I am pleased to announce that my third novel, The Twiller, won the 2011 Red Adept Reviews Award in the science fiction category! As one of only three sci-fi novels to earn the honor, I am especially grateful.
Astute readers may remember when I received a 4.75-star review of The Twiller from Red Adept Reviews back in May.
The Twiller is a departure from my Edge of Apocalypse Series (Right Ascension and Declination), as it is a quirky, funny, sometimes silly satire of some of the things I find particularly humorous in our daily lives. The blurb:
Ian Harebungler, our hapless hero, just can’t catch a break. First, the deli ran out of his favorite cucumber sandwiches. Then he left the gas on at home. But the lowlight was being abducted from his front yard by a particularly ill-mannered alien, one who apparently doesn’t believe in anesthetic, no less. Fortunately, Ian is saved by an unlikely ally: the Twiller, whose bravery is somewhat overshadowed by its uncanny resemblance to a floating yellow marshmallow with big eyes.
The Twiller follows the adventures of Ian and his newfound companion as they are whisked around the Universe, and Ian learns how difficult it can be to find his way home to a backwater planet called “Earth.” Along the way, Ian must survive the traffic of El Leigh, the enthusiastic protestors of Bez Erkeley, and rampaging politicians in the city of WMD. Even worse, he must contend with exorbitant prices in the city of York, endure the heat and crazy drivers in Fleur Ida, and struggle to escape the small planet of “Huh? Why E?” before he contracts island fever. Astute readers might pick up on subtle correlations to real places here on Earth, but my lawyers have reminded me to state that such resemblances are purely coincidental.
As it starts to dawn on Ian that the bizarre planets he visits suffer from many of the same problems, comical situations, and inane rules all too familiar to him, he stumbles upon an important secret that gives his quest to return home added urgency. Can Ian make it home? Will he arrive in time to prevent a terrible catastrophe? And can he find a flight without a Saturday night stopover? The answer lies with the Twiller…
You can find more info about The Twiller, including reviews and excerpts, on my website here. You can also purchase it from Amazon or directly from me through PayPal (in e-book or paperback format). At just $2.99 for the e-book, that’s less than your favorite blended coffee drink, and way better for you to boot!
I received a pleasant surprise tonight when catching up on my blog reading: Mark Coker, founder of the e-book distribution service Smashwords (which I use to distribute my e-books to Kobo, Apple, and Sony) mentioned me as one of “50 indie authors to watch” on his latest blog post, which includes a presentation about the upheaval of the publishing industry. As more and more self-published authors like Amanda Hocking and J.A Konrath “break out” (Hocking is closing in on 1 million e-book sales!), and e-books garner a larger and larger share of the book market, we will reach a tipping point where big-name authors wonder why they’re giving publishers the lion’s share of their book proceeds. They’ll compare the 8%–17.5% royalties they get from legacy publishers to the 70% they can earn on their own. They’ll realize they can pay a fixed fee to skilled editors and cover designers and formatters, and retain artistic control, pricing flexibility, and the majority of the proceeds. And they’ll realize they can achieve worldwide distribution through Amazon and services like Smashwords, without their legacy publishers.
The authors on the list above have proven that legacy publishers are missing out on — actually, rejecting is the better word — some very talented authors. Do check out Mark’s blog post and presentation here, and check out Smashwords to find some very good, inexpensive, DRM-free e-books in multiple formats from some of these talented indie authors.
Just a quick, excited post to announce that my latest novel, The Twiller, has progressed on to the second round of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest. The award comes with a publishing contract with Penguin and a $15,000 advance for the winner.
The field has been whittled down to 1,000 entrants in each category (general adult and young adult), from about 10,000 total entrants. They will be further reduced to 250 in the quarter-finals, announced March 22.
You can learn more about The Twiller and see the description / pitch that got the novel into the second round at Amazon here:
Check out today’s mention on the ever-popular Kindle Nation Daily blog, run by Kindle guru Stephen Windwalker:
What do you look for in a great sci fi read?
“Right Ascension is an utterly thought-provoking novel rich with vividly drawn characters, electrifying action sequences, and plenty of food for thought.” –Bookbooters
Kindle Nation Daily is one of the most popular Kindle blogs out there, so it’s definitely worth checking out.
