Well, as of 6:27 this morning, I am a published author. My original science fiction novella Future History went live on the Kindle ebook store for $2.99. It is a small step, but an important one. It will definitely help me gauge the self-publishing waters and figure out how to proceed with further stories (such as Sword of the Princess, which is still in open beta), as well as beginning to supplement my income.
Future History is a Christian space-opera. It follows the life of starship engineer Amelia Hanson. In a distant future where mankind is fighting a desperate war against the Algolans–a malevolent alien race–, Amelia becomes a war hero, saving the lives of her comrades aboard the starcruiser Mizar with a final act of desperation and genius. The cloaking device she improvises could be the key to winning the war and saving millions of lives, but unfortunately the secrets of its design die with her.
Five years earlier, Amelia is serving as a junior maintenance officer aboard the Terran transport Capella when her life is suddenly interrupted by memories from her future as a war hero. As the story alternates between the future and the past, it becomes clear that the Amelia of the past holds the key to saving our future.
While the story is, in many ways, an obvious homage to Star Trek, it contains original elements. One particularly unique feature is the way the story shifts back and forth from the future to the “present.” This is made even more unique by the fact that the “future” segments are presented in reverse chronological order, meaning that each adds a little more detail than the last, bringing the two storylines closer until eventually they merge and catapult the protagonist and her friends into action. The story is about 29,000 words and is divided into 12 chapters (called “sequences” which are further subdivided for a total of 18 short chapters).
Future History was one of the later products of my high school writing career. I conceived it as a series of short scenes showing a character’s progression through field promotions in a Star Trek-esque universe, and eventually hit on the idea of using the creative flow of time through the story to make it interesting. I originally believed it would be a short story that would take me about a week to write. It took me about a month and ended up being my second completed manuscript-length piece. After writing it, I conceived of and started drafts for two possible sequels, but never completed them. I feel that the lack of a time-travel plot would have subtracted from them anyway, though I may return to them if Future History generates enough interest to warrant it. In any case, after Future History was completed in 2007, it sat around collecting dust on my hard drive (which is possible). I did not feel that it was my strongest story, and I knew that getting a novella published would be much harder than attempting to publish my short stories (which were themselves proving to be too long for the publishers I sent them to). Now that I have some experience with non-profit self-publishing of fan fiction and have plans to introduce the start of my fantasy series, I thought it was time to test the waters by self-publishing on Amazon. I considered a number of my past stories, works which I felt were the best they could be, even if they are not quite what I would write today. I almost rejected Future History because it’s softer approach to science fiction (in Mohs Scale of SciFi Hardness, it’s a solid 2), but after considering that my dislike of the story may be colored by my resent attempts to make a much harder dystopian scifi, I gave it a second look. After very light editing and some review of my self-publishing reference book, I loaded it up on Amazon and released it into the wild to see how it would fare.
I also created my own cover. The artwork is original, by me, depicting Amelia in the foreground with an Algolan starcruiser laying into the Capella in the background. I confess to having very little idea of what any of this should look like when I got started. In the seven years since I finished the story, I completely forgot what I wanted anything to look like, though I remembered making sketches of a boxy Capella and wedge-shaped Mizar at one point. I mostly went about looking up hints to the appearance of things in the story and expanded on them, making sure to concentrate on the three elements I knew needed to be in the cover: the protagonist’s face (covers with faces sell better and generate more interest) and a space battle. I think the result turned out rather well.
With the release of Future History comes other changes. As a published author, I will need a site. For now, Starship Dragon will do, but I’ll need to expand it to accommodate my original works as well as my fan fictions. Speaking of which, my current Star Trek Online story, Survivors of Yamatai, is now updating weekly on Mondays, which has allowed me to manage my writing life much better and will hopefully lead to me being able to pursue other projects while that story continues to completion.