The Creation of New Sol

To get you all excited about my newest release, I thought I’d tell you a little bit about this new solar system I created.

This being my first attempt at science fiction/fantasy, I started with what I already knew: our solar system. It’s the only one we’ve discovered so far that can sustain organic life. So I created something similar. New Sol consists of a cluster of four stars–Noorah, Fos, Leggero, and Irridiate–with ten planets orbiting around them, eleven if you count the asteroid field where Osmopeth used to be. (Fun fact: I originally added this asteroid field on the off chance I needed a cool chase scene through moving asteroids but I haven’t used it yet. It’s become more of a flavor factor, a mysterious piece of New Sol’s history that I might one day explore.) Six out of the ten planets have their own moons; some have multiple moons just because I thought it would be cool. Playing with vowels and constants, saying gibberish out loud until I’d developed words that sounded “right,” I named these planets and their moons.

The two planets closest to the suns, dubbed Fotia and Huletenya, are uninhabitable. The third planet, Cartiss, is where the bulk of The Andromeda’s Ghost takes place. When I first got the idea to write this book, it was supposed to be a post-apocalyptic type story with a sci-fi twist so Cartiss needed to be “dying” in a sense. I started brainstorming as to different reasons for the planet’s condition and ended up going with terraforming gone wrong. In my novel, humanity is fairly new to this solar system, to surviving in space in general. The concept of terraforming has always sounded extremely complex to me. I imagine there would be lots of room for errors as humanity worked out the kinks. That’s when the “what if”s came into play. I asked myself, “What if tampering with the atmosphere negatively affected the wildlife on Cartiss? What if the human scientists tried to change the animals and plants so that they could survive on their new oxygenated planet? And then what would happen to these genetically modified plants and animals if the terraforming machines malfunctioned or broke down? What would happen to the people who had volunteered to colonize the planet? What would happen to the planet itself?” Answering these questions brought about more questions and I continued down the rabbit hole until the condition of Cartiss was dire enough to suit the story’s needs.

Jurthaan IV is the fourth planet away from New Sol’s main sources of light and energy. It’s the largest planet in this fictitious solar system that can naturally sustain human life so it quickly became humanity’s new home world. Next in the orbiting line is Palnach, the Mireling home world. Then we have Yuraniuu, Statine, and Zirconscope, which are just as mysterious as the asteroid field of Osmopeth. They each have their own unique type of indigenous aliens, atmospheres, and histories but they aren’t expanded upon in The Andromeda’s Ghost. In the third book of the series, we explore them a bit more as Taren and the crew travel farther into their own solar system. The last two planets are Aleediam I and II, so called because they are the same distance away from the suns, have the same orbit around the suns, and are less than two parsecs away from each other. By all logic, they should crash into each other at some point but they haven’t gotten any closer in the hundreds of years that New Sol has existed. I added this as a tribute to the mysteries of space, all of which I believe will be impossible for us to fully comprehend no matter how long we study them. (Seriously, what is dark matter?)

As for populating these planets, I started off slow. It would only stand to reason that so many planets and moons would host a dizzying number of different alien species, but due to the fact that The Andromeda’s Ghost mostly takes place on two planets, I decided to cut myself some slack and limit the types of aliens I introduced in the story. As a reader, I often find it frustrating to keep track of too many new species; this also played into the decision to stick with three or four main species, at least for the first book in the series. Besides, even with the ability to space jump, I figured most aliens would like to stay on their own planets given the different atmospheres of each planet.

I gave Cartiss three main species: the Tilia’Cun, the Danto’Sal, and the Cerotivis. I’d like to say that I came up with the ideas for these aliens all on my own but that would be a lie. I sifted through tons of concept art online to get inspired. Once I found alien types that I liked, I altered certain things about them to make them more my own. Then I took the two earthen animals I thought they resembled the most and combined the scientific names of those animals to create the alien species’ names. This is also how I created and named the interloping aliens on Cartiss, the rare ones that Taren only runs into once or twice in The Andromeda’s Ghost.

