Therefore, we ask that you please refrain from making political references that may antagonize those with differing viewpoints. Thank you for your consideration.
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Novels (mine, at least) don't get written from beginning to end. They get written in layers. Each layer adds more complexity to characters, themes, plot or setting. Sometimes whole new ideas jump out in later drafts and the information to support those ideas has to be woven in throughout the story.
It's inevitable that, upon doing revisions on page 499, I realize: "Oik! I need to change something on page 5 to support, introduce and/or foreshadow this." Since it's counterproductive to leave the scene I'm slaving over and hit the Go To button to backtrack, I make a "Go To List" of things I need to fix/add/enhance earlier in the book.
My Go To List might include:
1. Ideas or details to be worked into the WIP
2. Scenes that need to be incorporated
3. Elements that need to be added, enhanced or brought forward in more detail
and after doing all of the above, there's a final step:
4. Do at least two complete read-throughs for continuity, orderly plot progression and character development. (Did I find problems? Start another Go To list.)
I often use keywords to prod my memory. Here's an example of a current Go To List from P2PC:
(A couple of my critters probably "get" at least two of those seemingly random references.)
OK, it's back to sweating the small stuff for me. I hope you all had a fantastic holiday and your muse is recharged and ready for duty.
Saturday, December 15, 2007
P2PC has three protagonists--one male and two females--though two of the protags become enemies. In a twist, the lives of the two who are at odds end up having close parallels. It takes a violent confrontation to reveal the common ground.
The characters all deal with their loss differently--by escaping from it, by swearing to avenge it, and by living in denial. Eventually, they all have to face it.
Backstory is always one of elements I enjoy discovering, whether I'm writing the tale or reading it. The novel begins at a place and a point in time, but what came before defines how the characters will act, feel, and respond to other characters and their environment. It's the buried treasure chest waiting to be uncovered. But what's inside? Is it bright and shiny or dark and twisty? (Dark and twisty is so much more fun.)
When I sit down with a story idea and begin working, I don't know every nuance of the characters or their pasts. These elements come to light as the story evolves.
I think that's why writing is such an addiction for some (*raises hand*), because it's constant discovery and you never know what surprises and revelations await you. Writing a story is, as Forest Gump said: "...like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're going to get."
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Lots to fill you in on! :D
P2PC is DONE!!!! Wooo hooooo! I finished at 3:21 pm this afternoon. Dark & Twisty ending ensues. After deciding to throw word count to the wind and write as many dang words as the ending needed, I'm up to about 110,700 words. Not too horrible, and I'm sure I'll loose some with trims, but I'm expecting the final product around 105,000 - 106,000 or so. *sticks out tongue at the 95,000 word rule* Neener, neener.
I very happy with it. Drea stays more true to herself during the whole Ryn-pulls-the-wool-over-Sair's-eyes episode. She becomes divided between her cold professional pilot self who sees the value in the high-risk mission and her warmer feminine side who loves Sair and is terrified of losing him.
I think Ryn comes across as--well, still a pompous jerk at times--but a by-the-regulations senior officer who for the first time realizes he has something very important to lose--Zjel. And she ranks at least as high in priority as his carrying out his father's vision, but he has a hard time showing or expressing that in clear terms. He's divided. (Yep, runs in the family. hehe) Does he get the girl in the end? Well, you'll have to read the novel. LOL Sair affixes a term to their relationship that popped into my my head when I was writing a scene and I love it! It's a running theme through the various events, now.
The new ending. I wasn't happy with the last one. In fact, I haven't been happy with the last three. What I did, at last, is crammed most of the important elements of Book 2 into one chapter. *turns on trash compacter* Yup, the story wraps and I think that's what my instincts were telling me needed to happen. I can still write other books in this universe. There's Jagger's story, the kids, and cousin, Daava [Jaeo's estranged daughter] who never came out of the woodwork on this one, and many others. Oh yes, and D'nar Rand...the evil personna who haunted the Toasted Scimitar Halloween chat, and kept sprinkling salt on all the guests.
Well, back to work tomorrow but I am a happy camper tonight. I reached my goal of completing my novel before my leave was over. Nothing but tweaks, tightening and tidying ahead. Oh yes, and writing the synopsis and query letter. *Does Bugs Bunny contortions* ACK!
*skips off to her bed, whistling I Can See Clearly Now*
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
What does that have to do with my SciFiRom? Actually, quite a lot. The male protag in my story is from a male-dominated, warrior society, but their system of naming and recognizing a primary heir puts huge importance on the female family. Learning more about the Navajo traditions is giving me some great insights on customs, quirks and paradoxes that I can throw into the mix.
If you have any interest in a bit of enlightenment about the Navajo culture, this site has a good paper on the subject done by a land use planning committee: http://www.cbcrc.org/2003speakerpapers/Calsoyas%20-%20Navajo%20Four%20Directions%20Research%20Model%20Paper.pdf
Monday, December 3, 2007
I'm going to take a deep breath.
Pry my hands from the keyboard.
Take two giant steps back.
And leave my novel alone for a night...maybe two. (We'll see how it goes.)
Meanwhile, I snagged this classic quote from Lisa Shearin's blog. (With her permission, of course.) Yes, this hits the nail on the head.
"Some people are intimidated away from writing a book because they think we authors have the whole book in our heads when we start. Heck, most of us don't have the whole book in our heads when we finish."
LOL. Love it!
There was a movie I saw a long time ago called "Make Mine Chartreuse." The male and female leads involved a pretty major role-reversal (he was a romance novelist and she ran a big construction company). [Those familiar with P2PC know role-reversal is a huge element in the story. ::: wink, wink :::] Anyway, I remember one scene in the movie where she wears this big, black fur coat to his room and tells him, "Think page 132."
