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Mariner’s Wake Teaser

I wrote a quick teaser for Mariner’s Wake. It’s not a synopsis, exactly. Too long to be a pitch or a blurb, it’s just me telling you what to expect from this new story that I’m very excited about:

Mariner’s Wake takes place about eighty years in the future. Pacific coastal cities in the U.S. are ravaged every summer by hurricanes and have ceded territory to rising sea levels. However, some of the grim predictions regarding our oceans haven’t come to pass. The great plastic garbage patch has been cleansed. Some species of overfished sea life are coming back. And that’s all due to one people: The Mariners.

Refugees from a U.S. civil war some decades past, the Mariners have made the Pacific their home. Opinions about them are fiercely divided. Internationally, some applaud their conservation efforts. Most in the U.S. fall somewhere between mild dislike and outright spite. One shadowy bit of wisdom about the Mariners always seems to hold true: it’s bad luck to cross them.

This is the story of Kara Nkosi, a Navigator on the Mariner Vessel, Voyager. When an emissary from the U.S. government comes to Kara’s home island begging for help recovering a cache of unstable WMDs, she —and all her people— are naturally very suspicious. 

 Under threat of these weapons detonating in their ocean, the Mariners agree to help. However, an intelligence leak means that they aren’t the only people searching for these missing weapons. Kara and her ship will be pitted against corporate mercenaries and hardened criminals, all in the name of helping their enemy. An enemy who, it seems, may not be giving them the whole truth.

A Couple of Updates

You may have noticed I don’t post that often. I would apologize, but I’m not sorry. These days it feels a bit indulgent to post about writing when the nation (and world) has so many other, more important, things going on.

Over the past year, two short stories of mine, False Flag and Noble Memory, both received honorable mentions from the international Writers of the Future Contest. I might share them on the site, or I might try to get them published in order to reach a wider audience. Either way, it’s an honor to have been recognized in a contest with so many contestants.

My next novel, Mariner’s Wake, is now in the final revisions phase. It’s not a part of the Manal’s Resurgence series (The Changed, Survived) it’s a stand-alone in a different universe. I haven’t abandoned that series at all. For the readers who enjoyed those books, you will get a conclusion. I promise.

I had two reasons for writing in a new world this time around. First, I felt like it would be a good way to reach new readers. When I first wrote The Changed, there wasn’t quite as much post-apocalyptic sci-fi on the shelves. Even though I wouldn’t strictly categorize The Changed as such (due to spoilers that I won’t share here) there’s a certain amount of exhaustion when it comes to end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it fiction and people may not be as keen to give it a try for that reason. Hopefully, a reader who gives Mariner’s Wake a try and likes it may also pick up The Changed and start in on Oscar’s story.

Second, I had an opportunity this year to join forces with Brick Cave Media, a boutique publisher I’m very excited to work with. Bob, who runs the operation, offered me a home for a new story. It made more sense for this new story to not to be part of an existing series as it’s my first novel with this publisher. This past Saturday afternoon I spent some time on a podcast with Bob and poet Marcus Campbell. We talked books, influences, and Magic the Gathering. One of the reasons I’m excited about working with this team is how well our interests and influences match up. By working together I’m confident that Mariner’s Wake is going to be a story well worth reading.

I sincerely hope that anyone reading this post is doing well in these trying times. Especially if you live in the U.S. where there is so much fear and uncertainty. These are the times when we need to take care of each other more than ever. Some people will try (and have been trying for ages) to convince us that selfishness is king and that the individual is more important than the group. Of course you’re important. But so is your neighbor. Events like this global pandemic show us just how childish these viewpoints really are. Let’s do our part. Let’s be part of the solution. Let’s check our egos at the door and help each other where we can.

The Changed Audiobook Is Here

Well, it’s here, actually.

Audio Book Question Mark

Audio books are popular and gaining more traction. I honestly had no idea, as until recently, I had little to no exposure to them. Sure, I remember hearing commercials for Audible on NPR, but I didn’t pay it much notice. Audio books always seemed like a format that was important for people who were visually impaired. Something restricted to a small section of a bookstore or that had to be ordered. It wasn’t until I started hearing people who had previously described themselves as “not a reader” talking about books that I gave the format much thought. Like so many other things, modern technological infrastructure (teh interwebz) has allowed this format to flourish.

