Author Exposure Welcomes Guest Blogger, author R.J. Archer


Today we welcome author R.J. Archer to the blog! He will be available today to answer your questions, so please post them in the comment section. Mr. Archer is offering a free copy of his book, Tractrix, to one lucky winner! Be sure to leave a comment today in order to be entered in the drawing. Don’t forget to include your email address so we can contact the winner. Good luck and enjoy!

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After reading and reviewing his fantastic debut novel, Tractrix, I wanted to learn more aboout him. He was kind enough to answer my questions, which I have posted below.

How long have you been writing fiction?
Since the fall of 2001

Where did you learn fiction-writing?
I’ve taken some online seminars but basically I’m self-taught. However I was a published technical writer for several years before I decided to try my hand at fiction.

How did you come up with the title of “Tractrix”?
I wanted a one-word title that was totally unique. The word actually comes from the field of mathematics where a tractrix is the mathematical inverse of a circle and the revolution of a tractrix would yield a three-dimensional – although physically impossible – inverse of a sphere. The book itself deals with several mysterious spheres that lead my characters on an adventure through the secret military installations north of Las Vegas and, eventually, to the Mayan ruins of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.

Tractrix is chock-ful of fascinating information about the archaeological mysteries surrounding the Maya ruins in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula! How long did it take you to research and write this novel?
From start to finish, the book took two years but I was working full time and only writing evenings and weekends. Much of the fact-checking was done on the Internet, but I personally visited most of the Nevada locations – the city of Las Vegas, the little town of Beatty, and even the infamous Nevada Test Site – formerly America’s nuclear bomb test facility and currently the home of Area 51. The Yucatan material was all researched online but shortly after Tractrix was published my wife and I made a trip to visit all the sites I had written about. We stayed in the same hotels my characters had visited and we even toured the Loltun Caverns, where several chapters take place.

What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
I love cliff-hangers, and I include one at the end of almost every chapter I write. When I’m reading, I typically stop for the day at the end of a chapter. I try to make sure my readers can’t do that!

What was the publishing process like for you? What is the one thing other writers should be prepared for when seeking publication?
In a word, rejection. When I started writing Tractrix I had no knowledge of the publishing industry and I didn’t realize that 95% of all the books completed in a given year are never read by an agent or publisher. After more than a hundred rejected query letters, my wife and I decided to self-publish and capitalize on her background in advertising and design. We purchased our own ISBN numbers, did our own Library of Congress registration, selected a team of well-qualified readers, and negotiated directly with a major print-on-demand (POD) printer. For more control of wholesale pricing, we opted to cut out the middle-man—the POD publishing house.

“Tractrix” is the first novel in the “Seeds of Civilization” series. This series is based on Graham Hancock’s theories that undiscovered advanced civilizations existed thousands of years ago. According to your website, “the series accepts Hancock’s theories, in principal, but goes on to explore the questions of how and where these ancient civilizations might have acquired their advanced knowledge of mathematics, astronomy, and architecture.” Do you think our modern civilizations will someday be the ancient precursors to other civilizations? Do you then think that civilization is a cyclical phenomenon?
That’s an interesting question! From a purely practical perspective, I’m not sure our own technologies will stand the tests of time the way megaliths and hieroglyphs have, but the chances are high that sooner or later a cataclysmic event (either natural or man-made) will fully or partially wipe out our present civilization. I have to believe that not all will be lost when this happens. Life will go on and knowledge will survive. In my Seeds of Civilization series, there’s an entirely different mechanism at work that jump-starts each new civilization when the preceding one fails.

You have called the Pacific Northwest your home for over 30 years. This past May you moved to the small Mexican Baja town of Todos Santos. I understand you will be moving again soon, this time to the state capital of La Paz. Can you tell us more about why you chose to reside in Mexico?
That’s easy, and has nothing to do with writing! My wife’s two sons have lived in Mexico most of their adult lives and we wanted to be closer to them and our granddaughter. We’d always dreamed of retiring in a warmer climate where I would have an opportunity to dive and snorkel, so last year when both sons ended up in southern Baja we made a scouting trip and found a house-sitting job for the summer. We’ve since decided to stay indefinitely and one of my new novels will be set in the La Paz/Todos Santos area.

