Thursday, May 26, 2016

ARCHIVE: Has Science Spoiled Science Fiction?

Posted by: Joshua Roots
Let me preface this by saying I love Science Fiction. My bookshelves are packed with novels from the genre. Every time I walk into my local bookstore, my first stop is the Science Fiction section.

That said, these days, why would anyone read Science Fiction?

There was a time not too long ago when Science Fiction was just that: fictional science. Humans traveled to space, built sentient computers, developed cybernetic limbs, etc. It was a world where possibilities were limited only by human imagination. The ideals of our species were made reality through the efforts of science and technology, but that existed somewhere many generations in the future.

When Edgar Rice Burroughs wrote his John Carter series at the turn of the 20th century, the thought of our species visiting other planets was still a distant dream. Carter, a Civil War hero for the Confederacy, travels to Barsoom (aka: Mars) only to discover a planet filled with aliens and amazing wonders. Readers were transported to another world, but it only existed in their minds.

Now we have Curiosity roving around the Red Planet. Barsoom, it seems, is not as fantastical as Burroughs imagined. It’s even better. Granted, there are no aliens, but we are getting first-hand accounts of old stream beds, eye-witness accounts of geological surveys, and perhaps signs of microscopic alien life. What was once a land of make-believe is now a centerpiece of attention because the reality is simply amazing.

In more recent literature history, Scott Westerfield wrote one of my favorite Space Operas, The Risen Empire. There’s a scene in the first novel where pilots are flying drones the size of dust particles. At the time, I remember thinking how amazing and dangerous that kind of technology could be. Then I read articles on the shrinking of drone technology to machines smaller than insects and beyond.

These days, Science seems on the verge of upstaging Fiction. We used elaborate jet-packs and parachutes to place rovers on Mars in our quest to expand our understanding of our own solar system. For the first time in history we nailed a comet with the Rosetta spacecraft. Independent entrepreneurs are bringing everyday space travel closer to reality. We’ve developed cybernetics that are so advanced, Skynet seems more and more plausible every day. The computers that put humans on a moon once filled up rooms at NASA. Now we carry phones in our pockets that not only stampede far beyond the power of those machines, they also have a universe of knowledge at our fingertips*. We can peer farther into the universe than ever before while, at the same time, zoom into the human body to the molecular level and beyond. What once seemed scientifically impossible has become commonplace, almost mundane.

It’s not just “old Science Fiction” like Burroughs that runs the risk of being left behind, but new Science Fiction as well. With a greater understanding and knowledge of Science, many consumers are more critical of the depiction of “Sci-Tech” and its effects on society as a whole. Science Fiction writers face quite a challenge to make their stories fantastical while at the same time believable because their readers are less willing to just accept ideas. They are too educated, too knowledgeable, and too experienced to simply press the “I Believe” button. While it becomes harder for Sci-Fi authors, it seems to become more important to consumers.

Even our heroes have shifted more towards Science and less to Science Fiction. As a kid, I wanted to be Luke Skywalker or Buck Rogers. They lived in galaxies far, far away, wielding weapons that ignited my imagination. Given the keys to an X-Wing, I would have been the happiest kid off the planet.

Today, however, there’s no denying that a name on everyone’s lips is Neil deGrasse Tyson. As the current head of the Hayden Planetarium and voice of StarTalk, he is lauded both in the scientific community and on social media. And he is just one of hundreds that are becoming better known as Science breaks new barriers. When Curiosity landed on Mars, my Dragon Brother e-mailed me. “I like the sound of ‘Mrs. Bobak Ferdowsi’” he wrote. "Mohawk Guy" transcended from a-smart-guy-at-a-computer to a sexy icon almost overnight. 

Film and TV have also made the transition from fiction to Science. A Beautiful Mind, The Theory of Everything, and two biopics about Steve Jobs praise the work of brilliant people. And while Dragnet and Hill Street Blues were all about the detectives and cops on the street, CSI has enjoyed a long life, and two spin-offs, focusing on the “lab rats”. Shows like Castle, NCIS, and even Psych almost always spend part of the story explaining the Science behind a murder or crime. The heroes are as much the men and women in lab coats as they are the ones walking the streets, kicking in doors. Even in the recent CW hit, The Flash, the heroes are the Police of the CCPD and the Scientists of STAR Labs as they are Barry himself.

Yet despite all this, Science Fiction seems to still be in the spotlight. Battlestar Galactica was a renowned success on TV, as is Defiance. Star Wars continues to capture the imagination of new generations. Debut author Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Justice was a resounding smash while Dune, all these years later, remains a cult classic.

