Today I am so excited to host award-winning author Ken Pelham to talk a bit about his new short story “Under the Whelming Tide”
it's available FREE today on Kindle. Follow link to download while supplies last!
Ken reads and writes in multiple genres and is a member of the Alvarium Experiment
, the consortium of award-winning writers reinventing the way readers experience short fiction. Q: What was behind the Alvarium Experiment, and how did the group arrive at this second project, Return To Earth?KP:
All genres have their strengths and weaknesses. I’ve always loved short stories in general and science fiction short stories in particular, because the format lets you get quickly to the strength of science fiction. Ideas. I’d been looking around for a couple of years for a good anthology to submit work to, and it occurred to me that with all the explosive advances in online publishing and marketing, heck, I could create my own anthology. I scribbled out a page or two of concepts for how a working group could publish together yet independently around the same concept. I pitched the idea to Charles A. Cornell, a writer I’d met a couple of years before and whom I knew as an outside-the-box kind of guy. I was certain he’d say, “Um, yeah, listen, I gotta go wash my cat. Or something.” But he pounced on the idea and dubbed it “The Alvarium Experiment,” describing a hive of busy bees producing gallons of honey. We bounced ideas back and forth for a couple of weeks until we had the premise for the first project, The Prometheus Saga
. We were shooting for an idea with great flexibility and unlimited possibilities, and we had one. We pitched it to writers we respected and soon had browbeaten a group of twelve into signing on. We launched that effort, each of us publishing independently on the same day in January of 2015.
After a year we started kicking around ideas for a second project. Lots of notions were floated and we debated merits of each. Elle Andrews Patt suggested an idea of aliens arriving at Earth, but, lo, the aliens are human. This idea sprouted wheels and gained traction, as it had the same wide-open horizons as the first project. We had new writers join in, and we were off and running. Q: What was the inspiration for your Return To Earth story, “Under the Whelming Tide”?KP:
I often come up with ideas by playing the “what if?” game a lot of writers use. I had the prompt from the hive-mind group-think—a return of human beings to Earth. It’s a loaded idea and that’s the great beauty of it. Among the “what-if’s” I came up with was, “What if they’re physically
different from us?” That one jumped off the page at me. Okay, so they’re physically different. Why? Because of differing evolutionary paths, of course. What makes different populations of the same species evolve differently? Different environments, of course. So if I took a group of humans off-planet and placed them into a radically different environment for untold generations, they’re going to come out much differently.
Another inspiration behind this story was undoubtedly Robert A. Heinlein’s classic short story, “Universe,” published in 1941. I read it about thirty-five years ago and still think about it. Heinlein presented the idea of a vast spaceship, so long in space that its inhabitants have evolved their own culture, lore, and mythology, oblivious even to the mere existence of anything outside their ship. They don’t even know it’s a ship; it’s their “universe.” In my story, the Aethir are aware of the cosmos around them but live generation after generation in an arrested state of intellectual growth. They have highly advanced technology at their disposal but they don’t truly understand it, as they simply inherited it from its originators. Q: Could you tell us about a difficulty you overcame as you wrote this particular story? KP:
After noodling it awhile, I knew that the idea would require a good bit of explanation to make it believable. And explanation is the arch-enemy of fiction. So I had to come up with a scheme to present the explanation while moving the story along and avoiding the dreaded “info dump.” I hit upon the idea of a trial for heresy, in which I could dispense the info while tricking it out with a little suspense. The old courtroom drama ploy. Perry Mason in outer space. Q: What does your next year as a writer look like? KP:
Busy, busy, busy. I’m working on a nonfiction book that kind of grew out of blog posts I wrote about suspense fiction. The book takes a fun look at the evolution of genre fiction, the cross-pollination between genres, and their places in society and literature overall. I’m also working on a short horror story for an anthology. I have a third Carson Grant thriller in the works. Soon as the nonfiction book is complete, that one will take priority. I swear.
The audiobook edition of the 2nd Carson Grant novel, Place of Fear
, should be out a little later this year. Q: How can readers find out more about your work?KP:
By all means, come set a spell at www.kenpelham.com
and on Twitter, @kenpelham. On Facebook, I show up on the Alvarium Experiment
page, and on my own page. Also have an author’s page at both Goodreads and Amazon. About the Author
Ken Pelham’s debut novel, Brigands Key
, won the 2009 Royal Palm Literary Award, was published in hardcover in 2012, in softcover in 2014, and in audiobook in 2015. The prequel, Place of Fear
, a 2012 first-place winner of the Royal Palm, was released in 2013. His nonfiction book, Out of Sight, Out of Mind: A Writer’s Guide to Mastering Viewpoint,
was named the RPLA 2015 Published Book of the Year.
Ken grew up in the small South Florida town of Immokalee, and lives with his wife, Laura, in Maitland, Florida. A member of the International Thriller Writers and the Florida Writers Association, writing keeps him off the streets and out of trouble, although he’s sometimes spotted cycling, fishing, or scuba diving, seldom simultaneously. About Return to Earth Return to Earth
is the second project of the Alvarium Experiment, a consortium of accomplished and award-winning authors.
The stories do not need to be read in any particular order; each story is an entry point into the overall story. Return to Earth
stories & authors are: "AOB"
by Bria Burton. Aona, an Alien-Operated Bot (AOB), suffers a malfunction that could jeopardize her mission on Earth and could lead to the extinction of an entire species from another planet.
Visit Bria at www.briaburton.com "The Paradoxical Man"
by Bard Constantine. Albert Rosen is one of five explorers who vanished on a deep-sea expedition into the Bermuda Triangle. He returns to Earth centuries later, transported across space and time through a mysterious wormhole. However, Earth is not the home he remembers. Humankind has been evacuated, and the survivors lie in hibernation aboard the Locus, an orbiting space station. Rosen is forced to match wits with Deis, an artificial intelligence determined to keep humanity in stasis until he is convinced they are fit to return.
Visit Bard at www.bardwritesbooks.com "Children Of The Stars"
by Charles A. Cornell. In Japan, an American medical researcher discovers the deadly secret behind an eighty-year-old woman's ageless appearance and incredible fertility, and her connection to the bizarre disappearance of the freighter the Ourang Medan in 1948.
Visit Charles at www.charlesacornell.com "Project Bright Star"
by Kristin Durfee. A once thought failed secret mission to colonize a distant planet, named 0X3B1, is discovered to have been successful when descendants of that mission return to Earth fifty-one years after their grandparents left, much to the surprise, and fear, of the world.
Visit Kristin at www.kristindurfee.com "Recovery"
by Veronica Helen Hart. When a virus threatens the lives of everyone on board a transfer station for intergalactic travel, it's up to Dr. Candace Bertram to retrieve the only known vaccine from Earth. The risky, untested method of transport could mean catastrophic mission failure, and grave danger for Dr. Bertram.
Visit Veronica at www.veronicahhart.com "Coming Home"
by John Hope. Finally achieving his dream of being an astronaut on the Jupiter missions, Jasper's mind is elsewhere, on the recent loss of his stepfather, Bud. But Jasper's space mission is interrupted when he is sucked into a wormhole that transports him to a different time, 30 years in the past. And now, doctors don't believe where he's from. Fortunately, his loving nurse at his side comforts him and a love builds. That is, until he realizes that his nurse's son is Jasper as a young boy.
Visit John at www.johnhopewriting.com "Someday Loyal"
by Elle Andrews Patt. Alien invaders are lobbing fireballs at Peoria, but Grandmama is holding tea. When the military arrives in search of Mrs. Suniol, Alice is drawn into the mystery of Lake Snow, a missing husband, and securing the key to an entire civilization's survival.
Visit Elle at www.elleandrewspatt.com "Under The Whelming Tide"
by Ken Pelham. The Aethir, space-born descendants of the mythical planet Earth, are returning home at last to fulfill their destiny. But not all believe the great homecoming will be the heaven they have been promised.
Visit Ken at www.kenpelham.com "Social Experiment"
by Tracie Roberts. For the past two years Dr. Olivia Tate had led a satisfying life with her alien spouse, Kya Dumont. As a scientist and cancer survivor, Liv is on a mission to discover a cure for the deadly disease. But something equally deadly has put Kya’s people, the Oo’mahn, in danger of extinction. With an order to evacuate Earth, Kya struggles between helping her people and remaining with the woman she loves, especially now that Liv has also fallen ill. Now Kya’s ship is approaching and the couple must not only find a cure for Liv and the Oo’mahn, but also devise a plan to remain together despite the objection of the aliens.
Visit Tracie at www.tracieroberts.com "Gaia Returning"
by C.L. Roman. Pirates steal things. It's what they do... When Captain Irina Demyanov’s first mate disobeys orders and steals the crown jewels of a vengeful alien race, she knows she’s out of options. Desperate to escape, Irina takes her chances on a dangerous vortex leap and lands near an unnamed, yet strangely familiar planet. The gamble may have paid off, but between hostile inhabitants and inevitable discovery by their pursuers, the pirates’ chances of survival appear slim. Can the human remnant find refuge, or will their enemies put a permanent end to the human race?
Visit C.L. at www.brassragpress.com
For additional info about the stories and authors, visit the website: www.alvariumexperiment.wixsite.com/returntoearth
Facebook Fan Page: The Alvarium Experiment
Can't believe it's almost been a year since the release of Four Corners! It's been a wild ride so far and with the upcoming release of the second book and contined edits on book three, it doesn't seem to be slowing down any time soon!
I've been lucky enough to participate in some great events over the last 12 months, including school visits. I love talking to student about writing and also the struggles I had growing up with reading.
I'm also thrilled that I will be participating in the first B-Fest teen book festival by Barnes & Noble June 11th in WIllow Grove, PA. I grew up going to that book store (it has since moved locations from where I went as a kid), but the though of actually having a book in there and doing a signing is surreal.
I'm looking forward to the release of Two Worlds. I feel like my writing has improved so much over the years since I wrote Four Corners and think it's even better than the first book. I can't wait for people to be able to finally see it! My readers have been patiently waiting to find out what happens next, just a little longer! And I promise I'm working hard on book three edits so hopefully you won't have to wait another year to see how it all ends.
As always, I appreciate each and every person who has taken the time to read my work. Books truly exist when there are people to read them. Thanks for making mine come to life.
2016 is off and running!
I received exciting news that the Barnes & Noble in my hometown outside of Philly was going to start carrying Four Corners! Even more amazing, they sold out and had to order more books. I am planning on attending an author event there in July and look forward to meeting new readers.
I've done a few school talks and have really enjoyed speaking with students about the importance of language skills and speaking up when you need help. I struggled a lot with reading as a kid, so I feel like it's really important to admit when you need a little extra guidance with a subject. There is no need to struggle and feel dumb and defeated, it's so important to seek out those that can raise you up no matter what your obstacle can be.
I've also gotten back into the thick of things with edits. I did my first read-through of One Earth, and while I do have my work cut out for me, I have to admit I'm really happy with how the story turned out. NaNo was so frantic trying to hit word counts each day, I was worried that none of them would be usable, but I'm glad to say that's not the case. I typically write lean my first go around, and this time was no different. I have a good chunk to add, but I'm optimistic that I can keep on my March deadline for giving an early draft to my fab beta readers.
Outside of the world of Esotera, I am working on some new projects. One is an adult mystery and the other will probably end up being a middle grade novel. I don't want to give too much away (I'm just in my planning stages now), but I'm really looking forward to writing it!
As always, I will post new information and projects here, but if you haven't yet, please sign up for my newsletter. You'll not only get quarterly updates, but also be the first to see the cover of Two Worlds!
Until next time, happy reading :)
Holy cow, what a year! 2015 exceeded my expectations in so many ways. I feel incredibly blessed not only for what I accomplished, but the wonderful people I got to share it with.
