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, May 31, 2013

A ROSE BY ANY OTHER NAME



When the world was new, so the story goes, God gave Adam the job of naming all of His creatures, giving Man dominion over all of the lesser beings on Earth.  The Big Guy may be regretting that decision long about now, but that’s another story.  This one’s about the importance of naming a thing.

In The Gambia, where I served as a Peace Corps Volunteer, the Mandinka villagers waited seven days after a child was born to give it a name.  If the child thrived, a ceremony was held, in which first the child, then the village, learned the new baby’s name, and the new life was celebrated with food, music and dancing.

So, if naming a child of the flesh is that important, can naming a child of the mind be any less so?  Picking the title of your book, in fact, can have a lot more consequences than merely calling your son “Junior”.  A good title can draw the interest of agents and editors; it can make readers want to pick your book out of a line-up of others on the shelf or online.  A plain, vanilla title is not likely to stand out among anyone’s collection of 32 flavors.  You must choose wisely, grasshopper!

After all, a book title does a lot of heavy lifting.  You aren’t there to explain to everyone who looks at your book cover what the book’s about.  You can’t pitch every potential reader in 10 seconds.  But your title can.  Think about the great ones:  Pride and Prejudice; To Kill a Mockingbird; Gone with the Wind; Brave New World; Fahrenheit 451.  Each of them tells a little story in itself, expressing the theme or something important about the book.  Recast, these titles fall flat and the books might never have seen the light of day:  Elizabeth Gets Married; My Friend Boo; Tara; In the Future; Bookburners.

The best titles capture the theme of the book somehow, as almost all of those above do.  Sometimes the reader will have to get through a big part of the book to find that theme; sometimes she’ll need an English professor to get it; sometimes the helpful author will place something right in the front of the novel to show everyone what they’re trying to say with the title, as Margaret Mitchell, Aldous Huxley and Ray Bradbury did.

But the theme isn’t the only thing a reader gets from the title.  No matter what the cover looks like, I know a book like Starship Troopers or The Moon is a Harsh Mistress will be dramatically different from This Duchess is Mine.  I know immediately that the first two are SF (and, further, military, hard SF), the last is historical romance.  I would guess from the titles alone that there would be lots of action and little character development in the first two; lots of setting, character and (probably steamy) romance in the last one. 
 
In addition to theme and genre/subgenre, the title should also give you a taste of the style of the book. This is where authors tend to get a little wild and crazy, of course, especially if they use humor in their books at all:  The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe; The World According to Garp; Your Planet or Mine?; Venus on the Half-Shell.  Each of these author’s voices comes through loud and clear in their titles, though you don’t really know that until you start reading.  Something about the title simply has to speak to you.  If you like it, you read the back cover, then the first page and you’re off and running. 

Given all the work a title has to do, it’s no surprise choosing the right one for a book is a tough job.  My first “published” work was a TREK fanfic novella called The Mindsweeper (1991).  Evidently someone else thought that was such a good title they used it for their novel, which was nominated for a Golden Heart® in the Paranormal category this year!  (Titles can’t be copyrighted, by the way.  Someone could use Pride and Prejudice if they had the brass to do it.)  My novella did well, anyway.  I think the title helped.

The first book in my Interstellar Rescue series, Unchained Memory, started life as the much-drabber Lost Time.  The story of a woman on a quest to find out what happened to her during three hours of time she can’t account for has elements of alien abduction, interstellar slavery, governmental black ops here on Earth and, of course, romance.  My mentor, SF writer A.C. Crispin, took one look at the opening chapters and said, “This title ain’t gonna cut it.”  I went out to dinner with a friend, did some brainstorming and Unchained Memory is the improved result.  (One more reason I have to thank you, Ann!)

When it came time to name the second book in the series, I thought I’d continue with the R&B song theme.  This story pairs a half-alien tracker with an FBI agent to find a kidnap victim who is key to a plan for alien domination.  Much of the plot centers on the psychic talents of the aliens (and half-aliens!) involved.  So I chose an old blues tune for the title: Trouble in Mind.

The third book in the series, in revisions now, involves a space pirate and an undercover Rescue agent in a daring plan to infiltrate an alien arms factory.  It’s called Fools Rush In.  The next book, just in the planning stages, features a Rescue agent who brings his aged, ailing father back to Earth and falls in love with the woman he hires to care for the old man.  The title I’ve settled on is from an old Del Shannon song, Follow the Sun.

