A Little Help From My Friends

My previous work week at the observatory got off to a “wonderful” start when, after uploading a couple of anthologies to my Kindle e-reader, I unplugged the USB cable, fumbled the reader, and slam dunked it against a counter top. I discovered that’s a great way to damage the e-ink cells and it was pretty clear that my Kindle was dead. The Kindle was used when I got it and I received it in exchange for a signed copy of my novel The Solar Sea. I was heart-broken, more because of the sentimental value than for any physical value.

The Pirates of Sufiro

As it turns out, the fellow who gave me the original Kindle, stepped forward and offered me a new Kindle in exchange for some help at his small observatory in Benson, Arizona. I can’t say how special this is, because not only do I have a new device, it also comes with a new dose of sentimental value. Back at the beginning of my writing career, my benefactor, Jeff Lewis, helped out with the first audio production of The Pirates of Sufiro. He was the voice of the Legacy’s first mate, Carter Roberts. Jeff also provided some helpful digital editing advice in the days when few people had even heard of digital editing. Remember, you can download The Pirates of Sufiro absolutely free from Lachesis Publishing, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble.

Perhaps befitting this gesture, this past week, I’ve taken a short break from my steampunk-novel-in-progress to work on a new short story which features Roberts along with his captain, Ellison Firebrandt, and their fellow crewmember, Suki Mori. I won’t say too much about the story at this point other than to say that it does address friendship and its benefits and challenges. It also features giant squid. I’ll be sure to keep you posted about when and where this story will be appearing. If nothing else, it serves to add another chapter to my somewhat back burner project of compiling a collection of stories about my space pirates before they were stranded on the planet Sufiro.

Cauldron-of-Love-200x300

Needless to say, I feel pretty blessed this week by the good things that have happened to me, but I’m also blessed by an opportunity to give back. I’ve just learned the cookbook Cauldron of Love published by Writers Unite to Fight Cancer in Arizona has just come available for pre-order. Contributors to the cookbook include Brenda Novak, Margaret Larsen Turley, Marina Martindale, and many others including myself. 100% of the proceeds from this cookbook will be donated to cancer research. This book features eighteen categories with international family favorites, remedies, delicious gluten free and dairy free cuisine, comfort food for patients battling cancer and other tantalizing morsels. Visit http://writersunitetofightcancer.org/cauldron-of-love/ to order or get more information.

Blogger’s Tag! SMACK! You’re it!

On March 15, I was SMACKED by Emily Guido, The Light-Bearer Novelist. She is a wonderful indie author and I enjoy reading the excerpts she posts from her series. Go visit her blog at emilyguido.com and learn more about her.

Now, I know a lot of people don’t like award posts, but this isn’t an award. No one has won anything. You’re not getting this because you did something excellent. You got it because I feel like giving it to you, so there!!!

Are you gonna be a snob, too good to play with the other kids? Or will you join our silly game. If we do it right, every blogger in the cyber world will get tagged! No one is exempt.

Now, the rules. It’s not so awful. You can cut and paste most of it. Stop whining!

Geez!

The Rules:

  1. Post these rules.
  2. Post a photo of yourself and eleven random facts about you.
  3. Answer the questions given to you in the tagger’s post.
  4. Create eleven new questions and tag new people to answer them.
  5. Go to their blog/twitter and let them know they have been tagged.

Photo of me and eleven random factoids:

DLS with Pirate Mug

  1. I took accordion lessons as a kid.
  2. My first job was working at an old-fashioned soda fountain called Heywood’s Ice Cream in San Bernardino, California.
  3. I spent the summer of 1987 on Nantucket Island.
  4. I helped to teach a college astronomy lab course while I was still in high school.
  5. I hated coffee until I went to work for the National Radio Astronomy Observatory during my senior year of college. If I wanted caffeine, the choice was free coffee or a fifty-cent can of soda.
  6. I met Jerome Bixby, one of the original writers for Star Trek, while standing in line for Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan on its first day of release.
  7. I investigated a ghost sighting with three classmates as a final project for a paranormal psychology class in college.
  8. My wife and I had our honeymoon at Chaco Culture National Historical Park.
  9. I traded a print copy of my novel The Solar Sea for my first ereader—a gently used Kindle.
  10. My first car was a 1976 Buick Skylark.
  11. My current car is a 2011 Smart Passion Coupe.