You are currently working on a very unique project–writing three novels simultaneously. This new sci-fi adventure series, called Parallel Ops, picks up 5 years after “Seeds of Civilizations”. Can you tell us more about this new series and when we can expect to see it out in bookstores?
My first series includes four main characters who band together to investigate three unique archaeological mysteries in Tractrix, Tsubute and Triangle. In the final pages of Triangle an event takes place that sends the four in different directions. The new series features a book about each of the characters and how they individually deal with the event and its aftermath. Even though the books are each set in different locations, there is some interaction between the characters and I decided early on that I’d never be able to keep the story lines in sync unless I wrote the books all at once. The noticeable exception is the fourth and final book, about which very little is known – even by me! Look for the first three books sometime next spring or early summer. The final book will probably follow about six months later.

Can you give your readers 5 adjectives that describe you – the writer?
Detail-oriented, fact-driven, impatient, skeptical and old!

Thanks for answering my questions, R.J.! You can follow the author on Twitter (@SciFiAdventure), Facebook (@SciFiAdventure), and MySpace (@SeedsOfCivilization). Also, check out his very impressive website and be sure to join the mailing list!
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Traci

About Traci

Traci is the founder of Author Exposure and person behind the Confessions of a Book Addict series (#litconfessions). Using her talents as both a project manager and certified author assistant, she launched Protagonist PMO in 2015 to offer personalized project management services to entrepreneurs, with a specialization in navigating authors through the publishing and marketing processes.

8 October, 2009     Traci     interview, R.J. Archer, sci-fi, Seeds of Civilization, Tractrix

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47 Responses to “Author Exposure Welcomes Guest Blogger, author R.J. Archer”

  1. Good morning, all you early birds! It’s 7:00 a.m. here in southern Baja, Mexico, and I would like to start by thanking Author Exposure for having me as a guest. It’s great to be here but I’m new at this, so please be patient with me. The subject of the day is my novel Tractrix, the first of a three-book series called The Seeds of Civilization. I’m here to answer any of your questions about Tractrix, the series, or the “science behind the fiction” so fire when ready. Or if you have a comment, I would love to hear from you – just blog right in.

  2. Welcome to Author Exposure, R.J. It’s a pleasure to have you join us today. I’m curious to know what inspired you to write Tractrix?

  3. Jamie

    Hi RJ,

    This novel seems heavy on research which I happen to find fascinating. Have you always enjoyed science fiction? Who are your favorite authors of inspiration?

  4. Although I’d never been interested in anthropology or archaeology in school, I’d been doing some reading about the Maya and their calendar that ends in 2012 and I was fascinated by how little modern science actually knew about the Maya and their predecessors, the Olmec. When my wife talked me into trying my hand at fiction, this mystery seemed like a good choice. By the time I finished Tractrix, I was really hooked on the “lost civilizations” theories and the other two books in my series also address real, unexplained archaeological mysteries.

  5. Hi RJ,

    Welcome to Author Exposure! We are grateful for the opportunity to share Tractrix with our readers.

    Do you think your next 2 novels of the Seeds of Civilization series will take you on some traveling adventures as part of your research?

  6. Jamie:

    Yes, I’ve always been interested in SciFi and I read most of the classics when I was younger. I should point out that my books are billed as “mystery/adventure with a SciFi twist” so we’re not talking about space ships and alien planets here. In fact, science fiction doesn’t really enter Tractrix until the closing chapters. The “secret” revealed there is built upon in the two books that follow but you’re not introduced to an alien until the last few pages of the third book. (Oops, did I say too much?)

  7. Trig:

    Actually, the next two books are published and waiting for you online or by special order from ANY book store. So far, I haven’t had the opportunity to “travel with the characters” in Books 2 and 3, but I certainly hope to. Book 2 takes place almost entirely on the tiny Japanese Island of Yonaguni where a 9,500-year-old underwater pyramid was discovered in the mid-80s. Book 3 investigates the possible discovery of the ruins of an ancient city on the ocean floor just off the western tip of Cuba and then addresses the ongoing research in the Bahamas. This last topic interests me so much that I author a blog about it at http://www.TheMegaBlog.com.

