So David Brin personally edited my self-published scifi novel, No Other Gods

posted by John Koetsier

About 18 months ago I started my first science fiction novel, No Other Gods. I worked on it about 30 minutes a day, usually at 6AM before phones started ringing and emails started dinging.

A couple of months ago I finished it (edited three times, proofread by 2 pros I know) and self-published it to Amazon. It was doing OK, and got some great reviews, but nothing huge.

So I decided to take a leap of faith and started to @ message people on Twitter about it who were interested in science fiction. One of the ones who came up when I searched Twitter was David Brin, who’s of course a best-selling SF author with something like 20 books to his credit.

No-other-Gods-coverShockingly, he responded.

I asked if he’d like a copy of my book, he gave me his email address, and I sent him a copy. A couple days later he made my day when he read the first chapter and emailed back: “Okay you got decent action chops. Still no promises when I can get beyond the wakeup scene. But you are no amateur.”

Then 7 days later, he blew my mind when he emailed again, having read the entire book. This time he said:

“John, thanks for sharing your novel. You have very solid skills. The work makes no pretense of being deep, but it is completely professional and successful at what it aims to be. I would be happy to provide a comment/blurb for you to use, if you like.

I went ahead and took some notes. Some inconsistencies I noticed and some typos. They are provided below. I hope they are useful.”

Obviously I wanted a comment/blurb from him (!!) but below I carefully read through his notes. There, David Brin had carefully compiled about three pages of details notes on my first attempt at a novel, ranging from a couple remaining spelling errors to suggestions on foreshadowing events, deepening emotional connections with characters, and one unbelievably critical suggestion on enhancing and clarifying the goals and motives of the main villain of No Other Gods … one of the “gods.”


Bestselling authors (and working scientists) don’t take time out of their day to edit unknown self-publishing “authors” books. They just don’t. It doesn’t happen.

Except … it did.

I made all the changes he indicated, re-submitted to Amazon as a second edition of the book, and included his promo blurb right on the front cover:

“Non-stop action! An eternal champion battles his way across centuries, gradually learning to ask the question: why?”

Wow, wow, wow.

With the help of that recommendation, No Other Gods is now climbing Amazon’s SF time travel bestseller list, hitting the first page of the list for the first time today at #18.

Thanks David Brin!

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Props from a master: sci-fi legend David Brin makes my day

posted by John Koetsier

I have been promoting my first science fiction novel, No Other Gods, on Twitter and Facebook and this blog. And the sales have been starting to come.

So have the positive reviews: 4.9 stars so far on Amazon, which is great.

But the best has been the result of taking a if-you-don’t-swing-you-can’t-hit attitude and approaching some big-name authors and personalities about the book. David Brin is a best-selling sci-fi author — and a scientist, by the way — with novels like Postman and Heaven’s Reach that I’ve personally read and loved. He’s such a respected author that he’s the one the Asimov people picked to write the final posthumous novel in the Foundation Series, Foundation’s Triumph.

He responded to a tweet that I directed to his attention, and then we emailed back and forth, after which I sent him a copy of No Other Gods.

This was the response:

david brin response no other gods

Brin’s schedule is crazy, and he must get a million queries from just-starting-out authors like me. But he read the first part of the book, liked it, and said I am “no amateur.”

That made my day.

Hopefully, he’ll also find the time between writing and speaking and working to read the rest, and give me some feedback on the complete novel.

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Launching No Other Gods in the next 10 days

posted by John Koetsier

I’m super-happy to be able to say that I’m launching my science fiction book, No Other Gods, within the next 10 days.

I think you’re going to love it.

No-other-Gods-coverIf you want to be notified when it launches, please just add your name on this page — I’ll send an email to you when it is live and available. I have learned so much from people who have given me early feedback, and the book is way better for people who have already signed up there and read early “beta” versions.

Here’s a quick synopsis of the book:

Geno exists only to fight and to die. But he doesn’t die, and as he fights, he remembers. And as he remembers, Geno becomes more and more who he really is.

From ancient Sumer to earth’s distant future, Geno battles with sword and laser, arrow and particle beam, seeking only to obey the will of the gods. At least at first.

“Thou shalt have no other God than me,” the ancient commandment says. But slowly Geno learns that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic … and that those who claim to be gods, who require his obedience and worship, may be all too human themselves.

