Please welcome Jacey Bedford to The Qwillery. Nimbus, the 3rd Psi-Tech Novel, was published on October 3rd by DAW.
That's it, I've done my best, Nimbus is not only finished, but it's published. I have a copy in my hot little hands. Too late now to change a thing. It’s the third and final book in my Psi-Tech trilogy. Though I’ve got five books out, now, this is my first complete trilogy – weighing in at half a million words over the course of three books: Empire of Dust, Crossways and Nimbus.
If writing a book is like running a ten kilometre race, then writing a trilogy is the equivalent of running a marathon. As you cross the finish line there’s exhaustion and triumph in equal measure. Your muscles may ache for a day or two, but the achievement stays forever.
The Psi-Tech trilogy is a star-spanning space opera featuring megacorporations, brain-implanted psi-techs, foldspace and jump gates. Its broad theme is trust and betrayal with complex relationships and twisty plots. Friends become enemies and help comes from unexpected quarters. The most important skill for survival is knowing where to place your trust.
Cara’s been let down (badly) and is on the run. Is there anywhere in the galaxy that’s safe for a telepath who knows too much? Ben has faced trouble before, but he’s always been able to trust his best friend. It’s unthinkable that they should end up on different sides in a life-or-death struggle. And yet, all the human conflict pales into insignificance beside a new threat. There’s something stirring in the depths of foldspace. The Nimbus is coming and it’s as mad as hell!
Much as I'd like to take all credit for the psi-tech books, publishing is a team effort. Sure, I wrote the words and made up the story, but my editor, Sheila Gilbert, worked with me to make it better. It’s published by DAW, and there’s a strong team of people whose job it is to add a layer of professionalism. Besides my editor, there’s a managing editor who deals with admin and scheduling, a copy editor, a proof-reader, cover artist (Stephan Martiniere in this case), graphic designers, typesetters, printers, and when it’s all done, a publicist. That's a huge team effort, but even before DAW agreed to publish I already owed a lot to members of various critique groups.
Writer Paul Cornell says that it's a writer's job to seek out the harshest criticism they can find and learn from it. Some of that learning process comes from reviews after the event, but a wise writer seeks out critique while the work is still in progress. But don't just ask your mum (unless your mum is a writer, too), and beware those writers' groups that exist to pat you on the back just for getting some words down on paper, rather than pushing you to stretch yourself to make your pedestrian prose sing!
There might also be those who will pull your writing to pieces just for the sake of it. Some groups can be destructive rather than constructive because belittling your work makes them feel better about their own. You don’t need those groups. Walk away.
I'm a firm believer in peer-to-peer critique groups, however. Finding the right group is important. I write science fiction and fantasy, so a general writers’ group isn’t likely to meet my needs. I need a group that’s genre-specific and working at the right level. Critiquing with other published science fiction and fantasy writers, is an amazing experience. People new to critiquing can learn by example (from a good group) that constructive and honest critique, both giving and receiving, is invaluable.
I’ve been lucky enough to find my group.
Back in the late 90s I met (online) Liz Holliday who was then the secretary of Milford (http://www.milfordSF.co.uk), a week-long event of peer-to-peer, face-to-face critiquing. In order to attend Milford you have to be published, but that need only be one short story to a recognised market. In 1998 I sold my first short story to a print anthology, and therefore qualified for Milford. I was terrified, but I went anyway. In those days it was held in Devon. Later it moved to York, and currently resides in scenic North Wales at Trigonos, a lovely residential centre with its own lake and a magnificent view of the mountains.
We were a group of ten in 1998. Writing is a solitary business, so to find nine other like-minded individuals willing and eager to chew over plot-bunnies, story arcs, characters, and potential markets gave everyone a real boost, an infusion of enthusiasm and renewed writing energy. My fellow writers included multiply published American author Patricia Wrede, Ben Jeapes, Cherith Baldry, Alastair Reynolds, and Liz Williams, before the latter two got their first book deals.
Did my fellow writers like my submitted piece? Not especially, I suspect, though not liking something doesn’t mean to say that you deliver critique that says it’s bad. ‘This is not my type of book,’ is not the same as, ‘This book sucks.’ And you can still critique plot, characterisation, pacing and style even if it’s not what you’d choose to read for fun. I’ve lost track of the number of times someone will begin with, ‘I am not your target audience,’ but will still give a useful and considered critique.
These days Milford regularly runs with a full-house of fifteen writers. Their constructive critique, and their advice, have always helped me to make changes for the better. I don’t do everything that everyone suggests, of course. It’s still my book. With fourteen other writers weighing in with opinions, you have to learn to critique the critiques. No two people approach a piece in the same way. Thinking of some of our regulars, one writer always approaches it from the standpoint of, ‘What do these characters want?’ One picks apart grammar. One is a history specialist, one a medical doctor, and another a classicist, each brilliant at picking up on relevant facts. One is brilliant on plot, and yet another will analyse my characters’ ethics, often drawing my attention to something I simply hadn’t considered (but should have done). If fourteen people say the pacing is too slow, they might have a point. If seven say it’s too long and the other seven say it’s too short, you have to make up your own mind. Or maybe it’s just about right. It’s up to you to listen and take what’s useful and leave the rest.
Whatever the outcome, it’s your story that’s up for critique, not you.
Those writers at my first Milford in 1998 certainly didn't make me feel like a clueless newbie, even though I was. I learned so much that I went back the following year, and again the year after. In fact, in nineteen years I've only missed three Milfords, and those due to prior commitments that I couldn't shirk. I hung around for so long that, for my sins, I’m now the secretary.