I released my first published book this year, which is a HUGE accomplishment in it of itself, but the way it was received was amazing (see, all my gushing posts below ;)
I also completed the second and third books in the trilogy as well as starting on some new projects. Once I acknowledged in myself how important writing was and not to fear the label of "author", I felt free in my craft. For years I was quiet about writing. I may have mentioned it to a person or two, but it was basically a private thing I did. With the release of Four Corners, I had to be vocal about it. I had to push myself out of my comfort zone and let people into my passion. It can be a scary experience! When you share something with someone, it opens them up to like it or not. It's hard not taking it personally when people don't like something you've created. The feedback I have gotten so far has been so positive, but I still doubt myself. I still wonder if I am any good, but I have to make peace with that. With the knowledge that I am my toughest critic and to put myself out there anyway.
I struggled with editing Two Worlds and reaching the point where I thought it was ready for my publisher, but I just had to take a deep breath and do it. The same with One Earth. I just sat down and decided that I wasn't going to let fear keep me from trying. To keep me from putting words to paper (whether literal or electronic). It's not all perfect, but it's there. It exists and that I can work with.
I also started giving talks to writing groups about firearms and talked so some school classes about writing. While certainly not someone who struggles with public speaking per se, it was still a scary thing to put myself out there in another form.
My New Years resolution for 2016 is to keep doing that. To keep putting myself out there, both in person and in my work, and I encourage you to do the same. Is it scary? Yes! Yes of course it is! But those butterflies let us know that we are on the path of growth. That we are stretching from what we thought we could do and pushing the limits toward what we never thought we could. Keep pushing. Surround yourself with people who may pull you from time to time. Who will jump in first and let you know the water is fine. Do the same for someone else. If you see someone behind you going through a similar thing you just got through, tell them. Let them know it may not have been easy, but you did it, and they will too, and you will cheer them on when you do.
I had a lot of people cheering me. Those whose believe in me helped raise me up. I hope to be in a position to do that for someone this year. Are you thinking about writing? Are you wondering where to start? Let me know, I'd love to be on your team.
May 2016 bring you immeasurable joy, just don't be afraid to run out and chase it.
First and foremost, I have to show off my newly completed custom bookshelves that my hubby built for me. As a kid, Belle was always my favorite Disney princess, not because of her clothes or that she got to live in a magical castle, but because of her books! I dreamed of being surrounded by all my favorite titles. I couldn't be happier with how this turned out. And the best part? There is room to spare, Amazon, watch out!
National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is in full swing! I was working on a new project (a thriller for adults) in October, but wanted to set aside NaNo this year for delving back into Esotera and finishing a first draft of the last book in the trilogy, One Earth. I've been making good progress so far. I wrote about 14,000 words last year (after canalizing a few thousand for book two) and as of tonight am sitting at 34,000. 20,000 words in only 8 days! Shows what you can do when you set your mind to something.
I am really enjoying where the story is going, though it is bitter-sweet for me. I've spent the last 6 years of my life creating this world. To think of it ending is a strange feeling. I wrote the last chapter months ago and find myself re-reading it from time to time. I'm so happy with how it turned out, now I just need to get there!
First drafts can be a bit of a mystery. I have a VERY loose plot and guide, mainly who the star of every chapter is, and roughly where I want everyone to be at a given time, but my cast of characters has swelled from book two and I've added even more. My poor desk looks like a stack of post-its exploded on it. It's a lot to keep track of and I have times of varying success. For instance, I just started chapter 34 and realized I completely left out a character from the first two books. D'oh. He will have to wait til edits. I'm not going to worry about it yet.
That is also my advice to you if you are considering doing NaNo, or just buckling down to work hard on a writing project. Don't worry about making it perfect. Ernest Hemingway said "Write drunk. Edit sober." Not saying that you need a drink in your hand, but if you worry too much about polishing, you run the risk of limiting yourself.
First drafts are messy. Mine don't see the light of day. I do several drafts before I feel OK enough to subject someone to the hot mess I've created. Through each run-through it is polished even more until you, dear reader, get to hold a bright shiny piece in your hands.