  8. Jamie/Trig:

    Just a follow-up to both – Clive Cussler influenced me, but in a negative way. After reading one of his novels, I was irritated by the fact that every time Dirk Pitt got into an impossible situation he managed to pull a rabbit out of his hat and save the day. In my series there are four main characters who combine their individual skills and talents to solve problems the way you and I would.

    Regarding the Bahamas research, I’ve become acquainted with real-life researchers who are on the verge (this year, probably) of proving that an advanced maritime culture existed in the Bahamas 12,500 years ago! I’ve seen the side-scan sonar images of the building foundations and the History Channel will be airing video footage on their MysteryQuest series all this week.

  9. I guess by reading other works from authors,you’ve been able to gauge what you would do differently in your books. Sounds like you took a more humantistic approach. Making the story more relatable to readers.

  10. Libby:

    Why, indeed! You just poked my hot button but I’ll try to brief. I find it amazing that the “science” of archaeology has the audacity to claim that they have the history of human civilizations all figured out based on their limited exploration of less than 30% of the planet – the part that sticks out of the water! It is commonly accepted knowledge that the oceans have risen more than 300 feet since the end of the last ice age (about 9,000 years ago). Many theoretical studies have been done to estimate how much coastline was lost due to this rise, and it’s a HUGE amount of land. And it’s the same land that most ancient civilizations would have built on so it’s safe to assume that there’s a lot waiting to be discovered once archaeologists learn to swim.

    The Bahamas work may yield the most significant discoveries in the history of archaeology and yet it’s being done mostly by amateurs because the academic community refuses to acknowledge that everything they’ve preached for the past 100 years might be wrong. If the Bahamas work proves correct, the “new world” may, in fact, turn out to be the “old world” because this maritime culture would pre-date the Mesopotamians by more than 7,000 years!

    There are lots of references on my blog to articles about the REAL research in the Bahamas !

  11. Thanks for sharing this breaking news with us. Speaking of underwater archaeology, how long have you been a certified SCUBA diver?

  12. Trig:

    In my interview Libby asked where I learned fiction writing and I guess your observation is a good answer to that question. Although I was already writing non-fiction technical articles for pay, I started writing fiction just for my own amusement. In the very beginning, I had no idea it was going to become a book called Tractrix. I’d write a chapter, my wife would read it and then she’d encourage me to write another. One of the main characters, Tony Nicoletti, is based on a guy I worked with at the time and he soon got drawn into the story and really got after me if I showed up on Monday morning without a new chapter for him to read. If I did my job right you should be able to find somebody in your own life that reminds you of Frank, Tony, Linda and Jim.

  13. Libby:

    My certification was my 50th birthday present to myself, so I’ve been diving for 13+ years. I took my training back in Portland, Oregon, but when the rest of my class went to Seattle’s Puget Sound to certify, I went to the Cayman Islands. I don’t like cold water diving, so living in Oregon has limited my underwater time but now that I’m in Mexico that will change!

  14. I really liked all your characters! You certainly did it for me–Frank, Tony, Linda, and Jim all reminded me of people I know.

  15. You mentioned your wife and co-worker read the early manuscript of Tractrix, did you share it with others? If so, what kind of feedback did you get?

  16. In addition to my wife, there are always one or two others who read every chapter as it comes out of the printer. These folks are my “keep it real” editors, for lack of a better name. Once I’ve done what I feel is my final edit of the completed manuscript, I have 10 spiral-bound “reader copies” made and these go to people whose opinion I value. The comments and corrections from these 10 “line editors” are incorporated into the final-final version of the manuscript before anyone else sees it.

  17. While there’s a “break in the action” I’d like to reverse the rolls for a minute and ask the readers a question. There’s been a lot of talk in the press about ebook readers lately and we’ve been considering electronic versions of the “Seeds” series for some time. Do any of you use a Kindle or another ebook device regularly? If so, which ones and why?