I break a few of my own rules with these titles, largely because I’m trying to fit the “song” pattern.  Without knowing the plot, you wouldn’t know what genre I’m writing in, for example.  Without any information at all, you might think they were romantic suspense titles.  To a certain extent, that’s a deliberate move.  For romance readers or others for whom science fiction is a new, unknown thing, a title that clearly says SF smacks of little, green men or spaceships a la Buck Rogers.  I don’t write that kind of SFR (few SFR writers do), and I would rather they see the romance/suspense side of my work (my style, if you will) in the title. 

Then, too, because these books are companion novels, part of a series currently envisioned as Interstellar Rescue, those who are looking for the SF side of SFR will get that through the series title.  That is, if all goes according to plan.

Because, as we all know, it is possible that those who market our books will have other plans.  They might change the titles we have so carefully picked out.  They may conceive of covers that make sense only in some alternate universe, for reasons that only they can understand.

In that case, we can only hope that they are better at this naming thing than we are, and come up with something better than the literary equivalent of “New Coke” or “Edsel”.

Ping Pong

@ Pippa—Excellent post on the continuing debate over women in science fiction and what that might mean for SFR.  The statistics showing that it’s actually not that there are fewer women writing, but that they are just not getting reviewed, reflects the brouhaha last year over the lack of review in major newspapers of women’s books overall.  **sigh**  It’s been almost fifty years since the beginning of the Women’s Movement and we’re still having these discussions?  This is why I truly believe the future of SFR lies in the romance community, not the SF community.  Romance readers are more open to the idea of SF than SF readers are open to the idea of romance.  I’ll stop short of saying it’s because of their gender and say it’s because they’re more widely-read or open-minded or something. 

Cheers, Donna

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Without the Romance, Dune was just a book about worms...

© Robert Magorien | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Over the last few weeks I've been thinking about the problems in promoting and selling SFR, and even SF if you happen to be a female author. It's bugging me (can you tell?). I've seen a lot of conversations on Twitter about why female SF authors aren't necessarily a minority, but aren't given the same recognition or notice as male SF authors. The most recent discussion was over comments left on an io9 post about gender bias in SFF reviews here. The article itself begins "The good news is that men and women are published in almost equal numbers. The bad news is that books by men are reviewed far more often. So when women get published, you rarely hear about them." They then give the stats that provided that conclusion. Their research found there's a (probably) unconscious bias toward male authored speculative fiction by reviewers, but it was the comments that kicked off the Twitter conversation.

1.Female SF authors only write character driven or even romantic scifi (or as one person said on Twitter "eww, romance") as opposed to action driven.

2.Male SF authors only write action driven SF.

Oh, really?

Response to point 1. I know for a fact I don't always put romance in my scifi. I have two straight scifi stories to match my current two sfr stories. Also, one of my favourite authors is Jaine Fenn, and while there are various relationships including romantic ones, I certainly wouldn't call her books romances. They are SCIFI. And I'm sure she's not the only non-romance SF author the 'eww, romance" person could find if they bothered to look. And "eww, romance"?! What, our characters should live in an emotionless void without relationships of any kind? How realistic is that?

Response to point 2. First up, while my other fave author Neal Asher writes hard, explosive and often gruesome SF, he spend a lot of time on the psychology and relationships between his characters. The Technician, for example, focused in depth on the long-term insanity of its male MC, and the autistic nature of an amphidapt secondary character. While I've yet to find any romance as I understand the term, Asher writes stories that deal with adult humans (oh, okay, and homicidal aliens, tech that could obliterate the universe, and superior AIs are in there too) and his characters react realistically. So I would say there is a balance between characters and action, not one predominating over the other.

Also, the SFR Brigade has several male authors in its membership, and I've met several others who write romance into their scifi. But after a comment by TK Toppin about how if you removed the romance between Paul and Chani in Dune, it becomes just a book about worms, I started thinking about the scifi I'd read as a teen, predominantly by MALE SF authors. Dune - the love story between Duke Atreides and his concubine Jessica that almost destroyed the Bene Gesserits' work by producing the Kwisatz Haderach a generation too early. Paul's love for Chani and his arranged marriage to Princess Irulan. Take those away, as TK said, and all you have is a 'book about worms'. A space opera I'm currently working on reminded me of Friday by Robert Heinlein which, as I recall now (but not at the time) had romantic elements. Asimov's The Robots of Dawn too, where the central female character had formed an emotional and physical relationship with a humaniform robot because the current human society from which she'd come from and the one in which she taken refuge hadn't enabled her to enter a normal relationship with another human being. I'd say the story focused as much on that 'romance' as it did the crime, politics and technology of the story.