Are these examples viable because they are good stories? Absolutely. But I also wonder if they aren’t saved from being cast aside because the Science in them becomes more and more plausible every day. At some point we may have sentient robots, space ships designed for fighting, or nanotechnology that can cure diseases at the atomic level. By being so close to reality, so easy to comprehend, does it make its appeal more universal than ever before?

Time keeps marching forward and with it, humanity’s understanding of our species, our world, and the universe around us. Technology leaps forward exponentially, far outpacing what we once thought possible. And yet we keep reading and watching tales of a future where more questions are answered and life is a little more advanced than today.

So has Science spoiled Science Fiction? Or do we simply keep looking to the future for improvements, hoping that one day reality will surpass our dreams?

*Although we STILL don’t have Hoverboards. Thanks for nothing, modern technology! 


Joshua Roots is a car collector, beekeeper, and storyteller. He enjoys singing with his a cappella chorus, golf, and all facets of Sci-Fi/Fantasy. He's still waiting for his acceptance letter to Hogwarts and Rogue Squadron. He and his wife will talk your ear off about their bees if you let them.

Website | Twitter | Goodreads | Books

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Sending Up the Librarian Trope

Posted by: Jeffe Kennedy
A week from today sees the release (finally!) of THE PAGES OF THE MIND and the concurrent release of my duet of novellas with Grace Draven, FOR CROWN AND KINGDOM.

Both the novella in the duology with Grace, THE CROWN OF THE QUEEN, and THE PAGES OF THE MIND novel are told from the point of view (POV) of Dafne Mailloux, mild-mannered spinster librarian who assisted the heroines on their epic journeys in the original Twelve Kingdoms trilogy.

 Dafne was never meant to be a heroine, in more ways than one.

First of all, she was a secondary character, if that - and a surprise one. When the heroine of THE MARK OF THE TALA, Princess Andromeda (Andi), needed information, Dafne stepped up to point her to the correct scrolls. Then she turned out to be both wry and warm - and she told Andi something that no one else would. I expected her to stay in her library, but - to my surprise - she went along when Andi fled the castle to go into hiding.

Dafne continued to take her own path, in her gently stubborn style, carving her own destiny alongside my three princesses. She never quite did what I expected.

Nor did I expect her to be one of the most popular characters in the series.

From the beginning, readers asked me if Dafne would get her own book. The question surprised me at first, because I never saw Dafne as heroine material. Nor did she, for that matter. Dafne fully expected to continue to lead a quiet life of study, giving good scholarly advice, and manipulating politics from the safe shadows behind the throne.

I end up on a lot of panels discussing the "kickass heroine." There's a lot of reasons for this, that could probably be a book, but one thing about writing Dafne's story that gave me joy was redefining both "kickass" and the librarian trope.

Dafne isn't particularly shy - but she is retiring. The library and books offered safety to her when she was a child orphaned by war and raised by her conqueror. She has good reasons for keeping to the background. And, it turned out, a deep agenda I only realized once I got inside her head. Though Dafne ultimately goes on an academic's quest, she's forced into a different kind of heroism. She becomes kickass through necessity - and out of love.

But she doesn't radically change into an entirely different person. She doesn't learn to wield daggers like Jepp, or a sword like Ursula, or magic like Andi - or even Ami's weapon of choice, her devastating beauty. No, Dafne's skill is her incisive intelligence and long-earned knowledge.

She's a kickass librarian - and it's through being who she is that she discovers the real treasure.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Here Be News

Posted by: Eleri Stone

Cover reveal!

Jeffe Kennedy and Grace Draven are delighted to share the cover of For Crown and Kingdom, their duology out May 31!

Will contain the Twelve Kingdoms Novella ‘The Crown of the Queen’ 

Dafne Mailloux, librarian and temporary babysitter to the heirs to the High Throne of the Twelve – now Thirteen – Kingdoms, finds it difficult to leave the paradise of Annfwn behind. Particularly that trove of rare books in temptingly unfamiliar languages. But duty calls, and hers is to the crown. It’s not like her heart belongs elsewhere. But how can she crown a queen who hesitates to take the throne?

New Audiobook Review and Amazon Gift Card Giveaway!

Veronica Scott's award-winning Wreck of the Nebula Dream audiobook received a good review from Audiobook Reviewer and there's a $25 Amazon gift card giveaway going on HERE.  
Loosely based on the sinking of Titanic...