Emily’s 11 Questions

As it turns out, Emily didn’t create a new set of questions for us, so I’m going to answer the same questions she did!

1. What is your favorite literary genre?

I have a wide range of “favorite” genres. Depending on my mood, I might like a good science fiction novel, a rip-roaring steampunk adventure, or a spine-tingling horror story. I’ll lump it all together and say I like speculative fiction.

2. What is your favorite film genre?

Like literary genres, I like films from a lot of different genres, but if I had to be pinned down, I can almost always be counted on to check out a good science fiction movie.

3. Do you read in bed? How? Book? Kindle? Both?

Yes, I read in bed. Book and Kindle are both fair game!

4. How do you take your coffee in the morning? If you don’t drink coffee, how do you survive your day?

I take my coffee black. I don’t do mornings without it!

5. Do you consider yourself fashionable?

I’m quite fashionable in my steampunk attire. Outside of that, give me jeans and a T-shirt most days and I’m good to go. If you want me to dress up, I’ll toss a sport coat on over it!

6. If you could live anywhere on earth, where would it be?

I actually consider myself quite fortunate to live in Las Cruces, New Mexico. It’s a place where I’m very happy and I have no strong desire to move. If I could have ANOTHER home, I would love to have a mountain retreat. There are many places that would do. I also think it would be fun to have a retreat on Nantucket.

7. Have you retained any evil habits? If not, with what will you bargain when you’re marooned at sea in a lifeboat?

Does sitting alone in a darkened room talking to my computer count? I guess I’d be using my stories as a bargaining chip when I’m marooned at sea in a lifeboat. Hope I’m stranded with bibliophiles!

8. What is the worst TV show that you love anyway?

I would probably have to say Lost in Space. It’s terrible, but I have fun watching it and it brings back good memories from my childhood. “Danger! Danger, Will Robinson!”

9. When you vacation, do you want to be in an urban or rural environment?

Rural! I love to get away from the crowds and spend time in nature to recharge my batteries. It doesn’t really matter where. I’m happy in the desert, on mountain trails or on a quiet beach.

10. Where did you go on your all-time favorite vacation?

I think my all-time favorite vacation was a big loop up through Colorado to Dinosaur National Monument and back down through the national parks of Utah. We saw a lot of grand scenery on that trip.

11. Are you a morning person? Has anyone ever punched you for being cheerful before coffee?

I am not a morning person at all. Don’t get between me and the coffee maker in the morning!


Questions for those I’m tagging

OK, here are the questions for those who are tagged below. You’ll find some repeats plus a few that I liked on another blog with this same topic.

  1. What’s the most inspiring book you’ve ever read?
  2. What’s your favorite literary genre?
  3. What’s your favorite Grimm’s Fairy Tale?
  4. Do you read in bed? How? Book? Kindle? Both?
  5. Who is your favorite superhero?
  6. If you could live anywhere on earth, where would it be?
  7. If you could be a movie character, who would you be?
  8. Are you a morning person? Has anyone ever punched you for being cheerful before coffee?
  9. What is your favorite food to make?
  10. Where did you go on your all-time favorite vacation?
  11. What is your most shameful guilty pleasure?

You’ve been SMACKED!

Here are the people I’m tagging. Go visit their blogs and see they’re up to!

The Little Death

The Bene Gesserit sisterhood of Frank Herbert’s classic science fiction novel Dune recite a litany against fear that goes in part:

I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer
Fear is the Little Death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.

These words can apply to pretty much anyone, but I think there’s an especially strong relevance to writers. We have to confront the fear of rejection if we try to sell the book to a publisher. We have to face the fear that no one will buy the book. We have to face the fear that even if they do buy the book, they might not like it and leave one-star reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. I have known people who have let fear dominate them at any given step in this process. They quit after receiving a rejection. They quit after book sales didn’t do as well as they wanted. They quit after a bad review. For them, fear was indeed the Little Death that brought total obliteration.