Then look at some recent SF films (some taken from books by male authors, but also screenplays written by men, films produced and directed by men) - Avatar, John Carter, and Oblivion. Star Wars (Han and Leia/Anakin and Amidala). Take the romance out of these and you damage, if not destroy the story.

So not only are we in a niche genre, but we seem to be battling very old stereotypes about what male and female authors write, and while we may equal the male authors in numbers, we're somehow invisible. If a man writes SF, whether the romance exists and is mentioned or not, there's no 'eww'. But if you're a woman? Sigh.

I'm off to write a book about worms... :-P

Because it ties into this discussion somewhat, I'm linking to a couple of interesting articles. Heather has posted over at the SFR Brigade blog about the need of innovative marketing for SFR here. And Rinelle Grey has posted about whether we should stick to the old adage of 'write what you know' here.

Pippa's Journal


Action!

My YA scifi novel Gethyon releases in less than a week on the 3rd of June! Squee! I've had my final PDF, which I started sending out for reviews requests straight away, and I've already had two acceptances. I'll be doing a month long tour, and you can find all the details of where, when and what I'm giving away here, as well as a ton of guest posts on the technology, antagonists and protagonists, spaceships and even fashion in Gethyon's universe. Now begins the mad panic. Will readers like it? Will they hate it? What the heck are people expecting after Keir?



And if that isn't excitement enough, the Tales from the SFR Brigade anthology should be available from midsummer. Woo hoo! Have you checked out the cover art yet? Here ya go!


In the meantime, I have two other short stories out on submission to anthologies. I should know about the cyberpunk come mid-August, and the other for Champagne Books inhouse call by the end of the year at the latest. I'm still waiting for further details on two other projects that I can't yet comment about - a full length sfr novel and sfr novella. Shh!

And I finally decided on a project for after the month long tour for Gethyon. Entry into The Rebecca closes mid July, and I have a decopunk superhero romance novella I'd like to put in. Last year I entered my sfr novella Tethered, and while it didn't place I got some fantastic feedback and a good score on it. If you'd like more details, check out the LERA contest here. I can highly recommend it for the professional feedback.

BTW, on the subject of contests, if you're interested in entering some you can find the RWA listings (published, self and unpublished contests) here and contests for self-published works (although some, if not all also take small press and/or trad published entries, as well as unpublished) here.

Happenings
Have you signed up for the SFR Brigade's 2nd Midsummer Blog Hop yet? Come on, what are you waiting for?! Go here! Not sure what to do or what it involves? Go here! Any other questions you can direct straight to me via sfrbrigadebloghop (at) gmail (dot) com. If you're willing to send in a donation, please get in touch as soon as possible because I can't announce a grand prize until I've a rough idea of what's coming. Ebooks are also welcome. :)


Discoveries
Rinelle Grey has posted some useful tips on how authors can use Goodreads here.
Heather Massey now has an awesome list of free or under $0.99 books at The Galaxy Express here. Hop over and check it out! And let her know if you have one that can be added to the list.
The night before last I received an email from All Romance eBooks telling me Gethyon was listed and available to buy. I was gobsmacked, as it isn't due for release until the 3rd of June and isn't a romance. Several moments of panic ensued, especially as the link came back 'page not found' and nada on a search. However, thanks to Laurel Kriegler, Gethyon was tracked down to the Omnilit page. Phew! You can now pre-order my newest release here. Not only that, but just 12 hours later it hit the Omnilit best seller list. At number 1 no less! *bounces* It may not be there now but to have it make it there and so soon left me somewhat tearful. A huge thank you to everyone who pre-ordered it - you are all AWESOME!



Ping Pong
@Donna - I didn't realise Cumberbatch was meant to be Kahn! I honestly can't imagine it. I almost went to see it Saturday - hubs and I had our first weekend away without our kids in ten years - but it was a choice between a film or dinner, and I'm afraid hunger won...
@Laurie - I agree, I'd need more scientific proof to believe in Bigfoot. And yet, every day scientists are discovering new species. If Bigfoot is intelligent, perhaps that's been enough to keep it out of sight - and let's face it, with humanity's ability to wipe species out who can blame Bigfoot for hiding away - but no. Dodgy film footage and footprints aren't enough to convince me.
And thank you for the shout out yesterday. :)


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Gethyon is #1 on OmniLit Bestsellers List!