The story:

Traveling unexpectedly aboard the luxury liner Nebula Dream on its maiden voyage across the galaxy, Sectors Special Forces Captain Nick Jameson is ready for ten relaxing days, and hoping to forget his last disastrous mission behind enemy lines. He figures he’ll gamble at the casino, take in the shows, maybe even have a shipboard fling with Mara Lyrae, the beautiful but reserved businesswoman he meets.

All his plans vaporize when the ship suffers a wreck of Titanic proportions. Captain and crew abandon ship, leaving the 8000 passengers stranded without enough lifeboats and drifting unarmed in enemy territory. Aided by Mara, Nick must find a way off the doomed ship for himself and several other innocent people before deadly enemy forces reach them or the ship’s malfunctioning engines finish ticking down to self destruction.

But can Nick conquer the demons from his past that tell him he’ll fail these innocent people just as he failed to save his Special Forces team? Will he outpace his own doubts to win this vital race against time?

New Release and Sale!

HOODOO WOMAN, the third book in the Roxie Mathis series, is now out.

Storm magic – wild, unpredictable, and guaranteed to turn the world upside down. Roxie Mathis is stronger than ever now that she’s learned to call thunder and lightning and she’s rebuilding her life. But her lover Blake doesn’t trust her new supernatural assistant or the untamed magic she now practices. Roxie will have to decide between making him happy or being true to herself.

To complicate things further, her old love Ray Travis asks her to come home. A dead girl is haunting the entire town and the only way to bring the spirit to peace is to solve her murder. With her vampire ancestor along for the ride, Roxie bites the bullet and decides to face her past. Caught in a web of secrets and magic, going home could kill Roxie – or set her free.

To celebrate the release, all three Roxie Mathis books are on sale for .99 through June 1st. 

Sunday, May 22, 2016

2015: the year of trying new things

Posted by: Shona Husk
For the first time in a few years I have had six months without anything new coming out. It wasn't that I wasn't writing, I was. I wrote so much last year, but nothing was coming together the way I had hoped.

But I did 2 things that made a world of difference to how I felt about what I was doing.

I made a new pen name that writes less romancey stuff (nope, not telling because it's still getting established. Other me though has had 0 rejections and 3 my other self is already doing better than me. Is it wrong to be jealous of yourself?). I love writing romance, but I also love urban fantasy and I wanted to write longer story arcs between the characters. I could have done it under the same name, but I didn't want to break the promise that my Shona Husk name has, Shona Husk books always have a HEA. With my other name you will be waiting...

I also said yes to a couple of romance projects that I would have usually brushed past because I didn't have time. I had no contracted books, so I dropped what I was doing and made time. The first of those projects is the fantasy romance Skeleton Key Book Series.

It felt good to be trying something different instead following the path. No career is linear, but I know I expected my writing career to be a straight line (in an upward trajectory), it's not and I have decided to view it as more of a meandering adventure. I don't know what is around the corner, but if I'm enjoying what I'm doing then that makes it okay.

Warrior Queen
Skeleton Key Book Series
One Skeleton Key. Endless Adventures.

After a big night out to celebrate his last day at work, Bryce Allard stumbles home. By his door he finds a glass skeleton key that makes his front door open to another world.

Queen Keleti’s city is under siege. Betrayed by her cousin, she must find a way to save her city from the invading army. Keleti is a Heavenly, a hawk shapeshifter, so she could fly to safety, but she will not leave her people. When she finds Bryce hiding in her city she thinks he’s a spy.

Bryce finds himself caught up in the skirmishes and the siege while trying to earn the Queen’s trust. Trust gradually becomes affection, and Bryce begins to consider staying instead of returning home. However he soon realizes why he is here. There is one thing that no one is willing to do to end the siege: kill a Heavenly.

He has to kill Keleti’s cousin. But will he be thanked, or thrown off the cliff by the Warrior Queen?

Buy links: iBooks Kobo Amazon Barnes and Noble

Saturday, May 21, 2016

A Wish, a Prayer, and a Little Bit of Nope

Posted by: R.L. Naquin
This is Oatmeal. He wants us all to do less working and
 more napping. He's also part of the reason I now
have an office downtown.
I almost opted out of my turn this month at Here Be Magic. My plate is alarmingly full. Nobody would have thought less of me—people regularly admit to a lack of time, and someone else fills in for them or an archived post goes up instead. It’s cool. Nobody’s mean here. Everybody has the same time-crunch problems.

Instead, I’m writing this when I should be writing one of several projects with looming deadlines. Because no is a little tough for me. I bet a lot of you have the same problem.