  18. I don’t personally have a Kindle, but there is definitely a push for e-books in the publishing world. I think the more formats you can make your book available in, the better.

  19. Jax

    RJ,

    I’m curious did you find yourself having to cut out some of your writing because there was so much information or because of your nature to be detail-oriented? Did you have an fights like that while writing?

  20. Jax:

    Yes, I fought that battle every day! In fact, Tractrix is more than 130,000 words long because of that very problem. When I started shopping it around I received some negative feedback just due to the length. I didn’t know this at the time, but publishers want fiction books by first-time authors to be right at 100,000 words because that translates into a one-inch thick paperback, which can be faced out three deep on a typical three-inch bookstore shelf. How’s THAT for a stupid constraint on an author’s creativity? I didn’t change the length of Tractrix, but I was more careful with Tsubute and Triangle.

  21. Karl

    I don’t have an e-reader yet. I’ve been battling the debate over Sony or Kindle but I believe I’m going to pin it on the Kindle. I like the instant accessibility and there has been a number of books available on the Kindle way before they are available on Sony. I have a friend who owns Sony E-reader and complains about it all the time.

  22. Libby/Karl:

    Our issue with the Kindle is that Amazon can continue to sell your ebook even if you terminate your agreement with them. Google and Amazon are beginning to have a significant impact on the publishing industry and it’s not all positive!

  23. Carol:

    As a matter of fact, yes! However, hiring the voice talent to do either a podcast or an ebook version can be very expensive. My step-son (mike@DACMusik.com) produced a short sneak-peek into Tsubute, the second book in the “Seeds” series that you can check out at http://podcast.com/show/6432/ but we’ve haven’t done an entire book yet.

  24. R.J.,
    I’m glad you mentioned your Tsubute audio excerpt! I really enjoyed listening to it and the voices the narrator gave to the characters.

  25. Rita

    So, when you sign up with Amazon to Kindle your book, are you turning over rights? or just digital rights?

    I can’t believe you are live blogging. Pretty cool.

  26. A little background on the audio excerpt. My wife, Marty, and her youngest son, Mike, came up with the idea as a Christmas present to me. Marty created the extract, which is the better part of chapter condensed down into a 10 –minute script. There were five characters plus the narrator so Mike located the necessary voice talent (6 separate individuals) on the Internet and emailed each one their part. When the digital recordings came back to him, he pieced it all together to create what you hear. It was a much bigger task than either of them imagined!

  27. I couldn’t put Tractrix down once I started reading it. I liked the way you had a team of 4 heroes and more than one “villain.” It seemed so real I could imagine myself right in the middle of the action.

    How did you come up with the idea for Tractrix?

  28. Rita:

    The process changes, as backlash from the author community surfaces, but the worst-case scenario would be ebook rights. With any copyrighted material, there are a myriad of “rights” that an author can sell or otherwise convey individually. Some of these include movie rights, foreign rights, audio rights, and ebook rights. In the case of the Kindle there’s a new legal issue currently pending because the device has the ability to do text-to-speech conversion. Some authors who signed over their ebook rights are now complaining that Amazon is in violation of the authors’ audio rights!

  29. Carol:

    Thanks for your compliments! As I mentioned earlier this morning, Mayan history/mystery just happened to be a subject I was doing some research into when I decided to try my hand at fiction writing. If my “inspiration” had come at a different time in my life, who knows what I might have cranked out! :-)

    However, once I got into the whole “lost civilizations” thing I discovered that there were enough unsolved mysteries in the world for a whole series rather than just one book.

  30. Mike

    RJ

    Have ever given consideration to promoting your book via book trailer? Since, the series in written, it would be great to put together something that will help convey the mystery/message in these books for the non-scientific type readers who might give it a try?