The Spacefreighters Lounge crew
congratulates
Pippa Jay
on her novel
Gethyon
hitting #1
on the OmniLit Bestsellers List!
Many Congrats, Pippa!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Mysteries and Legends

MISSION: SUCCESS
Laurie's Journal

I hope you're enjoying your Memorial Day weekend and the launch into summer. The long weekend has given me a little time to work on my manuscripts, as well as get some work done around the house. Both give me a great sense of accomplishment.

I also want to acknowledge the reason for the holiday--the memory of veteran heroes, both living and fallen. We owe so much to their sacrifice. I can never offer enough thanks for their service.

We Have a WHAT in the Neighborhood?

For over twenty years, I've lived on a ranch in the desert southwest--a little patch of high plains and pinon-dotted foothills "where the llano estacado rolls up to the Southern Rockies." This is the ol' stomping grounds of the likes of Billy the Kid, Kit Carson and Teddy Roosevelt's Rough Riders.

So I was a little shocked, to say the least, when I recently learned that we may be sharing our space with some very unexpected neighbors. Bigfoot!

This recent local news story caused quite a stir (although the news anchors obviously aren't convinced)! I can understand the surprise. Most people have thought this elusive creature lived in dense pine forests and impenetrable swamps. The truth is that Bigfoot-like creatures are prevalent in Navajo lore and are often spotted on barren ridges and rocky foothills in my state.

Two of the mountain ranges mentioned in the above story are the Ortiz and the Sandias. Just for the record, the Ortiz are just to our north--I commute through this range every day--and the Sandias are just to our west.

In other words, our little rancho is located in Bigfoot Central.

I snapped a few photos of the Ortiz during my commute to and from work:
A smokey view of the Ortiz Range (heading north)

One of the Ortiz passes (headed south)

We made a drive up to Sandia Crest after dinner Friday night so I could post a few pics of this supposed Bigfoot habitat:

 Mid-way up the Sandia Crest

Sandia Crest habitat at twilight

Bigfoot Crossing???  Nahhhh.


And these are the mountains in our "backyard"--the San Pedros--which are connected to the Ortiz and lay just to the east of the Sandias.

The San Pedro Range

Sandia Range as seen from the San Pedro pass

After someone caught compelling footage of what is believed to be a Sasquatch on a thermal imagery camera in the Jemez forest, the production crew of the Finding Bigfoot television series made a visit to conduct research in the area.

Here's part of the episode that was filmed in New Mexico:


Do I believe Bigfoot exists?

I'm not sure. There has certainly been a lot of circumstantial evidence and "sightings" over the years of some sort of massive creature. But I have to wonder--like the skeptic in the footage above--if they're out there, why haven't we ever recovered something physical that could verify their existence--a body, a bone, even a tooth?

If such evidence ever turns up, then something truly profound will occur. Bigfoot will move from the arena of the "paranormal cryptozoology" into "scientific find." And that really gives me goosebumps!

Paranormal vs. Science Fiction

All of this Bigfoot hullabaloo has me pondering my fourth novel, with the working title of Chimera. This tale isn't about a Bigfoot, but it does involve something the characters believe might have been unleashed in the forests of northern Michigan. It's an entity that was created by scientific research--though it's not some escapee from a secret lab. (That's been done to death).

While working on my story about a year ago, I made a very chilling discovery. The premise of my wholly fictional story is documented to have actually happened! In fact, it's a phenomenon that's recognized by one major religion where it holds the same level of credibility that demonic possession has to the Catholic faith.

So this has created a bit of a dilemma for me. Will my story be classified as Science Fiction Romance or is it Paranormal Romance?

The Argument for Science Fiction (Romance): The title subject exists as a result of scientific research and becomes an unknown entity when the scientist loses control of the experiment. The existence of such a phenomenon has been documented, though not by the mainstream scientific community.

The Argument for Paranormal (Romance): The title subject's existence can't be proven except by questionable circumstantial evidence (footprints and sightings, much like Bigfoot). It might exist only in the character's minds. It's real to them, but there's no proof the subject is actually tangible.

Tell me what you think. Would Chimera be better described as Science Fiction Romance, or Paranormal Romance, or a crossover mash up of the two? Have you ever heard of Paranormal SF Romance?