Human enough to desire the only woman in his life, Livia. Human enough to envy, and to kill what they no longer require.

And here’s a few words from people who have already read it:

“John is an amazing new talent to watch out for!”

– Matthew Mather, author of Atopia Chronicles and CyberStorm, just picked up by 20th Century Fox

“Very impressive writing! It pulled me into the story right away. I really like the style of writing; articulate, engaging and constantly makes you want to read more. It was actually hard for me to stop but I have a very early start tomorrow.”

– Andi Gutmans, creator of the PHP programming language

“An Asimov tone with a bit of a Battle Royale feel and a Game of Thrones twist!”

– Simon Dawlat, CEO of AppGratis

“John Koetsier delights with his prose — few writers are as much a joy to read. In all of his octaves, Koetsier haunts you: In his whimsical or light moments, his words levitate off the page. In his dramatic turns, his pace and punctuation push you over. You won’t stop!”

– Matt Marshall, editor of VentureBeat

“Blends myth and technology in the story of a futuristic warrior serving the gods. John Koetsier has created a scifi page-turner with enough historical detail to ground it.”

– Meg Simpson, game designer

“Prepare to be swept away into a fascinating world where all is not what it seems – this is one amazing journey you’ll never forget.”

– Eunice Schaap, editor

“Battle descriptions are awesome and the action was pure adrenaline injected into my brain!”

Alexandre Rocha Lima e Marcondes, Geeks with Blogs


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Wonderful Colorful House iPad app: launched!

posted by John Koetsier
Wonderful Colorful House icon

It’s with a great deal of pride and satisfaction that I’m able to announce that my iPad app, The Wonderful Colorful House, is now live on the Apple app store.

It’s been a long and winding journey.

The trip started about 15 years ago when I made up a bed-time story for my daughter, Gabrielle. It was about a kid in the great white North, Tullik, who hated cold and hated white, and who was looking for a better — more wonderful — home.  She loved the story, and asked me for it repeatedly, and suggested that I write it down.

Which I did.

And then, more than a decade later, I met Bas Waijers, an amazing New York artist who was the creative director for the project and painstakingly illustrated the entire app. And Nick Dalton, an accomplished technologist who has built many apps, and built the actual app. And we brought on Mark Greenberg, a Chicago-based musician and sound engineer, who created an amazing soundscape, along with many special effect sounds.

Together, we created an app more than 15 years in the making. And we offer it up to you, today.


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Sneak peek … and free first chapter: No Other Gods

posted by John Koetsier

I’ve both longed for and dreaded this day: my baby is being born. She’s coming out in the world and the world may not like her. But she must be born. And maybe the world will love her :-)

And so you – thank you SO much – are the first audience hearing her little cries as she emerges.

I’ve already released the full version to my VIP list of beta readers. If you hurry, you can still get on that list.

But I wanted to open up the first snippet of the first chapter to a wider audience. Maybe you don’t have a lot of time. Maybe you’re worried that it will suck. Maybe you’ve got a little Missouri in you: you wanna see it before you commit.

So I’m releasing this first chapter on Scribd. You can read it here, you can read it there, or you can download it and read it anywhere. And no, it’s not a Dr. Seuss book :-)

Read, enjoy, and let me know if you want more!

No Other Gods Chapter 1 by John Koetsier

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VIP access to No Other Gods, my first novel

posted by John Koetsier

I’m giving a few select people early pre-publishing access to my first book, a science fiction novel title No Other Gods.

A man and a woman exist, knowing nothing but that they are warriors for the gods. They fight, they die, they fight again at different times, in different places. But each time they learn a little more, and eventually they see that not all is as they have been told.

No Other Gods is the story of Geno and Livia, who seek the truth, and find themselves.

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No Other Gods (my first novel)

posted by John Koetsier

I’m currently 88,873 words and 216 pages into No Other Gods, my first novel.

The first question when someone hears that, of course, whether in person or in social media, is: what is it about?  That’s been a difficult question for me to answer, mostly because it requires boiling down the work of months and months into a phrase, a sentence, a paragraph.

But it’s a critical question, not least for when I start marketing the book, which should be fairly soon. So here’s what I’ve come up with so far:

No Other Gods

“You shall have no other gods before Me.”
Exodus 20:3

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”
Arthur C. Clarke

No Other Gods is a Pinocchio story in a cosmic science fiction setting.

