Tuesday, November 18, 2014

COMING 2-1-15 BY THE SEA -- A COMIC NOVEL






BY THE SEA A modern comic adult fairy tale with an ensemble cast of Cinderellas. 











“Steven Paul Leiva has written an engaging, thoughtful, and kind book. In this era of unlikable characters and the idea that a "good" book is one in which horrible things happen to horrible people, Leiva has turned that entirely on its head. Even when people act badly, he has told their story with sympathy and grace, with a complete kindness for even the most outwardly difficult characters. By the Sea is long, but it's not fat. It's all muscle. And what a satisfying book it is! Leiva has built his small world perfectly, and each character is so complete and well thought out that what at first seem disparate pieces fit together perfectly by the end. It's a hat trick in perfect proportions!”   -- Jo Graham, author of Black Ships, Hand of Isis, and Stealing Fire.



Coming in Hardcover








Instead of a kingdom by the sea, our story takes place in and around a residential hotel by the sea. The architecturally eclectic Briers Hotel is situated on Leech Beach, a not particularly inviting beach, being often fog-bound and always scruffy. But it’s the perfect setting for our Cinderellas, male and female, who put up with the scruffy-ness of life while striving to make it through their various personal seaside fogs.  Theater; art; antiques; old movies; sex; more sex; death; fast and slow cars, chicken shit and cow poop; military bearing and erotic emissions -- not to mention the wicked witch, the sea serpent by the sea shore, the village ogre, the village idiot, and several Prince Charmings -- all figure into this merry tale with a multitude of happy endings.


In Trade Paperback 




And eBook





Coming 2-1-15 from








What do they say about Steven Paul Leiva and his books -Traveling in Space, Searching for Ray Bradbury, and Blood is Pretty: The First Fixxer Adventure?


"Beautifully written" -- Ray Bradbury 



"Traveling in Space's humor and refreshing perspective are thoroughly enjoyable" 
 -- Diane Ackerman, New York Times bestselling author of The Human Age and A Natural History of the Senses


“Steven gives way to impulse. To passion and the heart." -- David Brin, Hugo and Nebula Award-winning author of Existence and the Uplift Series



"Leiva's immense gifts are matched only by his wry, biting wit" -- Paul Provenza; author of ¡Satiristas! director of The Aristocrats, host of Showtime's The Green Room with Paul Provenza


"Highly entertaining and impressive" -- Richard D. Zanuck, Academy Award-winning Producer of Jaws, Cocoon, Driving Miss Daisy, and Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland


"Wry humor, intellectual insight and terrific story telling are the consistent signatures of Leiva's work." -- Ken Kragen, legendary Hollywood producer/manager 



"Superbly entertaining and unique...thought provoking." The Mindquest Review of Books



"Many of the aliens' encounters with human beings are downright funny...much to think about and I'm sure that Traveling in Space will play on my mind for some time to come" -- Russell Blackford, Neworld Review & Metamagician and the Hellfire Club blog



"A unique spin of science fiction... With much humor and much to think about...not to be overlooked" -- Midwest Book Review


"Searching for Ray Bradbury is a delightful book, written and made in the loving spirit of Ray himself...Who could resist?" -- Gary Dalkin, Amazing Stories Magazine

"Ray Bradbury will be remembered as one of the literary giants of the 20th Century.  Steven Paul Leiva's book is a perfect tribute to the life and works of this great artist." -- Joe Mantegna, actor

"Steven Paul Leiva takes a dash of James Bond, the ghost of noir, a splash of Hollywood and stirs it into Blood is Pretty, an adventurous, fast-paced first novel." --Melodie Johnson Howe, Edgar-nominated author of The Mother Shadow



"The Fixxer has the mystery of the Shadow, the sophistication of James Bond and the street smarts of Sam Spade." -- Stuart Nulman, Book Banter/CJAD, Montreal



"Fixxer is a fascinating character. Intrigue; murder; mayhem in a fast paced action filled adventure. A truly great first novel." -- E. V. Le Roux,Silver Moon Magazine







