The Enclaves of Sylox is Available!

Martian MorningMy latest book, The Enclaves of Sylox, is now available on Amazon.com.

As mentioned before, this is the start of a new series, which I plan to do concurrently with a part three to The Human Chronicles Saga, featuring Adam Cain.

This one’s a little departure from my last series. There’s more humor and a little less shoot-em-up — although it does pick up pace toward the end.

I have a special running until Wednesday morning , Sept. 17: The book is only $2.99, and also includes a second full novel, book one of The Human Chronicles Saga –The Fringe Worlds. On Wednesday, this two book set goes up to the full retail price of $4.98.

I hop you enjoy this one, and remember, reviews on Amazon are always welcome, and you can also email at bytrharris@hotmail.com.

The Start of a NEW Series!

This is both exciting … and nerve wracking.

Martian MorningNext Monday, September 15, will see the release of The Enclaves of Sylox, Book One of my new sci-fi series featuring the character Jason King: Agent to the Stars.

This story is somewhat different from my Human Chronicles books, yet also very similar, if that makes any sense? It’s still a space opera adventure dealing with Human interaction with alien civilizations and empires. Yet this story revolves around the activities of a hot-shot real estate broker working on the planet Sylox, the capital of the Galactic Union. Of course, Jason is much more than just a money-grubbing opportunist. He’s also a former Army Ranger with a set of deadly skills which come in handy in the second part of the book.

Essentially The Enclaves of Sylox is a mystery, however, it’s more of a ‘who’s behind it’ rather than a ‘who dun it’ type of mystery. There’s layer upon layer of conspiracy involving a quasi-religious artifact, whose theft is about to trigger a galactic war. The Earth has also become ensnared in this conspiracy, placing her squarely in the sights of two vindictive alien species bent on our destruction. Now all Jason King has to do is recover the artifact, capture the thief, prevent a galaxy-wide war from starting and save the Earth from annihilation. And do all this between his real estate closings. Oh, and there’s also a super-hot woman right in the thick of things, too, just to make it interesting. Plus chases through star systems, and shoot-outs, and fist-fights — you know, all the normal stuff I like to put in my books.

The other noticeable feature about this new book is the humor. A lot of my readers really enjoy the street-wise, genuinely-Human type of humor throughout The Human Chronicles books. In The Enclaves of Sylox, I took off the restraints. It’s much more prevalent in this new book/series, yet it’s observational humor, not slapstick. After all, Humans do have a funny way of looking at aliens, and we’re not afraid to express our opinions. But let’s face it, most aliens are basically pretty goofy. Right?

Just remember, my loyal readers: This is NOT another Adam Cain book. That’s actually coming in December! This is a Jason King book. And although you will find some subtle — as well as not so subtle — references and tie-ins to my other series, this one is a story unto itself. After all, how many space opera heroes have you seen who are real estate brokers? I’d hazard a guess that Jason King is the first.

So be looking for The Enclaves of Sylox available on Amazon.com, Monday, September 15.

I’ll be emailing to all my fans announcing the release (and offering a special NEW RELEASE PRICE DISCOUNT for the first three days after release). If you’re not on my email list, just drop me a line at bytrharris@hotmail.com and I’ll put you on the list.

And also remember: I write fun and light sci-fi adventures. I’m not trying to provide any major social commentary or predict a dire future for mankind as a result of the poor decisions we’ve made in the past. In fact, I’m a pretty big fan of Humanity. That’s why in my books it’s the Humans who out in the galaxy kicking-ass and taking names, and not some obscure mold spore enslaving the entire race. After all, let’s get real. We ARE bad-asses!

A Galaxy to Conquer is NOW available on Amazon!

AGTCCoverClick here to be taken to A Galaxy to Conquer on Amazon.

In this book, all the great forces in the galaxy clash for one final, epic battle to determine who will come out on top. And racing the clock is Adam Cain and his team of aliens and SEALs out to rescue Riyad Tarazi from a Kracori prison ahead of the approaching conflagration. The Kracori homeworld of Elision is about to be destroyed, and if Adam and his team can’t get Riyad out in time all will be lost.

