strong major female roles: Miri, Davi’s mother and Xalivar’s sister; Tela, his love interest, trainee and fellow pilot; Lura, his birth mother (a supporting role) and Kray, a member of the Council of Lords (supporting). There are other women characters, but those are the ones who portray the kind of anti-damsel-in-distress women I grew up with in my family and which often don’t appear much in space opera. Also, because I was not writing a religious book but just a book with religion as part of its worldbuilding and because it was more science fiction rather than fantasy, I stayed away from the plagues, signs from God, etc. aspects of the story. They are important and great parts of the biblical story but hard to make work in a believable way in the context of what I am doing. Since these people are descendants of Earthlings, anyway, that’s actually part of their past history anyway, from a Biblical perspective.

A: Orson Scott Card tells the entire life story of Moses in STONE TABLES, embellishing some parts of Scripture and condensing others to fit the whole story into one book. Your story is intended to be a trilogy. How have you handled parceling out the Biblical story over the course of three novels?

B: Well, originally it was conceived as a giant TV mini-series or one long book. But once I got into it and started “playing” around with the story and departing a bit, it became obvious the story I had would go in some different directions. I wrote it as if it could stand alone, and I think “The Worker Prince” really could if need be (I hope there’s no need though). When I started considering how to write the rest of the story, I then realized there were two more books, one which deals with the aftermath of the fight for freedom and developing culture clashes as the workers/slaves are being mainstreamed as citizens against the desires of some others, and the other which deals with the exodus itself.

A: Authors often talk about characters “taking them by surprise.” Supporting characters suddenly come to the forefront because they can provide something to the narrative the main character can’t, etc. While your characters do map onto Biblical equivalents, as we’ve discussed, you’re also telling a large story with lots of supporting characters. Have any of these characters’ paths taken you by surprise either in Book One or as you’re writing and plotting Book Two and Book Three?

B: Oh definitely. And part of that is my trying to keep the cast from getting too big by finding ways to work the supporting characters I’ve already introduced back into new parts of the story. But in Book 2, I wound up killing some characters I never would have anticipated. It serves the story and character development very well, but they would not have been the ones I expected to “knock off,” originally. Also, some of the characters took divergent and interesting twists and turns in their journeys which surprised me. Farien’s journey, in particular, is really interesting in Book 1 but especially over the course of the three books. Some of the supporting characters who are minor in Book 1 take on interesting, larger roles in Book 2. Manaen, Xalivar’s majordomo, a couple of the Boralian military leaders, Bordox’s father Obed—several examples.

A: Another thing that intrigues me about THE WORKER PRINCE is the cultural history. Even though this is taking place in a far-away solar system and far in the future, there are references to “old earth,” and to the colonization of this distant system. The history of, and the animosity between, the races now known as the Borallians and the Vertullians clearly stems from our own time and place in the universe. That history is largely in the background of this first book, but can you tell us anything about how these planets came to be colonized and how one came to be enslaved by the other?

B: The Boralians are a group of colonists formed from mainstream Christian churches, Muslims, Hindus, new agers, and other Earth groups. The Vertullians are Evangelicals. Both groups fled Earth after years of conflict between them to start over. Unfortunately, the Vertullians’ ship broke down and crash landed on Vertullis before they even realized who their neighbors were. The Boralians had already settled the next planet over. When the two discovered it, the Vertullians tried to make peace but the Boralians enslaved them instead. That’s basically what I tell in Book 1. The other history is an animosity toward Evangelicals developed in society because of their conservative views and a gradual domination of more liberal ideologies on Earth. As such, the Evangelicals became marginalized and persecuted. Outcasts in their own society, they find themselves more and more maligned, which leads to their decision to flee Earth. The Boralians who also fled were a portion of those on Earth who just grew tired of the fighting and wanted a peaceful fresh start, or so they thought. Obviously they don’t end up living that out. There are a series of post-colonial incidents, like the Delta V slave revolt, which are referred to as well but not really explained. I actually plan to do a short story on that one. And I have plans for a YA early life series about Davi and his friends now as well. If the books are well received enough anyone is interested, that is.