Monday, November 3, 2014

I HAVE TWO IN THE TOP TEN











I have three of the top 30 articles (in pageviews) for Neworld Review from Nov. 1, 2013 to Nov.1, 2014, as just reported by Fred Beauford, the editor and publisher of Neworld Review. This is from the 780 items posted since Neworld went online in 2009, which, Neworld being an online publication, are all still available and seem to gather readers every month. My pieces that made the cut are:

In position number 3 is my essay “Waiting to Understand Godot.” It details that time I met Samuel Beckett, and my relationship with his great play, Waiting for Godot.

In position number 6 my review of 50 Great Myths About Atheism By Russell Blackford and Udo Schüklenk

And in position number 24 my review of The Transhumanist Reader: Classical and Contemporary Essays on the Science, Technology, and Philosophy of the Human Future Edited by Max More and Natasha Vita-More. http://www.neworldreview.com/vol_6No_43/transhumanistReader.php

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Interview with author Steven Paul Leiva and narrator Jeff Cannata on The Sword and Laser show!




Jeff Cannata and I 




did a fun interview this morning on the Internet video show Sword & Laser.




   with hosts  Veronica Belmont and Tom Merritt.




We talked about the audiobook of my novel Traveling in Space, which Jeff so wonderfully performed.

Good hosts; good interview; good time.











Monday, July 14, 2014

WOMEN TRAVELING IN SPACE











Amazon and Goodread reviews by readers have become an important part of the current publishing experience. Every writer wants as many as possible, especially if they are positive and full of stars. But for some it’s a numbers game -- as many 3, 4 and 5 star reviews as possible, assuming that potential readers are only into the stars and numerology, and rarely read the actual reviews -- sort of like a Michelin Guide to Books. That, of course, has practical uses when it comes to selling the books you’ve written. And I am as interested in getting as many high numerical stars as any other writer. But what I really find useful is the engagement a good reader’s review offers. And I don’t mean good in the sense of 100% positive, but good if the review either confirms (or doesn’t) that you have communicated what you set out to communicate; that you gave the experience you set out to give. And I mean engage not so much with the readers one-on-one (although, as you will see below,that can happen) but rather engage the writer in thinking about, questioning, sometimes defending, and, on occasion, even understanding on a deeper level, his own work.  


I recently received a review on Goodreads that got me to engage with my novel, Traveling in Space, in a way I hadn’t before. 




The reviewer -- known only as Cheezstk, generally liked my novel, but wanted to know why -- well, I’ll let Cheezstk do the talking here:


This was an interesting take on the old alien encounter trope. Switching up old cliches can be interesting, and peering at humanity through an outsiders' point of view was entertaining. The take on the aliens, the Life, though nothing revolutionary, was well thought through and fairly clever.


The point, of course, is to have an "unbiased" critique of humanity. To look at humanity from an outsiders' point of view, so that it seems fresh and interesting. It's not quite as deadly serious as all that, however. The book has a light tone and is fairly fun throughout. This keeps it from being overly preachy, which might be a pitfall in this kind of story. I did like that some things were seen as amazingly positive, some as horrific, and some as just, well, alien. As would make sense. It did strike me, however, that it was odd that in all of the analysis of humanity that gender disparity is not mentioned once. 





The Life seem to have an egalitarian society in this regard; didn't they notice that humans have treated half of their population as "tenpercenters" throughout most of human history? It seemed like an odd omission.


Regardless, this was a clever book, a fun read, and a cute twist on alien contact. I'd recommend it.


After giving Cheezstk’s comments some thought, I felt compelled to address that matter, and communicate.  Via Goodreads, I sent this message:


Hello, Cheezstk --


I want to thank you for taking the time to leave a review of my novel, Traveling in Space, on its Goodreads page. I truly do appreciate it. You have a good and clear view of the book, and pointed out some of its strengths, which I’m happy to have revealed to potential readers. And, of course, it was very fair of you to question why the aliens did not note gender disparity among the Otherlife. For, indeed, they do not. Let me see if I can give an answer, and elaborate on another point you made.