And I thought: Yeah, right! Like he's going to remember what's on that particular page after it's been revised and renumbered fifty times. Silly non-writer. LOL
OK, time to start my mini-vacation. I'll be back soon.
Sunday, December 2, 2007
Where Am I?
I have the first sweep of my P2PC rewrite done, except for the last few pages which have to be hashed out from scratch. Almost there! :)
Current word count: 105,500
Yes! I've slashed another 1,200 or so words. Added some. Slashed some more. Still need to cut about 6,000 words, but that's within the realm of "doable."
Am I Happy With The Changes?
Pretty much. I had one of those creative moments where a surprise element sprang from my stream of thought and started flopping around on the page like a beached fish (other writers probably know what I mean). Anyway, I need to come back to that scene later and see how well it flies...er, swims. It's a religious-mysticism-meets-military-rigidity scene that helps define the conflict between one of my protags and my problem child, Ryn.
Write the ending.
Do another sweep of the new material.
Have my critters have a go at the new stuff.
Do a complete readthrough from page 1, fix minor problems and tweak a few things.
I'll keep you posted. :)
Saturday, December 1, 2007
My (over-long for a first novel) 120,000+ word manuscript is now--ta daaaa!--106,700 words. It's been an epic slash-and-burn fest in the last week. I fired up the laze-saws and went to work with a vengence. I slashed entire scenes, re-arranged chapters, relocated sentences and dialogue to tighten up passages, and extricated anything that didn't absolutely have to be there. I rewrote one scene that lasted an entire chapter and changed elements that made it only about 1/3 of a chapter (700 words) in length.
So that's the good news. The bad? I still have over 7,000 words to burn. That translates to about three average chapters. ::: insert melting scream image here :::
Can it be done? Um, that's a definite maybe. I still have ten chapters that haven't been through the meatgrinder yet, so there could be more fodder for the Deleted Scenes files, but...I still have to write several new scenes. That concerns me. One step back, three steps forward, and in this case, I don't wanna go forward.
If any of you have been following Lisa Shearin's blog, you've been indoctrinated into the life of a writer (provided you aren't experiencing it first-hand :) ) It's a messy, convoluted process, with a lot of traffic jams and wrong turns. Even some trainwrecks. It's like taking a long roadtrip and trying to find your destination with just a few major landmarks in your head, and no roadmap to follow.
Ah, the creative process. Isn't it grand?
Monday, November 26, 2007
Me? Well, yes I did. Good times, great food, wonderful to see everyone again from the far flung corners of the country, and it's great to have a five day holiday, but...
It's also somewhat frustrating when I can't dive into my writing head first and stay there for the entire hiatus. 'Tis the season when houseguests and family activities abound, and sadly, zilch time to devote to my manuscript. It's *gasp* finally! the end of day five, my fingers are twitching and I've developed a nervous tick. Oh yes, writing can be as addictive as anything they sell on the street corner. A writer denied their "fix" is not pretty. (Quick! Hide the mirrors.)
So it's back to work tomorrow...in more ways than one.
Have a great week.
Saturday, November 17, 2007
Chase them down.
(C) Me :)
Oh, yes. I'm so on the hunt.
I have mapped out (I have mental blocks against doing outlines) the redefined ending succession of events for P2PC and I'm starting to work on the 'deep muscle massage' of the text.
I like the direction this is taking. I like the way it [should] better define the actions of one of my problem characters. (For those of you familiar with the WIP, this is, of course his most obstinate highness, the admiral.) Mapping allows for creative and unexpected things to pop up as I write, and I thoroughly enjoy that element in the process.
On another spacey topic, don't forget the Leonid meter shower tonight. The articles say it will start here at about 11PM (Mountain time). I'm looking forward to staying up for a little stargazing...the real variety, for a change. :)
OK. Nuff said. Back to work!!! *cracks whip*
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Now....I move on to the Market Draft. I need to write a new ending, do a bit more tweaking and finessing, incorporate a few common themes, but I'm in the home stetch.
December 31st is my target date to have P2PC ready to pitch. I can't wait to unleash this one on the world. Make that the universe. :)
Sunday, November 4, 2007
I'm finishing revisions of the pre-market draft of P2PC, then that gets saved to my P2PC Archives and I begin work on my (fanfare, please) Market Draft. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I'm almost there.
I've got a character who has given me a lot of problems. He's a stubborn sort. He's evolved from pseudo-villain, to damaged goods, to staunch military man who has to make a decision between what is right in terms of his command, and the welfare of those close to him. Some indepth discussion with my crit partners helped me see what I needed to do with this problem child. He's not a major character in the story, but he's a very important character because of his role and relationship to the MCs. Now I think I have him defined in my head, and lately he's been "talking" to me about some future scenes in a possible second book in this universe. One he'll be an MC in, of course. LOL
But back to P2PC. This novel has only taken a little over a year to write, edit, revise and groom for its debut in Queryland. That's quite an accomplishment considering I have two novels that are already 10 years old and still far from this landmark (though my goal is to have them both ready to market in 2008).
Those of you who are in close contact with me know this story really struck a chord with me. I decided it was the prime candidate as my "first" novel, so it's been my focus. I'll keep posting updates on my progress until this one is out the door.
Monday, October 29, 2007
I sat down to focus on the ending of P2PC, which I feel needs the most work. My to do list included re-reading my critiques and making edits and revisions to the current draft, as needed. Next, I planned to extract Chapters 23 - End and apply concentrated effort to whipping the conclusion into shape.
OK, that's what I planned.
Realized it was approaching 8:00 am and went out to open the gate for water delivery.
Empty horse tanks had to be filled before water was delivered.
Water deliver showed up at 8:30 -- another 2,000 gallons since Thursday. Gah!