Due to two back-to-back trips covering three of the last four weeks, I’m behind and struggling to catch up. Let’s look at what’s on my plate:

  • Book three of the Muse series, so overdue people are beginning to think it’s never coming. 
  • Episode two of Undercover Gorgon, overdue enough that readers have probably forgotten about it. 
  • Book one of the new Djinn Haven series, due to my publisher the end of August. 
  • Three more Undercover Gorgon episodes by the end of August. 
  • A project I agreed to do when I was at the RT convention last month—I’m super excited, but I can’t even start on it until the other things are done. It’s due to be published the first week of October, so has to be done by September so it can be edited. 
  • The last Undercover Gorgon episode (or two) for season one by the end of October so the box set can be released in time for the holidays. 
  • ConQuesT convention in Kansas City over Memorial Day weekend at which I’m scheduled to do a reading and be on five panels. 
  • Speaking at a writers workshop the weekend after that, followed by a book signing. 
  • A mentoring luncheon in July for a youth leadership group. 

I look at this list and I want to cry. And it only covers the next five months or so. Why did I think I could do all of it? Why am I sitting here writing a blog post instead of finishing something—anything—on that list?

A lot of people can’t say no because they want to please everyone. I can honestly say, that’s not my problem. Sure. I want to make people happy. But that’s not why I keep adding to my list. I do it because I get this ridiculous idea that I can do anything. It’s ugly, ugly pride. Plus, I crunch the numbers and truly believe it can all be done.

And maybe it can.

I’ve taken steps. I rented an office downtown so I can focus better. I’m trying to take better physical care of myself so my mental abilities will fall in line. I’ve got careful outlines of all the projects I’m currently working on, and I use different tools like and Pomodoro to help keep me focused.

I could have said no to writing this post. But I know you’re doing the same thing—saying yes to stuff because you want to do All the Things. Let’s help each other. See what’s on your plate. Is it a little too full? Try not to say yes to something new unless you can do it without stressing yourself out. It doesn’t mean you can’t do it all—but maybe you shouldn’t.

I saw an anthology call for submissions this morning. I was intrigued. Excited. I started thinking of things I could write for it. But you know what? I have enough right now.

I’m going to say no.

Tell me in the comments what you’re not going to do!

Rachel writes stories that drop average people into magical situations filled with heart and quirky humor.

She believes in pixie dust, the power of love, good cheese, lucky socks and putting things off until the last minute. Her home is Disneyland, despite her current location in Kansas. Rachel has one husband, two grown kids and a crazy-catlady starter kit.

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Friday, May 20, 2016

ARCHIVE But New Giveaway: A Few True Paranormal Stories About Titanic

Posted by: Veronica Scott
May 20, 2016: Veronica sez: Got a great review on the Wreck of the Nebula Dream audiobook, and doing a $25.00 Amazon gift card giveaway at the Audiobook Reviewer site, so hop over there to enter! 28 days left on the Rafflecopter.

WRECK is loosely based on the sinking of the Titanic...

From my archived posts, updated:

I’ve always been fascinated by that disaster, to the point of writing an award winning science fiction novel loosely based on it (WRECK OF THE NEBULA DREAM) . I’m going to share a few chilling, true paranormal stories about Titanic today.

As with any great disaster involving a large loss of life, there were many psychic and paranormal dreams, warnings, foreshadowings reports. Some were probably hoaxes. Some, on the other hand, are very well documented and generally accepted to be inexplicable but true. 

This one gives me chills every time: W. Rex Sowden was a Salvation Army officer and a doctor in Scotland in 1912. In the late evening of April 14, 1912, he was summoned to the bedside of a dying child at the orphanage, as she had no one else to sit with her.  At 11:00 PM exactly, she sat up and asked Mr. Sowden to hold her hand, saying, “I’m so afraid. Can’t you see that big ship sinking in the water?”

The doctor thought she was perhaps a bit delirious, being so ill, and told her she was only having a bad dream.   She refused to accept that, answering that the ship was sinking, many people were drowning and “Someone called Wally is playing the fiddle.”

Feeling uneasy, he looked around the room but saw nothing. The girl lapsed back into a coma and everything was peaceful for a few hours. Suddenly the latch on the bedroom door lifted and Mr. Sowden felt someone brush past him, although no one was there. The little girl opened her eyes, telling him her mother had come to take her back to Heaven. She died a few moments later.

In the morning Mr. Sowden heard about the sinking of the Titanic and learned that his boyhood friend  Wally Hartley, leader of the ship’s musicians and a violinist, had drowned after playing as the ship sank. The little girl’s vision occurred three hours before the ship actually struck the iceberg and Mr. Sowden had never mentioned his friend to her. Indeed, he was quoted as stating he hadn’t thought about Wally in years.