What I heard from friends and coworkers was that they listened to books in the car while they were stuck in traffic, riding in a bus or train, or in a waiting room somewhere. I love the idea that people who ordinarily wouldn’t go shopping for a book are now finding themselves getting sucked into narratives or engrossed in interesting non-fiction.

The whole point of this is that independent authors such as myself (and many, many others) also have the opportunity to release our work in this medium. However, while there are platforms available to launch an audio book, such as Amazon’s ACX, the process can be costly, time consuming, or expensive. Many authors still avoid it, as there is no evidence that they’ll see any return on investment for the additional work and cost. I get that, and I don’t disagree.

However, I’m not in it for the money. Don’t get me wrong, man, I like money. Who doesn’t?

I just came to terms with the reality of being a writer, especially one who isn’t backed by a major publisher, a long time ago. It’s probably more accurate to say that I’m already expecting not to make money. I like creating. I love writing. And, personally, I don’t feel that artistic impulses should be regulated by profit potential. I want to have audio books for The Changed and Survived. Not because I’m under the illusion that it’s going to make those titles skyrocket to bestsellers’ lists, but because I want to my work available to people who may not have time to crack a book in the evening, but like to listen to a story on their commute.

I have no idea how long it will take, or even if it will work out. But, it’s a fun topic to do some blog posts about, especially since I blog so infrequently. So keep an eye out for some future posts, where I’ll be stumbling my way through making an audio book.

Congratulations to the Winners

The giveaways for the launch of Survived are officially over. Over 2500 people entered to win, which is my biggest turnout yet.

So, a big “Thank you!” to all who entered, and the books will be on the way soon. For those who didn’t win, I’m sure I’ll do another giveaway in due time.

Giveaways!

In honor of the release of Survived, I’m doing giveaways for both The Changed and Survived on Goodreads. Check out the details, below:

 

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Changed by A. Michael Marsh

The Changed

by A. Michael Marsh

Giveaway ends October 10, 2017.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Survived by A. Michael Marsh

Survived

by A. Michael Marsh

Giveaway ends October 10, 2017.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Almost here!

The edits for Survived have finally been reviewed and I’ve been busy getting the typesetting and other technical crap done. Since art was finished a million years ago, the book is very close to being published. 

Once these last few tasks are completed it will go to a couple of trusted beta readers then it’s off to the presses. I’m not going to lie, it feels pretty good. 

Where the Hell is Survived and What Have You Been Doing?

When was my last post? Over a year ago, or something? I vaguely remember that post being about posting more. Kind of ironic.

Anyway. Survived, which is the sequel to The Changed, has been written and edited for well over a year. What I still need to do is go through the edits, which is a bit of a time-consuming process. After that it will be good to go for release. Why haven’t I finished yet? I mean, it has been a while. The short answer is, time.time

That slippery bastard. I remember being a kid and having to wait an hour for something. Feeling each minute stretch on and on like taffy. These days, I swear I only have to sneeze and a year will have gone by.

Was that a convincing excuse?

Here’s the thing. For the past year and a half I’ve been part of a writing cohort at ASU’s Piper Writing Center. The program is called Your Novel Year, and it’s an intensive designed for writers to hone the craft of writing a young adult novel. Much of the novel writing I’ve done in the past has been speculative fiction. But I had a concept for a story that I wanted to write which was contemporary, so I felt that this would be the perfect opportunity to work on the skills it takes to write in that genre. I applied, was accepted, and had a wonderful experience. I got to learn from and be mentored by authors like Bill Konigsberg, Amy Nichols, Sharon Flake, Lish McBride, and Tom Laveen. Tremendous.