A man exists. He is a warrior. He knows little but to fight and to die, at different times and places, to impose the will of the gods. But while he fights, he does not die, and over time, comes to understand and remember that it was not always like this. That he was not always like this. And that those he sees as gods are not divine … they are men like him. And that he has been betrayed, altered, used.

With a warrior woman who also is beginning to awake to herself, this man must learn the truth to save his life, and his soul. And find a way to remind the gods that they are only human, after all.

His name is Geno.

I’ve just finished the twelfth chapter, and I’ve got three more chapters to write, but the progress is definitely downhill now, and the remaining chapters are not the largest ones on the book, either. In other words, it’s getting exciting!

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Apple CEO Tim Cook photobombed me yesterday

posted by John Koetsier

Yesterday Apple CEO Tim Cook photobombed me while I was doing a Vanna White with the new retina Macbook Pro.

Dean Takahashi, also from VentureBeat, was videoing me showing the new laptop. We were at the Apple event in San Jose for the iPad Mini unveiling (and a lot else). Unbeknownst to me, while I’m showing the 13″ MacBook Pro’s new HDMI port, supermodel thinnosity, and super-sharp 4-million-pixel screen, Tim Cook showed up.

Of course, Dean never said a word.

If I had known, of course, I would have stopped interviewing me and started interviewing Cook. Ah well, I’m probably sucking – Tim doesn’t look super-happy.

Thanks for the photo, Dean!

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posted by John Koetsier
Screen Shot 2012-10-18 at 9.04.09 AM

We took the Canadian Thanksgiving off and went down the Oregon coast after spending some time at the Great Wolf Lodge in Centralia, Washington.

Here are a few of the pictures:

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And SwitchCube’s IndieGoGo campaign is now live!

posted by John Koetsier

As you may know, I and two partners are starting a coworking space in BC’s Fraser Valley, SwitchCube.

We’ve identified a space and we’ve put some furniture in it, but we need more. And technology for the boardroom, and paint, and, and, and. So we’ve decided to run a crowdfunding campaign, which will also serve a bit of marketing intelligence: is Abbotsford ready for coworking?

We’re looking to raise $6K, and we’re already at $850:

Join us! If you’re looking for a coworking space in the Fraser Valley, there are great options to lock in months at SwitchCube for a great price. And even if you’re not, we’d appreciate any support you’ve love to throw our way.

We have great perks (check them out) and we’re looking forward to kicking off the space when our campaign is successful.


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We just got a pitch for a floating polar bear head

posted by John Koetsier
sa-1 (2)

This came into our VentureBeat pitch email address.

Yeah … not much more to say about that. Try Dragon’s Den, buddy.

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Funniest press release ever?

posted by John Koetsier

As my colleague Jolie O’Dell said, it’s a “vibrating buttplug that makes you poop?”

Vibrant Conducts Pilot Trial with Vibrating Capsule for Chronic Constipated Patients

Petach Tikva, Israel, September 11, 2012. Vibrant Ltd. today announced that it is conducting a pilot trial of the company’s anti-constipation vibrating capsule. The clinical trial is taking place at two Israeli hospitals among patients with chronic idiopathic constipationFirst results of the trial will be reported at the 20th United European Gastroenterology Week, to be held in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, October 20-24, 2012.

“First indications show signs of positive impact and we are awaiting the trial’s completion,” said Dr. Laurent Choppe, Managing Partner at Cukierman & Co. Life Sciences.

The mechanically operated capsule is a breakthrough treatment for constipated patients. It meets the highest safety standards and uses biocompatible materials.

“By using no chemicals, Vibrant’s treatment concept is a novel approach for people who suffer from constipation. Market need consists of about 8-10% of the world’s population,” said Lior Ben-Tsur, Vibrant Chief Executive Officer.

Vibrant is currently raising funds from private investors to complete a financing round that will enable the company to complete a multi-center clinical study and prepare for market launch.

Vibrant constipation relief technology is based on the effect of the capsule’s vibrations on the wall of the large intestine, consequently inducing peristaltic activity and generating spontaneous additional bowel movement. The easy-to-swallow capsule is controlled through algorithms, predefined by Vibrant R&D and gastroenterology advisers.