Oklahoma Tornados

My heart goes out to all the tornado victims and survivors in Oklahoma. Seeing videos of the devastation and hearing stories of those who lived through the disaster illustrates what a horrific act of nature this superstorm was.

Oklahoma RWA or OKRWA, probably best known for their Finally A Bride (FAB) contest, is based in the general area, so here's hoping none of their members were severely impacted by the storm.

Ping Pong

@Donna  I enjoyed reading your take on the new Star Trek installment. One thing can be said for the new generation films--nothing can be assumed or predicted.

@Sharon After just having read Ghost Planet (for the nth time), I enjoyed it just as much as my previous trips to Ardagh I. The RITAS are coming up fast. Best wishes for the awards!

@Pippa  Loved your article on what a muse is...or isn't. Mine is temperamental, persnickety and, at times, elusive. Oh wait. She's me! LOL  Here's to always having more stories in your head than you ever have time to write.

Friday, May 24, 2013

"KHAAAANN!!!"


Yes, by now everyone knows who the villain is in J.J.Abrams’ latest TREK reboot, STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS:  Khan Noonian Singh, the 20th Century superman first immortalized on the screen by Ricardo Montalban in TOS episode “The Space Seed” and STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN.  Khan, Kirk’s nemesis of many years, the Moriarty to Kirk’s Holmes (and a fitting piece of reverse casting there, too, for the man chosen to play him in this new version).  A man supposedly superior in every way to our hero, and yet, a man lacking in those qualities which define Kirk and ensure that Kirk will ultimately defeat him—compassion, intuition, resourcefulness.

"From Hell's heart I stab at thee!"
The original cinematic version of Khan’s story, STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN, was an epic tale of good and evil, of guilt and revenge, almost Shakespearean in scope.  Shatner’s Kirk and Montalban’s Khan gobbled scenery with abandon as Khan chased his version of the white whale “around perdition’s flames.”  At the same time, Kirk’s own past came back to haunt him, even as his confinement to a desk job in Starfleet put his future (and his self-worth) in doubt.  The battle between these Titans culminated, of course, in Spock’s sacrifice to save the Enterprise, a death the loss-averse Kirk was not prepared to accept.  (And, luckily, didn’t have to.  This is STAR TREK, after all.)

There is little of the broad scope and classic literary feel to Abrams’ retelling of the Khan tale.  His Kirk is younger, brasher and not much given to introspection.  His Khan is likewise younger, just awakened from his 300-year sleep, and doesn’t have a personal grudge against the captain who marooned him on a planet which then was knocked from its orbit and turned into a dustball.  The story loses something with the lack of that personal element, which it doesn’t regain with the addition of the war-mongering Admiral Marcus.  That part of the plot seems reminiscent of STAR TREK VI: THE UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY, though the Klingons just seem to be Marcus’s pet whipping aliens.  No one else seems to be worried about them.

Other elements of the Khan story are in place, however. Carol Marcus. A perilously out-of-sync warp drive on the Enterprise demanding the ultimate sacrifice from a senior officer. Kirk in limbo, this time having lost command of the Enterprise over a violation of the Prime Directive. (In STII:TWOK, Kirk had been “kicked upstairs”—forced into a desk job he’s not suited for and doesn’t want.)  In both films, a crisis puts Kirk back in the captain’s chair of the Enterprise and sends him off in search of the man behind an attack on the Federation.

Benedict Cumberbatch (SHERLOCK) plays this man, who is revealed to be Khan, in Abrams’ universe.  With all the other TREK characters, Abrams was careful to be true to the physicality, the mannerisms and the underlying nature of the people he was recreating.  We can forgive Chris Pine’s blue eyes, because he embodies Jim Kirk’s energy, enthusiasm, courage and intuition.  Not to mention his grin.  Simon Pegg doesn’t exactly look like Scotty, but he is Scotty, somehow.  My God, the rest of them—Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, John Cho, Zoe Soldana—are just channeling their counterparts.  And, personally, I like Anton Yelchin better than the original. (Sorry, Chekov fans.)

Khan, is that you?
But Cumberbatch’s Khan cannot be said to be anything like Montalban’s.  You cannot imagine that even if he were left to struggle for survival on a hostile world with his vulnerable human wife and his beloved superhuman followers that he would ever develop the twisted passion that marked Montalban’s every word and movement.  Even Cumberbatch's arrogance is muted and refined, where Montalban’s was haughty, nose-in-the-air and overdeveloped-chest-in-your-chest.