Then the former barn manager stopped by to drop off her key and garage door opener.
And we chatted.
Then the brand new manager showed up to start work and had a few questions.
And we chatted.
Short break to grab lunch.
Wrote a couple of critiques and read Kristin Nelson's Pubrants blog on pitches.
Then the well people arrived to do the assessment on our (apparently failing) well.
Frequent trips made to see how things are going. Not well. (No pun intended.)
After talking over options with them for an hour, they left.
I returned to filling horse tanks and the water promptly stops flowing. Yikes!!!
Call well guy back frantically (ACK! -ly adverb) to tell them something has gone wrong.
Well guy returns 45 minutes later and switches the breaker back on that he forgot when he left.
Horseshoer calls to schedule next round of trims and shoes.
Call spouse and report on all findings. *puff, puff*
By then it's 6:45 and I'm just sitting down to start on my to do list for the day.
Needless to say, I didn't get much done.
Tomorrow, and the next four days, are work days.
And so it goes...
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
I'm still slaving away on P2PC, focusing on getting the end chapters in shape and redefining a few of the more controversial characters. Meanwhile, my next two projects have been "talking" to me--giving me a scene here, a rework there.
I'll continue to post updates and items of interest.
Lisa Shearin posted her brand new artwork for book two of her Raine Benares series, ARMED & MAGICAL. Gorgeous! It's a perfect compliment to the cover of book one--MAGIC LOST, TROUBLE FOUND (imho). (Although, I would like to get a glimpse of her male leads, Mychael and Tam, maybe some things are best left to the imagination.) I also read the first two sample chapters of A&M she posted. I like the opening even better than the original. Promises to be a rollicking read when it's released next spring. Can't wait.
A little over a month until the release of THE DOWN HOME ZOMBIE BLUES by Linnea Sinclair, one I was fortunate to get an ARC on. Looking forward to that. I'll have to pick one up. Since the original cover art has been changed, I'll have both covers in my collection. :)
Thanks for your interest in my blog. :)
P.S. Did you notice my new trial 3-D globe radar tracking system? >>>> Love it. Think I'll upgrade when the trial expires. :)
Tuesday, October 9, 2007
I'm convinced I'm a blog-aholic. In addition to my two, and my joint Fantasty blog, I'm now in the process of creating yet another along with a couple of writers I work with very closely. We're calling this one Take it to the Stars. It focuses on what I call "extraordinary romances" sometimes refered to as Speculative Romance. It's Romance blended with Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Paranormal, Horror, etc. It will feature our running commentary, book reviews, comments on the industry, notes on our work, etc. It's not up and running just yet. We're working out some kinks.
Update on P2PC (WIP)
My Sci-Fi Romance is coming along nicely. It still needs some tweaks and flourishes, but I'm very close to turning my core group of critters lose on it for final feedback. This didn't start out as a full-blown romance. At first, I resisted taking it down that path every word of the way, but in the end, it decided what it wanted to be when it grew up. I hope to have P2PC ready to market in November, provided my critters don't pursuade me that a major change in direction is required. This will be a debut novel, so I have to get it right.
What I'm Reading
Gabriel's Ghost by Linnea Sinclair. I'm fascinated. This has turned into a study session for me. The story begins with a life-or-death struggle and a surprise. That sets the precedent. The way Linnea introduces elements of the characters' backstories is brilliant. She springs surprises about them every step of the way--the knock your socks off variety. Each chapter brings new insights into the two MCs, and what is really lurking beneath the surface of the male MC. I'm about 3/4 done and so far I would highly recommend it for anyone who enjoys an adventure through outer--and inner--space.
Friday, October 5, 2007
It is now my Pre-Market Draft version. I hope to begin marketing it before the end of this year. But that's today. Let me tell you what's been going on with me that led up to this point.
I've been cashing in massive amounts of my leave time to finish this little puppy before the end of October. I have a few close critters working with me again this round, and I got as far as revising and posting Chapter 22....and at that point something triggered a total meltdown. Meltdowns are a scary thing. It's when you question everything about yourself and your writing. Suddenly you doubt you have the basic talent or the ability to write anything that will ever be good enough to publish (or publish again, if you're already there). Ironically, meltdowns often occur because you've gotten too close to the story. You're judgment is shot. You're looking through black lenses.
Meltdowns are serious attitude-adjusters and "wake up and smell the coffee" sessions. You either survive a meltdown as an artist or you don't. I've seen a few of my peers suffer a meltdown, say "To hell with it." and never get back. Writing is not easy. It takes enormous amounts of your time, attention and energy. It sometimes causes problems within your family because you have to spend so much time pounding away at the keyboard. Housework suffers, errands get pushed back or put on indefinite hold. If you hold down a full-time job, and most of us do, it can even affect your career. When things go bad--or you think they have--it's easy to resent all the time you've spent writing that you could have been spent pursuing other things in life. Like sleep, for instance.
Thank goodness for Flick and Dawn, my IPs (Indispensable Peers), who verbally picked me up, brushed off the dirt, and told me it wasn't as bad as I thought. Dawn told me a parallel story about an artist she once knew, and Flick blazed through all my chapters in about a day(!) and gave me some excellent insights. Then they both gave me a good swift boot in the butt and told me to get back to work. I did. I heart my IPs.
The ending of my story was, and has always been a major problem in my WIP. Yea! I think I got it fixed today. I'm proud of it. It's a good wrap of the story, ties up the plot lines of all the major characters and most of the minors. It's a good resolution. It's a happy ending, but not a saccharine one. It's light years ahead of any ending I've written to date. My critters haven't had at it yet, so future tweaks may be in order, but I think it works, and works well.
