Ghost Runner, Book 3 in the Sand Runner Series, is now out in ebook and paperback. Enjoy!
Thanks so much to those of you who emailed me asking about the Sand Runner series. (I mean it! There’s no better motivation for a writer to finish a book than a reader waiting to read it. So feel free to bug me any time. I love it.)
So… to answer the question.
Yes! I am absolutely writing the next book in the Sand Runner series. In fact, it’ll be at least two more books, because there is too much story to fit into one and I’ve grown attached to some characters and want to bring them back.
It’s taking so long mostly because of Life (moving, moving again, changing jobs, etc.). But another reason is my own creative brain. It’s been spinning new story ideas like crazy lately, anything from short stories to whole series, and I always cave in and drop everything to write them down and sometimes get sucked in for days or weeks. I also took several long dives into the writing craft (raise your hand if you’re a nerd like me and love learning).
On the bright side, once I catch up, I hope to have several new books out relatively soon, and also to get better at staying in touch with my readers. (My dream is to start going to book festivals and such, to meet readers face to face. But I need more books out to make that work. Fingers crossed.)
So thanks again for your messages and your questions. And please stay tuned for book 3 in the Sand Runner series and much more to come!
Here are some highlights from my first ever Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) Nebula Conference, which took place May 17-20, 2018, in Pittsburgh, PA, as well as some lessons learned, inspiration, and my (revised) writing plans for the future.
First of all – the conference was a BLAST! If you write science fiction, fantasy, horror, or any other type of speculative fiction, and can attend, I highly recommend it. You don’t have to be a SFWA member, by the way (I am not eligible myself yet, although I’m working on it). SFWA is wonderfully open, supportive, and generous toward all new writers, no matter your level of experience or publication track.
My favorite thing about the conference, hands down, was meeting other writers, learning about their writing journeys and their current projects, and talking shop! Cheers to all my new writer friends!
Here is a session I had the honor & pleasure of being a panelist on!
- “We Are New Here: How to Navigate Being an Emerging Author” – moderated by Fonda Lee, with panelists Peng Shepherd, Rebecca Thorne, Tracy Townsend, and Vera Brook (me)
Are here are some other sessions I attended, enjoyed, and learned a great deal from:
- “Making Hopeful Art in Hopeless Times” (aka Hopepunk) – moderated by J.R. Dawson, with panelists Elsa Sjunneson-Henry, Lettie Prell, Michael R. Underwood, and Alexandra Rowland (who coined the term hopepunk, but sadly couldn’t make it)
- “How to Decolonize Your Fiction” – moderated by DongWon Song, with panelists Fonda Lee, Rebecca Roanhorse, JY Yang, and Bill Campbell
- “Considering Gender While Worldbuilding” – moderated by K.M. Szpara, with panelists Vanessa Rose Phin, Merc Rustad, JY Yang
- “SFWA Services: What SFWA Can Do for You” – an expert panel of SFWA officials and organizers led by President Cat Rambo
- “SFWA Self-Publishing Committee: Plans, Projects, and Q&A” – moderated by Daniel Potter, with panelists Jeffe Kennedy, Nathan Lowell, Craig Martelle, Terry Mixon
- “What Teens are Looking for in YA Literature” – moderated by Ana Maria Curtis, with (teenage!) panelists Ophelia Goss, Isaac Payne, Alina Sichevaya, and George Stewart-Walkling
- “Skynet, Matrix, Other: Where Will AI Lead Us?” – moderated by Martha Wells, with panelists PJ Manney, David D. Levine, Matthew Kressel, and Ken Chiacchia
- “Structuring A Series” – moderated by Laura Anne Gilman, with panelists Martha Wells, Susan Forest, Mark Tompkins, and Kevin McLaughlin
- “The Money is in Your Backlist” – moderated by Margot Atwell, with panelists Cat Rambo, DongWon Song, Michael Anderle, and Jonathan Brazee
- “Self-Publishing an Audiobook” – moderated by Mary Robinette Kowal (I’m a huge fan of the Writing Excuses podcast!), with panelists Kate Baker (a writer & the wonderful narrator of Clarkesworld story podcast!), Jane Love, Colin Coyle, and Dave Robison
And, of course, the Nebulas Awards Banquet, which was great fun and very moving!