Now some people prefer their villains cool and restrained like this.  The story demands that Khan be somewhat reasonable at first, as does “The Space Seed”, you may recall. (Though, even then, Montalban was obnoxious as hell.)  And, granted, in the end, the new Khan does lose his cool a little bit.  But we never get a real sense of obsession or madness from him, and because we’re given few details of his past as a leader of a genocidal regime, we have little idea of the true trouble he could cause.  Perhaps, sadly, it’s because we’re too inured to terrorism in the real world and extreme violence in the film world.  Oh, he’s a bomber.  So?  He shoots a bunch of Starfleet officers?  Why does that make him special?  

We actually saw nothing of what Khan did in the original episode and yet we knew him to be a mass murderer on the order of Hitler.  He killed only six people in STII:TWOK before Kirk found him, and we knew him to be insane, obsessed and absolutely ruthless.  Most of it was because of that glint of madness in Montalban’s eye. 
 
Montalban-and-Shatner was a match made in Hollywood Heaven. Two hammy heavyweights vying for screen energy meant the sparks flew in their scenes together, both in the original episode and in the movie sequel.  Cumberbatch and Pine don’t quite make the same movie magic.  Cumberbatch is too cool; Pine is too hot.  They end up canceling each other out.  Part of it is the way Khan is written.  Part of it is that Khan has no real reason to hate Kirk and, though Kirk has plenty of reason to hate Khan, he already has enough fire.  With nothing equally passionate in Cumberbatch to meet Pine's emotion, the scenes between them tend to go flat.

Does this make STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS a bad film?  Not at all.  Taken on its own merits Abrams’ film is highly entertaining, emotionally satisfying and true to the spirit of the STAR TREK universe.  Just don’t expect the new vision of Khan to include flowing hair, bare pecs and a penchant for quoting Melville.  Can’t have everything, I guess.

Cheers, Donna



Wednesday, May 22, 2013

When the Muse Misbehaves


I've seen several authors say there's no such thing as a muse, and others virtually tearing out their hair on Twitter because of this strange entity. For me, the muse is a single personality made up of all the voices in my head. The idea that wakes me up at 4am and won't go away. The mind-numbing lack of words at that essential moment in the story. The warren of plot bunnies that appear mid project. And the sudden burning urge to work on 'that' old story right in the middle of urgent edits with a deadline. She's capricious, elusive when needed and a persistent noise when I want her to shut up. She can be the genius who solves the backed-into-a-corner jam in the midst of housework, or the sudden silence in the same situation two days later. She's a tease and a torture. Yes, she's also still me, but she's the part of me that gets my characters into trouble, then sits back and laughs while I try to fix it. Oh, how I love and hate her!

Right now we're at an impasse. Content edits for Imprint - my SFR short for the Brigade anthology  - are done and off for copy edits. I've had and checked the ARC for my scifi novel Gethyon, due out in just 11 days, squeee!  All my guest posts for the virtual tour are done bar one, and ready to send off. I'm going to be busy until the end of June, but with nothing else contracted right now, I'm looking at my next project to complete.

The problem is, I just can't decide what to work on next. It isn't lack of ideas. While muse may not have given me more than a few tenuous new ideas over the last month, I have seventeen - yep, SEVENTEEN - current WIPs on my hard drive. Everything from ready-to-sub manuscripts to drafts that are more at the coal than rough diamond stage. A short story that's been through first round edits but still isn't ready two years after writing it. A superhero romance that started as an urban fantasy, went scifi, steampunk, dieselpunk, and is currently decopunk/alternate timeline. There are more Quin/Keir stories, a space pirate vampire novella, and even a dark fantasy romance, started for a contest and never finished. And lastly a folder with a collection of CAPTCHA words, odd bits of tech, some lines, titles, and random paragraphs of ideas all waiting for a home.

And I just can't choose between them. About half a dozen are clamouring for attention for different reasons, like a bunch of toddlers at nursery. The series of books that I'd planned for Keir are kind of in limbo until the fate of Book Two is decided. Three stories for Quin are all demanding that I work on them, and with the sudden arrival of New Adult as a category that's growing in popularity, I feel I should finish her first adventure. I should do the edits on the short, one of Quin's stories set before Gethyon and Keir (yes, I'm working backwards. Don't ask me why - the stories have been in my head for 20 years but I'm only just writing them down, sigh). Then there's the story with Quin and Darion. There *are* readers who want to know what happened there.