Another well known psychic event occurred as Titanic was sailing. A Mr. and Mrs. Marshall on the Isle of Wight were having a party on the flat roof of their home, to watch the ship head out to sea on April 10th. Suddenly Mrs. Marshall had a vision, exclaiming the ship was going to sink. Her embarrassed family tried to quiet her, but she said insisted she saw “hundreds of people struggling in the icy water”. The party ended immediately of course and no one mentioned Titanic to her for the next five days because she would become so upset. 

Then on April 15th, word came that her vision had been true.

Years later, this same Mrs. Marshall refused to sail on the Lusitania on the voyage of May 1st, forcing her husband to exchange their tickets for much worse accommodations on an earlier sailing. She told her family they’d be safe going on Lusitania on the earlier voyage, but that it was going to be torpedoed with huge loss of life on the May 1st trip, which indeed it was. I think I would have listened to her, for sure!

If you were about to board a ship to cross the Atlantic Ocean and you saw the ship’s cat carrying her new born kittens off the vessel, one by one down the gangplank, might you think twice about embarking yourself? I think I would! Yet when this happened in Southampton right before Titanic sailed, only one Irish sailor took heed of the omen and jumped ship himself. What did Jenny the Cat “know” that most of the passengers didn’t? (And the same thing happened with the Lusitania a few years later - the ship's cat left before they sailed!)

So what would you do if you had a premonition of disaster on a trip? Would you go anyway, as so many did on Titanic? Or would you find an alternate way to travel?

Buy Links:
Amazon  Barnes & Noble  All Romance eBooks    iTunes   Kobo

Also available as an AUDIOBOOK: at Amazon and iTunes

The story:
Traveling unexpectedly aboard the luxury liner Nebula Dream on its maiden voyage across the galaxy, Sectors Special Forces Captain Nick Jameson is ready for ten relaxing days, and hoping to forget his last disastrous mission behind enemy lines. He figures he’ll gamble at the casino, take in the shows, maybe even have a shipboard fling with Mara Lyrae, the beautiful but reserved businesswoman he meets.
All his plans vaporize when the ship suffers a wreck of Titanic proportions. Captain and crew abandon ship, leaving the 8000 passengers stranded without enough lifeboats and drifting unarmed in enemy territory. Aided by Mara, Nick must find a way off the doomed ship for himself and several other innocent people before deadly enemy forces reach them or the ship’s malfunctioning engines finish ticking down to self destruction.

But can Nick conquer the demons from his past that tell him he’ll fail these innocent people just as he failed to save his Special Forces team? Will he outpace his own doubts to win this vital race against time?

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Revisiting the Backlist

Posted by: PG Forte
I've been giving a lot of thought to my backlist lately, books and series that have been out there for a little while. There are quite a few of them that I could get the rights back to and re-release on my own. And I'm tempted--so, so tempted.

There's the prospect of new covers--something that's always a treat. Even when I initially loved the original covers, who doesn't like a makeover? And in those rare instances where I wasn't completely over-the-moon about a particular cover? Yeah, then it gets really exciting.

There's the lure of total creative control. Including picking the aforementioned covers! I can also price the books any way I want, give away as many copies as I please, and re-edit them to my tweaky little heart's content.

I'd get to keep more of the money. Really, I can't find a problem with that part. Not. At. All.

Finally, and perhaps best of all, I'd have the excitement of release day, several times over, all over again. I'd be introducing new readers to books and worlds I've loved creating and reminiscing with not-so-new readers...

But those are all in the "pro" column. There's a "con" list as well.

It takes time to do everything that's required to relaunch close to two dozen books. And yes, I could start with a few and see how it goes, but that would just mean spreading the pain out over a longer period of time, rather than eliminating it.

Of course, I could hire someone to help me with everything that needs to be done.  In fact, I absolutely would be hiring several someones anyway--an editor or two, an artist, possibly a formatter--but that would still leave me with a lot of tasks, big and small, and when it comes to self-publishing, the buck stops here.

And all the time that I'd be spending revising all these older books is time I would not be spending writing new books.

The biggest challenge--the stumbling block that continues to keep this process on hold for me--is the question of whether or not (or how much) to update the books. There have been a lot of changes in the world since some of the older books first came out. Politics. Technology. Trends in fashion and entertainment that have come and gone.

So here are my questions. And I'd love to hear your thoughts.  

How critical is it to you that a book appear to be "current" in all aspects?  And, if you'd read and loved a series in the past, how disappointed would you be (or would you not be disappointed at all?) if said series were to be re-released with significant changes?

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