A: The last time we talked, you gave a little bit of background on how you came to write THE WORKER PRINCE 25 years after having the initial idea in your teens, and how the current cultural climate (try saying that ten times fast!) regarding religion influenced the way you’ve told the story. I’d like to step back from the plot, characters and cultural influences for a moment to ask a more general question I didn’t ask you last time: which writers have influenced you the most, both in your writing overall and for the Saga of Davi Rhii particularly?

B: For world building, my hero is Robert Silverberg. Majipoor has always been one of my favorite series, starting with “Lord Valentine’s Castle” which remains one of my all-time favorite books. Silverberg built that world in amazing depth I couldn’t even begin to aspire too, but, at the same time, he also taught me a lot about the necessity to think through details I never would have imagined. I admire Lewis and Tolkein too, of course, and others as well, but Majipoor is the world I have the most passion for that I’ve read and know in most detail because of just loving spending time there so much. Losing myself. For action, Timothy Zahn especially but also Kevin J. Anderson were big influences on me. Kevin even gave some suggestions and answered questions as I went through revisions. I kept Zahn’s original Thrawn Trilogy handy as I wrote action sequences for pacing and just ideas and inspiration. I later did a blog entry on how to write action based on all I’ve learned. http://bryanthomasschmidt.net/2011/07/17/10-tips-for-writing-good-action-scenes/ I also used Nicholas Sparks, whose love stories move me deeply, in writing the subplot of Davi and Tela as well as Sol and Lura. Those two are the great love stories in this novel and I wanted sections of real passion and emotion captured in words which no one does like Sparks can. For thriller pacing, John Grisham and WEB Griffin are inspirations. They know how to keep books moving. Griffin also is great with political twists and turns which I threw a lot of into the books to keep the readers guessing (and myself as I wrote, actually).

A: How soon can we expect to see Book Two of the Saga of Davi Rhii, and can you give any hints about it without spoiling the end of Book One?

B: Book 2, “The Returning,” is almost done and scheduled for publication next spring. In Book 2, the workers are free and full citizens but protest movements and hardliner sections amongst the Boralians are protesting it, accusing the workers of getting governmental favoritism, stealing all the good jobs, etc. In the meantime, Davi and Tela’s romance has hit some road bumps. Then someone is killing off workers and Davi, Farien and Yao get involved investigating. Meanwhile, old enemies are seeking revenge. Does that whet the appetite a bit?

A: Since I’ve already asked you the usual “what’s your favorite book” question and I doubt your answer has changed in the past month, let’s vary it up a little: what’s currently on your reading table, and what upcoming releases are you most looking forward to?

B: “Spellbound” by Blake Charlton, “City of Ruins” by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Silverberg’s Majipoor anthology—I have two of them, waiting for the third. They are authors I admire, two of whom are friends, and whose series I loved before. So I can’t wait to know what happens next. Much of my reading time is consumed by SFFWRTCHT reading– a book a week, and I have some huge epic fantasy authors booked this fall and their books are as big as their names. Then I have the magazines I subscribe to, especially Locus, Asimov’s, and Analog. I am perpetually behind reading them. And then I am still learning craft whenever I can so I read that stuff too. So I am looking forward to the next good read, obviously, but perpetually drowning in options and reading at the pace required to manage what I need to with chat and reviews first, everything else second.

Thanks for stopping by again, Bryan! Good luck with the rest of the tour!

Speaking of which, Bryan’s next Blog Tour Appearance is on SFSIGNAL tomorrow, October 3rd Oct. 3, discussing 15 Science Fiction Classics With Religious Themes

BRYAN THOMAS SCHMIDT, Author - Interview

Earlier today I posted my second interview with author Bryan Thomas Schmidt, as the second stop on his Blog Tour advertising the publication of THE WORKER PRINCE, the first installment of the Davi Rhii Saga. Unfortunately, I somehow managed to leave off the wonderful excerpt Bryan sent me. So I present it to you now: one of many exciting scenes from The Worker Prince!