The leader of the aliens -- known, as you know, as Our Leader -- made the assignments for the research his factfinders are sent out to conduct. And the assignments are pretty big -- find out the extent of the Otherlife’s collective knowledge of the universe; discover how they govern themselves; look into why the Otherlife seem to have so much hate for each other, expressed through violence and death; find out the details of love and marriage, a very strange phenomenon, indeed. And, because it was called to their attention with talk of angels, some data on this religion thing had to be gathered. No one was assigned to look into gender disparity. This is because, as you rightly point out, the aliens have a completely egalitarian society, so it wouldn’t occur to them to look for it, and, indeed, I don’t think the aliens would have recognized it if they saw it. And, unlike religion, it was not pointed out to them.  Gender disparity is a much more subtle creature than governance, collective knowledge, love and marriage, and war and genocide. Which does not mean it is any less of a force, just that, to an extreme outsider, it may not be easily perceived.


All that said, of course, I do believe Traveling in Space considers gender disparity. Not by putting a spotlight on it, but by “leading by example,” if I may use that term, by portraying, again as you pointed out, a society that has gender parity. Indeed, I think you might agree, that the hero of my novel is not Life Seeder (later Leif), the narrator, but She (later Sheila), who is a great sportsperson, a pleasurepal, later the assistant leader of the lifeship, and eventually the leader. But, most important, she has the instincts to know, in regard to the birth gamble and the potential of life seeding, that if they were to seed themselves on a new planet, they will have to adapt to changing conditions -- the mark of true maturity. And she saves the day at the climax, by ending a war in an intelligent and clever way, without further violence and death, to bring an end to hate and bloodshed. The secondary hero, of course, is the 98 year-old Otherlife, Margaret Cleveland, who represents the hope that the Otherlife -- us -- will find that same maturity in themselves.  It was my hope that by showing these women as smart, naturally sexy (which I assume Margaret was in her day), dedicated, and tough, I put at the forefront the simple idea that if there is not gender parity, then who knows what talent, what intelligence, what capacity for growth for the whole of the species, is being squandered.



I hope this at least partly satisfies your pertinent and important question. Again, I thank you for reading Traveling in Space and taking the time to post the review. And, by doing so, allowing me to elaborate on something that I think concerns us both.


Warm regards,


Steven


Cheeztick’s response:


Wow.


You know, when you go sharing opinions about fiction on the internet, you don't usually expect to hear back from the creator. What a nice surprise. :-)


Anyway, that's a reasonably good in-story answer to my concerns, and it's clear you've given the issue some consideration. Thanks for your reply, Steven, and for creating an enjoyable book. Hope to see more from you in the future!


There may be some spoilers above, and unless you have read Traveling in Space, you may not get all the references. But that’s okay, I thought it was worth sharing for a number of reasons. I hope you agree. Plus, of course, you are all more that welcome to read (or listen) to Traveling in Space. Go ahead -- I encourage it. Join the conversation.






PAPERBACK





KINDLE



AUDIOBOOK 







Friday, May 30, 2014

Traveling in Audio Space -- The Speaker Speaks




As the readers of this blog know, Jeff Cannata has had a very active career as a host of a number of very popular internet TV shows, including The Totally Rad Show and his current show, Newest, Latest, Best, or NLB to the initiated. He is well know as an enthusiastic and intelligent critic of media, including games, films, books, TV, and comic books. Below you will see him being apologetic for taking some NLB time and being self-serving to talk about our recent collaboration, the audiobook of my novel, Traveling in Space.

As the author of Traveling in Space, and the producer and director of the audiobook of same, let me say that Jeff has no reason to be apologetic for being “self-serving” in this NLB mini-review. Because he really wasn’t. He spends much more time talking about the quality of the novel (Thank you, Jeff!) than his own performance.