But there's no way to do that if you don't get your hands a little dirty first. Keep digging.
Happy reading, and writing.
Holy cow this author stuff is tough work! Incredible, meaningful, awesome, tough work. I spent last weekend at the inaugural Speculative Fiction Southeast 2015 convention and it was AMAZING! Their line-up was incredible, panels awesome, and networking out of this world. The featured authors, including Orson Scott Card, Kelley Armstrong, Rachel Higgins, and Rachel Vincent (just to name a few) were totally accessible and personable.
I had a successful signing and got to meet a lot of readers. Thanks to all those who stopped by and chatted! I also sat on a panel for first time published authors, which was an incredible experience. I was the small fish in that pond, but the other authors were wonderful and never made me feel like the small potatoes that I am right now ;) I learned a ton and picked up some good tips about networking and writing. One of the main ones, writing on lunch breaks, I've already implemented. Just that little bit of time each day and I've already chipped away at a few chapters of a new book I'm writing.
Which brings me to my next point...
So I've started a non-Four Corners, non-Young Adult, non-fantasy (that's a lot of non's) book. So if it's not this and not that, what is it? I'm not going to give too much away, but it is for Adults and will either be a mystery or thriller, its form is still taking shape. But I will say that I'm really excited about it. I've given myself the month of October to focus on this side project. I am going to use NaNoWriMo this year to kickstart back to Book Three. I just needed a little break to think of something else before getting back in deep to Esotera. I'm so excited for you all to see what happens in Book Two, but I know there are some unanswered questions, so I need to get on that to limit any angry messages ;)
In the mean time of that, I've met another local author, Christina Benjamin, who has sort of taken me under her wing. I'm currently reading her book, Truth and it's fabulous! You can find more information about her here. We are looking to do some school events to talk to local middle and high school kids about the importance of reading and writing comprehension. I'm really looking forward to this! I struggled a lot in school when I was younger with reading and I think it's really important to let people know that they can get help with subjects they struggle with and they just may fall in love with them!
As always, you can find updates here, though if you are interested in some consolidated info, you can sign up for my quarterly newsletter. There you'll also see sneak peaks of Four Corners: Two Worlds, including a look at the cover before anyone else! Until next time :) happy reading!
I can't believe Four Corners has been out for almost three months! It has certainly been a whirlwind. When I started this process I set the very humble goal of selling over 100 copies. I figured I probably knew 100 people, so anything over that would mean that strangers have gotten their hands on my book. So far sales are at over 130! I know this is not best-seller-list caliber, but I am incredibly pleased that there are folks out there with no direct connection to me that have gotten my book.
I also decided to bite the bullet and send it out to a reviewing website. It is very nerve wracking putting yourself out there, but I couldn't be happier with the results! You can read the full review here, but to summarize, the reviewer LOVED it! I wasn't in the best place confidence wise with edits on book two, and it was the push I needed to believe in myself. It may sound silly, but something as little as an amazon review really does make a difference to a writer. Of course we love our characters, we think our stories are incredible, but to hear someone else feel the same way about something you created is a wonderful motivator to keep going.
Along the same lines as editing, there were a few things that I noticed once Four Corners was published that needed changes. I am happy to say that a second edition of FC is now available! With a slightly new look to the cover. This update also means that FC can be carried in brick and mortar book stores! So feel free to request your local store to consider carrying it!
I am close to finishing edits for Two Worlds. Holy cow I forgot how intensive beginning edits can be! Just to give you an idea, I am on version 14 right now and it hasn't even been given to my publisher yet for their editors. I am hoping the more work I put in on my end will make it move through their process more quickly. I'd love it to be released around the same time FC was, or even a little earlier. As always, I will keep you all posted.
In the meantime, browse some new content on my webpage! I've added a character list, complete with phonetic pronunciations, and an events page where you can see upcoming places I'll be. Please stop by and say hi, because the only thing better than knowing that there are people out there reading my work, is actually meeting them!
I write this letter to you today to apologize.