I'm going to attempt to write an article on Writer's Meltdown for Toasted Scimitar to go along with the Writer's Block theme. Writer's Meltdown is similar to Writer's Block in the way that a cute, bored little chimp has similarities to a 500-pound rampaging gorilla. Writer's Block causes frustration and doubt. Writer's Meltdown causes you to question why you ever thought you could be a writer in the first place. Both can be a learning experience, if you let them.
I think I learned a lot this round.
Monday, October 1, 2007
The meteorite left a crater 100 feet wide and 20 feet deep when it impacted.
See the video here:
Friday, September 28, 2007
Here you'll find an extensive list from Wikipedia of different types of government and links to more details on each. Ever heard of a Grand Duchy? A Grand Prince? What are the various types of Theocracies?
Go have a look here:
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Since the point of this blog is to be a research site for Science Fiction writers, readers and anyone interested in the universe in general, I thought it would be a good transport to beam you back to browse past articles. :)
Now, at a glance, you can go directly to topics like Book Reviews, Nebula, NASA, Shuttle, Solar System, Science Fiction, etc., etc. Go browse and have fun. Oh, and be sure to let me know if you find this a helpful feature.
The tail, another 200,000 light years in length, is believed to be full of incubating suns. Though this phenomenon is believed to have been common in the early universe, it's quite a spectacular find for modern day observers.
Check out the full story with photos here:
Friday, September 21, 2007
Comparisons aside, I felt this portion of the script was worth bringing forward:
About the time our original thirteen states adopted their new constitution in 1787, Alexander Tyler, a Scottish history professor at the University of Edinburgh, had this to say about the fall of the Athenian Republic some 2,000 years earlier:
"The average age of the world's greatest civilizations from the beginning of history, has been about 200 years. During those 200 years, those nations always progressed through the following sequence:
1. from bondage to spiritual faith;
2. from spiritual faith to great courage;
3. from courage to liberty;
4. from liberty to abundance;
5. from abundance to complacency;
6. from complacency to apathy;
7. from apathy to dependence;
8. From dependence back into bondage"
This got me thinking about parallels in my soon-to-be-marketed Science Fiction Romance entitled P2PC. (If you follow this blog, you know the name of this blog came from the pages of this WIP. *wink*)
The back story (and future story, since it will be a series) follows this pattern. Two centuries before the story opens, the people were at 8. The plot of the first in the series covers 2 and 3, and future books will move through phases 4, 5, 6, 7, and back to 8. History does repeat itself. It's followed this same cycle in the past, and it will follow it 1,500 years in the future--at least in my fictional universe.
So how do I, as a writer, make my story fresh and interesting? By bringing in a character who arrives on the scene out of desperation, with no idea who or what he has stumbled upon--and then having him discover he's a major player in the conflict.
Steven King has a great quote about effective storytelling:
"I try to create sympathy for my characters, then turn the monsters loose."
"Monsters" can manifest themselves in many forms. :)
Weekends...OFF! :) But I may pop in if the mood strikes me.
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
It seems not that long ago, this blog was celebrating it's first 500 hits. Thanks to all who've docked their flagships and enjoyed a bit of galactic hospitality. Kick back and trade a space tale or two in celebration. The Billins is on the house!
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
The brilliant human/cyborg Triad admiral captured the imagination of many a reader, according to Linnea's favorite character survey on her Intergalactic Bar and Grille website. Is there anything you'd like to ask him about his relationship with Captain Tasha "Sass" Sebastian? About his career as a Triad officer? About his state-of-the-art ship, the much-feared Vaxxar? Or his telepathetic conversations with Tank the Furzel?
Linnea will be accepting questions for Admiral Branden Kel-Paten this week, which he will begin answering next week.
Check out Linnea's post on the Alien Romances blog for more information.
Sunday, September 16, 2007
I admit it. I'm addicted to the fascinating images from Spitzer, Hubbel and some of our other deep space telescopes.
Thursday, September 13, 2007
The prize list for the winner is growing rapidly. Stop by Scavenger Hunt Central to check out the details, prizes and updates:
Hope you'll join in the fun. :)
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
*whistles* Hey, over here!
Yes, you've found the post with another piece of our Scavenger Hunt puzzle, but you'll have to work for it a bit.
To collect this word, you'll need to know a bit of movie trivia.
In the movie Conan the Barbarian (the original), the hero loses his love interest, Valeria, after she is hit by an arrow that is really a poisonous snake. What does the villain whisper to the snake before he turns it into the disgusting projectile? That's your root word. Then add an "ing" to the end.
Oh, BTW, this post also includes a freebie. ;) There's another Scavenger word in the text above. Hints: We made a bold move. Do you think it might stand out? There could be a larger purpose to it. *winkwink*
Wondering what this post is all about? There's a cross-blog Scavenger Hunt underway. Read the details at http://www.toasted-scimitar.blogspot.com/
There are lots of great prizes for the winner. You're welcome to join in the fun. Just stop by the blog for rules and clues.
Saturday, September 8, 2007
Sunday, September 2, 2007
Test your space knowledge. Name that heavenly body and win an "Alternate Universe in progress" mug from Cafe Press. Contest can be found here:
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Read more here: http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/news/display.cfm?News_ID=22597
I'll be back with more content and rambling very soon. I've got some great sci-fi and futuristic novels in my TBR (to be read) pile, so expect more reviews in the pipe soon, too.
Meanwhile, drop a comment and let me know what you've been up to lately.
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
to see my review of Linnea Sinclair's Sci-Fi Romance due out on November 27, 2007.