You can see the full list of the 2017 Nebulas nominees and winners here (by the way, the nominees are already winners in my book). Here are some photos from the event. And finally, you can watch the entire Nebulas Awards ceremony on SFWA YouTube channel–enjoy!
As a newcomer and an indie author to boot, I was hesitant to promote my books the first time I attended the Nebulas, and among so many authors and editors whose work I’ve read and admired for years.
The restraint wasn’t altogether a bad thing. I was already busy attending the sessions, absorbing the knowledge, meeting people, and just enjoying being part of the SFWA community. But there were a few simple things I could have done (and plan to do next time):
- Every attendee gets an amazing book bag full of books and magazines. The contents of every bag are different, and a long table is set up for people to swap at any point during the conference. If you have a book out, or an advance reader copy, you can bring copies of your book and put them on the swap table. There! An easy way to promote your writing to the most hardcore fans of the genre–your fellow writers and editors!
- Print some business cards ahead of time, bring them with you to the conference, and give them away freely. You will meet a lot of people, but some encounters may be brief.
- I was lucky to be on a panel, and it was a great experience. I also held “office hours” on neuroscience, psychology, and genetics. But there were definitely more opportunities to present (like the Ignite Talks), had I been more prepared and maybe a little braver.
- Finally, even writers who aren’t SFWA members yet can put their books in the conference bookstore, either via Ingram or on consignment, and sell them at the conference. There is even a mass autographing session!
Inspiration & Future Plans
I was already an avid reader of short fiction, including online story podcasts, before I attended the Nebulas, and I wrote a few short stories here and there. But my focus was on novels (or series, to be precise), and I was committed to braving the indie author publication path for all my writing.
Attending the Nebulas inspired me to revise and expand my writing plans! First, to write and publish more short fiction, in addition to my novels. And second, to be a hybrid author: sticking to the indie route for my novels (at least for now), but aiming at publication of my shorter fiction in traditional SFF magazines.
Other (More Expert) Write-Ups of the Nebulas Conference
- A blog by Cat Rambo, the current SFWA president: “The Merqueen’s Report: Nebula Awards Weekend, 2018“
Check out also Kate Baker’s article “Bragging Rights: A Comprehensive Look at SFWA Services.”
And if you are an indie author interested in becoming a SFWA member, here are the eligibility requirements.
Best of luck with your writing!
Here are three interviews with Vera, in which she talks about writing and publishing the Sand Runner series, and the literary, scientific, and technological inspiration behind it.
Buttonholed Book Reviews (2017)
The science and technology behind prosthetic limbs is fascinating, and advancing so fast that reality is starting to look like science fiction. But to me, the human side of the story is even more interesting. If we have technologies like bionic limbs, how would we use them and misuse them? And how would they change the way we live our lives?”
Liz Loves Books (2017)
In terms of what the readers can expect? High stakes, a fast-paced plot, and lots of suspense. SAND RUNNER was inspired by science and technology—specifically 3D printing and bionics. But that’s just the background. The story is really about a group of characters who have to learn to trust and rely on one other in life-or-death situations, even though they don’t always see eye to eye. And Kai is at the center of this. The story is about him finding out what he’s made of. And also what he wants in life, what he values, and how far he’s willing to go to fight for his dreams.”
Painting with Words (2018)
Writing is an amazing activity. You start with nothing but a blank page and your imagination & life experience, and you can create whole new worlds. I love that creative freedom, and the feeling that there are no limits to what I can imagine and write about.
I also love the surprises that come in the process of writing fiction. For me, writing is half careful, deliberate construction, and half a discovery process. The initial idea for a story or a novel can come from anywhere, and that’s always a thrill. (My advice: Write all the story ideas down. You may think you will remember them, but you won’t.) But after the initial idea, it can take me a good while to figure out the logic of the story and to fill in the details, and the final draft can be completely different from that original spark of inspiration.”