I am sorry for all the times I finished reading your book and cursed you, sometimes loudly, especially if it ended in a cliff-hanger. I am sorry for thinking that I cared more about that character you killed off than you did. I didn't mean to belittle your feelings or in any way imply that you, too, didn't care about so-and-so. I was upset and forgot to think that maybe you were too.
I'm sorry for implying that you are making me wait a year to read your next book out of pure wish of torture and not because of the long process it takes to edit a book (that is, if you've even written it yet).
I'm sorry for having a picture of you in my head, gallivanting around to packed book houses only having to pry your hands from your fans under apologies of "I really must get back to writing". Sorry for thinking that the promotional portion of a book release isn't completely all-consuming and exhausting and that sometime maybe you just don't want to think about the fact that you have to write another book, and possibly have no idea what it is really going to be about.
Silly me thought that you could just sit down at a computer, pop out a great book, have the publishing house love it and print it as-is in two months flat.
I don't know what I was thinking.
But I offer this apology to all the authors out there who are in the middle of writing books that I am desperate to find out what happens. I see now how dang hard it is. I understand the pressure of deadlines and making sure that not only is the book written fast, but it's written well. Because the only thing worse than having to wait for a book, is having to wait a long time and having it be a bad book.
From here on out, I will try to limit my yelling at you, that is, unless you kill my favorite character in a cliffhanger.
Then you may have some explaining to do.
Your loyal, yet sometimes disgruntled, fan
I always knew I had awesome people in my life, but these last two weeks have been overwhelmingly affirming in that fact. Both my online and in-person launch parties had such incredible responses. The questions you all asked were fantastic, as well as your simple excitement of my work.
I've gotten great feedback from people as they are reading and love seeing people posting pictures, don't forget to tag me and Four Corners so I can like them all!
If there is one downside in releasing a book (trust me, it was hard to come up with one!), it's that it's really taking time away from getting to finish the next one. I have a stack of edits to do on my desk, but it is certainly more fun and exciting promoting what's already out there! But I promise to buckle down and get moving on Book Two so you all don't have to wait that long to find out what happens next! And I need to get working on Book Three so I can find out what happens next!
I've made some updates to my website, including my press kit. If you are interested in having an author attend a book club meeting either in-person or online, I would love to come and talk to your group, youth or adult! Just drop me a line using the contact buttons at the top of the page or on the Press Kit tab. Also, don't forget to request Four Corners be carried at your local library or independent bookstore!
You all have been fantastic, I couldn't have asked for a better group of people to have gone on this journey with.
It's four days until the release of Four Corners! Holy cow is there a lot of stuff to get together for a book release. I am hosting an online launch along with a number of fellow YA authors on May 30th (information can be found through the facebook link in the upper right corners) and a book signing on June 6th in Winter Park, FL. Links have also been added for where to purchase. While you might not be able to go in a store (yet) to buy it, I do encourage you to ask your local bookstore to carry it. Word of mouth is very powerful! I'd also love it you could write a review on amazon after you finish it. Everyone who writes a review by June 30th (doesn't matter the star level, honestly! I know every book is not for every person) will be entered to win a $10 Amazon gift card!
Work on books two and three have ground to a halt for the time being, but I'm trying not to stress too much. I've gotten some edits back from two of my Beta readers, so I have a few areas to work on and beef the story up a bit. I ended up cutting a few things from the third book and adding it to the second, I think it will help the story better on the front end.
Book three has taken a bit of a turn from where I was expecting it to go, but I am excited to see where that will be. I am a little nostalgic writing this one knowing it will be the last time I will be with these characters in this kind of way. I know the editing process will have them floating around my head for a few more years, but at this point the story is still in their hands. They are still the ones dictating where it will go. Pretty soon I will have to say good-bye to them. While I don't want to write a forth book with them all, I see the draw for writers to have open-ended series.
But for now, I am just enjoying what time I do have with them. I am looking forward to letting you all have a glimpse inside my head and experience what I've gotten to these last few years. It's been a crazy journey so far, so hop in, and hang on!