Saturday, November 29, 2014

PUBLISHED: The Orthogonal Galaxy (Galaxy Series, #1)

So, I found it much harder than I thought it would be to push the big "Send" button on CreateSpace for my very first novel.  Did I edit sufficiently?  What will people think of the story?  Is my writing style as bad as I fear it is?  Will my characters be likeable or forgettable? 

Throwing "The Orthogonal Galaxy" out there for anyone to read is pretty scary, but in the end, I had to remind myself that I didn't do this to get the acclaim of sci-fi readers.  The process of writing a novel, enjoying the flow of creativity, and learning tons about astronomy and quantum physics was worth the effort even if the book never got published.  The publishing is mainly an opportunity to get the book onto my bookshelf at home, and allow family and friends the opportunity to see my writing hobby for themselves as well. 

On this page, I've included links to both, where the book can be acquired in paperback or Kindle versions, and to the Goodreads entry for the book, where any soul brave enough to read a new author's first novel can rate the effort anywhere from 0 to 5 stars, and provide a review that would certainly help me improve in the craft as I venture into the next book of the series.

Friday, November 28, 2014


I've decided to publish The Orthogonal Galaxy on CreateSpace, which is's self-publishing subsidiary.  CreateSpace has reasonable publishing rates, and a nice wizard that walks you through the complete publishing process.  Here are the steps I took to get my first novel published:

1) Write the Book... the most obvious step.

2) Edit the Book.  My wife, Suzanne, and I read through it multiple times, and continued to find issues every time.  Wanting to keep the costs low, we decided to do this ourselves instead of hiring a professional editor.  Hopefully, we caught all of the major typos, grammatical errors, phrasing confusion, and plot inconsistencies to prevent distractions in the final work, but as Suzanne points out, she finds errors even from mainstream publishers who use professional staff editors to ensure a high quality product. 

3) Select a Self-Publisher.  After much research, I decided on CreateSpace (CS) for its simplicity, low costs, and ease of use.  CS doesn't print hard-cover books, so if you're fine with paperback production, CS works great!  It also uses Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) if you want your work in eBook media as well.

4) Create a Cover.  This was something I just was NOT going to do myself.  While it's true that you can't judge a book by its cover, let's face it.  If someone browsing on comes across a book with an obviously low-quality cover, they're going to wonder whether the same quality exists on the pages of the book as well.  However, I wasn't willing to spend hundreds of dollars for a freelance graphic artist to do the job either.  After researching the subject online, I found fiverr, which is an online provider of services costing as little as $5.00.  While there are a plethora of graphic artists to choose from on the website, I chose to employ the services of PixelStudio, and splurged for a couple of add-ons that lightened my wallet by $15.75.  A very reasonable price for the following professionally-produced book cover:

The package included a full front/back/spline design as well that looked great as well.

5) Format the Text.  I found a Microsoft Word template in 6"x9" format that CS can publish to (CS can also do 5x8, but I chose a slightly larger format for a more substantial look and feel.)  Here are the things I fussed over to get the interior looking clean and professional, with help from a lot of different blogs and sites that treat the subject of "MS Word Book Formatting":
    a) Added front matter.  (Title Page, Copyright Page, and Dedication)
    b) Broke chapters into sections
    c) Centered chapter headings and page numbers.
    d) Fully justified text.
    e) Margins (including gutter space for binding).
It took me several times to iterate on the review process on CreateSpace, because every time I would submit a new Word document, I would spot some new problem in the interactive proof review tool.

6) Use the CreateSpace Wizard.  CS walks you through the entire process, step by step, and doesn't allow you to jump ahead in the process.  That's a good thing, because it ensures that you have all of the details you need early on, before getting too late in the flow only to realize you missed something important earlier. 

Presently, I'm in the final stages of the review process, and hope to have The Orthogonal Galaxy published in the next couple of days. 

Saturday, September 6, 2014

My Novel Beginning

Several years ago, I woke up from a very simple dream.  An astronomy professor at the California Institute of Technology had just returned from a summer research appointment in Chile, where he has been working at an observatory high in the Andes looking for a parallel Earth in the Milky Way galaxy.  He was having a brief conversation with an administrative assistant at the university, who had asked him how the summer research went....

.... and that was it.  Nothing more, no additional details, no understanding on why I would have a dream like this.  The simplicity of it, along with the setting was so starkly unremarkable, that I couldn't help but ask myself "why did that just happen in my head?!"  The fact that it was so simple and so disconnected with anyone or anything in my life, made the whole thing seem so strange. 

For the rest of the week, all of my free thinking time was consumed in the silliness of the dream.  Ideas flooded into my head that continued to develop, until I recognized that a clear Science Fiction plot was forming.  From the one simple seed I began writing an outline for a novel.  But, wait... I don't write novels.  I'm an engineer, not a writer!  And while I love to read, I have no experience or training in writing novels.  Nevertheless, I knew that this thing that was growing inside of my head just had to find its way onto paper.  

As I began writing, more thoughts came to me, and I realized that I wasn't just writing a novel... I was writing the first book in a five-book series!  After a few years, that first book was complete.  I decided to self-publish, but as I started researching the process, I took a closer look at my book, and realized that I had over 800 pages (250,000 words!) of material.  There was no way I was going to publish such a beast as a first novel.  I mean, not even my family would read something that verbose.  So, I spent the next couple of years reworking that one book into two, and reworked the first one even more after some feedback from my wife, Suzanne.  After a final personal edit, I am now back to doing the research on self-publishing, and hope to publish "The Orthogonal Galaxy" soon, but there is still some work to do. 

If you'd like to follow this journey with me, be sure to click the subscribe link below.