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The Worker Prince front cover

* * * * * * * *

Davi and Tela followed Dru, Brie and Nila, as they weaved along a trail through the trees. The wind whistled past Davi, russling his hair. The air was fresh and clean. He enjoyed the sensation, the blur of the trees as they passed, and their spicy smell.

Dru and Nila delighted in swapping places on either side of Brie—one zipping in front of her, the other behind. Sometimes, they cut it a little close, startling Brie, who cried out.

“Hey! Watch it!” She would shoot them scolding looks as they slid back alongside her, and then all three would break into giggles.

Ah, to be young, Davi thought. He exchanged a look with Tela, who chuckled and shook her head.

“Try not to damage the Skitters, okay?” Davi called after them. This just led to more laughter as Nila and Dru swapped places yet again.

“I don’t think they’re listening,” Tela said, her blue eyes glistening with amusement.

“You got that idea, did you?” Davi said as she chuckled. “So much for military discipline!”

Tela laughed. “We have kept things pretty loose. We’d better start tighten-ing things up.”

The comms on the Skitters beeped as a red light on the comm panel began flashing. They exchanged a look.

“The warning beacons,” Davi said.

Tela nodded. “Better call in and see what they’ve got.”

The brush behind them rustled and they heard a noise, turning back to see four LSP soldiers slip behind them on armed Skitters. Davi and Tela exchanged looks of alarm, accelerating toward the trainees as the LSP men fired their lasers and the cedars exploded around them.

“So much for our early warning system,” Tela groaned as they sped up to catch their trainees.

Hearing the explosions, Brie, Dru and Nila turned around to look as Tela and Davi pulled alongside.

“Don’t slow down! Go as fast as you can. Follow me!” Tela warned them. She pulled in front and they sped up to follow her.

Davi hung back to protect the rear, dodging fire from the LSP soldiers. All around, he heard laser blasts and explosions as LSP soldiers engaged the other trainees. The smell of burning wood and leaves thickened the air as Davi flicked on his comm-channel.

“Attention trainees: do not go back to base. Lose them, and then hide until we can rendezvous.”

His private channel beeped and he switched over, steering sharply to dodge another laser blast.

Tela’s voice came over the headphones. “Right about now, I’m wishing we had armed Skitters, too.”

Davi reached down to the side pocket and pulled out his blaster. “I’m going to try and lay down some counter fire, but my blaster won’t do much against their Skitter guns.”

“Can you keep them occupied while I go help the others?” Tela asked, drawing her own blaster from the side pocket of her Skitter.

Without answering, Davi turned and started firing back toward the LSP soldiers, who zigzagged to avoid his blasts. Davi slammed on the brakes, and the LSP soldiers zipped right past him, their faces registering surprise. He slipped back in behind them and began firing at their flanks.

Tela fired two blasts from her blaster, then she and the trainees sped away, as the soldiers dodged more bolts from Davi’s blaster.

Davi managed to land a couple of hits on one of the Skitters, sending sparks flying, but causing more fear in the rider than damage to the machine. As the rider and his companions leaned back to inspect his Skitter, Davi ducked off onto a side trail.

In a few moments, the LSP soldiers slid back onto his tail again. Davi accelerated to full speed, zigzagging in and out between trees, jumping over rocks, diving under overhangs—keeping his target profile as small as possible. The wind buffeted him every time he emerged from the trees, forcing him to work harder to stay on the Skitter. Then he rounded a bend to find more LSP soldiers who joined the chase.

Great! Are they all after me? He hoped Tela was helping the other trainees. He was too busy to help them himself.

Around another bend, Bordox and his aide joined the chase. Bordox. No wonder they’re all after me. Davi smiled, waving, as he dodged their fire. Outgunned, he searched his mind for a new tactic.