I am. though, perfectly happy to be Jeff-serving. If you only know Jeff from his hosting on The Totally Rad Show or NLB or a number of other programs, you are in for a real treat. Jeff is a superb actor of range and depth and vocal versatility.  I asked of Jeff not a reading of the book, but a full out performance of 35 plus characters, male and female, humans and aliens. He not only did not disappoint, he excelled in what was hoped for. No author could be happier. No friend could be more proud.  


But it’s still fun to watch Jeff be slightly shy about talking about his acting. How refreshing! An actor with an ego in check. I guess you will just have to rely on me for ego.

Take a watch -- I would be thrilled if you pick up some of Jeff’s enthusiasm for our work together.








Purchase on 







Thursday, May 29, 2014

Traveling in Audio Space -- A Love Story



This blog is going to be a bit of a love story. Not romantic love, or love of family, or love of country, nor any of those obvious loves. This is about a love that has no adjective to modify it that I can think of. I may have to make one up, if I’m clever enough.

It’s a love for two men, but they could just as well have been two women, or a man and a woman. On the giving end is myself, a writer -- an artist, let me be bold enough to say. On the receiving end are Dave Doody and Mitch Scaff, the principals of Blüroof Press, which has published my novel Traveling in Space in its print and ebook editions, and now as an audiobook.

I love them because they not only published Traveling in Space, but champion it.

I have discovered that the greatest joy outside of practicing the creative act, is to find a champion or two to support it. In days gone by and long receded, that usually meant a patron. Someone powerful with access to wherewithal who could commission or support your work. The state, the church, the aristocracy were the usual players. Such patronage was offered for several reasons, I assume, not the least being institutional and personal self-aggrandizement. It would also be nice to think that some of the patrons had at least a modicum of admiration, even passion for the work. And since it would be nice to think it, I think I’ll think it.

Later, as the commercial world became ascendant, the patrons were more likely to be Captains of Industry, or the trust-funded children of Captains of Industry, funding art to hang on walls and place in halls; music of a serious bent meant to play for crowds so they could admire the sounds -- and the patrons who gifted them with it. The same might be said for dance danced without the aid of taps.

Writing, though, has rarely benefited from patronage. It’s not impossible, but certainly useless, to hang a book on your wall, and fairly impossible to share in a bow before a crowd. And although there certainly have been grants and fellowships for writers, in the main, writing gets its support from people wanting to make a profit from what monies they advance -- grudgingly it often seems  -- to the writer.

There was a time, though, when publishers were happy with just enough profit to stay in business, finding that profit in the widely popular, and willing to allow the widely, and wildly, popular to underwrite their efforts to bring to a public, no matter how few in number, works they had a passion for, hoping that, in time, popularity might follow. Not just for the profits, but because they felt it would be just, a right thing to happen in the world, a deserved recognition.

But such is no more. Or, rare. The huge corporate publishers demand profit, which is their right, from the products they put out. That is not to say that within their walls are not individuals who love and champion certain works, and know how to work the system to get them a shot, but they don’t seem to be a controlling factor. And, of course, there are small presses with dedicated owners who only want to publish what they love. But even they, at the very least, like a good profit now and then.


Does a writer really need a champion to get published? Not in today’s world. Writers now have the option, if they find no one to champion their work and bring it to print out of love -- for the work or for the profit -- they can always self-publish. There’s not a damn thing stopping anyone from being published these technological days -- in print, in ebooks, even in audio. But it is much like being alone on a raft going down a river. Will it lead to a big, beautiful city? Or rapids ending in gigantic falls? In either case, it would be nice to have someone along to hang onto.

I use to be a champion. It wasn’t in the art of writing, but a wholly other form of creative expression. One I was incapable of doing. I had no financing to offer, but hard work and a strong voice I gave to it. And I loved it and certain talents who I admired. To be frank, the love, much less appreciation, was not returned.

So I am determined to love and appreciate my champions.