And nearly everything that I have finished has some kind of sequel now. Terms & Conditions Apply has one, plus another spin off idea (I can blame Diane Dooley for that last one). Tethered, another finished work that may have found a home (can't comment on that just now, shh!) has a sequel. Even Imprint has a follow up story that's currently novella length (and I'm hoping to reach at least 80K).

In the past, one story normally fends off the others and refuses to be left. Now they're all shouting "me, me, ME!" with equal intensity. Maybe I should start something new? Maybe I should take a break?

But I can't. The need to finish *something* is like an itch I can't shake off.  When I first thought about being published, I fretted over running out of ideas. Now I fret over whether I'll get them all written in my lifetime!
Does your muse have a personality? A life of its own? Or do you think I'm a little more crazy than the average author for thinking of inspiration as a person? :P And how do you decide what comes next?



Pippa's Journal

Action!
I've mentioned some already. Content edits on Imprint are done. Line edits will be going back to my main editor before the final set comes to me for tweaking and polishing. My logline, blurb and author page have all been submitted. I'm so excited! This will be my first adventure as part of an anthology, and having read a couple of the other submissions I can promise you a fun read.



Gethyon releases in just eleven days!! *bounces*  I'll be touring for the whole of June to celebrate. My final PDF arrived yesterday (it looks so pretty with the cover on!) so I'll be hunting for review sites later today to submit to.



Happenings
The SFR Brigade's 2nd Midsummer blog hop needs you! Even if you can't sign up to take part, I'd really appreciate it if anyone could put the button or banner on their blog to help promote the event. Email me at sfrbrigadebloghop (at) Gmail (dot) com if you'd like the button. I'm so excited about organising this event!



Discoveries
This is something fun I found on Twitter just today. A random alien race generator. The creator admits it isn't perfect, but again something that might help spark ideas. You can read about it here.

Ping Pong
@Laurie - so sorry about your missing ending. A timely warning to authors - always be sure to save and back up your work! Having lost my computer a couple of weeks ago, and with a spate of similar disasters among my fellow authors, I second this completely.
@Sharon - great post on whether the behaviour of authors reflects on people still buying their work. I saw comments to a post about unethical marketing where the reader said she didn't want an author to be her friend via social media, and she didn't like this push by publishers and internet gurus for authors to connect with readers. A view that goes against most marketing advice. We'd be less aware of minor author meltdowns, but then, wouldn't fewer people get to hear of our books? Being an author on the web is a real double edged sword.
@Donna - am I forgiven for not being a devoted ST fan yet? Lol. Hubs and I have been debating going to see STiD, but I think babysitting issues will probably mean us waiting on the DVD. =/

Monday, May 20, 2013

MISSION: SUCCESS
Laurie's Journal

I have good news and bad news to share about my writer's journey from this past week. The good news is I finished my short story The Shell and the Star. The bad news is that when I re-opened the manuscript, the resolution I thought I'd already written--with its cool twist and brilliant wrap--uh...wasn't there!

Gasp! Wait. What?

Cue compulsory hard drive scour for a more recent version. Zip. Zilch. Nada.

I know I wrote the grand finale. I remember writing it. I know it's somewhere...but I can't seem to find the coordinates of the point it occupies on this plane of existence. Doubt ensues. Did I write it and not save the file? Did I pen it in a notebook that has since been misplaced? Did I only dream I finished the story?

My FNF (For Now Fix) was to rewrite a new ending. Unfortunately, I know it's not THE ending that originally came out of my head. It's a bit flat and uninspired and so not ready for prime time. Some writers probably would have set it aside to work on it another time, but I felt a need to wrap the story. I guess it's like training a dog or a horse and always wanting to end the lesson on a positive note instead concluding with a negative experience. My muse had to have that cookie. My head required a sense of accomplishment so I didn't succumb to frustration.

Now I can press reset and mull over other options for a more fitting finale. Maybe even try re-conjuring the original wrap from my subconscious since the details are eluding me. In the meantime, it is a setback. The Shell and the Star will remain in sort of a Limbo of the Lost until I can create a satisfying fix.

Thought for the day: It's too bad our brains don't come with an automatic backup system.

So I'm curious. Has this ever happened to you? I'm sure this is more of a pantser's malady than a plotter's. A plotter would have every detail down on paper, most likely color-coded and cross-referenced. Pantsers...not so much. This scenario is when the head-to-page style of creative writing can really backfire on ya. *wipes soot from face*

ABOUT THE SHELL AND THE STAR

Here's a little about the story in question.