Bordox sped to the front of the LSP soldiers, close on Davi’s tail. Davi, looked back over his shoulder as Bordox growled: “In the name of the High Lord Councilor, I order you to stop! You’re under arrest!”

Davi braked and Bordox’s aide wound up in front of him. Bordox remained alongside, as Davi fired several shots with his blaster at the aide, leaning close enough to Bordox to yell: “Give my uncle my regards!”

He ducked off onto another side trail as Bordox shot on past, cursing.

The other LSP soldiers followed Davi as he followed the turns of the side trail, staying just out of range of their lasers. He shifted in his seat, trying to stay comfortable but his sweaty body and uniform made that difficult.

As he shot into a clearing, he discovered Tela, Jorek, Virun, and four others waiting for them, blasters held at the ready. Davi spun his Skitter into a one hundred and eighty degree spin and slid in alongside them, aiming his blaster as the first of the LSP soldiers came into view.

Davi’s group opened fire and chaos erupted. Two LSP Skitters collided as the soldiers tried to dodge the blaster fire. Another slammed into them from behind, while yet a fourth ducked to one side and crashed into a large cedar.

Davi and Tela motioned, accelerating on their Skitters onto another trail with their trainees close behind. All continued firing blasts back at the LSP men behind them.

Tela took three trainees with her and split off onto another trail as Davi, Jorek, Virun and two others continued on the present course.

“They’re after you?” Jorek yelled, sounding surprised.

Davi nodded. “I told you before; I’m on your side.” A laser blast exploded near them and Davi keyed the comm-channel button. “Try and get around behind them.”

Tela’s voice came over the radio. “Hang on, Davi, we’ve got a plan.”

A plan? Who’d had time to make a plan? Most of the LSP soldiers stayed behind Davi and his group.

“Make it hard for them to lock their weapons on us,” Davi said, as his group zigzagged in and out of the cedars in varied patterns, never leaving more than one of them on the trail at a time. Their skills impressed him. They had made a lot of progress.

Jorek and Virun slid to a stop amidst the trees, watching several LSP soldiers zoom past, then accelerated after them, firing their lasers.

Davi heard a rebel yell over the comm-channel. “You two be careful! They outnumber us!” Davi warned.

Jorek’s voice came back at him. “Best training exercise ever!”

“Don’t get cocky. This is not a game.”

“No problem, Captain. We can handle it,” Virun said.

Davi wondered if he’d heard right. None of them had ever called him Captain before.

Bordox and his aide pulled back into the lead behind Davi, firing blasts which exploded on either side of him. Too close for comfort!

Tela and her group shot out of the forest, firing at the LSP. Two more Skitters crashed and two others were damaged. The LSP soldiers slowed down and dissolved into chaos as they attempting to avoid fire from the lasers.

Another group of trainees shot out from a group of trees and surrounded them, firing.

“When did you have time to get all this organized?” Davi said into the comm-channel, as he glanced back at Tela.

“Quick thinking is a military necessity,” Tela said. “They were all issued blasters with their uniforms, so…”

Davi smiled. “You’ve never been more beautiful.”

He braked, sliding in between Bordox and his aide. As they passed him on either side, he swung a foot out and kicked at Bordox’s Skitter. Bordox struggled to regain control but flew off to one side, as Davi slipped in behind the aide and shot at his Skitter with the blaster.

Bordox pulled alongside him again, his face a fierce grimace. “You can’t escape this time, Rhii. We outnumber you,” he called out with his usual menacing grin.

“You’re losing men fast,” Davi said as Bordox reached over grabbing for his controls. Their Skitters banged into each other as Davi struggled to push him away. His sweat soaked gloves barely maintained their hold on the handlebars of the Skitter.

“I always knew you were a traitor,” Bordox said.

“I always knew you were a pompous blowhard,” Davi said, freeing his leg and kicking hard. Bordox frowned as he spun off to one side.

