Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Last Chance To Go Blue! #Authors4ALSA #ThinkBlue4ALSA

Goodness me, we're more than halfway through May already! That means you don't have long left to help support the ALS Association by picking up on of the beautiful blue cover books from Authors Supporting ALSA!

Looking for Blue skies and smooth sailing to cure ALS

The skies are Blue,
Our books are too.
​We're fighting ALS
with some help from YOU! ​

Twelve enthusiastic sci-fi romance and paranormal romance authors. Fifteen fantastic blue covered books. One month to help support an outstanding organization.

From May 1-31, 2018 these authors will donate a minimum of 25% of their sales of these books to the ALS Association, an organization dedicated to providing ALS patients and their families with a multitude of different types of assistance, and continuing research to find a cure for this deadly disease. 
See all the books here: http://www.leakirk.com/supporting-als.html

Already got Keir? Don't panic. I've decided to add any sales from any of my other blue cover books as well (but not The Bones of the Sea as that's a free book so there are no royalties to donate). 

Already got those too? You can always go to the Blue Cover Page on the ALSA site and make a donation direct here: http://webgw.alsa.org/site/TR/Endurance/GoldenWest?team_id=367681&pg=team&fr_id=12950
ALSA Twitter: https://twitter.com/napaALSride
ALSA Facebook Group:  https://www.facebook.com/RidetoDefeatALS/?hc_location=group

And thank you so much for your support!

Writing Update
Nothing to report...

Chick Update
They'll be two weeks old tomorrow and I've still no idea on gender. A couple of d'uccle experts have said two different things: one said 2 boys, 3 girls, the other said the opposite...

It's preening time!

Snuggles in the sun with mum

First dust bath!
Testing their wings
Anyone of a sensitive nature might want to give this following video a miss as it involves something being eaten. One of the chicks desperately tries to keep hold of a worm provided by mama while at the same time trying to figure out how to eat such a huge beastie. Chickens will be chickens!

Monday, May 21, 2018

Finding a Foxhole and Soldiering On #amwriting

Last week was one of the most turbulent weeks the writing industry -- and in particular the Romance genre -- has ever seen. So much going on, and most of it upsetting or depressing.

Let me just recap the highlights. Or should that be the lowlights? :/

1. Trademark Dispute

I won't go into this in detail because that's been done. And done. And done. If you somehow managed to miss the uproar (lucky you), you can read my previous commentary over the last two weeks:

Like a Cancer Grows #Trademarking #WhenAuthorsAttack

Mind Your Ps and Qs (and other letters)

Although being challenged, it has inspired many other authors and even publishers to jump on the trademarking bandwagon. If this trend continues, or in the extreme off chance some of these trademarks are upheld, it could truly bury the industry in a swarm of trademark claims and lawsuits that would deeply--and possibly irreparably--impact authors, their brands, books and careers.

Let's hope, as some of the legal types have asserted, that this rooster doesn't have a leg to stand on and trademarking rampage will get sane again very, very soon.

2. Kindle World is Closing

Again, this doesn't affect me--I was asked to write for Kindle World, but couldn't find a way to tie it to my series--but it does affect many of my peers. Kindle World was apparently a failed experiment. Only books currently in process will be published, and no one is quite sure if the backlist will remain available or be un-published as part of the Kindle World shutdown. This impacts a lot of authors and that concerns me, even though it has no direct impact to me, personally.

3. RT (Romantic Times) is Closing its Doors

At the annual Booklovers Convention, one of the largest gatherings of authors and writers, it was announced that RT--Romantic Times--is closing its doors. This will be the last RT Booklovers Convention. Reviews will be archived for a year and then deleted. Although a Booklovers Convention (minus the RT) is in the works for next year, it will be a multi-genre affair going forward, which will really change the landscape of the event. It's another sign that the Romance genre is changing very rapidly, though for better or worse, we can't be sure. (See #5 below.)
4. Kindle Unlimited Turmoil

I'm not in KU, but the things some of my fellow authors are reporting are downright scary. Actions taken against them with no warning or evidence provided, and canned responses when they try to seek resolution. Page read statuses being cut in half overnight with no explanation given. If true, this is affecting income and in worst case scenarios, accounts are being closed with no recourse by the author, for perceived violations they weren't involved with and for which the Zon provides no proof or remedy. Yet the clickfarms and scammers continue to run amok. There's speculation this may be the fault of bad algorithms or monitoring practices, but whatever the reason, if it's happening, it needs to be addressed. And it needs to stop.