  31. Libby:

    Thank you for the website comments! All the credit for the site goes to my wife/webmaster/PR agent/editor/best friend, Marty. The “Behind the Scenes” section is there because my goal is to blend fact and fiction into a writing style I call “faction.” I try to blur the distinction so much that the reader will never know when I’ve shifted from one to the other. The links are to real places and things that inspired events or locations in the books and they help reinforce the “fact” part of the story line.

    In Tractrix, for example, you’ll read about a place in the Yucatan called Loltun. These caves actually exist (I’ve toured them) and they were used by the Maya for centuries. They’re also the place where the Maya made their last stand against the Mexican Army at the beginning of the last century. Those are facts. As you read Tractrix you discovered some fictional qualities of the caves that historians might take issue with!

  32. Mike:

    I’d love to have a video trailer, but they cost even more than an audio book and the Seeds series is a “budget constrained project” to say the least! However, I’ve always believed that the series would make a great foundation for a TV series such as Relic Hunter. I’m not saying this because I’m the author, but because there’s a little for everyone in the series – science, speculation, mystery, adventure, sci-fi and even some conspiracy theory.

  33. I watched a documentary on the National Geographic Channel a couple of days ago. It featured ancient drawings of astronauts and airplanes, plus the giant drawings of a spider and an astronaut in Peru(?) that have to be seen from the air.

    Have you given any thought to setting one of your books in that area? I know Tractrix had some scuba diving in it, and so does Tsubute. I’m reading that now. From earlier comments here, I can tell that’s your hobby. I’m sure you could find some bottomless lake or underwater cave in the Peruvian mountains?

  34. Carol:

    Those would be the famous Nazca Lines that date to somewhere between 600 BC and 100 BC. They are one of the many unsolved mysteries I referred to earlier, but my interests are in civilizations that fly in the face of current academic thinking – in other words, those that may have existed early than about 5,000 BC.

    As for another “Seeds” book, probably not. I’m currently working on a four-book follow-up series that will be more conspiracy theory and less archaeology. I doubt if there will ever be a “Son of Seeds” series.

  35. Libby:

    Thanks for asking! The new series will include one book “starring” each of the four main characters from the Seeds series and the first three all take place along the exact same timeline. From the beginning I had planned to have conversations that take place between characters (I call them “intersects”) and thus appear in more than one book. I started writing Tony’s book and got to Chapter 6 before I realized that I was never going to be able to keep everything in sync if I wrote the books serially. At that point I took a hint from my own series title and decided to try writing the first three books in parallel, finishing one chapter of each book before moving on to the next chapter. So far, I’ve completed 5 chapters of Jim’s book and 5 chapters of Linda’s book, so I’ll soon be caught up. In the process I’ve also reordered the books and Tony’s is now the third rather than the first. This has to do with the sequence of events in each story and trying to make sure an earlier book doesn’t give away too much of a later book’s plot.

    The new series will include, in order, The Scientists (Jim), The Informants (Linda), The Guardians (Tony) and The Teachers (Frank).

  36. The book covers for the Seeds of Civilization series were all designed by my wife, Marty. I guess I forgot to list “graphic designer” in that long list earlier. She’s been a graphic designer her entire professional life and co-owned a design firm in Guadalajara, Mexico, before returning to Portland, Oregon, to start her own firm. I should mention that The sphere on the Tractrix cover and the tsubute on the Tsubute cover were done by professional computer artists who are also personal friends. Marty did the triangle on the Triangle cover.

  37. Thanks to all the bloggers and readers who participated in the discussion today. We will announce the winner of the “Tractrix” giveaway copy tomorrow. Good luck!
    R.J. wanted to thank everyone for their comments and questions. Unfortunately, he had to leave early because of a family emergency. Please be sure to visit his website, http://www.seedsofcivilization.com, and signup for his newsletter.

  38. Hello Everyone,

    It looks like everyone forgot to supply their email addresses for the giveaway.

    So we randomly chose Jamie. Congratulations, you won a copy of Tractrix! Please leave your email address so that we may contact you for additional information.

  39. Interesting work! It would love to see it when you need the people of this type of site. It has a large amount of information contained in this topic. Ideal for the next generation.
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    Awnings

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