The Pirates of Sufiro

Sometimes I look back at my first novel, The Pirates of Sufiro, and think how hard it was to get up the courage to send it to a publisher. That first publisher went out of business and I had to do it all over again when I got the rights back. To this day, this is a book that gets divided reviews. I’ve seen it get a one-star review one day and a five-star review within the week. There have been plenty of opportunities to let fear influence my decisions about this novel in particular and my writing career in general.

I recently had occasion to read the novel again. From the perspective of twenty years after I wrote it, I understand and even agree with much of the thoughtful criticism about the book. That said, I really appreciate those people who love the novel and I’m delighted that they had fun with it and decided to follow the characters into the sequels. Alas, some of the criticism I’ve seen hasn’t been so thoughtful—that I just do my best to shrug off.

On reflection, rereading my first novel left me with a good feeling. Overall, I think it still works as the fun pulp-inspired novel I’d intended, but I also see why it’s not for everyone. What’s more, I’m glad I’ve persevered and continued to write, explore other genres, and improve my craft. As the Bene Gesserit litany says at its conclusion:

And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone, there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.

If you’d like to give The Pirates of Sufiro a try, the ebook is free at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Her Royal Majesty’s Steampunk Symposium – 2013

Next weekend I’m honored to be a literary guest at Her Royal Majesty’s Steampunk Symposium aboard the Queen Mary docked in Long Beach, California. Other guests include Bruce Boxleitner, Phil and Kaja Foglio, Unwoman, and Dino Staats. You can learn more about the convention at http://hrmsteam.com.

HRM Steam Logo

I was one of the guests last year and I had a fantastic time. The Queen Mary is a wonderful venue for a steampunk event. The grand old ship sets the scene and most of the attendees were in costume. Tourists visiting the Queen Mary wondered if they had fallen into a time warp.

At this point, I’m scheduled to be on several panels. I’ll be giving an updated version of my Victorian Astronomy presentation, plus I’ll be discussing Steampunk Poetry, writing steampunk in a shared world, and Dino Staats and I will once again delve the fine line between magic and science that existed in Victorian days.

David and Kevin

Last year, one of the things I was asked most often is whether any of my steampunk books were available as ebooks. Unfortunately, at that point Owl Dance had just been released and was only available in paper. Now, there are several ebooks available that contain my steampunk tales. Here are a few of the ones that are available. Clicking the covers will take you to their pages at Amazon.com. Although Owl Dance is currently a Kindle exclusive ebook, both Revolution of Air and Rust and Gears and Levers can be purchased at other sites such as Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, and the Kobo ebook store.

Owl Dance Cover
Gears and Levers
Revolution of Air and Rust

I’ll have these and more in print and will be happy to autograph them for you at the convention! I hope to see you there.

Owl Dance for your Kindle

One of my favorite things to do during the holidays is to settle into a cozy chair with a good book. Increasingly, that good book is on my Kindle. From what I’ve seen that’s also true of many of my readers. Because of that, it’s with great pleasure that I announce that my wild west steampunk adventure novel Owl Dance is now available for Kindle at: Amazon.com

Owl Dance Cover

Owl Dance is set in 1876. Sheriff Ramon Morales of Socorro, New Mexico, meets a beguiling woman named Fatemeh Karimi, who is looking to make a new start after escaping the oppression of her homeland. When an ancient life form called Legion comes to Earth, they are pulled into a series of events that will change the history of the world as we know it. In their journeys, Ramon and Fatemeh encounter mad inventors, dangerous outlaws and pirates. Their resources are Ramon’s fast draw and Fatemeh’s uncanny ability to communicate with owls. The question is, will that be enough to save them when airships from Czarist Russia invade the United States?

In honor of the holidays and the novel’s Kindle release, I thought it would be fun to share a Christmas excerpt from Owl Dance. This scene finds Ramon and Fatemeh in San Francisco.


Ramon returned to the room he shared with Fatemeh late on Christmas Eve. Fatemeh noticed that he was wearing a new pair of glasses. Like his old pair, they were round and gave his face an owlish appearance. He held his hands behind his back. Fatemeh stood and wrapped her arms around Ramon, but was surprised when he didn’t return the embrace. “What’s the matter?”

“Nothing.” Ramon’s voice held a sly edge.

“It looks like you were successful in finding new glasses.”

Ramon smiled. “Yes, these are even better than the old ones.” He shrugged. “The optometrist thinks my eyes have been getting a little worse.”

“That’s too bad.” Fatemeh returned to her chair.

“However, I did have enough money left over to get you something.” He brought his arms out from behind his back. In his hand was a narrow box, about eight inches long. “Merry Christmas!” Just then he pulled the box back. “Do Bahá’ís celebrate Christmas?”

“Not normally,” said Fatemeh, “but as I’ve said, we respect the teachings of Jesus. I’m happy to celebrate his birth with you, Ramon.” She held out her hand and Ramon handed her the box. She opened it and saw a necklace. Adorning it was a hand-carved wooden bead in the shape of an owl.

“I bought the necklace. I carved the owl myself, though.”

“It’s very sweet.” Fatemeh smiled and put the necklace on. She stood and kissed Ramon, but held his hands as they parted. “How is our money doing?”

“I think I can find a job, but it’s not going to pay much,” admitted Ramon. “We could stay here about six more days and I could keep looking, or we could move on.”

“I like the idea of moving on.” Fatemeh returned to her chair. “I really didn’t like the reception we had on our first day and it’s loud here, even late at night.” She looked out the window at a saloon across the street.

“Where would you like to go?”

She pulled out a map and set it on the small table between the room’s two chairs. “What do you know about Los Angeles?”

“It’s a small town. There’s some farms and some industrial work.” Ramon shrugged.

“What does Los Angeles mean?”

“It means ‘belonging to the angels,’ The name’s short for something like town of the queen of angels.”

“Sounds lovely. Can we leave tomorrow?”

Ramon laughed. “Tomorrow’s Christmas. I doubt the trains are even running. What about the next day?”

“That sounds perfect.” Fatemeh put her hand to the new necklace. “I’m afraid I didn’t get you a present. What else do people do on Christmas?”

“We sing songs.” Ramon sat in the empty chair next to Fatemeh.

“Teach me a Christmas song worthy of the angels, Ramon.”


I have a special present for all of my readers this week. Follow me on Twitter (@davidleesummers) and keep an eye out for the Five Days of Owl Dance starting on Christmas Day.

In the meantime, I wish you Happy Holidays and a Terrific New Year!

Web log – November 24, 2012

First off, I hope all of my readers here in the United States had a Happy Thanksgiving this week. For me, this has been a pretty remarkable week. On Monday, my publisher emailed me to say they had reduced the price of Children of the Old Stars—the second novel of the Old Star/New Earth series—to 99 cents. They also said the novel was going to be featured in the Bookbub Newsletter.

Sales of the book picked up nicely at Amazon that day. Also, since it was book two of the series, people began downloading book one—The Pirates of Sufiro—which is free. The result was quite pleasant. For most of this week, I have been on Amazon’s list of the 100 bestselling authors in Science Fiction.

As I watched all this happen, I realized people who had downloaded the book, or discovered me from the bestselling author list, might want to learn more about me by visiting my website. As such, I took a good hard look at davidleesummers.com and realized that it had been far too long since I had updated some of the pages, including the front page, which is the first impression people will have.

Now, my website has been around for a while. It will be 20 years old next year. When I first built it, the “Information Superhighway” was a shiny, new concept. So, I dubbed my little stop on that highway as a “wrong turn” right from the outset, because often the most interesting stops are the ones you never intended to visit! I have taken the website through several upgrades in 20 years and done my best to keep it up to date, but it’s easy to get used to one’s own website. I needed to evaluate the site with a fresh eye, and that brings us to the subject of this week’s post.

The word blog is a contraction of the words “web log.” Web logs were the place where system administrators would record changes made to a web site. However, some system administrators would use the web log as a place to talk about philosophy, their favorite TV show, or their favorite game. Eventually other people began using this web logging software to post their own thoughts and thus modern blogging was born.