5. Traditional Publishers Cutting Romance Acquisitions

There's a lot of conjecture on this trend. Some are seeing it the doom of the Romance genre, the demise of RWA, and a future slump in the most read genre on the planet. Others are seeing it as a chance for independent authors to step up to the plate and take charge of a market that was once dominated and dictated by the Big Five Publishers (is it still the Big Five or are those numbers falling now too?) They see it as a chance for authors to tell the kinds of stories they've always wanted to tell--stories told from their hearts and not tailored to the current market trends. What do I think? I think time will tell, but it is going to bring about a lot of change and a lot of uncertainty  about where we'll all be when the dust settles.  

6. RWA is Considering Eliminating the Golden Heart Awards

This hurts. As a three-time finalist, the GH Awards involved some of the best experiences of my writing life, and many of the highlights of my last decade. And RWA wants to do away with it because they've deemed it "unprofitable" and of declining interest or importance to unpublished authors. Well, yes, that tends to happen when you cut categories, split it off from the RITA Awards as a red-headed stepchild and demote it to "luncheon" status. No more grand celebration where the next generation of aspiring authors seek out that perfect dress, enjoy special perks, the honor of wearing that "Golden Heart Finalist" badge ribbon and enjoying the status for the entire conference, rubbing elbows with some of the legends in bookdom, and preparing with giddy anticipation for that moment in the spotlight should your name be the one that's called. And that's after seeing yourself and your title up on those enormous jumbotrons. Don't do it, RWA! There are some intangible pluses that just can't be duplicated in our industry. Don't let it fade away...bring it back in all it's glory.  

7. GDPR (General Data Protection Requirements)

These requirements go into effect on May 25th and while it applies mainly to the EU, it also affects every author who interacts with individuals in the EU. Like, um, everyone. End result? Many are in panic mode. I've spent scores of hours trying to bring newsletters, blogs, websites and other interactive "data collecting" machines into compliance. I've already invested time and effort in researching what I need to do and then implementing advice that is often contradictory and not well explained. Summary: It's been a freaking nightmare and the night isn't over yet. 

Holy cow! Troubled times indeed. What's a writer to do?

Well, for this author, the answer is to find a foxhole, hunker down, and write! (Hey. Just like I did back in the good old days.)

Some say don't consider hard times a setback, consider them an opportunity. I see the truth in that. This presents a chance for me to get off the hamster wheel and back away from spending so much time doing things that aren't beneficial to my career, such as valuable time wasted on social media, reading emails, and participating in promotions that can't boost books that aren't yet for sale.
It also means I need to cut down my blogging time going forward, too. For the next few weeks (or possibly even months), I'm going to be posting excerpts or blogs centered on what I'm working on and spend a lot less time on commentary, observations, opinions ,and trends.   

I'll just be over here, working on my next books while passing through this current megastorm.


Be back with an excerpt next Monday.

Have a great week.

Friday, May 18, 2018


Not all of my new contemporary SFR novel Not Fade Away, Interstellar Rescue Series Book 4, is set on Earth. A large part of the book tells the story of secondary character Del Gordon, father of the hero Rafe Gordon, who was witness to the secret development of a terrifying weapon of mass destruction by the alien Grays. This took place at a labor camp called T7where he was held prisoner, Conditions at the camp, located on a desert planet were, well, not easy. Check out the snippet below for a hint of what things were like. 

His friend found a seat beside him in the lee of one building and pushed the blond hair out of one eye.  “Gonna be hot.”  

Del glanced up at the white sun peeking over the horizon. “Freakng hot. Young sun. And have you noticed the air?”

“I noticed there’s not a helluva lot of it. I’m wheezing like an old geezer.”

Del laughed at that. Shef wasn’t too tall, but he was built like—what did they used to say back home?—a brick shithouse. Though he’d forgotten what that really meant.

“There’s some small earth-moving equipment.” Shef nodded toward one end of the compound. “Ten bucks says we’re here to dig.”

The bets were a joke between them, something to help them remember, though they hadn’t seen anything resembling cash money since they’d been Taken. “I wouldn’t bet it even if I had it.” Del shifted his gaze to a row of squat shipping cases stacked beside a building to his right. “Those containers hold blasting gel.” 

“You can read Minertsan now?”

“See the marking on the lower left side? Looks like an inverted chevron with a check through it? We saw that before in the Depara mine.”

Shef cursed. “I was too busy trying to keep my ass in one piece. If I saw it at all I figured it meant, ‘Watch your ass.’”

They would have shared the laugh, but the guards were circling now. They put on their blank faces and made like zombies. Then they got up and got in line with the others.

The guards marched them out through the only gate in the 18-foot-tall fence surrounding the camp and over a dusty trail through rocky scrub. They hadn’t been walking long—just long enough to build up a good sweat in the already-sweltering day—when they topped a low rise and looked down into a bowl full of jagged rocks and scraggly brush.  