I have, at times, I’m sure, been a pain in the ass to the Bluroof Boys, Dave and Mitch. But, nevertheless, they have supported my work with words and actions that have moved me greatly. I could do it alone. Dave even offered to help me do it alone, with no remuneration coming to him. But I did not want that, I wanted people on my raft so that I would know that I was not deep in self-delusion. This was important to me.

Dave and Mitch, with great sincerity and, I hope experiencing some fun and pleasure, have given me solid support. This is all the more important when you consider that Bluroof is not a huge company (yet), and these are gentlemen of intelligence and interests who are busy and do not lack for other ways to fill what spare time they have. I’m sure they wish to make a profit on Traveling in Space, and I hope they do. But they talk to me only of their love of the book, and their interest in getting it in the hands of as many readers as possible.

Or listeners, for that matter. It was Dave’s idea that we do an audiobook. And he supported my decision not to record it myself, and to share the profits with the talent I needed to do the audiobook as I saw fit. Dave patiently waited while the production took more time than anticipated to complete. Dave enthusiastically responded to the final work.

And it was Mitch and Dave who decided we needed to launch the audiobook at a public event, choosing the BayCon 2014 science fiction convention. It took time and money and effort with no guarantee of a quick payoff. But the Bluroof Boys did it.

Now that we are home from BayCon, I hope they felt it was worth it. I certainly do. I was daily thrilled by the energy they put out; the words of support for my work that Mitch repeated several times in my ear; seeing Dave talk to convention goers about the launch of the audiobook, thrusting Traveling in Space bookmarks into their hands.

They say writing is a lonely art. But it’s a wonder when the promotion of art isn’t.

And now, a bit of a album of selected photos of our time at BayCon 2014. I like to think of it as a family album.

Blüroof Press at BayCon 2014


The Blüroof Press helpers -- my daughter, Miranda Leiva, and Clinton Hoggan, just after the setting up of the Blüroof Press table .





Just before the dealer's room opened on the first day.




Mitch presents....





On display -- Blüroof Press books; Space Craft International's models.



Space Craft International is the parent company of Blüroof Press 




The Blüroof Press/SCI crew


You meet the most interesting people at a science Fiction convention




Blüroof Press/SCI raffled off cool stuff -- books and models and a Galileoscope throughout each day. Here is the first winner.





And another winner -- of a copy of Dave' s "Basics of Space Flight."





Miranda picking another winner




Looking over what we had to offer




And Dave picks a winner





And the winner is..... And he wins a Galileo spacecraft kit from SCI






This lovely lady, Regina, purchased the audiobook of Traveling in Space before coming to BayCon, listening to it on her drive up from SoCal. She liked it and wanted to tell me so. I was happy to have her do so




Signing Traveling in Space for a -- i hope -- happy reader



On Sunday, Jeff Cannata, who performs Traveling in Space on the audiobook joins us


Jeff Cannata and the Blüroof Boys


Jeff and I give a presentation on the making of the audiobook of Traveling in Space





I make a point or share a story.The ribbons seem to attach themselves to your name badge while you're not looking.




Jeff saying something that pleases the author




Jeff saying something that interests the author




The author is worried about the alien invasion that seems to be happening behind him




Jeff performs the first chapter of Traveling in Space




And performs some more





Answering one of the several very smart questions from the audience



Jeff -- amused and happy

 Jeff joins me to read the words of Ray Bradbury as I present a talk on Ray Bradbury: Masterheart of Mars


Jeff and I have our audience up against the wall as the spaceship lands






Jeff and I listen to an interesting question or comment from the audience


Back in the Dealer's Room

My daughter, Miranda, morphs into an alien Eco-Cop of her own design



I think she's caught someone not using the recycling bin


On sunday we have the Big Raffle



The excited winner of an assembled and encased Voyager spacecraft model. 


Jeff, me, Dave, the winner and the model






And the winner of a print of Todd Cronin's wonderful cover painting for Traveling in Space, signed by Mr. Cronin himself.