So the original plan had been to do this sometime in Q1 of 2020. Fabulous Publisher Babe (TM) got her store up earlier this week and on Friday she got it installed here and we are off and running. (Thanks to my two first customers for confirming that everything works.)
Every month, the plan is to put up a new “short” story in one of my series (or start a new series, as the muse strikes). We started off with Farouk Al-Hashemi.
The genesis for this story was a call I got from an Islamic Science Fiction magazine that was getting ready to go and looking for product. (Not sure they ever achieved lift-off, but they weren’t asking for an exclusive and have gone dark so we’re bringing it out here.) They wanted SF with a distinctly Islamic bent, which is not all that common in North America. (At least I have not had a lot of luck finding stuff. If you know any, send me links.)
I have always been fascinated by Islamic culture. During the Gulf War in 1991, I was in grad school in Los Angeles with a number of folks who were of Egyptian, Palestinian, and Saudi backgrounds, and one of them got me a fantastic Quran in blue leather hardback that has pride of place on my shelf when I asked. (Image of me, in the Dallas/Fort Worth airport in Dec 1990, wearing green BDU pants, a black T-shirt, cowboy boots, blue Levi denim jacket, black cowboy hat, reading a Quran. I got some great looks.)
To write this story, I had to do a deep dive into Islamic history and culture while looking for a story I could tell. Because I’m an outsider, I also had to dance a careful line so as to not end up accidentally offending folks that I was trying to reach.
The point of Science Fiction is usually to ask uncomfortable questions posed as a “What if?” and go from there. Easy enough to do in your native culture, but fraught with risk elsewhere. (I’m no Harlan Ellison, ya know.) Especially as I had a most interesting idea once I dug deep enough and started exploring the Sunni/Shia split and how that could drive something.
Lester Dent’s 7 Point Plot Structure: a Character in a Setting with a Problem.
The result was an interesting new universe where I could play around and ask some of those questions in a way that was meant to be mind-expanding rather than insulting. Even went so far as to ask an Egyptian PhD friend to read it tomake sure and he liked it.
So we have Assassin, the first of a new series starring Farouk Al-Hashemi. I have the second one, Witness, written and will be working on more in that realm going forward. My plan is to put that one up the first week of February. (I won’t promise always hitting on a First, because I’ll miss, but you should get into the habit of checking that first week, or paying attention to blog posts (here) and newsletter.)
Additionally, I have a whole bunch of stories in the can. If you’ve been following my blog and my social media, you’ve seen some of the covers before now. All to get ready for this day.
So you are aware, my plan with many of these short stories is not to put them up for sale under wide release. Maybe ever. No Amazon. No Barnes & Noble. No iTunes. Just here. On one of those other sites, I tend to make about 35 cents for a 0.99 sale. Here it will be much higher, while still being able to give you quality story telling.
Maybe, eventually, I’ll pull a story down from the shop and put it up other places, but that’s only going to be for the really big ones where I might be normally charging $2.99 for them. Think novellas and such, rather than the short stuff.
For now, let us celebrate that there is a new way you can get Blaze Ward stories. And I have a new stream of nickels that help fund my lifestyle.
Most importantly, because I plan to deliver twelve new stories here and another twelve to my Patreon, I plan to write something like 40 short stories in 2020. That’s a lot, but it forces me to focus on short fiction in between and around novels.
So y’all take a look and a read and let me know what you think, okay?