In 2001, I reached a milestone. I turned fifty. It made me get busy and start doing those things that I’d sworn I’d do as a kid, like write a book. And not just any book — I wanted to write Science Fiction. I’d loved SciFi all my life, even as a child. For years, I’d played with worldbuilding. I’d drawn the galaxy and labeled the various places where mankind would plant seed. I’d written a future history of over 10,000 years, and shown how an initial burst of exploration and colonization had resulted in wars and infighting and eventually the loss of civilization among the stars. Smaller empires had sprung up, genetically enhanced non-humans had been isolated and forgotten, and they in turn forgot that mankind existed. A Great Dark Ages of Man, as it were. But I’d never actually “written” the book.
I had notes galore, and plenty of scenes. After all, I’d played with the idea for thirty years. I had plenty of material to use. I decided to Google “critique group” and find one I could attend. The first one I went to laughed at the idea of Science Fiction ever being taken seriously. I didn’t go back. Pearls before swine, I told myself. I decided to find a better place. I searched again and added “online” to my keywords. That’s how I found Para-rom-crit. This Yahoo group had a mix of published and un-published writers, and it was a haven for new talent.
The rule was, you submitted one chapter and critiqued two for others. I picked through my notes, found a likely scene to start with, polished it to perfection, and sent it to the group. I critiqued two chapters and sat back to await the applause. I knew I was good. People had been telling me “you have a way with words” most of my life. So it was a bit of a shock to get a critique from a published author, and find my beautiful words covered with red, and pages of notes about deep POV, head hopping (whatever that was), and sticking to one storyline at a time.
I licked my wounds for three days. Someone thought my more than thirty-years in the making masterpiece had a flaw? I pouted for hours over that. Then I had a terrible thought. What if I left it that way and it was published and reviewers hated it? How I would feel then? I decided I needed to swallow my pride and re-read the suggestions, and try to learn. If this published author had taken time to help me, maybe I’d better listen.
That was my introduction to Barbara Karmazin, who earned the name “Queen of Alien Sex” for the creative ways she wrote erotic Science Fiction. She also earned the nickname “Chainsaw” in our critique group for the way she hacked our manuscripts. She was tough, but she was almost always right. When I resubmitted my chapter with the suggested changes, she emailed me. Since I was willing to learn, she said she’d teach me. We began a friendship / mentorship that only ended with her untimely death from cancer years later. She had a profound effect on my writing in every way. The Nizamrak Building, a prominent place in most of my Science Fiction Romance books, is Barbara’s last name backwards.
When I finished the manuscript two months later, Barbara offered to introduce me to her publisher. She did, and I sent my three chapters and synopsis to Liquid Silver Books. I had a contract a few days later, and the book was published less than six months after I completed it. Another book came out the same year, and then one each year for the next three years.
In 2005, I met Allie McKnight at a Writer’s Weekend retreat. Loose Id was just getting started then, and I listened with fascination as she talked about the kinds of books they’d like to publish. In 2008, I contacted them with a completed manuscript and was accepted. I discovered later that the person who had originally accepted it ended up leaving the company. The manuscript was tossed into the virtual slush-pile, where my eventual Loose Id editor came across it. Heather Hollis loved complex plots with huge storylines and multiple points of view. She especially loved politically themed SciFi. Mine grabbed her attention and held it. In addition, it was a male-male love story, and that was a fairly new genre back then. I was in. Surrender Love won the 2010 EPIC eBook Award for Erotic Science Fiction Romance.
At the time, I had one short story in an anthology about strong women which is now out of print. The anthology had been an EPIC eBook Award finalist for Fantasy. A friend told me about a new publisher for audiobooks who wanted fantasy stories. I checked with the publisher, and since I held the audio rights, I sent the manuscript to them. It was accepted immediately, and was published as an audiobook not long after. It didn’t do well, but eventually the rights to print and audio returned to me. I’ve since released it as a self-published book, and it’s done fine. The Last Vhalgenn is one of my favorite stories. I love it for its strong and noble heroine.
Not every writer lands in the slush pile. Sometimes you end up there due to changes in a publishing house. Sometimes you know someone and can shoot right past the pile altogether. Networking has helped me meet hundreds of people in the business. I was often fortunate enough to know who to ask for help.
I think it helps that my website is unique. Most authors have half a dozen pages. Mine has well over 100. I have a virtual tour of the planets in my Tarthian Empire stories, character pages, wallpaper, art galleries, and hidden pages belonging to the rebel faction in my stories. When an editor visits there, they can tell I understand promotion. Having a strong social media presence also helps, but that’s a story for another day.
I believe in being professional, courteous, and helpful to others. I’ve applied these truths to my writing career with great success. I have no doubt you can too.
Publisher: Romance Lives Forever Books
Date Published: Jan 19, 2015
Genre: Science Fiction
Word Count: 2400 words
Blurb: In the android business, the best of the best are Human Perfect.
In the starport diner, Tom (a representative for the android maker Humancopy), and Christa (a travel agent) are getting acquainted. The term “andy” or “andys” refers to androids.
He bowed his head in what Christa assumed to be prayer.
“Tom, may I ask you a question?” She played with the stem of her glass, avoiding his direct gaze.
He sat back and folded his hands. “By all means.”
“Can andys pray?”
“Maybe the question is better asked, ‘should they?’ A monastery on New Terra ordered two andys from us to research texts. We made them appear to be monks.”
“But they can’t pray, can they?”
“They fold their hands, bow their heads, and chant along with the other monks. The leadership there wanted them to look like everyone else.”
“But to pray? That’s sacrilege, isn’t it?”
“We don’t know if they’re praying. They’re moving their mouths and saying the words. Does that constitute prayer? Ask the person next to you in church.” He dug his fork into his food and paused. “I can’t say. I’m not the one they’re praying to.”
“But andys don’t have souls.”
“Can’t be proven. Unless you’re one, of course.”
“Ugh, no!” Christa picked at her food, while he ate everything and devoured the rolls. Perhaps he didn’t travel much. To Christa, everything had that plastic stored-in-a-starport taste, but Tom seemed to relish every bite.
After dinner, Christa pushed away her plate. “So, are you?”
Tom blinked, brows furrowed. “Am I what?”
“Are you an android?”
He gave her a perfect, dazzling smile. “Can’t you tell?”
“No.” She folded her napkin. “If all your company’s andys are as good as you are, it’s no wonder people can’t tell them from humans.”
“Did I say I was an andy?”
Squinting at him, she chewed her lower lip. “You’re a tease.”
He laughed his too-perfect laugh.
Author site http://kayelleallen.com/exc-perfect.html
Kayelle Allen is a best-selling, multi-published, award-winning author. Her unstoppable heroes and heroines include contemporary every day folk, role-playing immortal gamers, futuristic covert agents, and warriors who purr.
Unstoppable Heroes Blog http://kayelleallen.com/blog
Amazon Author page http://amazon.com/author/kayelleallen