A female resident of a high-tech spacestation and an ocean-dwelling male discover they have more in common than being the children of high-ranking officials. An arranged courtship by their parents leads to unexpected consequences that could save--or destroy--both races.

The title The Shell and The Star represent the standards of the two species. The Star is the emblem of the Talstar Space Station in geosynchronous orbit over planet Veros. The Shell is the icon of the aquatic Perling species who live more primitive lives beneath the surface of the shallow seas.

Excerpt:

“You have a suitor.”

Jinn peered up into her father’s eyes as he floated into place before her. Is he joking? Since she’d come of age, five long years had passed without a bid for her hand. She’d given up hope of ever having a mate.

“Who…who makes this request?”

“The Fourth Dominant of the Perling.”

Jinn gasped, reeling like the oxygen had just been sucked out the airlock. A Perling Dominant? An alien? “Father, no! I can’t—“

“You will answer his bid,” her father insisted, grabbing a handhold to anchor himself in Talstar’s zero gravity.

“But why? Why would a Perling Dominant want my hand?”

“Not the Dom himself, girl. He asks on behalf of his second son.”

Jinn dropped her gaze to her small fists clenched around the frame of her sleeprack, her shoulder drifting to bump the bulkhead. “Why would even a second son want me?”

Jinn sets out on a reluctant mission of discovery, where she learns not only about the Perling race and her intended mate, but secrets from the past that she never could have imagined and promises for a future that she never dared to dream.

The Shell and the Star is currently about 12,500 words and takes place in a distance future of the Draxian Universe on (or above and in the waters of) planet Veros. When it's completed, my plans are to scout a home for it in an upcoming SFR anthology or offer it as a free standalone story.

SCIENTIFIC BREAKTHROUGH INSPIRING FOR SFR

A new medical breakthrough might just be the stuff of SFR writers' dreams.

A team of scientists at Boston's Childrens Hospital have developed an exciting new treatment, an oxygen particle that can be put into the bloodstream to oxygenate the blood. Result? You don't have to breathe to live! At least for about 30 minutes.

How does it work?

By creating particles containing oxygen gas pockets inside lipids fats, the resulting globules can hold four times the oxygen of a red blood cell and are flexible enough not to get log-jammed in blood vessels, causing dangerous gas embolisms. The particles are simply injected directly into the bloodstream. The new therapy can be used to treat a number of maladies that deprive the body of oxygen--such as pneumonia, collapsed lung, or hemorrhaging of the respiratory system--long enough to treat the patient before the brain is damaged or destroyed due to lack of oxygen. This helps ensure survival for the precious minutes while surgeons are working to treat the damage.

Future potential?

This is where things really get exciting. As the therapy is developed to allow for longer periods of oxygenation, if you can imagine it, it can probably be applied. Think about Navy Seals who would no longer need underwater breathing gear for missions. How about undersea researchers, ocean rescue efforts, submarine accidents and other situations where the particles could be injected into the blood to allow first responders to deploy without gear--or someone trapped underwater to survive long enough to be recovered. (Remember the intentional drowning and resuscitation scene from The Abyss? Problem solved.)

Now apply a little imagination and think about the implications for outer space exploration and future colonies.

You can read more about the breakthrough here: TechWench

Or watch a short YouTube video:




A MESSAGE TO OUR FOLLOWERS

Sometime in the next week or two, this humble blog is going to achieve a major milestone--125,000 hits over it's lifetime. We appreciate all our followers, old and new, who have helped to steadily raise our stats with each new year, and even each successive month. With so much content available on the internet, and a plethora of blogs on every conceivable topic, we're glad you're willing to spend a little of your time with us here at Spacefreighters Lounge.

Bartender, fetch another round of Billins--on the house!

PING PONG

I really enjoyed the discussion inspired by Sharon's blog about authors behaving badly. Food for thought to all aspiring writers, for sure.

Donna, I'm looking forward to this week's more in depth review of the new Star Trek Into Darkness movie. Your blog last week didn't give away any of the Trekker goodies that came out in the story, but definitely clued me in on what to watch for. I saw the 3D version.

Pippa, good luck with organizing/arranging the next SFR blog hop in June. It's a big job, but a worthy undertaking in how it benefits and raises awareness of the SFR subgenre as a whole.