For this one final mission, Adam has recruited many of his old friends from past adventures, including the aliens Kaylor and Jym, along with his old SEAL Team Six teammates Master Chief Geoffrey Rutledge, Petty Officer First Class John Tindal and Admiral Andy Tobias. And of course, the feisty and always interesting Sherri Valentine is along as well, bringing with her a unique down-home Kentucky brashness that readers in the past have found ‘humanizing’ to the Saga.

Within the pages of A Galaxy to Conquer you will learn the fate of all these characters and more, plus a resolution to the geopolitical struggles plaguing the galaxy. You will also learn what becomes of Adam Cain. (Let’s just say this old soldier doesn’t just fade away. Instead he heads out for new adventures in a  galaxy far, far away.)

Don’t miss this exciting, final volume of The Human Chronicles Saga — one of the bestselling sci-fi series on Amazon for the past two years. Once again, the hard-headed aliens of the galaxy have to be taught a lesson, one they repeatedly seem to forget: Don’t Mess With The Humans!

Update on The Apex Predator … Book 7 of The Human Chronicles Saga

ApexCover5I’m about to play poker with my next novel. Let me explain.

I wrote this book a little differently that my others; essentially in sections that now must be shuffled together. I have three major plot lines running throughout the book, one with Adam Cain and Sherri Valentine, one with Riyad Tarazi and another with Nigel McCarthy. These are almost complete stories in their own right, yet related to the overall novel. I’ve completed these three storylines, and now I have to shuffle them together to make one complete story.

In nearly all novels, the perspective shifts between characters, either through chapter changes or within the chapters themselves, and as the storyline moves along, the author switches from character to character and from locale to locale. We normally do this within the writing process, so one moment you may be writing from the perspective of Character A, and then the next Character C. And then you may go to Characters B and D before returning to Character A. With this book I decided just to stick with one character throughout and entire section of my master Word document and tell the entire story from that perspective. And then, with the miracle of Microsoft Word, I can cut and paste all the various perspectives together. This will involve some segue writing to tie everything together and then a careful examination of timelines. Yet it has allowed me to blast through one character’s (or set of character’) complete story without the constant switching of personalities and perspective during the writing process. Now it just needs to be all tied together and mingled so that the story flows and makes sense.

I’m planning on releasing the new book on December 15, 2013 … after the editing and proofreading process is complete. I know fifteen to twenty days doesn’t sound like enough time to edit and proof an entire book, but in the world of ebook publishing things can move very quickly. I have a number of beta readers already lined up who will receive advance copies and check for typos and other issues, while my editor and professional proofreader are on standby as soon as I do my last run-through of the book and email it to them. The Apex Predator should be my best-edited and proofed book. At least that’s my goal. (Of course, some things will fall through the cracks, and when this happens I hope my readers will email me with the corrections. Again with ebooks, I can make changes and upload a new version of the book in about five hours.)

Galaxy Cover60With The Apex Predator being book 2 of part two of The Human Chronicles, it will end up being the middle book of a trilogy. As such, it picks up where Cain’s Crusaders left off and sets up the reader for all the wild climax stuff that happens in the final book of the trilogy — A Galaxy to Conquer. I had the opportunity this time to essentially plot out two books at once, so the day after I send The Apex Predator to my editor, I’ll be starting to work on A Galaxy to Conquer, with the projected release date around the end of January 2014. This will the soonest I’ve released a follow-up book, so hopefully my continuing fans — plus all the new ones who come onboard during the holiday season — will find gratification sooner than others have in the past.