Thursday, August 9, 2007
Tuesday, August 7, 2007
Four galaxies in a monster collision that might form the largest known galaxy in the universe. Story and photos can be found here:
Friday, August 3, 2007
But the distances are so enormous that what we're seeing by the time the light reaches us is the situation as it was tens, hundreds, thousands, even millions or billions of years ago. Sometimes what we're seeing may have occured before Earth even existed. It is, quite literally, like looking back through time.
Imagine seeing your neighbor pick up the morning paper and wave, except what you are seeing happened yesterday, or a week ago. You don't even know if your neighbor or their house are still there, although chances are pretty good that they are.
The interlinking elements of light, distance and time are important ingredients in writing Sci-Fi. Suppose Starship X sees Planet Z through their futuristic high-powered telescopes, some 16 light years distant, and decide to go there. Planet Z looks like a great place to visit. Acceptable proximity to its sun suggests warm oceans, tropical vegetation, maybe even classy nightclubs. Just the place for the weary crew to enjoy a bit of planet-side shore leave. They plot a course using their hyperdrive, but when they arrive they discover Planet Z ceased to exist the year before. In order to visit, their ship must have the ability to travel much faster going to the planet than the light carrying the image of Z did coming from the planet, so the status quo is unknown until they arrive. What they saw was Planet Z as it had been 16 years before. Meanwhile, well...there went the neighborhood. The "messenger" was carrying old information. The crew may be in for a rude surprise. Especially if Planet Z was obliterated by an astronomical event or attack by another civilization. So much for their vacation.
Light doesn't always have an uneventful voyage as it shoots through universe. It can be affected by gravity, deflection, refraction and absorption. Gravity can bend it (as Einstein surmised in his Theory of Relativity), and black holes can swallow it. For light to be generated in the first place, some sort of event had to take place--fusion or an explosion.
Rough neighborhood, the universe. It isn't easy being light.
To read more:
Wednesday, August 1, 2007
Sunday, July 29, 2007
Friday, July 27, 2007
Thursday, July 26, 2007
Saturday, July 21, 2007
Mars has been notoriously non user friendly to our probes in the past. NASA is holding its collective breath.
Monday, July 16, 2007
Spacefreighters Lounge has now surpassed its first 1000 hits. Your patronage is appreciated. I hope the blog is fulfilling its mission parameters as a muse motivator and research center for Science Fiction and Futuristic writers and fans.
Pull up a hover chair and join the celebration. The Billins is on the house. :)
Sunday, July 15, 2007
By Lisa Shearin
Opening Notes From the Reviewer: If you’ve read my reviews before, you know I try to avoid spoilers for potential readers. Knowing what’s going to happen takes the joy out of the journey.
So, instead, I look at the elements…
COVER ART: Nice use of color and I like MC Raine’s slightly cocky, slightly whimsical expression. The outfit the MC is wearing and some of her accessories are described in the book. Great attention to detail, there. I like the active font that was used for the title. It’s fun, unorthodox, charming and mysterious—just like the story. I would have liked to see more characters portrayed, one in particular (more on him later)--but then again, maybe sexy, silver-skinned goblins are best left to the imagination.
INITIAL IMPRESSION: Intriguing hook. “Sorcerers weren’t normal, sorcery wasn’t natural, and Quentin Rand didn’t like either one.” These are the MCs opening thoughts that propel her into an adventure. Actually, “adventure” is much too weak of a word for what’s in store for this gutsy elf. I was pulled right into Raine’s head courtesy of First Person POV. By the end of Chapter One, she is already engaged in a fierce battle with a band of goblin shamans and temple guards. Chapter Two brings even more action and greater danger.
MAIN CHARACTERS: Raine Benares is a seeker, a finder of lost things, and a sorceress of moderate powers. Make that a world-wise, quick-witted, been-around-the-block-a-few-times sorceress…with a supportive extended family. Her occupation promises peril, because, as she mentally notes, “some things are better left unfound”.
SUPPORTING CHARACTERS: I found the goblin Tam—Tamnais Nathrach—a mesmerizing individual. He is at once exotic, clever, steamy, and trustworthy in a dangerous sort of way. Tam is a primaru, a goblin shaman of royal blood, whose current gig is as owner of the classy nightclub, Sirens. Raine’s relationship with Tam is established before the story opens, and when these two get together, things sizzle. This is not a romance, though it certainly has a fair measure of intriguing sexual tension. But wait. Is there soon to be another man in her life? Spellsinger Mychael Eiliesor, a Conclave Guardian and fellow elf, becomes acquainted with Raine suddenly through a very unpleasant introduction (for him). Piaras, Raine’s young cousin, has a “kid brother” appeal and some developing powers of his own.
OTHER CHARACTERS: Raine has an extended family and a circle of friends that make frequent appearances at opportune, and sometimes inopportune, times to assist, shelter and counsel. A wonderful support group for any girl to have.
WORLD BUILDING: A nicely layered and districted Fantasy world of some complexity. Well-drawn cityscapes and ruinscapes. Several locales with considerable creep factor.
CONFLICT: In a nutshell, Raine acquires something she didn't want, attached to trouble she didn't need, and the attention of some evil personas/entities she definitely wants to avoid. Chaos ensues, along with a number of unexpected twists and turns and a journey through some of the darkest corners of this imaginative fantasy world.
ROMANCE: No romance, but plenty of tease and innuendo. In my opinion, more than enough to satisfy those readers who believe no story is complete without a romantic element. (Raises hand.)
READABILITY: Reading MLTF is like being in the head of a close friend as she observes, comments on, and reacts to the situation around her, sometimes with hilarious results. Sometimes with terrifying consequences.
EVIL AUTHORS GUILD STAMP OF APPROVAL: The Evil Authors Guild exists to encourage writers to inflict appropriate amounts of terror, angst and emotional torture into their characters’ lives, and to leave them twisting in the wind at every opportunity. Happily endorsed.