Tela zipped up, firing at Bordox as his aide and another LSP soldier slipped in behind Davi.

Bordox corrected his course and charged back toward Davi, dodging Tela’s blasts.

Davi slowed, sliding upward, as Bordox’s aide and the other soldier flew right underneath him. Distracted, both turned, crashing into each other as Davi dropped down to fire on them from behind.

Bordox headed straight for Davi, who rolled his Skitter, dove off and landed on his feet in the dirt. He aimed his blaster and fired at Bordox, forcing him to turn suddenly and crash his Skitter into Davi’s. The impact sent Bordox flying off into the cedars. Both Skitters sputtered and smoked, amid a field of debris.

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You can see Bryan’s next Blog Tour stop on Monday, October 3rd, at SFSignal. You can also see my first interview with Bryan HERE. And you can follow him on Twitter as @BryanThomasS, where you can get updates on the entirety of his blog tour, or you can find the full list of upcoming visits on Bryan’s website.

BRYAN THOMAS SCHMIDT, Author - Interview

Tonight, we’re joined by author, editor, and #sffwrtcht (that’s Science Fiction/Fantasy Writers Chat) moderator on Twitter Bryan Thomas Schmidt. This is the first of two interviews with Bryan. He’ll be back in October as part of the “blog tour” promoting THE WORKER PRINCE.

Bryan Thomas Schmidt

Bryan Thomas Schmidt

Born and raised in Central Kansas, Bryan Thomas Schmidt received a Bachelor of Arts in Communications-Radio-TV-Film in 1992 from California State University at Fullerton. He then spent five years working in the television and film industry on such shows as Biography, The Real West, Civil War Journal, and Brute Force: The History of Weapons At War as well as the Emmy award winning Discovery Channel documentary Titanic: The Legend Lives On.

Bryan released his first CD of original music, “Stand,” on his own label in 1998 and spent the next two years touring in support of that album.

Desiring to be more informed about theology and other topics which might help infuse his music with more depth, Bryan enrolled in seminary for the Fall of 1999. He graduated in 2002 with a Master of Arts in Theological Studies from Covenant Theological Seminary in Saint Louis, Missouri.

During his time in seminary, Bryan continued to write songs, stories and articles, releasing his second CD, “Glorious: Worship,” in 2003. He also founded Anchored Music Ministries, Inc. , a 501(-c) 3 non-profit organization devoted to providing leadership development training in worship arts around the world. Since the year 2000, they have worked in 6 countries on 4 continents, including Ghana, Brazil and Mexico.

Bryan’s first devotionals were published in Secret Place magazine in 2009. His first devotions for Upper Room magazine appeared in 2010. His first published science fiction story, “Mars Base Alpha,” was published at www.sffstories.com in January 2010. His first science fiction novel, The Worker Prince, is forthcoming in October 2011. The first novel in an epic fantasy, Sandman, is currently undergoing revisions, while Bryan works on a novella and sequels to The Worker Prince.

Bryan currently resides in El Paso, Texas, with a cat, Doce, and two dogs, Louie and Amélie. His third CD, “Love Like No Other,” was released in May 2009.

The North Star Serial, Part One

The North Star Serial, Part One

ANTHONY: Hi Bryan! Thanks for agreeing to ramble with us for a little while.

BRIAN : My pleasure. Thanks for inviting me.

A: Your first book, THE NORTH STAR SERIAL PART ONE, is a compilation of the short stories you’ve written for Digital Dragon magazine. Tell us a little about the history of that project and how it moved from web to print.

B: It was suggested that my space opera style might be a good fit for Digital Dragon, which is family friendly, and hearing they were open to submissions, I decided to try and write them something. I had never written anything that short but Jay Lake advised me one of the best ways to improve your writing was to set word limits and try to meet them so I thought this was a good opportunity to put that into practice. I want a form that would be familiar to audiences, so I chose a star ship and her crew. However, wanting to avoid cliches and my own tendencies being a Star Trek fan, I made the Captain a woman, named her after my friend Mike Resnick, and decided to have her be just joining the crew so as to create a setting ripe with conflict. I also decided her crew would be international and that that would play into the story if possible. The first story was really a one off thing, but the editors liked it so much they asked me to write more. That’s how it became a serial.

A: What do you think the challenges are in writing serialized fiction of such short lengths? What did you do to deal with those challenges/restrictions?

B: Well, for one thing, I didn’t get into as much description and detail as I might in most of the NSS stories. Some were exceptions but since this was space opera, I focused instead on action and pacing, created with short descriptive bursts mixed with tense dialogue. Telling a story this short you really don’t have time to create a lot of twists and turns or subplots. You pretty much have to say this is what it is and here’s the core events and stick to that. But I challenged myself by still trying to add character development to grow and develop and even introduce characters over the series. That’s why you’ll find that in the first 13, all but two of the main crew get their subplot-like moments where they shine and we learn about their past, who they are and why they are there. In addition, I did a lot of trimming after getting the basic story down to keep it tight and fit to word length. The editors weren’t overly strict so some were slightly longer, some slightly shorter. The other challenge in writing a serial was figuring out how to make the pieces contain enough backstory but not too much that new readers could pick up what’s going on without feeling like they had to go back and reread everything that came before. You hope the story’s good enough they’d want to do that, but I wanted them to connect immediately. It helped that the first story I wrote ended up becoming episode 11, I think. I later went back and revised it though to add new stuff to tie it in closer with the other stories, including a couple crew members.

A: How much of the North Star universe do you have mapped out, and how do you work those details into the short pieces you’re writing?

B: None of it. I made it up as I went. So now, as I prepare to go back and write 12 more stories to finish the cycle, I have to reread all that and remember what I did. It was really an off the cuff thing, not at all how I’d do a novel, but I had never done a serial story before, and my typical method is let the story unfold as it comes, so that’s how the worldbuilding for this world came about.

A: What’s in store for the crew of The North Star?

B: We’re going to get to know the crew members we haven’t met yet and more about the others. Someone important will be killed and that will motivate the others as they continue the fight to its conclusion. The new crew member replacement will also have a hard time being accepted. Kryk will take over the Koreleans and bring a new ruthlessness to their tactics as well.

A: Your next book is THE WORKER PRINCE. Tell us what it’s about, and when we can expect to see it available for purchase.

B: The Worker Prince is my debut novel and book one of the Saga Of Davi Rhii, a story I dreamed up in my teens. I wanted to do the Moses story in the vein of Star Wars, essentially, with the big space opera, battles, interpersonal conflict, etc. all plaid out on a galactic stage. I dreamed up a planet with two suns and one group enslaving the other. I knew the hero’s father would be called Sol and the bad guy was his uncle, named Xalivar. I knew there would be some sort of Exodus but I also knew I wanted to vary from the biblical story as well, because I’m not trying to sell religion here. Ironically, when I finally sat down to write it 25 years later, the cultural context had made conflict about religion an important part of daily life in the U.S. and all of a sudden Christians found themselves being looked at with new scrutiny, often biased and assumptive in ways which I thought lent themselves to make the story’s milieu interesting and dynamic so I incorporated all that.

The book debuts at Conclave in Detroit in early October, street date Tuesday October 4, 2011. I should have preorders up on my website in mid-August though. It will be available in all ebook formats as well as trade paperback.

A: You’ve posted bits of THE WORKER PRINCE on your website. Speaking for myself, I’m intrigued by what I’ve read. From a marketing standpoint, do you think it’s been effective in building interest in the book?

B: Well, thanks, I am glad you’re intrigued. I have not gotten a lot of feedback so it’s been hard to assess the impact except that each of the excerpts got over 100 hits in less time than the previous excerpt and they continue to get hits every week. The first excerpt took a few months to reach 100. The second took a month. The third took less than two weeks. And they have all surpassed 100 now. I think that shows people like what they see and are coming back for more. And I think it also shows word of mouth. So I believe it’s been quite effective. I’ll be releasing a new excerpt this coming week introducing Xalivar finally. We’ve just seen the hero Davi, his father Sol, and a few others in previous excerpts. We’ll introduce Xalivar, then Davi’s love interest Tela as well in future excerpts. Hopefully people will enjoy those as well.

A: You also run the weekly #sffwrtcht (Science Fiction / Fantasy Writers Chat) thread on Twitter. How did that get started?

B: I was sitting around bemoaning the fact that I’ve had employment issues and, thus, money issues, and missed out on workshops and cons with authors I respect and admire. But then I noticed many of those people were on Twitter, and I was like ‘how can people like me get the chance to learn from these talented people if we can’t get to cons?’ And the idea of a 1 hour craft-focused interview thing came up and it went from there. I started with friends I knew like Sam Sykes, Blake Charlton and Mike Resnick. John Joseph Adams was dating a friend of mine (they’re now engaged) so I also asked him. Everyone I asked said yes and it just took off. It took a couple times to get the format and build up regulars but now it consistently gets a lot of hits and we get ARCS from publishers, people contact us to be on, etc. It’s a real blessing how accepted and successful it’s been and I really love doing it.

A: Dare I ask who has been your favorite guest on #sffwrtcht so far?

B: That’s probably not wise to answer. I have enjoyed all the guests for different reasons. But in particular, I will say, the chats with Lou Anders, Blake Charlton, Mike Resnick, Paul Kemp and Kevin J. Anderson were highlights for me because they are so easy to talk to and we just really relaxed and had a lot of fun.

A: Who are the upcoming guests?

B: Well the list is on the website. We’ve recently had Maurice Broaddus, Jennifer Brozek, Ken Scholes, Peter Orullian, Tim Akers, Howard Andrew Jones and John Pitts. Upcoming are Patty Jansen (8/17), Dayton Ward (8/24), Kat Richardson (8/31), Greg Van Eehouk (9/7), Daniel Polansky (0/14), Moses Siregar (9/21), Shaun Farrell of the AISFP Podcast (9/28) and Are Marmell (10/5). I’ve also discussed with Beth Meacham of TOR, who said she’d love to do it and some others like her whom I need to get scheduled.

A: And finally on that subject, where can people who missed previous chats go to read the threads?

B: Transcripts can be found via the #sffwrtcht website at: http://bryanthomasschmidt.net/sffwrtcht/ or you can read them in my column at www.graspingforthewind.com. Links to those cleaned up interviews are on the Column tab on the #sffwrtcht website.

A: Now for my usual last question: What is your favorite book, and what would you say to recommend it to someone who hasn’t read it yet?

B: It’s hard to pick one but “Lord Valentine’s Castle” is one I’ll mention. It’s Robert Silverberg’s 80s come back novel. My sister bought it for me and I’d never heard of it or Silverberg. I was like “What is this? This wasn’t on my gift list.” She said: “Just read it. The bookstore raved about it. I think you’ll like it.” That book blew me away. Silverberg’s world building continues to be a model for me. Other than Tolkein, I’d never seen world building like that. He got into horticulture, geography, etc. and really created every aspect of his world in depth. And he used it in the story. It was really influential on me. It carried me away. The book also has a theme that comes out in my own work a lot of characters finding out who they are and where they belong in the world through quests. “The Worker Prince” has that as a theme and so does my epic fantasy “Sandman” which even borrows the amnesia element from “LVC.” I have read all the Majipoor books and stories I can get ahold of, and was impressed with them all, but “LVC” is a true masterpiece, not to be missed.

A: Thanks again, Bryan, for sitting down to chat with us! I’m looking forward to our second interview, when THE WORKER PRINCE hits the stands in October.

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Don’t forget, you can find Bryan and #sffwrtcht on FacebookTwitter, and Bryan’s own website.