It appears — at least for now — that The Human Chronicles Saga will run for a total of eight books. But don’t worry, I’m sure Adam Cain will surface again in the not too distant future — he always does. However, as an author, I have a number of other projects rumbling around in my brain that I’d like to get to first. I’m not quite ready to announce these yet, since I still have two more Adam Cain novels to release. But rest assured, if you like my writing style, you will find the same in every book I complete. And no matter what the subject, they will always contain their fair share of humor, along with unfiltered realism. One thing I will never be accused of is bowing to politically-correctness!

Now, back to my poker game. I’ve got some shuffling to do!

T.R. (Tom) Harris

As always, I will be sending out broadcast emails to my registered fans announcing the release of all my books, so if you haven’t been put on the list yet, go to Contact Me at the top of this page and send me an email. Thanks.

The Hardest Kind of Writing

alien with swordI may be biased — since I write science fiction exclusively — but I honestly believe sci-fi is the hardest type of fiction to write.

The reason say this is because in sci-fi nearly everything one writes about needs to be created from scratch. Sure, in some stories you can place normal humans in a very normal setting and throw in some aliens. But in the sci-fi I write, where the humans are far away in space and living within alien societies, I have to make up almost everything. This ranges from languages, to buildings, to construction methods, to food, to mannerisms, to physical descriptions … and so much more.

Let’s do a comparison. Imagine you have to write a scene that takes place in Paris, and the main character needs to walk down so-and-so street, go into this particular restaurant and order a special food dish. If you haven’t already been there, it’s very easy to pull up a walking tour of Paris on the internet and describe, down to the smallest detail, the exact scene. And even if it’s not exact, then any fictional restaurant serving a fictional steak dinner wouldn’t be very difficult to conjure up.

Now put the character on an alien planet. First of all, it has to be alien, so it can’t be too familiar. In addition, it can’t be overly alien either, where the reader stops and says, “What?” So there is a balancing act you go through when creating your alien street, alien restaurant and alien cuisine.

And now you’re writing; you have to make up a street scene with alien architecture, alien atmosphere and alien smells. You need to create a public eating establishment that makes sense, even on an alien world. Then you have to develop a menu that can accommodate human palates while also allowing the main character’s alien companion to feast upon the local specialties … which are what? You have to make this up, too.

The reason I’m telling you this is that sci-fi is often thought of as the easiest to write. After all, you can just make everything up! You don’t have to have intimate knowledge of foreign cities or the operating manual for an M1-A4 assault rifle. What you don’t know in sci-fi, you just make up. Easy. Right?

For some of us the creative process does come easy. I don’t find this kind of writing particularly difficult, just time-consuming. I can sit for three hours straight working on my current WIP (Work-in-Progress) and find that I’ve only completed 1,500 words. This is because I’ve had to continually stop and create while writing. Constructing the most-readable sentences in the story-telling process is a time-consuming endeavor in and of itself. Now add to that the fact that 90% of what you’re describing has to be created from your imagination alone. It really bogs things down.

I know when I’m writing just normal fiction, containing everyday items found here on Earth, I can crank out 1,500 words or so per hour. Not so with sci-fi, no matter how into the story I am. In an effort to always make things fresh, exciting and unique, I have to utilize every ounce of creative juice I have, which after three hours straight of making stuff up, can be mentally draining.

Of course, this is both the bane and the lure of writing sci-fi. It’s a challenge to see how unique a universe one can create out of thin air while not going overboard. It’s a test of one’s vision and insight, along with all the creepy-crawly things one can imagine.

Here’s a tip for those who do write sci-fi and fantasy. It’s not original, but it makes all the sense in the world.

Don’t make the names — of your characters, their titles and their worlds — unpronounceable. There is no greater story-killer than having your readers stop every few sentences to try and figure out how something is pronounced. It’s not necessary to jumble a bunch of mismatched letters together thinking this will make the names sound more exotic. Julicmon’cree L’on’minn, Liknormic-high of the Dormmonwed clan, pulled his omploosni sword from its sheath and …. What? See what I mean? Completely stops the flow dead it its tracks. Keep it simple. It will improve the pace of your story and keep the reader engaged. Don’t do anything that will cause the reader to break concentration and get frustrated.