Today, I’m taking the blog back to its roots and recording the updates to my website!

First off, I took a good hard look at the first page. I realized that at first glance, it was not clear what kind of website you had landed on. It was too wordy. So, I streamlined and better organized the text. This allowed me to move the Amazon widget that displays my books into a better position. I also added a few of the reviews people have given my books to the first page. My goal has been to make it clear that you have landed on an author’s site while retaining the kind of retro-future look to the site that I believe characterizes much of my writing. I also wanted it to be welcoming and inviting, encouraging a visitor to look around.

I’ve done a pretty good job of maintaining my pages that tell about my novels, short stories, and show my events calendar, so I did very little work on those pages.

Over the last couple of years, I’ve realized people have taken a real interest in my astronomy work. To that end, I put a lot of attention into sprucing up the astronomy page. I added a couple of recent photos and made them clickable so you can see them full size. I also added more detail about my astronomy background including some links to places where I’ve worked. Finally, I updated my publication list with this year’s new supernova paper that I contributed to.

I then moved on to the bio page. Sadly, I had let that page get very outdated. I also realized that it was very clunky looking with three old photos of me. Those photos were fun to see, but they were a bit outdated. I updated the text, updated the photo, and included links where you can find me online and interact with me.

Finally, I took a look at the links page. I discovered a number of dead links and saw that the format was not really conducive to easy navigation. So, I cleaned up the page, removed the dead links, and added a few new ones. Just to note, I take this list of links very seriously. My goal is to link to people and organizations who my readers would also find appealing. Some friends were left off, for example, simply because I didn’t think we had a strong overlap in potential readers. I also wanted to keep the list manageably short so people could use it as a good jumping off point to explore more. So, if you’re a friend and don’t see yourself there, don’t take it personally. Ideally, I’ll come back in a few months and shuffle the list around and add some different links just to keep it fresh. We’ll see if I actually manage to do that!

You’ll likely notice that I kept much of the “highway” theme going as a tribute to the site’s history. After all, we’re coming up on the 20th anniversary. It would be a shame to dump it now. In 2014, I’ll take a fresh look at the site’s place on the Information Superhighway and decide if it needs another makeover.

So please, drop by davidleesummers.com, explore and let me know what you think. I’m hoping you’ll find some of these changes fun and informative.

The Solar Sea

My publisher is currently marketing The Solar Sea as book 4 of the Old Star/New Earth series. In a way that’s a misnomer and in a way it’s reasonably accurate.

When The Solar Sea opens, humans have all but given up on space travel. They do have industrial complexes on the moon, but they haven’t gone any further. Young Thomas Quinn dreams of building a solar sail that can traverse the solar system, but Jerome Quinn, his father, tells him to set his dreams aside. There’s nothing to be gained by exploring the solar system.

Fast forward about a decade and two things happen at once. Whales all around the Earth have changed their songs overnight and particles that can travel through time are discovered orbiting Saturn. Suddenly Jerome Quinn sees a reason to build a solar sail. He assembles a team of the best and brightest to travel on the craft and learn about the time particles.

The reason I say it’s a misnomer to call The Solar Sea book 4 of the Old Star/New Earth series is that it’s not a sequel to Heirs of the New Earth. The action in The Solar Sea is set several hundred years before the action of the Old Star/New Earth trilogy. That said, the book is set in the same universe. It tells how humans finally got into space and met the Titans and Rd’dyggians of the Old Star/New Earth books.

The Solar Sea is the first novel I ever tried to write on my own. I started it during the summer between my junior and senior years of high school. I had been inspired by a story in the Planetary Society’s newsletter about solar sails. I envisioned a story about people setting out aboard a solar sail bound for Saturn. I made it about halfway through the first draft before the summer ended. As time progressed and my writing matured, I wasn’t very impressed with what I had written and I simply threw it in the trash.

I made another attempt at writing The Solar Sea in the mid-1990s while working on Children of the Old Stars. That version became mired down in details and again, I didn’t make it very far. I finally sat down and wrote the novel in 2004, when my publisher challenged me to write something for National Novel Writing Month. By that point, it had been in my head for about two decades and it just flowed out.