For Jurthaan IV, I stuck with one indigenous species: the Folinar. They have unvarying body types and a simple, almost primitive culture, which is why they needed humanity’s help in order to win the first war against their enemies, the Mirelings. Now, the Mirelings are the only type of alien on the planet of Palnach and they are the polar opposites of the Folinar: no two are alike physically and they strive to be as scientifically advanced as possible to gain the upper hand in any combative situation. From the beginning stages of this story’s creation, I knew these two species would be the cause of the main conflict, which is why I gave them more thought and why I made them so different from each other. 

The creation of this solar system and its inhabitants was a lot of fun. It took time and several sessions of just talking things out with my husband or my sister, fellow writer and fiction lover. In the end, I guess you could say it was a group effort. I hope you enjoy reading about New Sol as much as I enjoyed writing about it!


Interested in an excerpt? Click here.

Check out the book’s page at BHC Press for links to purchase. It’s available at all your favorite retailers!

“…interesting, some good nifty gadgets and some very interesting interplanetary politics.” — Amina Ismail Onia, NetGalley Reviewer

“I am always picking up random sci-fi novels hoping they will be great, and I am almost always disappointed. Not this time, though! I loved it. Interesting characters, just enough world building and descriptions that it didn’t bog down, and more action than I expected. I would recommend this book!” — Erika, LibraryThing Reviewer

“Fox has crafted a competent and engaging novel. If the book interests you, it should prove to be an easy and entertaining read.” — PennAdams, LibraryThing Reviewer

“Wow. Where do I start… The world building in my opinion is exceptional and details were well researched. I love the characters. I love the heart warming moments that appear at just the right time.” — Lavender Knight, Goodreads Reviewer

“…a well written, and interesting book.” — Mary’s Book Corner

“…an exciting book with various twists that I didn’t really see coming…a fun sci-fi read with suspense and action that kept me wanting to know what happened next.”
— Kristy Penner, NetGalley Reviewer

“I enjoyed this book. It has potential for a good series. Good writing, storyline, dialog and action. I recommend checking it out.” — John Piper, Goodreads Reviewer

My third novel

The time has come! Cue Rocky’s training montage music.

My third novel, Asta and the Barbarians, is available for 99 cents on Amazon, Smashwords, and Kobo (it will also be on Apple and Nook but it’s going to be a little while before the book is added to those websites.) The book will be officially published on April 25 but this preorder price will last up until April 29.

This book is set in world comparable to England in the 1800s, but that’s where the similarities between Asta’s world and ours end. Asta is the twenty year old daughter of the mayor of a small coastal town. She heard about King Torvald’s crusade and watched her people fortify the town’s defenses, but she never imagined foreign invaders would come to her peaceful shores. Then they do. On one terrible night, these seemingly unbeatable barbarians with glowing copper eyes destroy everything Asta holds most dear. She thinks she’s going to die too but then her own eyes start to glow. Seeing this as a sign from their warrior god, the invaders take Asta to their commanding officer, General Halvar. He sees not a miracle but a tool he can use to further his own cause. So Asta is taken across the sea to the island of Holger, where more trouble and barbarians await.

I got the idea for this book from a dream I had once. Well, it was more of a nightmare because I was Asta, witnessing the raid and destruction of my town. But instead of waking up with a sense of dread and fear, I was intrigued. I wanted to know how the story ended. So I sat down at my computer and started to write.

Don’t tell my other books but this is by far my favorite. Because it’s set in an older time period, I challenged myself to shift my writing voice to match it. I also did research on women’s and men’s clothing from the 1800s, architecture from that same time period, and royal families to give the book an even greater sense of authenticity. This book also has my favorite friend trio, Asta, Viggo, and Bryn. I can’t count the times I chuckled to myself as I typed out the conversations between those three. They make the book for me. There are quite a few more characters in this book than there have been in my other books, so I included a list at the end that I hope will help you guys remember who is who.