MOST QUOTABLE QUOTE(S): There is a perfect summary of Raine's relationship with Tam. When he asks if she trusts him, she replies: “With my life, yes. But not with the rest of me.” Raine’s initial impression of Conclave Guardian Mychael Eiliesor painted quite a portrait: “His eyes were stunning. Tropical seas stunning—and lock up your daughters and wives trouble.”
MAGIC QUOTIENT: Magic is used in imaginative and surprising ways in MLTF, and in at least one scene it had me ROFL. (Like gondolas, Mychael?)
SECOND READ: There’s so much going on here—character-wise, politics-wise, and plot-wise, that this one is perfect for multiple reads. Many of the subtler points come into sharper focus on the second (or more) pass.
OVERALL RATING: If you’ve read my reviews before, you know that I don’t rate on a number scale. Each novel is like sightseeing in a strange city. You learn about the territory as you go. I rate MLTF as a Chicago. It’s fast-paced and exciting facade covers a dark and sometimes threatening underground. It’s a hub of action, a melting-pot of fantasy icons and fresh ideas. It’s a big, big place with a lot to discover. A delightful destination. If you’ve never read Urban Fantasy before, let this be your first. And, oh yes, expect a sequel.
[Please note: As a writer, I love to explore new theories and ideas. I have written the following article for speculation and further musing. I have not researched the validity of statements made, some of which are reportedly based on scientific evidence and some on personal hypothesis. If you want to learn more, please follow the links at the end of the article and develop your own theories.]
Recent articles are proposing a shocking new idea from the astronomers of the University of Massachusetts: We may not be who we thought we were. Not children of the Milky Way Galaxy at all, but adoptees.
There is recent evidence that our solar system was not originally part of the Milky Way, but was formed in the Sagittarius Dwarf galaxy, which has since been all but consumed by the monstrous Milky Way.
But we still go about our daily lives without much change, right? Well, maybe not. As we are absorbed into the Milky Way, a galaxy of considerably more energy, things are being to change.
Our sun might be burning hotter. Dark spots are appearing and growing. Auroras have been sighted on Saturn and the magnetic field on Jupiter has doubled. The Martian biosphere may be changing, and there are early indication an atmosphere could be forming on the Moon. Maybe the most startling change is that Uranus and Neptune have registered polar shifts. If it's happening elsewhere in our neighborhood, will it happen on Earth? NASA information indicates there may already be a movement in the Earth’s poles. Polar shift is believed to have happened in Earth's past, possibly more than once. Are we in for another 'big shake up'?
And what are the implications for global warming, which the increased energies may intensify, but our emissions activities certainly accelerate?
In looking at the 'what ifs', we can't overlook the enigma of the Mayan calendar, currently the center of much speculation, as some believe it has predicted major events through time, and comes to a sudden halt in the year 2012. Research indicates this may be when our solar system will move through the central axis of the Milky Way galaxy.
If you'd like to read more, click on the following links:
Daijaworld: Massachusetts Discovery: Earth Part of a New Galaxy Rediff
American Chronicle Article: If This Be True, Then... by Philip F. Harris
All About 2012
Alignment 2012: What the Maya Left Behind by John Major Jenkins
Wikipedia: Sagittarius Dwarf Eliptical Galaxy
Thursday, July 12, 2007
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
For more information, click this link:
Friday, July 6, 2007
The European Space Agency is accepting applications from Russian citizens and other member nations of the ESA for six positions to be virtual astronauts on a simulated space flight to Mars and back. During the time "onboard" the virtual astronauts will eat packaged space food, experience communication delays that will range from a few seconds to forty minutes (just like on a progressing space flight) and handle 'emergencies'.
Read more here:
Wednesday, July 4, 2007
Or that on July 7th the Dawn probe will launch with a mission to study the minor planets Ceres and Vesta in the asteroid belt (arrival 2011)?
These are just a couple of the interesting facts on NASA's Solar System Exploration site. Here's the link: http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/news/index.cfm
It will also be added to our permanent list of reference sites on the lower right.
Monday, July 2, 2007
By Linnea Sinclair
Science Fiction Romance
OPENING NOTES FROM REVIEWER: I try to avoid spoilers in my reviews for all potential readers. Knowing major chunks of the plot takes the fun out of the read.
So, looking at the elements…
COVER ART: I can only dream one of mine gets such a great cover. The artist is Stephen Youll. It’s got "pick me off the shelf now!" factor. Dark, other-worldly landscape. Spacecraft in blast-off mode. Competent-looking, uniformed female captain, front and center. And who is that hunk behind the female MC? ::: flips through a few pages :::: Oooh, that’s got to be Admiral Kel-Paten.
INITIAL IMPRESSION: Dialogue is used effectively as an opening hook. “You might want to sit down.” You bet I did…book in hand. I was drawn into the MCs world, feelings and situation. I understood her past, her current dilemma--and her concern about her possible futures. Or lack of one.
MAIN CHARACTERS: Captain Tasha “Lady Sass” Sebastian is intelligent, strong-willed, self-assured, and always up for a party or at least a pitcher of iced gin. I like her immediately. She’s coffee-fueled. She makes me root for her and she makes me laugh. Admiral Branden Kel-Paten is cold, calculating, angry, aloof, and impossible to read. But that’s how he’s wired, quite literally. Like, Tasha, I start out with a healthy dose of skepticism and suspicion. As I learn more about him, his past, and his present, I am thrown off balance and then won over, like she is. It takes time. He’s a difficult individual to get to know but the discoveries are more rewarding because of his complex layers. In the end, I cheer for these two. I am upset when their world—make that universe--falls apart. I need them to have a happy ending.