Thanks to the fine folks over at Kindle Cheap Reads (now called Daily Cheap Reads), who featured yours truly yesterday. They run a very prolific website, featuring inexpensive (under $5) Kindle books and have recently started adding a sampling of independent authors to the mix. Check them out!
Also, here’s a shout out to the famous Red Adept, who tirelessly reviews Kindle books to help you find your next great read. This month, she’s been running an ongoing series of author interviews asking: “Which came first, the character or the plot?” Check out some responses by me and some other great indie authors:
While Red Adept hasn’t chosen to review one of my novels yet, I’ve sent them her way and am keeping my fingers crossed.
UPDATE: Red Adept just posted a 4 3/4-star review of The Twiller! More info here.
I’m pleased to point you over to the blog of fellow indie author Debra Martin, who runs the Two Ends of the Pen blog, where she conducts author interviews and relays e-book news. Debra was kind enough to invite me to be interviewed for her blog, and I really enjoyed the creative questions and the interesting responses they evoked. Here’s a snippet:
Finally, one agent asked for a few more chapters, then the first 100 pages, then the whole manuscript, and then even offered to represent me! I went out and celebrated with my friends, drinking more than was strictly good for me, and then the next morning I actually did some research on this agent. In my hungover state, I learned that the agent had a terrible reputation in the industry, and didn’t have any successful clients to speak of. That was not a happy morning.
Head on over and check out my interview and the rest of Debra’s blog here:
And a big thank you to fellow indie author Nick Spalding, author of Life … With No Breaks. His new Spalding’s Racket blog highlights work by other independent authors — take a look here:
I was very fortunate to receive a nice review of The Twiller from the I Love My Kindle Blog, a very popular and well-respected blog about all things Kindle. Be sure to check it out to find Kindle tips and tricks, free / inexpensive book finds, reviews, and other news and information about the Kindle in particular and e-books in general.
The blog’s author, Bufo Calvin, starts by noting what type of book The Twiller is:
Science fiction can be profound, using a speculative framework to show us the deepest secrets in our collective psyche, and to perhaps serve as a warning of what our worst natures may bring, and an inspiration as to how the human imagination can bring about a better existence.
Or, you know, it can be silly and full of puns.
The Twiller, by David Derrico, is very solidly in the second camp.
His “first camp,” by the way, is what I was going for with my first two books, Right Ascension and Declination. I wanted to try something different for The Twiller, and “silly” and “whimsy” and funny were definitely what I was going for.
The review also notes that:
The Twiller is as error-free as any novel from a traditional publisher that I’ve read. The author also understands formatting for e-books: the clickable Table of Contents is in the back (and reachable through the menus), which is also where you’ll find the author bio. Why is that better? So you can get a better sample. You can also flick right (on any Kindle except a Kindle 1) to move forward through the parts of the book…a convenience many large publishers seem to ignore.
Since advanced Kindle formatting (like a clickable table of contents in the back, “flickable” waypoints, etc.) takes a fair amount of research and time and work, it’s especially rewarding to see someone appreciate it. Bufo Calvin is, of course, a Kindle connoisseur, but I do hope that readers like those extra touches. I think it’s worth spending the time and effort to put them in.
The review concludes with a pithy description I have to be pleased with:
So, if you are looking for a light and airy entertainment, a popcorn book with an intergalactic setting, The Twiller is a button-pusher that will keep you smiling.
Thanks, Bufo, for the review — I’m glad you enjoyed it!
I was pleasantly surprised to find a couple of nice mentions of my novels around the web today:
• Mark Coker, founder of the wonderful author service Smashwords, posted about Right Ascension as one of the first Smashwords books available on the iPad.
• Over at True/Slant, Roger Theriault gave his thoughts about the new iPad, and reading on it compared to his Kindle. He also expressed chagrin at some of the high prices traditional publishers are demanding for e-books. He said:
Publishers want readers to pay more – but the alternative is the library or a used bookstore. Or independent authors…
David Derrico’s sci-fi novels Right Ascension and Declination are both $0.99 in e-book format from Amazon or Apple. I’ve read the first and I’m working on the second novel. Both are excellent alternatives to expensive e-books. There are many self-published authors in various genres, both fiction and non-fiction, with affordable and highly readable e-books. I think established publishers are sinking their own ships (and their authors as well) with their pricing strategies.
Thanks for the mention, Roger, I’m glad you’re enjoying them!
