Category The Eternity Plague


The cover image for The Eternity PlagueI am thrilled to announce that The Eternity Plague has been published! Here’s the blurb:

In 2035, Dr. Janet Hogan makes a stunning discovery: infected by five species of naturally-mutated viruses, every one of earth’s nine billion inhabitants has become immortal.

Or have they? By the time Janet learns that this immortality is an illusion, it’s too late to change people’s beliefs. Some love her for creating this miracle and the coming paradise they long for. Others hate her for what they see ahead: immoral behavior without consequence, overpopulation, famine, and worse. Zealots demand that she save people’s souls, humanity, the earth… or the viruses. Or else.

Janet realizes this awful truth: no matter what she does, no matter what anyone else wants, sooner or later, billions will ...

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We’re All Gonna Die!!!!!!

I was going to write this post last week, but that was when there was so much tornado activity in Oklahoma City, and since I used to live there and still have lots of friends around town, it just didn’t seem right, not with a title like that.

Now that things have calmed down there, however….

Virus particle

 One of the things that got me started on The Eternity Plague was the first Asian bird flu epidemic, back in the early 2000s. It wasn’t the epidemic so much, but the way the news media covered it. It seemed like they were almost eager for a pandemic on the scale of the 1918 “Spanish” flu, so they could cover the big, worldwide tragedy.

Well, that was the first pandemic that never really was.

Then there was SARS. Another bust as a news event, as it turned out.

Then there was last winter’s H1N1 flu...

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Uncovering the Cover

The Great Cover Artist Search continues. Or resumes, to be more accurate about it.

I started a month or more ago and then other tasks took priority, but now, getting the cover designed is one of the last things I need to do. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised but this task is harder, or at least more time-consuming, than it might seem.

First off, where do you find cover artists in the first place? I’ve found four good sources:

  1. Joel Friedlander’s The Book Designer web site. Every month, Joel shows all the ebook covers submitted to him for review, and critiques some. That’s a big help in a lot of ways.
  2. Other authors’ web sites. J. A. Konrath and Joanna Penn have named the cover artists they’ve used, for example.
  3. Mark Coker’s list of book designers and cover artists on Smashwords.
  4. The “Look In...
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Another step closer, but more yet to go

Man climbing steps

Making progress, step by step

Step by step, The Eternity Plague gets closer to becoming a published reality. Earlier this week I finished reviewing the work of a local copy editor. That’s an important step.

There’s still important work to do, however. When I began writing the book, lo those many years ago (2004!), I chose to set parts of the story at a medical research center I visited early in my research: the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center near downtown Dallas. Why? Well, it was–and still is–a highly regarded research center and a cousin of mine who works there was able to arrange for me to spend some time in the lab of one of its scientists. Very cool! AND, it wasn’t in Oklahoma, which was where I was living at the time.

Now, don’t get me wrong: there’s nothing wrong wi...

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May I?

One of the things I need to be concerned about that most SF writers don’t with most of their stories is that The Eternity Plague takes place in real places on a real planet–earth. Can I use the names of these real places–not just cities, they’re okay, but institutions–specifically the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in  Dallas.

Another potential problem is that one of my characters quotes song lyrics that are still under copyright. Can I use them under the “fair use” principle, or are the lengths of the quotes too long by some standard I don’t know. “Fair use” doesn’t have a hard-and-fast standard by which it’s measured, which makes sense in a lot of ways. But that also makes it difficult to know when you’ve crossed the line when the line is vague and blurry, not bright.

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Another Step

This morning I took another important step on the road to publication: I sent the manuscript off to a proofreader/copy editor. Whew. Little by little, The Eternity Plague is turning into a “real” book, as opposed to a manuscript.

There are still a few loose ends to tie up: either getting permission from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center to use the Center’s name in the story, or changing the name to something else; and getting a reading on whether the song lyrics my reporter character, Lisa Lange, quotes from time to time can be considered “fair use” or if I have to get permission to use them too.

If UT-Southwestern says no, that’s an easy fix: global find-and-replace is a wonderful thing. Getting permission for the song lyrics could take longer, if I have to...

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Late to start, late to finish

It’s been a crazy week ’round here and things that should be getting done either aren’t, or are, but late. Like this post.

The good news is that one important task, finishing my last edits, including deleting an entire chapter, got done today. So, all that’ s let to do is write the Acknowledgements and front matter (at least in rough draft form) and the manuscript of The Eternity Plague will be ready to head off to my copy editor. And just in time, as other tasks await.

Meanwhile, in virus news, the latest strain of avian (bird) flu in Asia, an H7N9 strain, is once again killing a large percentage of the people it infects–while infecting very few people...

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Hacking and Cutting

A couple of events conspired recently to turn into an important revelation.

The first event was getting the feedback from my beta readers. One told me a certain chapter stopped her cold and it took her a couple weeks to pick the manuscript up again. Uh-oh! Another told me she struggled through the same chapter. Double uh-oh!

Then, about two weeks ago, as I was reading through a chapter of a novel by a member of my writers’ group, I experienced a similar problem. Half-way through I just had to put it down. Uh-oh again! As I thought about why that was, I realized that while his chapter was well written in many ways, its major flaw was how much backstory it contained.

That’s when the 25 Watt light bulb over my head began to flicker.

My problematic chapter had a similar problem: too much b...

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Whence The Eternity Plague?

Ever had one of those story ideas that just wouldn’t leave you alone? Or woke you up in the middle of the night? Great, isn’t it? Writers love those ideas.

That’s how my debut novel, The Eternity Plague, got its start.

Sometime in the fall of 2003 (October, maybe?) I woke up early in the morning, thinking about what would happen if people suddenly became immortal, without having done anything to earn or deserve it. Finding the secret to immortality, only to discover there’s a high price to be paid for it, paying it, and then being left to wonder—for the rest of eternity—whether it was worth it or not is an old idea. Robert Silverberg told it in The Book of Skulls.

What kept me awake until I got up and wrote it down, however, was the twist of immortality just happening...

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