The novel expresses some of my frustration that enthusiasm for human space flight has waned since I was a kid. It also expresses much of my love of science. It was always meant to be a grand adventure that gave the young and young-at-heart a glimpse of the other worlds of our solar system and addressed the fact that no matter how much we think we know about the universe, there may yet be surprises.

There is a website devoted to The Solar Sea at http://thesolarsea.com.

You could choose to read The Solar Sea as your introduction to the Old Star/New Earth series, or you could read it after you’ve finished, in order to see how the world of today became the future I envisioned. Either way, if you would like to set out on a journey through the solar system, The Solar Sea is available:

Heirs of the New Earth

Heirs of the New Earth is the novel that concludes my Old Star/New Earth trilogy. The second novel of the series, Children of the Old Stars ended on a cliffhanger. The mysterious alien called the Cluster had been sighted over Earth and soon afterward, the Earth went silent. John Mark Ellis and Suki Firebrandt Ellis are sent off to find out what happened.

Arriving at Earth, they land and discover that the once overcrowded, polluted homeworld of humanity has become a paradise of sorts. The streets have been cleaned up. People are happy. Despite that, over half the population is dead or missing and the planet’s leaders don’t seem to care. As Ellis works to unravel the mystery, sudden gravitational shifts from the galaxy’s center indicate something even worse is in the offing.

My first inspiration for this novel came while working at Kitt Peak National Observatory in the mid-1990s. We were observing the center of our galaxy in the infrared and obtained one of the deepest images ever made of the galactic core. It made me wonder what was there. I knew the radiation was too intense for humans to travel there, but I wanted to find a way for humans to actually experience the center of the galaxy.

A question that has long plagued me, and many others, is how could the German people have ever allowed the Nazis to come to power? Heirs of the New Earth explores the psychology of people in denial about their friends and neighbors disappearing when society seems to get better. It’s an examination of the issue in admittedly broad strokes but I do it as a warning that a good society is never immune from corruption by evil forces.

When I started writing Heirs of the New Earth I decided not to work from an outline. I wrote it by the seat of my pants. The novel continued with the same characters from Children of the Old Stars and I managed to write myself into a corner. I set the novel aside for a time and finally realized that what I needed were some of the characters I first introduced in The Pirates of Sufiro to make a return. So, I brought back Edmund Swan along with pirate captain Ellison Firebrandt and his first mate Carter Roberts. Armed with an outline to provide a roadmap and characters to infuse the novel with new energy, I started again and completed the trilogy.

The Pirates of Sufiro is free to download in both Nook and Kindle formats:

Children of the Old Stars is available as follows:

Heirs of the New Earth is available as follows:

Children of the Old Stars

Children of the Old Stars is the sequel to The Pirates of Sufiro. In The Pirates of Sufiro a mysterious and powerful alien called the Cluster began destroying space vessels for no apparent reason. In Children of the Old Stars, Captain John Mark Ellis embarks on a quest to determine just what the Cluster is. The woman on the cover is Ellis’s mother Suki Firebrandt Ellis, who plays an integral part in the quest.

As Children of the Old Stars opens, Captain John Mark Ellis and the crew of the destroyer Firebrandt attempt to rescue a civilian ship threatened by the Cluster. They fail and Ellis has to make the choice of taking a demotion or leaving the fleet. He decides that he can continue his quest better if he leaves the fleet. He joins a warrior/philosopher from the planet Rd’dyggia and a human who is convinced that the Cluster is God incarnate on the quest.

I grew up watching Star Trek and loved the exploits of Captain Kirk and the Starship Enterprise. As a teen, I discovered that Gene Roddenberry was influenced by the Horatio Hornblower novels of C.S. Forester. Around the same time, I also encountered the John Grimes novels of A. Bertram Chandler. Unlike Captain Kirk, who was always a staunch defender of the Federation, Grimes’s career made a detour when he resigned from the service. I loved the idea of a captain who wasn’t perfect, who might have a tarnished record, or might leave his position because of a principle. That’s where John Mark Ellis came from.