Some of my friends asked me why I wanted to do this program, since I’d already written novels before. “Isn’t that the point?” They’d ask. “To finish a novel? You’ve done that.” I guess that’s true, but a person is never done learning. Seriously, there is no craft that can ever be mastered to completion, and writing is no different. The second we stop pushing ourselves to learn more, we stagnate. I don’t want to stagnate. I want to get better. I want every book I write to be my best book yet. There are still so many opportunities to grow.

So, time. The program was intense and required my full attention. As of this past week, however, it’s over. After a year and a half of assignments, writing, critiques, and working with some of the best writers and people I’ve ever met, we finished. Those of us who live in the Phoenix area met up for a public reading at Changing Hands Bookstore. Despite my public speaking jitters, it was a fantastic experience.

IMG950929

Now I’ll finally get back to those edits on Survived. Then I’ll start working on my next manuscript, because I’ve still got stories to tell.

Pricing update on the paperback edition of The Changed

We’ve got a bad news/good news situation here. I was recently fortunate enough to review an outstanding rating from Foreword Clarion, who provides catalog services to retailers, academic institutions, and libraries. If you’ve read some of my previous posts, you know that I’ve got a real love for the public library system, as that’s where I was introduced to so many of my favorite books as a kid. To be completely realistic, the chances of receiving orders from these great institutions for my book are probably somewhat low. I’m not a well known author, and funding for public institutions that do anything other than defense is abysmal these days.

chance

But, there’s still a chance. I have to take it. Even the remote possibility of getting The Changed into a library would mean the world to me. The bad news is that enabling distribution to the wholesalers that supply these institutions has raised the cover price of my novel on Amazon to $9.50. That’s about as low as I could realistically get it.

Now for the good news. A. Michael Marsh, in addition to being someone who refers to himself in the third person, is also a computer engineer. Within a few days I’ll have a simple and secure store set up on my website where readers can purchase copies of paperback at the old rate of $6.50 (plus any taxes and shipping, naturally).

While I know that many people are comfortable only purchasing from established retailers, I will offer a secure purchasing environment and my solemn pledge not to spam you or sell your data to anyone. I think it’s crappy when businesses do that to me, and I’m not going to do that to you, either.

Almost all my sales are from the Kindle store, anyway, and the price there will remain the same. So this is probably a non-issue for most readers. Still, I felt really bad about the price increase so I’m going to do my best to provide a more affordable alternative to anyone who’d like to buy a copy of my book. You are worth the effort. Always.

Just a Quick Thank You

As the first round of reviews are coming in for The Changed, I just wanted to take a moment to give a heartfelt thank you to those who are taking the time out of their lives to tell others about their experience with my novel. I do genuinely appreciate it. Reviews are the easiest way for other readers to gauge whether or not they may be interested in a book.

It can be a wonderful system. See a book that looks interesting? Hey, what do you know, this guy hated it. But, wait! This guy also hated books that you love. Hmmm. This lady seemed to really enjoy it, and what do you know, you and she have the same taste in books! Simple. Sites like Goodreads are amazing for many reasons, but this has got to be in the top of that list.

I understand that reviews aren’t perfect. Some authors have been accused of encouraging biased parties (like friends and family) to artificially inflate their review numbers. It’s unfortunate, but it happens. With The Changed, I’ve tried to make it a point to get my book out to as many readers that are completely unknown to me as possible. To date, I can tell you truly that not one of my reviews on Goodreads comes from someone who I know, or owes me money, or is otherwise obligated to lie to the rest of you. This is a good thing.

Of course, my advice on book purchasing in general is always the same, regardless of star-ratings and text reviews. Read the first few pages, just like back in the days when we had book stores. See if it catches your interest. If it does, you’re probably in for a treat.

In closing, thanks again. Thanks a million. For your time, insights, and advice to other readers — thank you. What’s more, I can’t tell you how much it means to me that people seem to like the book.

Oh, and I’ll be doing more giveaways in the future! So if you have a friend you think may like a copy of the novel, make sure to let them know to enter. I’ll do one on Goodreads, and a concurrent giveaway on my Facebook page.  Just like last time.

Here’s a picture of cats looking proud and happy.

Proud Kitties, pic jacked from Imgur.

Proud Kitties, pic jacked from Imgur.