I have eARCs available in PDF, MOBI, and EPUB files. If anyone is interested in reading and leaving an honest review, please leave a comment on this post with an email address where I might be able to send the book. Book marketing is the hardest part about being an author. I don’t think people realize how much work it is. I’m posting original promotional tweets, Facebook posts, and Pinterest pins multiple times a week; signing up for author interviews and reviews through other blogs; sending out newsletters with interesting and pertinent information to readers; updating this blog every time reviews come in; and doing my best to help other authors promote their work by liking, commenting, repinning, and reposting their material as well. Reviews are a great help to me as they encourage others to read the book and share in the adventure. Plus, people are always more convinced that a book is worth reading when they hear it from someone who didn’t, you know, actually write it. So thanks in advance for helping this introvert out!

More news to come!

For the win

Hey all!

Last week, I was in editing mode for my third book, Asta and the Barbarians, which will be published in April (unless something unexpected happens on my publisher’s end to push the date back). So I skipped out on my blogging.

This week I devoted most of my downtime to creating promotional items to include in Night Owl Review‘s romance author sponsorship program. Every other month, they will mail promotional material to their readers on behalf of romance writers (for a small fee of course). I was under the impression that I’d be able to submit multiple items to be mailed, when in reality, I’m only allowed to submit one. So after I created bookmarks, coasters, blurb leaflets, and author business cards, I now have the arduous task of selecting one method of promotion and submitting it into Night Owl Reviews. I was kind of bummed because a) I put in several hours worth of work to create these and b) I was really proud of all my creations. I wanted to mail one of each of these items to Night Owl Review’s readers…

Then it hit me. Why don’t I just send these goodies to my readers?

So here’s what I’m going to do: Next Thursday, I’ll post an In the Dark trivia quiz here on my blog. It’ll probably be a twenty-five to thirty question “test” about the story or the characters. I’ll leave my email address at the bottom of the post so that participants can copy and paste the questions into the body of an email, answer the questions to the best of their ability, and send me that email. They’d have to include their home address as well so that I can mail out their prizes. Then, I’ll “grade” them and choose first, second, and third place winners. The person who wins first place will be given a first edition, autographed paperback version of I Dare You to Love Me along with a bookmark and two coasters. Second place will get a bookmark and two coasters. And third place will just get the bookmark.

If this event goes well, I can create a similar test with questions about I Dare You to Love Me and send out In the Dark items as prizes. That way both books get some good exposure.

What do you guys think? Would you be interested? How about your friends? Help me spread the word. This could be a lot of fun for all of us!

Family and work

Finding myself with nothing specific to blog about, I decided to just recap on my week thus far.

Last weekend I got to spend time with my family. We all pitched in to rent a cabin in Munds Park, Arizona, where we could spend the weekend together. Before this, it had been a year since we’d all been together. It was a special time of food, games, puzzles, and a watered down version of Dungeons and Dragons which included every geeky thing imaginable (from sonic screwdrivers, to Lord of the Rings riddles, to Star Wars quotes, to Indiana Jokes traps). Ezra did a great job as Dungeon Master.

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From left to right: My big brother (Ezra), his wife (Ceceilia), and their two boys (Micah age 3, and Thomas age 1). My “little” brother (Joe). My big sister (Anna) and her boyfriend (Ivan). Me and my husband. My parents (Becky and Isidro) are the ones sitting down, of course.

My sister got to give me her notes on my latest WIP in person. That’s always fun. I always get thrown back in time, to when we’d sit in our room (me in the swivel chair by the desk, her on the bed), discussing ideas for our stories. We were just girls with dreams back then. Now she’s got a Bachelor’s in English Literature and I’m a published author. Who would’ve thought?

My sister-in-law was amazing, doing all of the cooking while defusing any little tantrums her sons had (which were few but still!).

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I also got to play and get lots of cuddles from my nephews. Yes, they’re adorable and they love their Auntie Becca. Be jealous.