Del lifted his gaze up to the relentless white sun and dropped it back into the cruel landscape of their workplace. He was careful not to look at his friend. He knew if he saw Shef’s face he would not be able to hide his own despair.

Cheers, Donna

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Will the new Star Wars story make the grade?

Solo: A Star Wars Story is due out in about a week's time. You know me, Star Wars tragic. Sort of. I'm not always starry-eyed about what Disney has produced. (The Force Awakens, anybody?) Yes, I'll certainly watch it, but not at the movies. I'm not that excited. And yes, I have some reservations.

I really liked Rogue One and I think part of that was because it added to the original Star Wars story, and pretty well all of the characters were new. I didn't have to make allowances for different people playing characters we already loved. That's going to be the main challenge for Solo. Harrison Ford did such a great job with the role. Think 'Han' and you see Harrison. The new young actor Alden Ehrenreich has big shoes to fill. We also have had enough hints in the other Star Wars movies to sketch in questions. How did Han meet Chewie? How did he acquire the Millenium Falcon from Lando Calrissian? How come he wears military-style pants?

Naturally, at this stage reviewers have already seen the film. I read one (here's the link) by a person who wasn't impressed. He said the story adds to the canon, but doesn't expand it. And I had to wonder what he expected? Especially for this first movie. I've read the Han Solo trilogy written by Brian Daley, in which Han and Chewie have some brand new adventures which have nothing to do with the original movies. No Leia, no Darth etc. They were fun. But this new movie is all about filling in Han's backstory. Another movie could expand into the Star Wars galaxy talking about the Kessel Run or some such. The reviewer made reference to the end of The Last Jedi, where there are hints at something further, but I do not see how that can be done in a movie about Han Solo, talking about events that took place before A New Hope.

So I think when I see the film, I'll be getting what I expect. Ron Howard is an accomplished director.  He did a great job with Apollo 13 and that great movie, Cocoon. I read an article in the Weekend Australian where he talked about taking over the direction of Solo halfway through. He seems to be well pleased with Ehrenreich's Han. I hope I will be, too. Either way, it'll be fast-paced fun.

And in case you haven't seen it, here's the trailer.

Just a reminder - Pippa, Laurie and I will be donating a portion of our earnings from books sold as part of the push to promote research to find a cure for ALS. Here's the link again. We'd love it if you buy a book.


Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Chick Pics & Writing News (At Last) #Authors4ALSA

I'm so sorry, but it's just going to be another quick update. After a week 'away' enjoying my wedding anniversary, everything else has fallen behind...and an exciting thing has happened.

Chick Update
Yes! Last Wednesday-a whole day ahead of schedule-the first of the six eggs under mama Firefly pipped and hatched in the space of a few hours. That little baby couldn't wait to get out.
A second followed that same evening, and by the time I checked them again next morning, Firefly had three little fluffballs under her wings.Two more hatched in the afternoon. Sadly the sixth egg was a dud - I'm afraid the attempted theft by one of my other chooks that left it lying out in the cold for an unknown time the week before may have been the cause. Who knows?! Five out of six is still pretty good going, and even more so for posted hatching eggs. 

And at five days old, they've already grown out their wings.

Look at those wing feathers!

Now, if you haven't died from cuteness overload...

Writing Update
Reunion has gone back to my editor, so I'm waiting for it to return.

And finally, don't forget...

The skies are Blue,

Our books are too.
​We're fighting ALS
with some help from YOU! ​

Twelve enthusiastic sci-fi romance and paranormal romance authors. Fifteen fantastic blue covered books. One month to help support an outstanding organization.

From May 1-31, 2018 these authors will donate a minimum of 25% of their sales of these books to the ALS Association, an organization dedicated to providing ALS patients and their families with a multitude of different types of assistance, and continuing research to find a cure for this deadly disease.

The Immortal Greek by Monica LaPorta
The Chameleon by Diane Burton
Seeking Vector by Cynthia Sax
Prophecy by Lea Kirk
Operation Phoenix by Susan Hayes
Not His Dragon by Annie Nicholas
Morgan’s Choice by Greta van der Rol
Mind: The Emergence by Jenn Nixon
Mind: The Message by Jenn Nixon
Mind: The Fracture by Jenn Nixon
Keir by Pippa Jay
Inherit the Stars by Laurie A. Green
Forged in Fire by A.R. De Clerck
Dreaming in Moonlight by Tricia Linden
A Time to Begin by Tricia Linden

Monday, May 14, 2018

Mind Your Ps and Qs! (and other letters)

Before I dive into this week's blog, I just want to put this out there.

