Thoughts on Felan’s Rescue being an SPSFC quarterfinalist!

I finished writing Felan’s Rescue roughly four years ago. Roughly a year later I had finished its sequel, The Descendants of Prontoth. For most of those four years after writing Felan’s Rescue I was submitting the books to various agents hoping it would find the one that would get Felan’s Rescue a book deal. Nothing materialized… the query process isn’t fun.

It was a chance discussion with a client’s mother that got me thinking about self-publishing. She had a law degree and was asking about running a private practice. She volunteered that she’d been successful as a self-published romance author and swore by self-publishing as the future of the industry.

When you are querying you become well aware of the longshot that is finding an agent. The chances they read more than a fraction of your novel are miniscule. Your work is judged by a 300–400-word query letter that has to be well written, but also uniquely appeal to the agent’s personal taste. And then there is the publishing industry which agents continue to complain about. Even if an agent likes your query enough (and finds it to his or her unique tastes) then reads your novel, thinks he or she can sell it, then signs you as a client, then sends off to publishers, then signs a book deal…you still need the book to be promoted and the publisher to get behind it. It’s an uphill battle.

With all that as the backdrop, I heard about last year’s Self-Published Science Fiction Contest. I began reading about it, following some of the novels, and made the decision to self-publish, hoping to get Felan’s Rescue in this year’s contest. The hope of getting people to actually read the book, not just a query letter was a huge factor in my decision.

But even the unique nature of this contest makes every reviewer reading every book impossible. In this first phase, the reviewers were charged with reading 10-20% of each book in their group. I know there are great books that don’t get through because they don’t click with the specific reader in that amount of time. I was happy to see a book from last year’s contest that didn’t get out of the quarterfinals, make it through this phase this time. Because now, reviewers/judges are going to read the entire book.

That’s probably the coolest part of being a quarterfinalist in the SPSFC. My book in particular is a book that takes its time, with point of view characters a galaxy apart, and 3 separate stories you have to trust will come together. I try to make the book fun, with action and humor from the earliest pages, but you have to trust me to bring everything together.

I’m so excited for the judges and reviewers to now see how things come together. I believe the novel really takes off as things start to make sense and the reader starts to understand the connection between the characters and the worlds the occupy. It’s an honor to be a quarterfinalist in the contest. Congrats to the other quarterfinalists! And to any authors that didn’t get through, a view of 10-20% of your book from a few readers will never tell the entire story. Keep on doing the work and telling the stories you want to tell.

44. (44) – The Collapsing Empire, by John Scalzi; The Last Emperox, by John Scalzi

I’ve already reviewed the middle novel in this series…I’m combining these two because I view them as near equals and I added The Last Emperox after I began creating this list, so it’s a new addition and this lets me keep the rankings the same.  (I make the rules). 

                Depending on the day, I could rank either of these books (and the next book on my list) as my favorite Scalzi Novel.  The Collapsing Empire throws the reader headfirst in a brand new Scalzi series, premised around a galactic civilization thriving because of the Flow.  The Flow is a really cool idea, and the setup of the Interdependency is the perfect setup for the central problem it creates. Scalzi as usual writes compellingly entertaining characters. Kiva Lagos is now my all-time favorite Scalzi character. She’s vulgar in all the best ways, but incredibly capable. This novel flew by and made me eager to purchase the next two. 

                The Last Emperox concludes the Interdependency Series.  It hit all the right notes and rewarded the reader with an interesting resolution. Old Man’s War brought Scalzi to the scene and he’s written thoroughly entertaining novels in that universe since then, but I truly believe this series captured the best of Scalzi-style Space Opera. If you’re looking for fun modern space opera with interesting ideas, and engaging characters, but a relatively simple and easy-to-follow style, Scalzi is as good as there is. I’ve never been disappointed in one of his novels. I always fly through them and enjoy the ride.

The Last Emperox was no exception and rivals anything he’s put out. I’m going to miss the characters of the Interdependency from the Emperox, to scientists, to the compelling antagonists. And I’m especially going to miss Kiva Lagos, one of the all-time great supporting characters.

Felan’s Rescue is now available on Audiobook!

Felan’s Rescue is now available in Ebook form (and Kindle Unlimited), Hardback, and Paperback!