Until next time … Write On!

T.R (Tom) Harris  

Title change for the next Adam Cain novel

Starlight Falls just wasn’t doing it for me, so I’ve changed the title of Book 2 of Part 2 of the Chronicles to: A Galaxy to Conquer.

Since the story does Galaxy Cover60deal with the collapse of the Expansion and the Kracori attack on Earth, everything is up for grabs throughout the galaxy, and everyone is out for their piece of the pie.

I’ve put together a tentative cover. If anyone has any opinions or suggestion, let me know.

(By the way, this cover mock-up still has the Fotolia watermarks on the artwork. Rest assured, these will not be in the final version!)

Let me tell you about The Fringe Worlds….

Nov Fringe Cover JPEG (2) (816x1056) (816x1056)The Fringe Worlds is the first book in The Human Chronicles Saga, and sometimes it’s enlightening — and cathartic — to detail exactly how it all began … way back in the wild and crazy days of 2011….

The idea for The Human Chronicles had been swimming around in my head for decades, but it was only after I became convinced that ebooks and independent publishing were here to stay that I decided to commit the time and effort to actually finishing a book. I had been kicking around the writing profession my entire life, from junior high and high school journalism, to college and as a Journalist in the Navy. I went on to do freelance editing and publication design for a number of years before settling into a real estate career — of all things! Yet throughout all those years, I had never completed a single book or sent out a single submission to a traditional publisher. That all changed in 2011.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Back to the origins of the concept behind The Human Chronicles.

I don’t know about you, but I had always been frustrated with the majority of science fictions stories and movies that depict humans getting our asses kicked by either a handful of aliens or by a spore or two released into the atmosphere. Let’s face it, reality could be a whole other ballgame. Just think of a den of lions, masters of the savannah,  fearing no creature. Now what if these lions entered the territory of the humans? What do you think would happen? No matter how strong and mighty the lions may be, it’s a pretty good bet that this encounter would not work out well — for the lions! I believe it would be the same for aliens.

Let’s face it, mankind has dominated everything on the planet Earth, and yet we’re to believe that every alien race we encounter will be able to kick our ass? It hasn’t worked out like that so far on the planet Earth. Here we are the head honchos, the top of the freaking food chain.

My vision of a science fiction story where the humans are doing the terrorizing and ass-kicking came into full focus years ago when I saw a cartoon in an old Soldier of Fortune Magazine. It was of a muscle-bound man standing over a dragon-looking thing and holding a smoking gun. The caption read, “I don’t know what it was, but it’s dead.”

Whether you like it or not, that is probably how it would work out for any aliens we encounter. Either by sheer force or by technology, I’m pretty sure we’ll find a way to prevail … and luck will have nothing to do with it.

So the premise of The Human Chronicles Saga is that Humans are the Supermen in the galaxy. No, we can’t fly and we can be killed, yet as I explain in the books, we come from a heavy-gravity world, helping us to build added strength, durability and quickness. I also remember seeing a study that was done on the bone structure of prehistoric man. As was necessary for survival in those days, their bones were a lot denser and stronger than ours are today. Frankly, you could take a baseball bat to the arm of a Neanderthal, — and even though you may really piss him off — you probably wouldn’t be able to break his arm, and he could probably outrun you, too. So it probably wasn’t such a good idea to hit him with a baseball bat in the first place! Now pretend you’re an alien and we’re the pissed-off Neanderthals….

I use a combination of literary license and suppositions to say Humans are more primitive along the evolutionary ladder than most aliens, like Neanderthals would be to modern man, at least physically. Then add in our heavy-gravity world and propensity for combat, and you have the perfect warriors — the Supermen among the aliens.

So with the premise of The Human Chronicles Saga established, now all I had to do was create a scenario where we would come in contact with aliens on their own turf, along with a way for us to show off our skills.