SUPPORTING CHARACTERS: Doctor Eden Flynn is a strong enough character to be an MC in her own right, and Jace Serafino, pirate and outlaw, is equal parts worthy hero and enigmatic scoundrel. The two main female characters are close friends and conspirators. The two main male characters are often at violent odds, and I found myself on Kel-Patent’s side every time.
VILLAIN: There is no stand-out villain. It could be Kel-Paten. It could be Serafino. Or an important Triad politician. Or the Faction. Or any of a number of questionable characters. Not knowing who the real enemy is half the fun.
OTHER CHARACTERS: There is a cast of effective and memorable personas, not the least of which are two who share the adventure with, and the affection of, the MCs. They aren’t human. They’re Tank and Reilly, a fidget and a furzel. These are not silly alien sidekicks. They are very recognizable and entertaining entities who play an important role in the outcome of the story. The other various crew members, friends, and past acquaintances are also well drawn, even in brief appearances.
WORLD BUILDING: An appropriately complex array of shifting alliances and enemies, influential organizations, ancient religions, legends and a certain unknown menace called The Faction. Good descriptions of setting throughout, from the spit-and-polish corridors of Kel-Paten’s flagship, Vaxxar to the refuge of a lush forest or an orbiting “raft.”
CONFLICT: Conflict exists on almost every level, but central plot themes focus on issues of trust versus perception. The animosity between the two male leads is sometimes intense. The romantic conflict is realistic. The characters have a deep chasm separating them and no talents for bridge-building. Or do they?
ROMANCE: The sexual tension begins as a faint flicker and allows the reader to develop an emotional investment before it becomes an ion flare. It’s through the MCs sexual encounters that their paradoxes are revealed.
READABILITY: Major Snarf Factor. Shall I explain? Last summer, I started reading a best seller but couldn’t get past Chapter Six. Not because it isn’t well-plotted, intriguing or effective writing, but because I simply didn’t have the time to finish it, and no motivational Snarf cracking their proverbial whip and chanting, “Must read more!” In contrast, I picked up GAMES OF COMMAND on Tuesday night and finished it Saturday afternoon, despite three fourteen-hour days at work. I made the time to finish it. I couldn’t put it down. It was a white-knuckle “what happens next?” adventure. I was Snarf-driven. This book should have a warning label: Addicting Substance. Determined by the Surgeon General to Result in Severe Sleep Deprivation.
EVIL AUTHORS GUILD STAMP OF APPROVAL: The Evil Authors Guild exists to encourage writers to inflict appropriate amounts of terror, angst and emotional torture into their characters’ lives, and to leave them twisting in the wind at every opportunity. Enthusiastic approval.
NEAT, CATCHY LINGO:
McClellan’s Void. Just the tag elicits mystery and foreboding.
Neverwhen. Suggests a place that can’t be described in physical terms, like Anne McCaffrey’s “between” or Never Never Land.
Psy-Serv. *suppresses shudder*
SECOND READ: What fun! All the subtle hints and nuances suddenly jump off the page. Kel-Paten’s personality quirks have deeper meaning. Tasha’s offhand comments crackle with irony. Little things that seem like visual details become major icons. This one is written for a second read. Maybe a third, a fourth…and beyond.
OVERALL RATING: I don’t rate novels on a number scale. Each novel is unique and, just like sightseeing in a strange city, you learn about the literary ‘points of interest’ as you get to know the territory. This one has adventure, excitement, shiny technology, a gritty underbelly and a variety of surprises. GAMES OF COMMAND is a Las Vegas. Definitely, a Las Vegas. And just like Vegas, if you haven’t ever been there, my advice is that you should make the trip. Soon.
Saturday, June 30, 2007
Fascinating sci-fi universe.
Captain Tasha Sebastian is suspicious of Admiral Branden Kel-Paten's nonnegotiable request that she serve on his flagship as first officer. She fears what he really wants is her head on a platter. She and the biocybe admiral are old adversaries who have faced-off countless times. But an uneasy alliance between her resource-rich United Coalition and his technologically-superior Triad has changed the rules. She has no idea that his rules changed long ago.
Look for a full review in early July.
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Has the site of a possible impact crater now been located?
Monday, June 25, 2007
Sunday, June 24, 2007
Click here and go to podcast: http://hubblesite.org/explore_astronomy/hubbles_universe/
Hubblesite has been added to the list of Sci-Fi 101 reference links at the lower right.
Friday, June 22, 2007
I printed this one for my research files.
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Read more: http://www.physorg.com/news101558374.html
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Sair pulled open the plain steel door of the Post, his gaze sweeping the dim interior as he slipped inside. From the nearest seat, a Parol swung his head around and snarled, exposing sharp orange fangs. Sair’s heart skipped. If he hadn’t seen a Parolian smile before, he would have jumped back. He glanced down at his thigh sheath and frowned. Going for one of his weapons had never crossed his mind.
He’d survived his brief walk through the dusty streets of Eliptis, but it proved to be an unsavory experience. Focused on his destination, head up and sunshield in place over his eyes, he ignored the rough-faced crewies and hangtown beggars that moved aside as he approached. Being Rathskian offered that advantage. His subspecies’ reputation got him to the Spacefreighters Trade Post in one piece. Now he had a slim chance to escape.
Sair allowed his eyes time to adjust to the low light of the large, gloomy hall. He spied no towering Ithians or fellow Rathskians milling about. No shoulders or hats bore the purple hexagon of Ithis, the blue four-pointed star of Rathskia or tri-tone triangle of the Ithian Alliance. He removed his eyeshield with care. It was a risk exposing his face, but leaving the device on indoors might bring unwanted attention.
Sair avoided the row of dispatcher’s windows, looking for the spot where less official transactions might be conducted. Spying a door in the back, he moved toward it. A large sign in Dartian script hung on the wall: Spacefreighters Lounge. Sair walked through the connecting passageway, turning his face aside as figures stumbled past in the darkness. He halted at the entrance and scanned the room.
Inside, pilots and crew of many subspecies hulked over the bar or carried on quiet discussions at a number of booths and tables swallowed in gloom. Pirates and privateers, from the look of most. And no doubt more than a few bounty hunters. Thick smoke hung in the air, a pungent mixture of Dartian tobac and contraband. Sair choked back a cough, glad to have the extra concealment of the dark haze.
When no one glanced at him, he moved forward to prop a foot on the floor rail of the bar. Pressing a coin to the counter, he slid it across to the attender. “Billins, if you have it.”
Sunday, June 17, 2007
Guest of Honor: C. S. Friedman, Best Selling Fantasy and Science Fiction Author
Editor Guest of Honor: David G. Hartwell
Other special guests include artist Jeff Sturgeon and many more.
Looks to be a fantastic event!
More information available here: http://www.apollocon.org/
Thursday, June 14, 2007
Read more about it: http://www.azcentral.com/ent/arts/articles/0614hawking0614.html
More on Stephen Hawking: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_Hawking
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
An example of just one of the links that intrigued me:
Robot Reptile "Released" Into Wild from National Geographics News
Space activist Rick Tumlinson's latest venture is in the early planning stages, along with a sister endeavor Orbital Outfitters.
Read more about it here:
Sunday, June 10, 2007
Another landmark--or spacemark?--as of today the blog has 500 hits. Not bad for its first lunar cycle of operation. ;)
Thanks to all who have docked at Spacefreighters' Lounge.
Saturday, June 9, 2007
First Photo on left: Rags To Riches wins the Belmont Stakes today. She is the first filly in 102 years (1905) to win the Belmont Stakes, beating the best colts in her crop to do so. She is also the winner of the Hollywood Oaks, the fillies' Kentucky Derby.
Second Photo on right: Ruffian winning one of her many races. Ruffian is considered the greatest filly in racing history, if not the greatest racehorse of all time. She is the only horse to be buried on the infield of the Belmont track, with her nose pointed toward the finish line. The movie about Ruffian debuts tonight on ABC, 9PM Eastern.
Racing history was made today. Has the baton been passed?
Friday, June 8, 2007
The Space Shuttle Atlantis began the first mission of 2007 this morning.
NASA hopes to complete twelve more construction missions to the space station (in addition to this one). A repair of the Hubble Space Telescope is also planned before the shuttle fleet is retired in 2010.
The Atlantis crew includes commander Rick Sturckow, pilot Lee Archambault and mission specialists Patrick Forrester, Steven Swanson, Danny Olivas, James Reilly and Clayton Anderson in the first all-male crew since 2002.
Clayton Anderson will replace astronaut Sunita Williams representing the U.S. aboard the international space station. Williams will return to Earth with the Atlantis crew. She has been in orbit for the last six months.
Click here for a link to wallpaper of the above photograph:
Thursday, June 7, 2007
When you've downed your Dartian Billins and Romulan Ales, be sure to stop by and say "greetings". Oh, and be sure to check your swords and amulets at the door. :)
Wednesday, June 6, 2007
The 7:38 p.m. EDT Friday window is NASA's first opportunity to launch space shuttle Atlantis. There is a 70 percent change the weather will cooperate.
The shuttle will conduct an 11-day mission carrying seven astronauts. Its primary objective is to deliver a third pair of solar wings, which help power the international space station. Three spacewalks are also planned to continue construction of the orbiting outpost.
Click for more details: http://www.sci-tech-today.com/story.xhtml?story_id=0120009JB9AC
Tuesday, June 5, 2007
The site offers some neat products, too. How about an Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle poloshirt to sport on those trips to the mall? Or an Arthur Clark Mars Greenhouse mug for your morning coffee?
Here's the "Home" link to add to your list of references: http://www.spaceref.com/
This site will be added to our permanent resource list on the side panel for future reference.
Monday, June 4, 2007
Saturday, June 2, 2007
Beyond camoflage. A short 54 second video with no sound, but amazing images of one of nature's shapeshifters.
A 40+ second video with no sound. Watch carefully! Whoa!? Miss it the first time? Never fear. A slow motion/reverse follows. You still may not believe your eyes!
Sunday, May 27, 2007
— April 24, 1967: Soviet cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov is killed when his Soyuz I spacecraft crashes on return to Earth.
— June 29, 1971: Cosmonauts Georgy Dobrovolsky, Vladislav Volkov and Viktor Patsayev die during re-entry of their Soyuz 11 spacecraft. A government commission disclosed that the three died 30 minutes before landing because a faulty valve depressurized the spacecraft.
— Jan. 28, 1986: The space shuttle Challenger explodes 73 seconds after launch, killing all seven astronauts aboard, including Christa McAuliffe, intended to be the first teacher in space. Other astronauts killed were Francis "Dick" Scobee, Michael J. Smith, Ellison S. Onizuka, Judith A. Resnik, Ronald E. McNair and Gregory B. Jarvis.
— Feb. 1, 2003: Space shuttle Columbia breaks apart in flames about 203,000 feet over Texas, 16 minutes before it was supposed to touch down in Florida. All seven aboard were killed: William McCool, Rick Husband, Michael Anderson, Kalpana Chawla, David Brown, Laurel Clark and Ilan Ramon, who was Israel's first astronaut.
Friday, May 25, 2007
WARNING: If you watch until the end there is an inspiring quote, followed by a personal comment that some may find controversial or offensive. (I rather wish the last statement had not been added because I feel it takes away from the impact of the quote instead of adding to it, but that's personal preference and others may have no issues with the point being made.)