The capsule is activated by a base unit that transfers the predefined algorithm’s data into the capsule, before it is swallowed. The capsule operates inside the large intestine and is washed out of the body with the bowel movement, leaving no chemicals in the body.

The company plans to complete the pivotal clinical trial by mid-2013 and obtain CE mark.

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Testing the new WordPress Liveblog plugin

posted by John Koetsier

This is a test of the emergency broadcast system … yet again.

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How not to pitch a journalist, method #37

posted by John Koetsier

I get 50 million pitches. One that starts like this is DOA:

Huawei, a leading global information and communications technology (ICT) solutions provider, today unveiled the Huawei MU736, the world’s first WWAN module that is fully compliant with the Next Generation Form Factor (NGFF) standard.

Fortunately I know what WAN is, but the second paragraph gets even worse:

The NGFF standard enables a transition from Mini-PCIe Cards to a smaller form factor module in size, volume, and system design flexibility. The MU736 NGFF module is based on Intel’s industry leading XMM™ 6260 HSPA+ modem solution, supporting penta-band operation (B1/B2/B4/B5/B8) for worldwide network coverage, low power consumption, Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS), and major carrier certifications, enabling easier and more flexible design and integration into end devices. In addition, the MU736 supports all NGFF features to optimize performance, power consumption, and usability.


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Best pitch of the day

posted by John Koetsier

If there’s a skill journalists get good at, it’s ignoring. We get pitched incessantly, and end up deleting gigabytes of email just because there’s no time to parse it all.

But this one caught my eye:

Unfortunately, it didn’t work … there’s no way we’d cover that at VentureBeat. But it at least caught my eye.

And that’s job #1 for a pitch.

photo credit: Poppy Wright via photo pin cc

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Shots in the shower (no not that kind)

posted by John Koetsier

While in San Francisco a couple of weeks ago, I took some pics in the shower … of the shower curtain.

Backlit, with a translucent inner layer spotted with water droplets and a patterned back layer, the curtain reminded me of Jupiter or Saturn.


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Party @ Zynga headquarters

posted by John Koetsier

After the MobileBeat conference day 1, Zynga invited us over to their San Francisco headquarters for a party. And there are few corporate HQs as awesome as Zynga’s.

Here’s a few of my shots from the evening:

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Less free, more lance

posted by John Koetsier

Today is a really, really good day. I just signed a contract with VentureBeat to come on board full-time as a writer.

I’ve been writing for VentureBeat on a freelance basis since April 30th of this year, taking a contrarian opinion on why you should be using Klout when making (some) hiring decisions. Since then, I’ve written about a hundred posts.

My favourite, so far, is this one: How a 1-man cat-drawing startup won a Mark Cuban investment, the story of how a cat-drawing web geek from Chicago got on Shark’s Tank and charmed Cuban into a $25,000 investment. That was a fun interview, it was fun to write, and … I got Mark Cuban to comment, which was a highlight for me.

My most successful post so far has been Microsoft. Kicks. Ass. which I wrote at about 5:30 in the morning after Microsoft’s Surface announcements. I think the company got its mojo back there, even though I’m a Mac guy, and I applauded them for it. At this point, it’s gotten over 6300 likes and about 1600 tweets:

I’ve learned a ton so far, and I know I have a LOT more to learn yet. But I’ll be doing it with a great team of writers and editors, and I’m looking forward to it.

Thanks, Dylan!

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SwitchCube: open for bidness (almost)

posted by John Koetsier

You’ve heard a lot from me lately about coworking in BC’s Fraser Valley.

My business partner Matt Farley and I have been working to found a space for solopreneurs, startups, telecommuters, freelancers, and other home-based knowledge workers to get together, work in a great space with community, a boardroom for client meetings, WIFI, coffee, and no worries/concerns/distractions from the home.

That place is SwitchCube.

And we’ve now launched the SwitchCube website:

We’re just about to sign a lease, but we need our coworking community to come on board. If you’re in our coworking Meetup group or on our Coworking Abbotsford landing page … now’s the time to hit our SwitchCube membership page and sign up.

Now’s the time when I remind me why I bought this print from Hugh at GapingVoid:

I would really like child’s play right now :-)

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When you love what you do …

posted by John Koetsier

… the world pays attention.

From Hugh at Gapingvoid. Simply awesome.

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