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And then we came right back home to begin another week of work. Back to sitting duty for my husband, and receptionist work and book promotion for me.

In the Dark was published yesterday, by the way. Hooray!

I’ve been looking forward to this since the day I signed the contract for it but was super disappointed when I found out how many people pre-ordered it.

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I guess because my first book did so well, I assumed that the second one would be just as popular. I’m doing all the same things for In the Dark as I did for I Dare You to Love Me, the one difference being the book reviews. I Dare You to Love Me had reviews up on Amazon the day it was released, thus boosting its popularity. I was only able to acquire one review for In the Dark‘s release date. Others are coming, though. I can only hope that they’ll be positive and spark the interest of more readers.

In the mean time, I’m utilizing reader and author groups on Facebook and Twitter, posting quotes, snippets of reviews, and links to purchase. Three times a week. Of course, I’m using this blog too. I’ve heard conflicting opinions on whether hosting contests and giveaways are still popular ways to inspire interest. My publisher recommended talking about the book and any other books I’m working on, but I’m not sure how to do that without giving too much away…

Night Owl Reviews is putting together packages of bookmarks, thin coasters, business cards, and short excerpts to mail to their readers. They’re currently looking for romance authors to provide some of these promo items for them to mail and I’d love to get all over that. I’m just waiting for the next paycheck. Because it costs some money to sign up. That’s the hardest thing, I’ve found. A lot of promotional services cost money these days and I’m living on a budget.

Anyone have any suggestions on free, effective ways to promote? I’d appreciate any thoughts you might have on the subject. What are some things that have worked for you, authors? What are some things that have spurred your interest in a book, readers?

Book highlight

Hello everyone!

I took a hiatus from the blog due to Thanksgiving madness and my husband finally having his knee surgery. (He tore his meniscus a few weeks ago.) But I’m back now and hoping to continue my routine of posting once a week. To start off, I’m helping a fellow Tirgearr author with some book promotion. Scroll down for more details!

Author Bio:

Author Photo Christy Nicholas

Christy Nicholas, also known as Green Dragon, is an author, artist and accountant. After she failed to become an airline pilot, she quit her ceaseless pursuit of careers that begin with ‘A’, and decided to concentrate on her writing. Since she has Project Completion Disorder, she is one of the few authors with NO unfinished novels.

Christy has her hands in many crafts, including digital art, beaded jewelry, writing, and photography. In real life, she’s a CPA, but having grown up with art all around her (her mother, grandmother and great-grandmother are/were all artists), it sort of infected her, as it were.

She wants to expose the incredible beauty in this world, hidden beneath the everyday grime of familiarity and habit, and share it with others. She uses characters out of time and places infused with magic and myth.

Her newest book, Misfortune of Vision, is a historical fantasy set in 12th century Ireland. It’s the fourth book in The Druid’s Brooch Series.

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Blurb:

Prophecy can be dangerous.

In 12th century Ireland, Orlagh has been Seer to her king for forty years. He doesn’t want to hear her prophecies of war and destruction, and dismisses her efforts to warn him. Therefore, she is determined to fulfill her own quest: to find a worthy heir for her magical brooch.

In the course of events, she must pass judgment on a thief, escape a Norman war camp, and battle wits with a Fae lord. She receives some prophecy of her own and enlists the help of a grizzled old warrior, who happens to be a long–time friend.

 

 

Links:

Publisher Site: http://www.tirgearrpublishing.com/authors/Nicholas_Christy/index.htm

Author Website: http://www.greendragonartist.com

Blog: http://www.greendragonartist.net

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/greendragonauthor

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/greendragon9

Suddenly I’m…busy?