When I wrote the novel, the working title was Children of Chaos. It was an allusion to the Titans of Greek Mythology who sprang from chaos. Once the book was finished, though, I discovered I wasn’t the first person to have conceived that title. The final title is a more literal description of the alien machine called the Cluster.

To step back a little bit, astronomers divide stars into two “generations.” Newer stars like the sun are called Population I stars. Old stars like you might find in Globular Clusters or the hearts of galaxies are called Population II stars. The alien known as the Cluster is a product of those old stars. I’ll leave the details for people to discover, if they choose to read the novel!

One other piece of astronomy trivia from this novel, Ellis’s encounter with the Cluster at the beginning of the novel happens around a binary star called 1E1919+0427. It turns out that I’m one of the people who discovered that star is an eclipsing binary. I published the results in The Astronomical Journal in 1997.

Finally, I’ll note that one of the most frustrating novels I’ve ever read is From the Earth to the Moon by Jules Verne. The reason it’s frustrating is that he ends the novel on a cliffhanger. I did the same thing with Children of the Old Stars. If I had it to do all over again, I would have wrapped things up more neatly. But part of the issue is that I felt I needed a whole new book to deal with the issues that were raised when Ellis discovered the truth of the Cluster. That’s where the final novel of the Old Star/New Earth trilogy, Heirs of the New Earth comes in.

The Pirates of Sufiro is free to download in both Nook and Kindle formats:

Children of the Old Stars is available as follows:

Vampires of the Scarlet Order

After discussing The Pirates of Sufiro and its origin here at the Web Journal, I thought it might be fun to go back and take a brief look at all my novels, introducing them to people who haven’t read them, and telling a little about their origins. I’ll start with Vampires of the Scarlet Order, which generally has received the best reviews of all my novels.

Vampires of the Scarlet Order is an action-adventure novel with a touch of romance that tells the story of an elite cadre of vampire mercenaries who have worked throughout history as pinpoint assassins. Under the command of Desmond, Lord Draco, the Scarlet Order was involved in wars with the Ottoman Empire, The French Revolution and even the conquest of the Americas. As the 21st century dawns, vampires are too expensive, too untrustworthy, and frankly, too passé for governments to employ any longer. Nanotechnology can be employed to engineer more reliable super soldiers. However, governments might be tampering with powers they don’t really understand. The elemental forces of the universe bring the vampires of the Scarlet Order together to put a stop to the humans’ dangerous experiments.

The novel opens in 1492 Spain as the Scarlet Order is working for the Spanish Inquisition and ends in a climactic battle in 2002 Los Alamos, New Mexico.

Vampires of the Scarlet Order began in 2001 when Janni Lee Simner and I were sitting around talking. She happened to wonder what a vampire would make of Las Cruces, New Mexico. Literally, Las Cruces means “the city of the crosses.” She said she had no plans to use the idea and said I was welcome to it. About a week later, a story about a vampire telescope operator who moves to Las Cruces came almost fully formed to my mind. I titled the story “Vampire in the City of Crosses” and sold it to Margaret Carter’s magazine The Vampire’s Crypt. About a month later, I came up with a sequel called “Vampires in the World of Dreams” which Carter also bought for The Vampire’s Crypt.

Over the course of the next two years, I kept writing short stories about vampires in the Southwest. Some of the vampires lived in the present day. Some lived in the past. I finally decided to figure out how all the stories related to one another and I put them together into a novel.

As it turns out, the first draft was quite a bit different from the finished product. In the first draft, it wasn’t the United States trying to make super soldiers. Instead, aliens from another world were trying to create vampires. After setting the book aside for a short time, I decided I had stretched credulity and I changed the novel into its current form.

I have continued to write vampire stories since Vampires of the Scarlet Order. One of them is a prequel called Dragon’s Fall: Rise of the Scarlet Order. That will be released soon from Lachesis Publishing. I also have several other standalone vampire stories. I’ve created a separate blog to discuss vampires and my vampire stories. You can check it out at: http://dlsummers.wordpress.com. You can also keep up with news about the vampires at their Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Scarlet-Order-Vampires/159599227447475

You can find Vampires of the Scarlet Order at: