Thursday, July 31, 2014

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

#NaNoWriMo - Why It's Not For Everyone

This month I achieved something that's a landmark for me. I won Camp NaNoWriMo! This is a first. I've attempted both the November NaNoWriMo and the Camp version five times since 2011, and flunked the previous four. I also have to confess that my win this time is probably down to aiming for a much more modest word count of just 15K rather than the full 50K. But I'm still chuffed.


Now, I'm not going to slate or promote NaNoWriMo as the must-do thing for writers. This is a very individual thing. Just as you need to find your own way to write successfully, be it plotting or pantsing, story arcs or character driven, or series structure, or whatever. NaNoWriMo is NOT for everyone, and no one should ever feel a failure for not hitting that magical 50K. Because I can tell you for a fact that, even when I've come close (36K is about my highest), it leaves me so burned out afterward that it often takes me a couple of months to recover, and completely kills my creativity. I'm not the kind of person who can always consistently pump out 1.5K a day. On my best day I've done 30K (not recommended - I didn't stop the whole day, and felt ill for almost a week afterward). Obviously on a bad day it'll be zero. Usually I can trot along with a steady 500 words a day (and taking into account I can usually only write five days a week when my monsters are at school, that would still give me 97.5K in a year - a decent sized novel or couple of novellas), but it varies hugely.

So the commitment of NaNoWriMo is a tough one for me, even when I'm in the deepest throes of inspiration from the muse. The afterburn is bad. Last November's NaNoWriMo hit me hardest, because not only was it a story that was more of a 'had to get it out of my head' rather than a 'I so want to write this', but it then got a request for the completed work. So instead of taking a break to recover and let it sit for a while, I had to dive straight back in to revise and submit (FYI, that book is now releasing in less than a month!). It took me several weeks to really recover, and then I was hip deep in edits for other stuff. Exhausting doesn't quite cover it. Muse went completely silent. I started to seriously fret over her absence. (She's since returned full force - now I'm having trouble getting her to SHUT UP!).

So why do I keep putting myself through it? Well, although I know I'll need to take time out to recover, two of those 'failed' NaNoWriMo novels will be published this year - Restless In Peaceville in August, and When Dark Falls in November. So even though technically they are failures for not making 50K, I've got two new books coming out that might not have been written if not for NaNoWriMo. Thanks to Camp this July, I finished the two short stories I needed to get done, one that has a submission deadline of the 31st. The other will be submitted probably around September to an in-house submission call. That could give me two more titles releasing this year (madness!).

So to me, NaNoWriMo has the potential to boost productivity for writers, but shouldn't be seen as the be-all-and-end-all. Not hitting 50K doesn't mean you've failed. It can show you your limits, or perhaps the limits of the story. It can give you a kickstart and/or impetus to get on with a project. It provides an instant support group if you want one, but you don't have to socialize as part of it. And while I shall take tremendous pride in showing off my winner's badge this year, it doesn't invalidate the other books I've done, inside and out of NaNoWriMo. It doesn't matter if I never 'win' it again. The important thing is I got the words down, and now some of them are going out to readers, and that makes me happy.

BTW, I *will* be doing NaNoWriMo again come November, with the sequel to Restless. See, I just can't leave it alone.

Pippa's Journal

Tethered is out! It's been nearly three years since I started this novella one Christmas Day, with no more than the odd idea of succubi in space. And now it's out there. Of course, the first thing I fret over after release is - will anyone buy it?! Then the anxious wait for the first review. As it happens, Tethered received its first review on Goodreads Monday, and it was...five stars! Phew! Not that I expect five stars all the way, but it's nice to get it for the first one. Now I have to wait and hear exactly what other readers think of the story in detail. >.<

Last week I received the sad news that my beloved editor at Breathless Press is leaving. *sob* We've only been working together since March, but I'd got attached. However, I've been assigned a new editor already (nice not to be left in editor-less limbo, which has happened to me before and is no fun at ALL) and we've said our hellos. And guess what? My angel story from Camp NaNoWriMo just got a contract offer, and we'll be working on that together. Excited! This means a total of seven releases for this year, leaving me with a grand total of eleven titles up at Goodreads! It has also added futuristic UF to the genres I've written so far.

Discoveries

Two things I learned this week. Now, you might think I'm some kind of expert at this whole publishing thing by now. I'm not. I'm still learning. So I'm going to share two new things I discovered, which maybe a lot of people might know but I didn't.

1. When your new book goes up on Amazon, IT DOESN'T AUTOMATICALLY GO ON YOUR AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE! Seriously, I didn't know this. I had wondered why Tales from the SFR Brigade never showed up, but put that down to it being a multi-author anthology. Then I noticed my last release, Reboot, also hadn't gone on but never investigated. When Tethered went live on Sunday, I didn't even think about it until a friend and fellow author questioned it and asked if I was able to fix that. After looking into it, I discovered I could. *facepalm* To add your books, you need to sign into Author Central (if you haven't already, sign up! You can use your Amazon account details, and this allows you to claim your books and edit your Amazon Author Page details, add your Twitter and blog accounts - all useful stuff). Then click Books, and Add Books (you'll need the ASIN number). Amazon does say it takes up to five days, but all three of mine were up in about an hour.

2. There's a thing on your Amazon Author Page (upper right hand corner) that says Subscribe to receive notifications about new releases by this author. I didn't know about it! And now I'm going to be adding that into my newsletter as another way readers can get an instant update about my new books without relying on me to keep mentioning it. :P

Happenings

My tour for Tethered with Breathless Press finished yesterday. Go HERE to see the list of stops, find out some of the behind the scene stuff, inspirations, deleted scenes, and even a possible opening to a sequel, complete with a giveaway. The second stage tour begins on the 8th August with another giveaway.

My publisher - Breathless Press - is celebrating its fifth birthday with a month long sale on site HERE (so you can pick up Tethered half price!) and a Wonderland themed party. More details next week.

I turn 43 on Sunday! No time to celebrate as my next release - YA paranormal Restless In Peaceville - takes place on the 20th August, before my tour for Tethered finishes. Eeep!

Ping Pong

Laurie, my sympathy for not getting to RWA this year, and extreme envy for next year. There *are* disadvantages to being a UK author. Sigh. Love that a self pubbed title won a RITA though - I would say about time too!

Sharon, great post about your muse. I regard mine as an entity in its own right (and how I hate it sometimes), although I know there are authors who consider that ridiculous.

Donna, waiting on a full update for RWA!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Recovering from the RWA Nationals (That I Didn't Even Attend!)

Mission Success
Laurie's Journal

I'm sure you're going to hear all about Donna's adventures at RWA--she being the sole Spacefreighter of we four who actually made it this year--but heck, I'm still reeling from the experience even though I wasn't there! It's RWA by Osmosis, thanks to Facebook and Twitter.

If you attended this year, it sounds like you had a wonderful time. Please, please, please spill your conference highlights in the comments below! We want to hear all about it. Great workshops? Fangurl moments? On-the-spot advice? Something amazing you learned? Links to pics? Please fill us in!

In the meantime, I'll cover my highlights-of-a-major-writing-conference-experienced-from-afar.

The Best Ever?

I saw many posts and tweets that the 2014 RWA in San Antonio was (say it with me) "the best RWA EVER!" And holy guacamole, I could feel the energy radiating off those 2000+ attendees all the way out here in the wilds of New Mexico.

So what made it so great?

They had COWBOYS!

RWA(C) Logo for 2014 National Conference
Yes, my heroes have always been astronauts...but cowboys are sure up there on the list. And San Antonio did it up right with some real Texas flavor. Loved seeing all those great Cowboys and Writers photos. Yippy-ki-yay!

There was even a cowboy panel:
Speakers: Mike Furr, Sterling Furr, Suade Furr, Linda Kirkpatrick, Jolene Navarro, and Sasha Summers
A panel of working cowboys and cowgirls answers questions about the reality of daily life on the ranch or the road (for rodeos). These real-life cowboys and their families give authors an inside look at the country life, the details of everyday life, rodeos, and what it takes to be a real cowboy.

The Indie Book Signing Event Reported to be a HUGE event!

It warmed the very cockles of my heart to hear that the independently-published authors were so enthusiastically received by the reading public. I'm going to make a prediction. I think we're going to have some MAJOR stars come out of the indie pub side of the industry in the next few years. Someone once said that the only two absolutely necessary components in the publishing industry are writers and readers. Ain't it the truth! Trad publishing will still be the method-of-choice from most authors for many years (if not decades) to come, but if your hero doesn't happen to be a duke or a billionaire, the bold new options for success for ALL writers, regardless of the romance genre they write, are pretty damned exciting.

The Workshops Were to Die For

So many great quotes from the workshops were tweeted and re-tweeted. And the new "track" style organizing initiated by RWA seemed to be a hit. I'll leave this category open for expounding upon by Donna, who was actually there. (Waiting for your account with baited breath, Donna.)

An Indie Published Book Won a RITA!!!!

Say what? Yes! It's twue, it's twue. This was the year that independently published authors SOARED! OFF THE EDGE, self-pubbed by Carolyn Crane got the nod, and that was met with huge cheers and general uproar. Truly this is the leading edge of a brave new publishing industry. As one speaker said (paraphrasing): Readers don't care about publishers, they care about authors. It's not that I'm anti-establishment. Believe me I chased that pennant for many years and it would have been my preferred method of publishing my work. But despite having an enthusiastic and hard-working agent, it doesn't seem to be working out for me (the whole dish here), so I'm majorly enthused that there are other viable options in today's market.

[Side note: BTW, if you want to check it out, OFF THE EDGE (Book 2 of the Undercover Associates series) jumped from #19,000 and change to #5,000 and change and top 100 on three Amazon lists overnight.]

The first EVER Rita Awarded in the Erotic Category

Another first! Erotic Romance has finally found a solid niche in the industry. I'm very happy for erotic/erotica writers and authors everywhere, some of whom have been my close peers across the years and have made their publishing breakthroughs via erotica.

The Pure Inspiration

THIS quote from The Nora, which hit a double-bullseye right to my head and heart. (R-Rated!)
And THIS
And hearing about peers getting the big win! Like...

If you want to read and see more, type #RWA14 in to your Twitter search window and enjoy the re-visit. There are some amazing images, quotes and tweets.

Okay, so it's a given. I missed a wonderful conference. *le sigh*

So what am I going to do about it?

Well, I just may revise my plans to skip the RWA in New York next year. Yes, NY is a bear to get to especially coming from the deep West, and I'm really not a Megapolis City kinda girl, and the elevators at the hosting hotel drive me to distraction (mostly by getting overloaded and moving verrrrrrrry slowwwwwwwly before main events), but on the other hand...It's the Big Apple! And it was the scene of my first exposure to the whole "OMG, I'm a Golden Heart Finalist!" experience. Good karma, fer sure.

So now that I have a whole year to plot and plan, maybe I'll rethink my Nix on NY.

Would RWA 2015 be the place to organize the first Brigade-sponsored event like we've been talking about for years? Bring together a talented group of SFR authors in a SFR-themed environment, offer book signings and freebies and drawings...could be a real blast (off). We'd need a core component of organizers to pull this off, but....well, like I said....we have a year. Anybody with me?

Have a GREAT post-RWA week.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

She Can Kill With A Kiss. Tethered is coming! #scifi #romance

EXCERPT |  GOODREADS
Available at... Breathless Press |
Smashwords | AReBookstrand
Just a very quick one this Wednesday. It's release week for Tethered! In just two more days, my SciFi romance novella following my cloned assassin Tyree will be available to read. Woot! It's been a long while coming, since I first started writing it Christmas 2011. Sheesh!

But I don't have time to rest. My tour took an unexpectedly early start on the 18th (having been scheduled for the 21st), and will run until the 30th. Then the tour I arranged for Tethered runs from the 8th-22nd August, by which time Restless In Peaceville will release. Did I mention having three monsters home for the summer too? *brain melts*

So for those interested, here's the first tour for Tethered:

18th - Urban Fantasy Investigations (interview)
21st - You Gotta Read
22nd - Love Romance Passion
23rd - Romance Reviews TodayEzrabet's Enchantments
24th - Books and MoreSizzling Hot BooksBreathless BlogSavvy Authors
25th - release day Tethered, spotlight at - Karenna's BlogPamaceeve's BlogNanee McGee
28th - Urban Fantasy
29th - Literary Lagniappe (plus giveaway), Katie Babbles

30th - spotlight at Book Infatuation

And, as if I didn't have enough to do, I signed up for the July Camp NaNoWriMo as well. Yeah. But there is method to this apparent madness. My publisher had an angel themed submission call closing on the 31st of July, and I have a folder full of unfinished shorts. As you can set your own word count target for the camp version of NaNoWriMo, I decided to use it as a boost to get the angel story finished, and maybe one or two others, to a modest total of 15K. 

And I did it! The angel story and a new YA zombie short already had words to them, but the angel story finished at 12K and went to beta readers last week. On Monday I also finished the zombie story, at 16.4K. In total, I did just over 16K for camp, easily passing my target. Now I just have to polish up the angel story for submission by the 31st, while the zombie story has no deadline (I'd like that off to my editor by the time the kids go back to school in September, but I'm not in any hurry). With five releases in the next six months already, trying for any more seems a ridiculously overambitious idea. But that hasn't stopped me so far. The angel story would be out in December, the zombie story I don't know - providing either are accepted. And I don't want to seem like I'm hammering substandard things out. All are novellas and shorts, and about half were written one or more years ago. They aren't all rush jobs in terms of writing and editing, more a backlog of work that became homeless or had yet to find a home. Promise!

It brings my word count total for 2014 up to 42.5K so far. Now, that might seem on the low side considering I managed over 100K last year, but the majority of this year has been editing and revising the works that are coming out for the rest of the year. I've edited around 150K, and some of that three times over during the process of edits for publication. So even if I never write another word this year (highly unlikely!), 42.5K is a satisfying total. 

In the meantime, I'm off to show my face on the blog tour and polish up my angel story. Happy writing!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Meet My Muse

Here she is.
(My muse, not Michelle.) 
I wrote the following article about authors and writing inspiration for author Michelle Howard's first newsletter, which was published about a week ago. I thought this might be of interest to Spacefreighters' readers, so I'm positing it with Michelle's blessing. (Thanks, Michelle!)  

I met Michelle after she read my second book, THE OPHELIA PROPHECY, and emailed to share her thoughts about it. One of the topics she proposed for the guest article was how I come up with my ideas. This is something I enjoy talking about because I find the whole creative process mysterious, beautiful, and exciting.

But it can also be very scary. As authors, we load ourselves with some pretty heavy expectations. It seems like what we do is never quite good enough according to our internal critic, and sometimes the external ones as well. A hundred or a thousand or a hundred-thousand people can tell us we’re great, but one nasty review can throw us into a funk for days.

Author Elizabeth Gilbert (EAT, PRAY, LOVE) gave a great TED talk about this and offered some very interesting advice. The gist of it is that we shouldn’t internalize our creativity so much. That we should think of ourselves as vessels for conducting creativity from wherever it comes from, out to the rest of the world. That can help us to ease up on ourselves. I particularly appreciate what she said about just showing up at the desk every day. She spoke of sitting down and saying to the universe, “I showed up. I’ve done my part. Now you do yours.”

I confess that though I found a lot of wisdom in this, I also had mixed feelings. Another author who gives great writer advice is Chuck Wendig. His is more of the tough-love variety. He advises authors to “own that shi_”, and to act like the writing gods and goddesses we know we are. And I confess I find those kinds of affirmations empowering.

I try to meditate every day, and I often start by setting an intention. Usually something like, “I have a clear and focused mind.” But sometimes, inspired by Wendig, I set the intention to “be the writing goddess I am.” Silly as that probably sounds, somehow it does seem to work for me. I think because it dovetails nicely with some advice Neil Gaiman gave to a woman who was anxious about something she was trying for the first time: “Pretend you’re someone who can do this.”

Though on the surface these two approaches seem opposite, I think they work for the same reason. If you assign the source for your creativity outside yourself, it takes off the pressure. If you refuse to doubt you can do something, it takes off the pressure.

Still, when I become frustrated because I can’t quite get the words on the page, I do tend to reflect on Gilbert’s advice. It can be very cathartic to blame the muse.

This was perhaps the longest introduction to an article I’ve ever written, but I think I’ve finally come back around to the topic of where I get my inspiration. My muse has some very specific needs. [No, I did not just call you needy.] And some very predictable behaviors. [Nor did I call you boring.] And a tendency to leave me staring at or talking to people who aren’t there at all. [Go away! I’m trying to write an article!]

First of all, she *loves* science. If you ask her about this, she’ll deny it, because she believes that muses are supposed to be shimmering and majestic and not quirky little geeks. (It has something to do with being related to fairies and ancient deities.) But all of my worldbuilding unpacks from the science talks I take her to, and books like SYMBIOTIC PLANET (symbiosis research for GHOST PLANET), FRANKENSTEIN’S CAT (biotech research for THE OPHELIA PROPHECY), and ENTANGLED MINDS (psi and quantum physics research for ECHO 8).

Beinecke Digital Library:
http://brbl-zoom.library.yale.edu/viewer/1013696
Also, she has a thing about titles. Muse *crack*, at least in my creative world. Back before I wrote my first published novel, GHOST PLANET, I was trying to think up ideas for a story to enter in the Writers of the Future contest. I had already tried a few fantasy stories that made it to “honorable mention” but no farther. I thought trying science fiction might give me a boost, or at least some new ideas to work with.

I remember the title “Ghost Planet” popped into my head. I started noodling on what a story with that title might be about, and the little dear was off to the races. It has played out exactly that way with just about every story I’ve written. Here lately she’s tossed a couple awesome ideas at me with nothing more than a color. (I have an experimental story in progress on Wattpad called RED.)

Clearly it makes no sense that a whole story should erupt spontaneously from a couple of words. But it happens. In my case, A LOT. And that’s what fascinates me about the creative process. It’s also why the ancients came up with the idea of muses — they couldn’t say any more than we can today *where* those stories come from. It’s so much like magic, they must be coming from some outside source, right?

It’s nice to have a partner, and it’s also a relief to have someone else to turn to (or blame) when things go wrong. Even if they’re only in your head.

Monday, July 14, 2014

On Disappointment...

Mission: Success
Laurie's Journal

My big, sad news for the week? RWA Fail.

Let me clarify that does not in any way describe a failure on RWA's part.

The "fail" part is all mine...

A year ago, I made plans to attend Nationals in San Antonio after having to skip the conference in Atlanta due to demands of my day job. So for 2014, I ensured my leave time was slotted, my registration paid, our Golden Heart/RITA ceremony tickets bought (x2), The Golden Network Retreat registration booked, hotel reservations made, and my suitcase nearly packed, but...

Yeah, *sob* not going to happen.

It's dueling careers again, but this time it's not my day job that wrecked havoc on my plans, but my other job...raising Thoroughbreds.

Two days ago our barn managers (unexpectedly) resigned. And while we'd had a lot of issues with the level of care they were providing and so not a big problem to see them go as far as that aspect, the timing of their decision without the courtesy of giving us fair notice meant we're left with only one option...trying to find knowledgeable backup care at the height of vacation season. (And mainly feeling very uncomfortable about leaving the ranch for a week under these circumstances.)

This was a tough, gut-wrenching decision, but ultimately we had to recognize that RWA Nationals is just not in cards for us this year.

The writing is on the wall. It says: "You need to give this a pass."

Now comes the sad task of notifying my close peers and fellow Firebirds and Starcatchers who I had so looked forward to seeing again (including my co-blogger, Donna) that I'll be an absentee.

With all things writing, life just sometimes happens. (As my hero in The Outer Planets says in quoting John Lennon, "Life is what happens to us while we're busy making other plans.")

As writers, we learn to roll with the punches a lot, to accept disappointments and find a new path.

So it's sayonara, RWA, for 2014. I'll truly miss the experience and the camaraderie I was so looking forward to.

But it's time to pick myself up, dust myself off, and look ahead once more.

I may be scouting some other writers' or SF/R conferences this coming year, or possibly organizing a writer's retreat with a few close peers. To quote my favorite Vulcan, "There are always...possibilities."

Time to move on.

I just may have a very exciting announcement to make around the September 1st timeframe.

And it's looking to be a very busy fall and winter on the writing front.

Have a great week.

~~~ * ~~~


Friday, July 11, 2014

SUMMER SIZZLES WITH SF ON THE SMALL SCREEN

When negotiations break down in Defiance--


Summertime television used to be the dumping ground for rejected pilots, B-grade series, and re-runs.  Those days are long-gone.  In this age of video streaming, on demand, Netflix, Hulu and a dozen other ways to watch what used to be broadcast over the airwaves, summer is now just one more glorious excuse to put new programming on the home screen.

This summer offers a dazzling array of science fiction and paranormal programming to choose from, enough to delight the geekiest of us.  Just take a look at the SF shows on my DVR list:  DEFIANCE, FALLING SKIES, UNDER THE DOME, EXTANT, THE LAST SHIP.  And the paranormal offerings:  SALEM, DOMINION, THE WITCHES OF EAST END.  For those who love the workings of the mind there is PERCEPTION; for the straight science nerds there is MANHATTAN.  And for those who like to mix their peanut butter and chocolate, there is THE STRAIN, an SF/paranormal/horror hybrid.

That’s a total of eleven new or returning shows to keep me busy.  There are undoubtedly more out there. (But, hey, I have to sleep (and write!) sometime.  

Just in case you haven’t had time to read your TV Guide, here’s my brief run-down on each of the featured shows:

MUST-SEE

--THE LAST SHIP(TNT)—Starring Eric Dane and Rhona Mitra, this drama about a Navy destroyer which may be the last hope of a world dying of a mysterious plague boasts plenty of authentic shipboard action, thanks to the cooperation of the U.S. Navy.  Filming was done aboard the U.S.S. Halsey, the U.S.S. Dewey and the museum ship U.S.S. Iowa—by none other than Michael Bay’s production company Platinum Dunes.  Lots of medical suspense, too, as Mitra’s research scientist character tries to find the cure for the plague. 

--DEFIANCE(SyFy)—Fully realized alien cultures, complicated characters, an evocative setting that is at once familiar and unrecognizable as our former home of mid-America, and the ever-reliable fallibility of human nature.  That is DEFIANCE.  Better than ever in Season Two.

--EXTANT(CBS)—Unknown writer’s script hits Hollywood and sparks a bidding war.  Script ends up in the hands of Stephen Spielberg.  Spielberg, as executive producer, decides on a television series for the near-future SF story, and allows the writer to see his project through.  This is the tale of Mickey Fisher and EXTANT, his story of a female astronaut (Halle Berry) who spends a year in space and comes back pregnant.  The astronaut already has complications in her marriage:  her husband (Goran Visnjic) has sought to ease the pain of their childlessness with a cyborg child, the result of his cutting edge research in robotics and AI.  She has trouble bonding with the, er, child and desperately wants one of her own.  That’s the set-up.  I haven’t yet seen the first episode, which aired this week.  We’ll see if it lives up to the buzz.  But you have to wonder: what is it about this story--an old idea, been done a dozen times in SF—that fired everyone’s imagination?  

CONSISTENT PERFORMERS

--FALLING SKIES(TNT)—The aliens came, they saw, they conquered.  What’s left of humanity fights back with the tech equivalent of sticks and stones under the leadership of a former history professor from Boston (Noah Wylie).  The effects are good, the acting is decent, the intrigues between various alien species scrapping over Earth’s strategic importance, with humans caught in the middle, are fun to follow.  Post-apocalyptic darkness can be entertaining!

--UNDER THE DOME(CBS)—Basically a soap opera with daily weirdness supplied by Stephen King, this “limited series” survives on the strength of its characters.  King’s best writing has always unlocked the dark heart of small-town America, and UTD is no exception. 

--PERCEPTION(ABC)—Eric McCormick’s Dr. Daniel Pierce has a problem.  He’s a paranoid schizophrenic who sees and hears people who aren’t there.  Fortunately, there’s a pill (or several) for that, and as long as his meds are working, Pierce is functional.  He teaches as a neuroscience/ psychology professor at a mid-size university.  And he consults with the FBI, providing insights into the criminal mind.  But the meds have side effects, so Pierce stops taking them periodically.  That’s when his hallucinations start helping him with his cases.  McCormick makes the show, but his boss at the university, STAR TREK NEXT GEN alum LeVar Burton, is always good for a laugh.

--SALEM(WGN)—Hard to say which is more interesting in this period paranormal—the witchcraft or the political maneuvering that surrounds it in the Massachusetts town of witch-burning fame.  Then there’s the sexual tension between John Alden (Shane West), descendent of the town’s founder, and Mary Sibley (Janet Montgomery), leader of the witch’s coven.  Add in a weak-willed Cotton Mather (Seth Gabel)—yeah, wrap your head around that one!—and you’ve got the ingredients for fascinating viewing.

--THE WITCHES OF EAST END(FOX)—Much lighter in tone than SALEM and very easy on the eyes, this show about a family of witches is set in contemporary times.  Mindless entertainment of the guilty-pleasure sort.  But the characters and the acting keep you coming back.

REMAINS TO BE SEEN

--DOMINION (SyFy)—Based on the 2010 film LEGION, which at least had Paul Bettany going for it, this offering pits Archangels Michael and Gabriel and their legions of angels against each other for dominion of Earth.  Gabriel wants to return Earth to its original paradise form—sans humans, who he believes has driven our heavenly Father away by destroying the world He created for us.  Since God is nowhere to be found, that’s not a bad theory.  Fortunately for us, Michael’s on our side.  Oh, and there’s a new “savior” (a human one, this time) for the world.  The problem here is in the actors, all unknowns, who seem a bit thin to be carrying all the weight that’s piled on them.  (And, BTW, SUPERNATURAL had this going on, too. How does God just up and disappear in a fit of pique?  I find that hard to swallow.  Either’s He’s God—and He’s omnipresent—or He isn’t.)

--THE STRAIN(FX)—On the one hand, Guillermo del Toro.  On the other, a virus that creates ugly-ass, ripping, tearing vampires.  It’s a toss-up as to whether this one makes any sense or is just a teen-night gore fest.  The first episode airs Sunday, July 13, so we’ll find out then.

--MANHATTAN(WGN)—Similarly, this show about the scientists and their families living at Los Alamos during the development of the atom bomb won’t air until late July. Still too early to know whether this is a science-y drama, or a soap opera with a cool setting.

AND, OF COURSE, THE MAJOR EVENT OF THE SUMMER!

--OUTLANDER(STARZ)--Okay, technically it’s not science fiction.  It’s not paranormal.  But it is time-travel romance.  The FIRST time-travel romance, the one that started the whole historical time-travel/Scottish Highlander romance landslide that still rumbles through the genre to this day.  I refer, of course, to Outlander, the first in Diana Galbadon’s series of game-changing romance novels set between modern times and 18th Century Scotland.  The book will be brought to the screen for the first time on the premium Starz cable network starting August 9, starring Caitriona Balfe as Claire and Sam Heughan as Jamie.  And you can believe my DVR is set for that one!

Cheers, Donna