A quick update on my once boring life:

My classes Planning the Novel and Intermediate Fiction have me writing and reading more than all my past Creative Writing classes combined. The Planning the Novel class includes student workshops so I’ll be submitting some chapters for my classmates to critique in the near future. I’m excited to get feed-back on my novel-in-progress, The Andromeda’s Ghost. I still can’t get over the fact that I get to create fiction (you know, something that I love to do) and turn it in for a grade! I wish I could’ve skipped all the other boring subjects and jumped right into this after I graduated from high school. (No offense to people who actually enjoy History, college Algebra, Biology, and/or Public Speaking classes.) This is what I was meant to do. Despite the overwhelming work load, I’m glad that I’m taking these classes. It’s like how I image most people feel after a good work out: tired but proud of themselves.

Things at work have picked up as we begin Fall Bible studies. More calls, more appointments, more little projects that need help being completed. The quiet summer is officially over.

I just approved a book cover and finished doing a round of copy edits for I Dare You to Love Me. According to my content editor, the manuscript still needs to go through two more rounds of editing before it can be ready to print. It’s always exciting to see my stories taking shape when I’m working on them, but this is a different kind of excitement. I know this book is actually going to be seen and purchased by others. This one is going to make it to the other side, or so to speak. I can’t wait to share it with everyone. In the mean time, I’m getting tons of good advice from my book marketing specialist concerning my social media accounts. After staring at the computer screen with a puzzled/nauseated look on my face for a half hour and clicking on random things to see how this “Professional Facebook account” differs from a personal one, I finally finished my author’s page. I still have to figure out how to make a professional Instagram account and a Goodreads account, so I feel behind.

I saw a sample book cover for In the Dark yesterday and it’s looking great! It just needs a few more tweaks and I think it’ll be ready. Edited to Add: I just heard back from my editor. She’s going to start doing edits on In the Dark this week. Hopefully, I’ll be getting the manuscript back soon!

Bragging about my books and myself is really hard! I’m still struggling to be okay in the spotlight. But I’m taking this one step at a time. Maybe, someday, it’ll come naturally to me. Thanks to all of you faithful readers, retweeters, commentators, followers, friends, and family. You are SO appreciated!

Promotion

It turns out there’s a lot more to book promotion than spamming social media with pictures of a book and the first few lines of a nice review.

While I’m waiting to hear back from my editor, I’ve been reading up on different ways to utilize social media. There’s a lot I didn’t know about! For example, there’s such a thing as book trailers? That blew my mind when I first heard about it. I’ve been dabbling in photo editing and making mock book covers. Surely, I thought, I can figure out how to make a short promotional trailer or GIF. 

Oh, I figured it out. It just took me five hours. (If interested, you can see the finished product here.) Finding the right royalty free pictures, editing them, applying filters and the right text took time. Finding an easy to use website that was also free took some time too. (I tried to make an actual movie clip but couldn’t find the right images for free, so I went with the GIF creator.) My incompetence frustrates me sometimes, but now that I know how to do it, I can do it again and much quicker! That’s the encouraging part.

While reading about all these different methods of book promotion, I started to feel overwhelmed. There’s so much information out there, so many different things to try. How am I supposed to keep track of it all? Plus, the concept that readers want to get to know me before they decide to give my book a try keeps popping up. It makes me want to run and hide. I’ve heard that before but I’ve somehow been able to convince myself that, if my book is amazing, it’ll sell itself. (That’s why we write, right? So that we don’t have to talk to people? The John Green quote on my home page says it so beautifully.) Starting a blog was hard enough. The idea of being interviewed is downright terrifying.

But things are changing, especially the way advertising works. I have to study up if I want to keep up. All of these different tactics might make my head spin now, but I have to believe that I’ll conquer it. I’ll learn, slowly but surely, what works for me and the book and what doesn’t. I’ll pick up a skill or two (might even get better at public speaking!) in the process and become a better person in the end. I have to see it that way, I have to be hopeful, otherwise I’ll spiral into an anxiety attack. This is what I wanted. This is what I’ve been dreaming about and praying about and working toward for all these years. Maybe I didn’t know what it was going to require of me then, but I do now. So let’s get started! (Before I lose my nerve…)