The Fringe Worlds introduces the readers to the world of Juirean Expansion, an alien empire encompassing half the known galaxy. The Juireans are a race of pragmatic aliens who, as part of an ancient alliance of races, were themselves the primitives among the enlightened. Using their own unique skill-set and warlike nature, the Juireans conquered their fellow alliance members and set about establishing a galactic empire using stolen technology and superior tactics of war. It’s within the Juirean’s efforts to rule a galaxy as a single race of beings that I also explore the difficulties the Juireans had to overcome while attempting to do the impossible. Eventually, their empire evolves into a loose affiliation of planets and coalitions, all under the banner of the Juirean Expansion. For my hypothetical universe, this seemed to work out just fine.

And yet, as always, there are forces looking to undermine the status quo, and that’s where the Humans come in. (By the way, I capitalize ‘Humans’ throughout the books, just as you’d capitalize Klingons or Romulans. It’s only appropriate.) An ancient alien race has discovered the Earth and realize that the Humans might be just the ticket to help them defeat the Juireans. However, like with all living things, there has to be motivation and incentive for the Humans to risk life and limb. And with that, I’ll leave that part of the story untold — until you read the books.

Now back to The Fringe Worlds. In truth, The Fringe Worlds was supposed to be twice as long as it turned out to be, and was to include what would become book two of the series, Alien Assassin. Yet impatience and curiosity got the best of me, and once a logical break point was reached, I decided to put the book up on Amazon and see if anyone cared about what I’d written.

The Fringe Worlds went live on Amazon.com on October 12, 2011, and needless to say it took off immediately. I was not only shocked but amazed at the reaction the book received. Here I was, a completely unknown author having just completed my very first book — ever — and it was selling like hotcakes. Yet this only goes to prove one of the basic tenets of science fiction writing: The Concept is King! If the idea is good, then science fans will flock to it. The story of Humans being the badasses in the galaxy really struck a chord, and now, exactly two years a few days after releasing The Fringe Worlds, there are six books completed in the series, and soon to be a seventh (and probably going to nine and beyond). I’ve sold nearly 150,000 copies of my books in two years, and The Human Chronicles Saga was one of the bestselling series on Amazon in 2012 — and should be again in 2013.

Besides the unique concept of the storyline, I also attribute some of the success of the series to the fact that I write very cinematically (after all, I am a product of the TV age). My writing is bare-bones and without fluff, so much so that many of my fans have commented on how quickly they’ve read my books … and about how long it takes me to write more! But with people’s short attention spans these days, I think readers like books they can blast right through … as long as there is another one available right afterwards.

I also believe in getting right into the story and in keeping the reader engaged — constantly — until the very last page. This comes from my journalism training, where one needs to hook the reader immediately, grab them by the throat and not let them go until they’ve read the entire article. (Well, maybe not so dramatic as that.) But really, I’m not out to impress anyone with my poetic and flowery writing style, or mastery of obscure words no one uses in everyday conversation.  I have a story to tell and I’m going to tell it in the most direct manner I can.

On a personal note, the success of series has allowed me to leave my 25-year career in real estate and mortgages and pursue writing full time — an ambition of mine since I was twelve! Better late than never, right? Also, for you out there thinking about pursuing a career in writing, I’ve pulled in close to $400,000 in two years, simply from my little science fiction ebooks!

And although there will come a time when The Human Chronicles Sage comes to an end (or I take a break from the story of Adam Cain for a while), my writing style will remain the same. I hope my fans will follow me into the future, as I pursue other ideas and create new worlds in which to play.

By the way, there will be a large section in this blog devoted to writing and publishing. Even though my success has been recent, it has been substantial compared to others, and in an effort to keep it going, I do try to analyze everything so I can figure out what works and what doesn’t. Within this blog I will pass along my findings, advice and experiences. I hope all aspiring authors will follow me, as we discover even more writing success … together.

Frankly, being an independent author is the most fantastic job in the world. As I tell others: All I have to do is sit around and make shit up — and I get paid for doing it!

You can’t beat that.

T.R. (Tom) Harris