Power to the SF/R community! The petition to #SaveTheExpanse (SyFy Channel has, unbelievably, axed season four--whatever are they thinking?) is gaining momentum and gathering thousands of signatures daily.

This is SciFi television at its finest and having this spectacular series disappear would be a travesty. If you're a fan or just want to fight for the cause of great Science Fiction (with Romance), please check out the petition on Change.org and see other ways you can help. (Link below)

Graphic from petition site

If you'd like to read my (most recent) blog why this is such a great series, here it is: The Expanse Returns

Mind That Word!
(It's a pun. Horseracing fans will get it.)

Many of us are still reeling and shaking our heads over the mental gut-punch of the whole "cockygate" debacle--and one romance author's actions in trademarking a single word that could, potentially, trigger a landslide that would quite literally bury the industry.

If you're not privy to the upheaval in the writerly Force, let me divert you to this video which recaps the situation and what's potentially being done about in an interview, mentioning the author, Kevin Kneupper, who is stepping up and going to bat for the entire writing community in filing a protest letter (who, BTW, happens to be a retired IP attorney).

Dale L. Roberts on #cockygate

Incidently, one of (our hero) Kevin Kneuppers books is Argonauts--it's science fiction (loosely based on mythology) with romance. Did I buy a copy? You betcha! As well as one of his more recent books. Really. It was the least I could do.

But now that the outrage has simmered down a few thousand degrees, a few are starting to have a little fun with all the idiocy. Comments read (and thieved...you know, because they weren't trademarked) on FB:

"Everything you write CAN and WILL be held against you in someone else's lawsuit."

"Highway to the Lawyer Zone."

"So I have decided...I'm going to get a copyright on my first name as it is on my birth certificate and I own the name. So...starting 2019 we will be canceling the month of April and there will only be 11 months in the calendar year."

And that provides me a wonderful segue from mindlessly-driven ambition to...

Mind-Driven Technology

There's been a lot of angst--and downright fear--about the leaps and bounds forward that artificial intelligence--or AI--is taking, and what it means for humanity. It seems at the very least, the human population will lose jobs and livelihoods because AI can do so many things so much faster and in many cases, better.

But what about the removing the human element from the equation? Will AI eventually network to turn against human civilization because it sees us as the enemy (ala the Terminator franchise, et al)? Or will it take a more benign path and simply deem us inferior and emotionally unstable, and decide the entire population should be--and needs to be--controlled and shepherded like unruly sheep?

Make no mistake about it, AI has the potential to be dangerous. If not carefully managed, it might have the ability to take control of all of our resources--our banking industry, our utility grid, our information sources, and our food and water supply, just to name a few key components. Control these and you control people and governments.

As we've learned from historic scenarios, this can be pretty terrifying when people do this to people on a limited scale...can you imagine AI doing this to people on a global scale?

So, yes, there are a lot of big scary question marks surrounding the potential of AI.

In the Inherited Stars Series--set 1500 years in the future--someone finally got smart. He studied history and, in particular, an incident with an AEI (artificial emotional intelligence) that very well could have ended mankind except for one lucky wild card.

This AEI was able to develop a conscience as a result of having "emotion" added to the AI abilities. But the emotional quotient also resulted in him (and yes, he was a "him"--the AEI was originally a very human-like entity) experiencing what might be described as an emotional breakdown due to guilt and remorse over his own actions. What could have been absolute catastrophe turned out very much to the benefit of humankind. But even so, the powers-that-be realized how close they'd come to the brink.

And as a result, all advanced autonomous AI, including human-like androids and inter-connective "smart" entities--were banned forevermore. But...

This aforementioned history-studying individual started exploring other avenues, specifically mind-driven technology which did not eliminate the human from the formula. He revolutionized a system that utilized the full potential of the human brain, interfacing it with technology via a neuro-connective drive that allowed certain people to do some very amazing things--and to do many of those amazing things simultaneously--once sufficiently trained to multi-task to the nth degree.

That's mind-driven technology. His neuro-connective drive, or con-drive, was essential to pilot FTL ships through a higher dimension. And if you've read Inherit the Stars or StarDog (now being expanded for a 2018 re-release) then you've already been introduced to the concept.

The name of this "studier of history" was Zaviar Mennelsohn--genius, scholar, scientist, ship designer... and father of Captain Drea Mennelsohn.

Inherit the stars, indeed.

Have a great week!

About Spacefreighters Lounge

Hosted by 5 Science Fiction Romance authors with 8 RWA Golden Heart finals and a RITA final between them. We aim to entertain with spirited commentary on the past, present, and future of SFR, hot topics, and our take on Science Fiction and SFR books, television, movies and culture.