Lots of good things have happened to me because of Milford. I can honestly say that if it wasn't for Milford I would not have five books already published by DAW and I would not be sitting here clutching Nimbus and grinning like an idiot.
A Psi-Tech Novel 3
DAW, October 3, 2017
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 544 pages
To combat manipulative megacorporations with telepathic technology, two heroes must rebel, overthrowing the enemy’s oppressive influence in the third book in this exciting sci-fi adventure
In a galaxy where the super-powers are the megacorporations, and ambitious executives play fast and loose with ethics in order to secure resources, where can good people turn for help? The megacorps control the jump gates and trade routes. They use psi-techs, implant-enhanced operatives with psionic abilities, who are bound by unbreakable contracts.
Psi-tech Cara Carlinni once had her mind turned inside out by Alphacorp, but she escaped, found her place with the Free Company, and now it’s payback time.
Ben Benjamin leads the Free Company, based on the rogue space station, Crossways. The megacorps have struck at Crossways once—and failed—so what are they planning now? Crossways can’t stand alone, and neither can the independent colonies, though maybe together they all have a chance.
But something alien is stirring in the depths of foldspace. Something bigger than the squabbles between megacorporations and independents. Foldspace visions are supposed to be a figment of the imagination.
At least, that’s what they teach in flight school. Ben Benjamin knows it’s not true. Meeting a void dragon was bad enough, but now there’s the Nimbus to contend with. Are the two connected? Why do some ships transit the Folds safely and others disappear without a trace?
Until now, humans have had a free hand in the Galaxy, settling colony after colony, but that might change because the Nimbus is coming.
Empire of Dust
A Psi-Tech Novel 1
DAW, November 4, 2014
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 544 pages
To combat manipulative megacorporations with telepathic technology, two heroes must rebel, overthrowing the enemy’s oppressive influence in the first book in this exciting sci-fi adventure
Mega corporations, more powerful than any one planetary government, use their agents to race each other for resources across the galaxy. The agents, or psi-techs, are implanted with telepath technology. The psi-techs are bound to the mega-corps — that is, if they want to retain their sanity.
Cara Carlinni is an impossible thing – a runaway psi-tech. She knows Alphacorp can find its implant-augmented telepaths, anywhere, anytime, mind-to-mind. So even though it’s driving her half-crazy, she’s powered down and has been surviving on tranqs and willpower. So far, so good. It’s been almost a year, and her mind is still her own.
She’s on the run from Ari van Blaiden, a powerful executive, after discovering massive corruption in Alphacorp. Cara barely escapes his forces, yet again, on a backwater planet, and gets out just in time due to the help of straight-laced Ben Benjamin, a psi-tech Navigator for Alphacorp’s biggest company rival.
Cara and Ben struggle to survive a star-spanning manhunt, black-ops raids, and fleets of resource-hungry raiders. Betrayal follows betrayal, and friends become enemies. Suddenly the most important skill is knowing whom to trust.
A Psi-Tech Novel 2
DAW, August 4, 2015
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 544 pages
To combat manipulative megacorporations with telepathic technology, two heroes must rebel, overthrowing the enemy’s oppressive influence in the second book in this exciting sci-fi adventure
Ben Benjamin, psi-tech Navigator, and Cara Carlinni, Telepath, can never go home again. To the Trust and Alphacorp alike, they are wanted criminals. Murder, terrorism, armed insurrection, hijacking, grand theft, and kidnapping are just the top of a long list of charges they’ll face if they’re caught.
So they better not get caught.
These are the people who defied the megacorporations and saved a colony by selling the platinum mining rights and relocating ten thousand colonists somewhere safe, and they’re not saying where that is.
They take refuge on crimelord-run Crossways Station with the remnants of their team of renegade psi-techs and the Solar Wind, their state-of-the-art jump-drive ship. They’ve made a promise to find a missing space ark with thirty thousand settlers aboard. But to do that, Ben and Cara have to confront old enemies.
Alphacorp and the Trust: separately they are dangerous, united they are unstoppable. They want to silence Ben and Cara more than they want to upstage each other. If they have to get rid of Crossways in order to do it, they can live with that. In fact, this might be the excuse they’ve been looking for….
Jacey Bedford is a British writer, published by DAW in the USA. She writes both science fiction and fantasy and her novels are published by DAW in the USA. Her short stories have been published on both sides of the Atlantic in anthologies and magazines, and some have been translated into an odd assortment of languages including Estonian, Galician and Polish.
Her latest book is NIMBUS, published on 3rd October 2017. It’s the third in her Psi-Tech trilogy in which a bunch of renegade Psi-Techs (humans implanted with telepath technology) come up against the might of the Megacorporations, while in the depths of foldspace, there’s something new and terrifying. With NIMBUS the trilogy is complete.
Jacey's a great advocate of critique groups and is the secretary of the Milford SF Writers' Conference, an intensive peer-to-peer week of critique and discussion held every September in North Wales. (http://www.milfordSF.co.uk)
She lives in an old stone house on the edge of Yorkshire's Pennine Hills with her songwriter husband and a long-haired, black German Shepherd (a dog not an actual shepherd from Germany). She's been a librarian, a postmistress, a rag-doll maker and a folk singer with the vocal harmony trio, Artisan. Her claim to fame is that she once sang live on BBC Radio 4 accompanied by the Doctor (Who?) playing spoons.
You can keep up with Jacey in several different ways: