Dear Readers:

We appreciate the fact the current political environment is highly charged, but we want to keep Spacefreighters Lounge a stress-free place for everyone to visit and exchange ideas about SFR.

Therefore, we ask that you please refrain from making political references that may antagonize those with differing viewpoints. Thank you for your consideration.

Friday, September 28, 2012

REVOLUTION NEEDS SPARK TO LIGHT UP NEW TV SEASON

The new TV season is shaping up to be a slim one for science fiction fans. Several shows will be returning, of course—the final season of J.J. Abrams’ excellent FRINGE, the more paranormal SUPERNATURAL and WAREHOUSE 13 and the thrillers PERSON OF INTEREST and NIKITA, for example. (The return of the alien-battling FALLING SKIES must wait until January.)

But only one new show can claim true science fiction bona fides so far this fall: NBC’s REVOLUTION, a near-future post-apocalyptic adventure series from the minds of J.J. Abrams and Eric Kripke (of SUPERNATURAL fame). First episodes were directed by Jon Favreau (IRON MAN). So right away I’m thinking, with this much talent how can you possibly go wrong?

The short answer is: by not following your own creative instincts and letting the network dictate your parameters. Take the premise, for example. One day in the not too distant future, all the electricity simply stops working. All at once, without explanation. Cars crash on the highway. Planes drop out of the sky. Chaos ensues, and the country (indeed the world and all its many governments) falls apart.

This is not exactly an original idea. Science fiction author S.M. Stirling’s 2005 novel Dies the Fire, the first in his The Change trilogy, describes a time in our immediate future following a flash of light that renders all electronic devices, electricity and firearms useless. (If I remember correctly, Stirling explained that any quick thermodynamic reactions were untenable, thus no explosions, no gas combustion engines, etc. Humankind was instantly set back to the Dark Ages.) Stirling set his folks much more of a challenge and, at the same time, eliminated the basic inequalities of folks-with-guns vs. folks-without.

But, okay, ideas are not copyrightable, so we’ll move along. In REVOLUTION the assumption is made (as it always is in the post-apocalyptics) that lack of our comfy lifestyle immediately brings down our fragile government. Within fifteen years, according to the premise, we are left with nothing but a “militia” (national? local? that’s not clear yet from the two episodes I’ve seen) that terrorizes the peaceful little villages that have sprung up in former suburban cul-de-sacs. Of course, no one is allowed to own guns except the militia. Yes. The political point is as subtle as a rifle butt to the head. This will be the survivalists’ favorite new show, with extremely high ratings in places like Idaho and West Virginia.

We skip all the ugliness from The Day the Lights Went Out until 15 years later, when the militia roams the countryside unopposed except for a few stubborn resisters who insist on hoarding U.S. flags and shooting their own deer for supper. So we can’t know how the poorly equipped militia (on horseback) managed to subdue the armed populace. We see scenes in which only a few of the members of a militia squad have guns and are taken down by one man with a sword. (Really? Maybe it’s just a lack of proper training.) Seems to me there are enough guns in the hands of private individuals in the country right now that this particular militia wouldn’t get very far. The show’s writers either need to beef up the militia or beat down the resisters.

This being network television post-HUNGER GAMES, we must have a female teenage protagonist and her rival/love interest teen heartthrob counterpoint. In this case, the girl is Charlie Matheson (Tracy Spiradakos), whose father (killed in the first episode) may have had something to do with the blackout. Charlie is searching for her brother who has been taken by the leader of the militia (Giancarlo Esposito). Of course, she carries the requisite bow weapon—at least they adapted it to a crossbow. On a quest to rescue her brother, she meets Danny, a mysteriously protective member of the enemy militia, etc.

I would already have stopped watching if that was all there was to this show. I don’t like teen protagonists. I don’t like the thinly-veiled politics. So far, the SF clichés have run amok. But a couple of little plot twists came in toward the end of the second episode that added some interest to the adult characters that may keep me watching for another few episodes. After all, as SF fans, we can’t be too picky this season. Next week, the military thriller LAST RESORT promises Andre Braugher in a RED OCTOBER-meets-LOST kind of story. I’m willing to expand the SF ranks to include a spooky nuclear war conspiracy scenario, and I’ll review it next Friday.

Cheers, Donna

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

When Feedback Conflicts

Everyone has their own opinion. Look at the reviews for your favourite author, and you're just as likely to see people screaming about how much they loved this latest book as you are those spitting venom over how terrible it is. They're all correct in their view. No matter how hard an author tries, you are never going to please everyone. No matter how well written something is, it will simply not be someone's 'thing'. Or maybe it is badly written but people love the story and the characters anyway. There's been a lot of heated discussion over the poor quality of writing in some of the current biggest sellers. But they're still selling and people are still raving about them.

But what do you do if the difference of opinion is between two experts in their field? How do you settle that? 

This is what I consider my first year as a professional writer - ie published, and contracted to publish. Inspired by my Spacefreighter buddies and their shiny collection of Golden Hearts, I decided to enter a few contests myself this year. Keir made it as a Readers Favorite 2012 Finalist, but I also put the opening 5000 words of an unfinished WIP into The Rebecca. It didn't reach the finals (boo!), and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed with that. However, receiving the score sheets back from the judges was a huge bonus and gave me some fantastic feedback. Two of the judges chose to make comments on each section, although the third only made a comment at the very end. One even made some comments in the MS itself. To see how the entries are marked and what specifically the judges are looking for, here's the scoring system -

Score Sheet

Entry No.       __                            Judge                                                                 
                                                                  

Land Of Enchantment Romance Authors
The Rebecca Score Sheet, 2012

Entry Title: _____________                                                                     
Category: ______________________________________
Total score:__________________ Finalist: Yes/No
(30 points total possible)

Scoring: 1 = Needs major work
2 = Below average
3 = Average, still needs work, but shows promise
4 = Close to being publishable, but still needs minor work
5 = Excellent, ready for submission to editor

___OPENING HOOK (1-5 points each.)
Story opens with a strong hook that pulls the reader in, and story opens at the right place.
Comments:
___CHARACTERS (1-5 points each)
Well-rounded and likable main character(s) with believable actions and reactions.  If the hero and heroine are present, their attraction and chemistry are suited to this story.
Comments:
___ CONFLICT (1-5 points)
Well motivated main conflict is hinted at by the author.  Internal and external conflict are balanced.
Comments:
___WRITING: (1-5 points)
Author handles voice; showing not telling; POV changes; dialogue; setting description using the senses.
Comments:
___MECHANICS (1-5 points)
Mechanics of grammar, spelling and sentence structure.  Manuscript is formatted for neat, professional appearance and easy to read.
Comments:
___OVERALL APPEAL: (1 – 5 points)
If you were a reader in this genre, the entry grabbed your interest and made you want to read more
Comments:
Please describe at least one area this author handles well:

Please describe at least one area this author needs to work on:

Judge’s signature (optional): _________________________

____Published Author in Book-length Romance         ____Unpublished Author
____additional (define)

Or you can check out all the details on the LERA website here - http://www.leranm.com/about-the-rebecca/ 

Overall I was very pleased with the comments, and it seems I'm doing several things right consistently. But there was one area of contention between two of the judges who chose to make comments. There was a conflict over the...well, conflict! One judge felt the elements of internal and external conflict were fantastic and well balanced. The other felt there was far too much of it, and that it was confusing.

So what do you do when the opinion of two experts is so opposite? You could base it on the merits of each judge. If the feedback came from an author who's work you loved versus one you hadn't heard of, which would you chose? Or would you take the opinion of a potential publisher over that of an author? In this instance, judging the judge isn't possible. Two of them remained anonymous. 

To me, the solution is obvious. Unless you have a very strong preference yourself, seek another opinion! It doesn't have to be an author, an editor, or a publisher. A reader is equally qualified as to whether a story is working or not, if it's someone whose opinion you value. Critique partners and beta readers are invaluable here. Don't have any? Then seek out a group like CritiqueCircle.com for feedback, or join a writing forum. Network. Find yourself a band of people you trust. But always remember that you CANNOT please everyone, and you'll tear yourself to pieces if you try. At the end of the day you need to feel happy with your story as much as satisfying at least a handful of others who love your work. Oh, and a publisher/agent of course. It's finding the balance between potentially mixed advice and a happy middle road. If you get the same flaws mentioned repeatedly, then it's something that needs fixing. If it's one voice out of a dozen...well, then it's down to you. 

BTW I'm currently trying to compile a list of useful writer's resources here including editors, cover artists and forums where you can link up with like-minded people. If you have anything to add, please leave a comment.

So while I'm on the subject, I'd like to say a huge thank you to those who've helped to kick various projects into place. As far as The Rebecca is concerned, my thanks go to Liana Brooks and SL buddy Laurie Green at this time, who both ran a critical eye over Tethered before the contest.

 Pippa's Journal 



Action! 
I'm currently waiting on my first round of edits for Gethyon - the scifi novella I contracted last month with the Burst imprint of Champagne Books. I'm still trying to finish off the final draft of Keir's sequel - now renamed Keir's Fall. I've had a tough decision to make regarding a major element in the latter part of the story which is holding me up. My aim is to have it submitted by the end of September - or else! (Not sure 'or else' what, but be assured - I will punish myself severely for any failure! *digs out the holo-whips*). In the meantime, the first round of edits for my scifi rom short that I'm planning to self publish have just gone back to my editor. Looks like I might release that before Christmas, woo hoo!

On the subject of shorts, the SFR Brigade are mulling over the possibility of a Brigade anthology to help boost the prominence of SFR. There's currently a poll up over in the Facebook group here - please come over and vote. If you aren't a member of the group and would like to be, you can request to join there too.

Happenings - I'm honoured to have science fiction romance author Aubrie Dionne guesting over on my blog here today, for the release of her new novel Haven 6. I hope you'll stop by to say hello. There's also a Rafflecopter for a beautiful piece of handmade jewellry to tie in with the novel, so get your name down! The monthly Amazon Tagging Party list will open on the 24th September with tagging taking place on the 27th.

Ping Pong - Huge, huge congrats to Sharon on receiving her first 5 star review on Goodreads AND a glittering 4.5 review from RT Book Reviews for GHOST PLANET! Not long now until you can all get your hands on this book. :)

Monday, September 17, 2012

Review Roundup: RT gives Ghost Planet 4.5 stars!

The first reviews are coming in for GHOST PLANET (Tor, October 30), and this weekend was full of excitement!

RT Book Reviews
GHOST PLANET
by Sharon Lynn Fisher
Genre: Science Fiction, General Science Fiction
RT Rating - 4.5 stars

It takes guts to kill your heroine before page one, and Fisher has that in spades. Paying special homage to Stanislaw Lem’s Solaris (in particular, the moving Steven Soderbergh/George Clooney film adaptation) and Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, Fisher’s sci-fi romance debut thoroughly impresses. In Elizabeth’s struggle to reconcile the mystery of her existence as a ghost, Fisher offers a pitch-perfect balance of a cohesive scientific vision with poignant, naked emotion.

And also, Publishers Weekly calls GHOST PLANET:

"...an absorbing and exciting story full of science, sex, and intriguing plot twists"



And if that wasn't enough awesome for one weekend, a Goodreads reviewer who gave the book 5 stars wrote:

I haven’t enjoyed a book this much in a long time. Sharon Lynn Fisher’s Ghost Planet grabbed me into one of those book trances that leaves you unable to do laundry, sleep, or function in the real world until you finish. When forced to put the book down, you walk around in a book bubble thinking about the plot and how it might twist and turn until you can pick it up again. This is when you decide pancakes are awesome for dinner so you can go back to your comfy spot and slip back into the emotions of the book.

I love science fiction and have never felt that it should exclude romance. Relationships always drive a story whether it’s between warring factions, governments, scientists, or star crossed lovers. Where would Star Wars be without Han and Leia? Ghost Planet blends them seamlessly and this is a story where neither the science nor the romance takes a backseat to the other. They both hold their own in a way that as they interact, they each become more. The sum is greater than its parts... (Read full review)

The Devil Made Them Do It!

Co-bloggers Sharon Lynn Fisher and Pippa Jay join in on the fun at USA Today HEA for a confession of their secrets:

"What The Devil Made You Do"

Frequent visitor Barbara Elsborg fesses up, too.

Mondays should always start off with a laugh or ten, doncha think?

Oh...and a GIVEAWAY is part of the fun!

~~*~~

Friday, September 14, 2012

AUTHOR LOFTY IS 'ALL IN' WITH FIRST CHAPTER

In any good story we have to care what happens to the characters. They have to start off in one place—either literally or emotionally—and find or fight or grow their way to a better place. They have to have goals and motivations to get them moving and obstacles to stand in their way. In a romance, both the hero and the heroine have their own separate journeys to undertake as well as the journey they take together. This is in addition to the plot, which can take the form of space opera, horse opera, soap opera or historical drama.

Okay, so far, so good and Genre Fiction 101, you say. Yeah, but who knew you had to put all that stuff in the first chapter of your novel? Celebrated romance novelist Carrie Lofty, for one, who argued the point in her presentation at the Virginia Romance Writers’ meeting in Richmond September 8 on “The Essential First Chapter: Making a ‘Selling’ First Chapter”.

Lofty writes historical romance under her own name, paranormal romance/SFR (with Ann Aguirre) as Ellen Connor, and erotica as Katie Porter. With advanced degrees in both history and English, she is also uniquely qualified to help struggling writers with some of the thornier problems in commercial fiction. Her Pitch Witch workshops (with agent Kevan Lyon and others) are always filled to capacity at RWA National conferences. In 2011, Lofty sold a paranormal trilogy, tentatively titled The Dragon Kings, at auction based on the proposal alone. Says Lofty, “I credit Chapter One as key to the flurry of interest.”

What made her first chapter so compelling? What makes the first chapter of any book so gripping you just don’t want to put it down? If you’re a Hollywood screenwriter you’ll shout out “Action!” and throw in a chase scene. If you’re new at romance, you’ll have your hero and heroine scratching each other’s eyes out and call it conflict. If you’re a fledgling SF writer, you’ll spend ten pages describing the planet of Despairion. No. No. And, please, no.

According to Lofty (and noted screenwriter/speaker Michael Hauge), the key to compelling lies in the change we need to see in our characters and the writer’s ability to predict that change. Yep, the reader needs to see a little bit of where we’re going and want to go there. It’s as if we’re building a bridge or drawing a map. We don’t have to complete it or take the entire journey, but we’d better have a destination in mind that’s clear to the reader or they won’t go along.

Lofty calls these bridges the four arcs: the heroine’s arc, the hero’s arc, the romantic arc and the external arc (or plot). Others call them journeys or transformations, but it amounts to the same thing. You have to have a hint of each of these arcs right away, if not in the first chapter, then surely within the first 50 pages. The longer you wait to address the key pieces of the arcs, the longer the reader will be left to wonder, where is the heroine going? Where is the hero going in his life? Why are they together? What is the conflict that will keep them from being together (the plot)?

All of those questions, of course, give you GMC—goals, motivation, conflict. If you can’t answer those questions for your hero and heroine (and your villain, too, by the way), your readers will not be drawn in. They won’t know why; they just won’t be interested.

Look at an example, a clichéd one, perhaps, but an easy one. Gruff, angry lord of the manor, a widower, hires prim, proper governess for his child. They are attracted, but his estate is entailed and he must find a rich wife to save it, etc. You get the picture. From the first chapter we know the stakes. He has to learn to love; she has to loosen up and find her passion. They have to overcome society’s strictures against their love plus the money problem. We know where this is going. And historical romance fans everywhere are onboard for the ride.

Yes, there is a fine line between a good predictability and boring routine/cliché. Critics outside genre fiction harp endlessly about the “formulas” we use. But the hero’s journey is a “formula” every literary form uses. The hero must change in some significant way from the time we meet him (or her) to the end of the book. Lofty’s point in “The Essential First Chapter” is that we must give the reader some clue to that change from the outset, or the reader will not take the journey with us.

New writers will be tempted to tell us all about their heroes and heroines and how they need to change in that first chapter. The real trick is to show us instead, to let our characters act and speak and live on the page as they are in the time before something happens that forces them into the change. Pieces of their backstory emerge and they reveal themselves to the reader. Then, gradually as they interact with each other and the plot progresses, they become new people.

For paranormal and science fiction romance writers, worldbuilding is also a concern in the first chapter. The scene has to be set right away—where and when are you? What does it look like, smell like, feel like? But, like character-building, worldbuilding can’t be done all at once in a massive download of info-dumping. Your readers will retain the details of the world your characters live in much better if they absorb them in small doses along with the other elements of the story—dialogue and short description and action.

Well, you may be saying to yourself, I can do all this, but it’s gonna take me five chapters to do it! Okay, but the agent or editor you’re trying to snag stopped reading four chapters ago. Lofty started her presentation by asking for a show of hands: How many people wished the Golden Heart contest allowed for more than 50 pages? She said if our hands were up we were in trouble. You should be able to capture the essence of your story in that first 50 pages and really be on your way.

I had to admit at first I wanted to raise my hand. Then I thought about it. Fifty pages is really enough. It’s more than generous at two, almost three chapters. If you’re not able to introduce your hero and your heroine, show where they’re going and what might get in their way in that amount of time you’re just wandering in the desert. Time, perhaps, to draw a new map.

For more information about author Carrie Lofty and her work, check out her official website at http:\\www.carrielofty.com.

Cheers, Donna

Monday, September 10, 2012

Building a Near Future World


The Outer Planets, my Near Future SFR, is in the final phases of trim down and tidy up. I’m really excited to see what kind of reception this one will get from publishers. It fills a niche that isn’t often seen in SFR—that of a future that’s within the lifetime of most readers.

Take a step into the year 2039—just 27 years from now.

And say “Happy Birthday” to my heroine. She was just born yesterday. Literally.

Creating a Near Future world presents some fun twists. When there’s a reference in the story to “His Majesty, the King of England,” I think most readers will know exactly who holds that title.

Writing Near Future is a lot like writing a Contemporary with cooler tech. The world and society isn’t that much different from what we know today, it’s just a bit older, wiser and more battle worn.

In the year 2039, the next couple of decade are past tense. The world is experiencing a new dawn, emerging from borderline dystopia, where a global economic collapse and continuing climate change resulted in a scramble to survive. In the previous two decades, the melting ice sheets decreased the salt content of the oceans and partially altered the currents of the Atlantic Conveyor, throwing weather patterns into chaos. While the oceans rose, drowning coastline cities worldwide, drought turned former breadbasket regions into dustbowls. The effects on society are dire.

Water riots were commonplace. Mobs formed to loot stores—not to steal electronics to resell on the street, but to take the food they need for their families and children to live. In rural areas, communities formed raid gangs that stripped crops clean and butchered livestock on neighboring farms. Moral principles took a back seat to survival. Outbreaks of anarchy prevailed. The United Nations disbanded as governments refocused on maintaining order inside their own borders and protecting their citizens. Police states and martial law became commonplace.

By 2032, the climate begins to stabilize, thanks to an enforced scale back in greenhouse gas emissions, and the world returns to more normal conditions, socially and economically, leaving mankind still shaking in its boots at what could have been.

And what might be again in the not too distant future.

The Nations is formed, a multi-national entity with a focus on expanding and diversifying mankind’s interests beyond the “all the eggs in one basket” scenario of having the fate of the species tied to one planet.

International resources are pooled to re-ignite a global space exploration program. ASP—Armstrong Space Port—with its orbiting shipyards begins construction in orbit in 2033 and is completed by the close of 2035. A year later it houses a population of over 15,500 military, corporate and support personnel.

With regular shuttle flights from ASP, temporary bases are constructed on the Moon and Mars as the first step in establishing permanent mining operations.

With the fire-up of ASP comes Project Destination. Spearheaded by The Nations, it’s an ambitious multi-national exploratory mission to the Outer Planets—Jupiter and Saturn—or more specifically the 120+ moons they share between them—to identify resources and future colony sites.

Construction of the Nations’ Star Ship—NSS Destination—is underway. And the debate about crew selection begins…

Your turn to envision the future. How do you see it? Do you think it might unfold much like the past described in The Outer Planets or do you think history will take a very different course?

Next Week: Building a Crew

Friday, September 7, 2012

Web Site Advice: Offer From An Agent

I want to share this because I think it's so cool.

My agent, Amanda Luedeke, posted on the MacLit blog yesterday that she'll provide free advice and insights on your website:

Free Website and Social Media Feedback for Authors 

Just give her article a read and enter your comments with a link to your site. Amanda offers workshops on maximizing social media, too.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Third Annual Burning of Badjuju

It's time again for an annual tradition here on Spacefreighters Lounge. The Burning of Badjuju. No worries. This isn't an act of violence, it's a celebration of overcoming adversity.

Let me explain...

There's an annual event in Santa Fe, New Mexico each fall, called the burning Zozobra. This ritual flaming of "Old Man Gloom" represents letting go of all your cares, disappointments, worries and griefs that have accumulated in the past year.

For weeks prior to the event, residents converge on the offices of the Santa Fe Reporter to leave artifacts of their troubles. The monstrous puppet is then stuffed with these notes, documents, photos, legal papers, and other representations of aggravation and set ablaze before a crowd of thousands.

On 2010, we created our own version of Zozobra for writers, dubbing it "Badjuju." The event was so popular that Badjuju made an encore appearance in 2011. And now? Hey, it's 2012! We definitely need a Badjuju Burning this year!

So once again we your need help stuffing our "Writer's Old Man Trouble" with whatever bad karma you can toss in--rejection slips, deep-sixed manuscripts, misguided reviews, low contest scores, delusional judge's comments, or any other woes and negativity you want to shed so you can watch them go up in a blaze of glory. Troubles, begone!

Let's see what a couple of last years' Badjuju participants tossed into the heap. 

From Donna S. Frelick: "This time I would throw in all maps to nowhere, obstacles on the road to success, and discouraging words. There have been way too many of those this year. Oh, and let me write this on a piece of paper for the fire: Lose the aliens! :-)" Hmm, Donna was a DOUBLE Golden Heart Finalist this year. Torching Badjuju was one heck of a harbinger of good fortune for her!

From Pippa Jay: "I'd have stuffed the bad critique I got from another aspiring writer and that nearly stopped me from submitting into Badjuju. The story got offered a contract in June." If I'm right, that story is the now published KEIR, and Pippa has had more good things come down the pike of late, right Pippa? Yup, worked for her, too.

We had other items thrown into the pyre by Sharon Lynn Fisher, Pauline Baird Jones, Lisa Lane, Frances Pauli, Barbara Elsborg, Sarah Shade and Anna.

Click here to read what they tossed into the pyre at last year's event. Then join in the fun.

What would YOU like to stuff into Badjuju?

Sunday, September 2, 2012

My "La Marcha" and ASP

Heaving a deep sigh of relief, here.  Ahhhhhhhh!

Now I can finally get back to the place I love most....my fictional universe.

I'm back, back in the New York writing groove!

Today I'm playing catch-up on this blog with a couple of non sequitur thoughts...

Tradition and Symbolism and Plot, Oh My!

This weekend I attended a co-worker's wedding, and had a wonderful time joining in on a New Mexican tradition known as La Marcha. Part procession, part congo line, and all frolic, La Marcha goes something like this...

The music starts.

The procession leaders, usually followed by the bride and groom and couples of the wedding party, start off the La Marcha by winding around the room between tables, clapping, in a sort of shuffle-jig-dance.

The guests all find a partner (usually the opposite sex, but anything goes) and join in at the end of the line. Everyone claps hands as they Marcha.

The procession does as least one full CIRCLE of the room or dance area, and then the lead couple turns toward the center of the room and WALKS DOWN THE AISLE.

When they reach a specific point (in this case, the "particular point" was the DJ who helped guide some of the more bewildered participants) where the partners SEPARATE--men to left, women go right--and begin their split La Marcha processions that wind around opposite sides of the room.

The two lines then come back together to JOIN at a particular point (our savvy DJ marked the spot again) and if all goes well (ours did) you get your original partner back.

At this point, the lead couple forms a BRIDGE with their hands and the other couples walk under the bridge and stop once through to join and raise their hands beside them, extending the bridge. This continues until all the couples have gone under the bridge (being nearer the back of the line, we had a lot of "bridge" to go under).

Once all the couples have gone under the bridge, the lead couple goes through, and then the bride and groom, and the next couple, as the bridge begins to self-destruct, couple by couple.

As everyone comes out the end of the bridge, they ALL JOIN HANDS to form a continuous hand-linked line that winds around the room a few more times.

The leader takes the line to the center of the dance floor, where the line circles around until the bride and groom become the center of the many spirals around them.

Then everyone parts to move back to the edge of the dance floor in a big circle leaving the bride and groom at the center to dance. Clapping hands, they move forward to surround the bride and groom, then back off to the edge of the dance floor, then move forward to surround the bride and groom a few more times.

There are many interpretations on the theme and mileage may vary. Our La Marcha lasted about 13 minutes. Huge parties can take as long as a half hour to complete all the steps of the La Marcha, and so--as the DJ informed us--the traditional La Marcha music lasts a full 30 minutes in a sort of musical loop that seems to come to a stop, but then continues on. Again and again.
Having a hard time picturing all this?  Here's a video that captures the experience of La Marcha...




Is it a blast?  Oh, yeah. But La Marcha is meant to represent the stages of life. It occurred to me it also has close parallels to a romance plot.

Boy meets girl (or whoever applies)
Boy connects/Marchas with girl
Boy "walks down the aisle"/becomes a couple with girl
Boy loses/separates with girl
Boy and girl get back together
Boy and girl learn to bridge their differences
Boy and girl dance happily ever after

Done well, La Marcha can engage your guests and get them involved in the event, making them a part of the journey, of the action.

My challenge as a writer is to keep my readers engaged in my "plot La Marcha" and not let them be pulled out of the dance to wander, bored, back to their tables.

A good mental image for me to keep in mind as I dive back into my manuscripts. 

On ASP... and the Passing of a Legend

The full moon this past week--a very rare Blue Moon, or second full moon of the month--seemed a fitting tribute to the man who first stood on this other world that compadre Buzz Aldrin described as "magnificent desolation."

He was a great hero of mine.

My Near Future SFR, The Outer Planets, begins with a shuttle flight by the MC from the ASP space station to an awaiting planetary research vessel. ASP is actually an acronym for Armstrong Space Port. I doubt many will wonder for whom it was named.

When I began writing this story that opens in 2039, it only seemed fitting that one of our first joint military/civilian/industrial orbiting space stations would carry the name of the man who first sparked our imagination and fueled our dreams of exploring the universe.

So here's a salute to Neil Armstrong from the 15,522 residents of Armstrong Space Port. May the spirit of your courage, honor and duty long be a hallmark of our nation, our world...and our species.

And may you forever Rest in Peace.