Please enjoy this interview conducted by our friends over at The Indie Spotlight.
Author: David Derrico
Page count: 216
Genre: Science Fiction
Price: $0.99 (Kindle), $9.77 (paperback)
David Derrico was born just north of Miami, Florida, and developed his appreciation for complex moral issues while receiving a degree in philosophy from the University of Florida in Gainesville. He wrote his first novel, Right Ascension, before attending law school at the University of California, Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall). Derrico has written two novels: Right Ascension and its sequel, Declination, and currently lives in South Florida where he is working on his next novel.
Tell us about your book:
Right Ascension and its sequel, Declination, are science fiction novels that blend action and adventure with philosophical and moral undertones. They invite readers to ponder difficult ethical dilemmas and question their own notions of fairness, honor, and the nature of justice. They ask the question: “What if humanity had to choose between honor … and our very survival?”
Set in the year 3040, Right Ascension examines mankind’s place in the Universe, how we ascended to that lofty position, and the horrifying price of that ascension.
Humanity’s position of political and technological dominance within the galaxy is suddenly shattered when a sleek alien vessel arrives unexpectedly at Earth. Admiral Daniel Atgard and the crew of the Apocalypse embark on a mission to find these enigmatic aliens, but the focus of the mission quickly turns from finding answers to exacting revenge. Meanwhile, a belligerent species of reptilian warriors, seeking to avenge a previous defeat at the hands of the human-controlled United Confederation of Planets, takes this opportunity to plan an all-out assault on Earth. Faced with overwhelming odds and the terrible knowledge of mankind’s most horrifying secret, Daniel must choose between honor … and humanity’s very survival.
How long did it take to write the book?
The first draft of the book took about 10 months to write, plus another solid month of editing. I’d say almost a year. However, several years later, I went back through and did a cover-to-cover proofreading and edit, including adding a couple of scenes.
What inspired you to write the book?
I have enjoyed reading and writing for as long as I can remember. I broke my arm when I was 2 1/2 years old, and my parents tell me it happened when I was climbing on a stool to reach a book on a high shelf. As a kid, I read lots of Piers Anthony and C.S. Lewis. I have always enjoyed creative writing, I enjoy storytelling and using the amazing diversity and depth of the English language. After getting a degree in philosophy from the University of Florida, I became interested in exploring ethical issues in a much more interesting and accessible way than what gets presented in philosophy textbooks. So, the idea of an action/adventure science-fiction novel that explored deep moral issues was born.
Talk about the writing process. Did you have a writing routine? Did you do any research, and if so, what did that involve?
I’m generally a night person, and I found myself often staying up all night writing until 8 AM or later. It helped that I wrote the book while working at a job that was not very demanding, as I’d find myself thinking about the novel all day, percolating ideas even when I wasn’t writing. It was very helpful to be able to start writing pretty much whenever the inspiration struck me.
Before I started writing, I actually developed detailed character sketches of each of the main characters: physical description, history, family, background, morals, motivation, personality, etc. I found that having realistic characters caused many parts of the book to almost “write itself,” as I found myself saying, “Well, this character would react to that by doing this…” After the first couple of chapters, I also realized that I needed an outline in order to maintain the pacing of the book, keep the sense of continuity, and foreshadow important elements that came to fruition later. Outlining was the hardest part for me; once I outlined a chapter or two, the actual writing came relatively easily.
As for research, I did a fair amount of research, mostly involving astronomy, physics, and astronomical distances. My book does not focus on the “hard sci-fi” method of describing technical details of things like hyperspace drives or force shields, so the research was not overwhelming, but enough to make sure everything was realistic.
What do you hope your readers come away with after reading your book?
I hope, first and foremost, that readers enjoy the book. That they are sad for the last chapter to end. I hope they identify with the characters and come to care about what happens to them. And I hope that maybe, just maybe, they think a little bit about their own ethics and morality and I hope it inspires them to do the right thing, even when it is hard to do.
Where can we go to buy your book?
My novels (Right Ascension and the sequel, Declination) are available through my own website, www.davidderrico.com, in both paperback and eBook formats. They are also available through Amazon.com, Smashwords, and Barnes & Noble.com.
Any other links or info you’d like to share?
I have a Facebook Fan page at www.facebook.com/NovelAuthor where I post news, discussions, and free giveaways.