Saturday, September 23, 2017

A "Grim" Chat with M.K. Eidem -- Video

In our ongoing Saturday series on videos from Embrace the Romance: Pets in Space 2 authors, today I have a long chat between USA TODAY bestselling author of the Tornian Series, MK Eidem, and interviewer Narelle Todd of Get My Book Out There.

MK talks details of A Grim Pet, her story in the collection, secrets of her pet and more about her popular series.

Grim is back! MK Eidem spills the secrets of A Grim Pet

A Grim Pet is just one of the twelve stories in Embrace the Romance: Pets in Space 2, now just 17 days from release on October 10th!

Preorder now or buy your copy in the first 30 days to benefit Hero Dogs. 10% of all preorders and the first month’s profits go to Hero-Dogs.org. Hero Dogs raises and trains service dogs and places them free of charge with US Veterans to improve quality of life and restore independence.



Friday, September 22, 2017

LIFE INTRUDES, SO HERE'S A VIDEO

Sorry, folks, it's been one of those weeks. Revisions due on Not Fade Away, Interstellar Rescue Series, Book 4, family issues demanding attention, and other . . . stuff. I could discuss that trending topic, the Oxford Comma, or show you more pictures of hurricane-caused destruction, but I will spare you. Enjoy this video of Odd Friends and take it as a lesson to us all.

Cheers, Donna




Thursday, September 21, 2017

Cyborgs in Sci-Fi



There are a lot of books around these days starring cyborgs, and I guess we all know what a cyborg is – the definition is "a fictional or hypothetical person whose physical abilities are extended beyond normal human limitations by mechanical elements built into the body". They've been around for ages. The earliest (prominent) one I can remember is Steve Austin in the Six Million Dollar Man. Mm-m Quite the hunk. Then there was Robocop, and as we all know, Cynthia Sax has a series of sizzling cyborg stories. So do a number of other SFR writers. You'll find a whole list of them on Goodreads.


I found a fascinating article the other day about the quest for immortality. It struck a chord for me, because transferring a brain into a kind of robot shell is exactly how the process works in my Eye of the Mother book and its sequel, For the Greater Good. Having put forward the hypothetical plans for making such a transition possible, the article then goes on to talk about the potential societal problems immortality might create. And it's not just immortality: it's greatly expanded lifespans.

Isaac Asimov's novels The Caves of Steel, The Naked Sun, and The Robots of Dawn contrasted the short lives of Earth humans with the three hundred plus ages achieved by 'spacers'. In the end, the spacers lost their vitality, and their planets were all abandoned. Asimov argued that the relatively short life span of ordinary humans meant that they would be more inclined to take chances, since they had less of their lives to lose. An interesting theory, which didn't fit at all with how Tolkien's elves conducted themselves. They are almost immortal, but they sign up for the wars against Sauron.

Elizabeth Moon's Serrano series explores the effect of people being able to regenerate their bodies, thus being able to extend their lifespans indefinitely. Her novels are military, and she makes the point of long lines of able young officers unable to get a promotion because the senior officers don't need to retire. It's all fascinating stuff, leaving the reader with a lot to think about, especially with regard to the ethics of such a process – which would, of course, only be available to the rich.
 
Apart from the cyborgs in the Dryden Universe, my other major cyborg star is Morgan Selwood. She comes from a time after a series of disastrous wars had decimated humanity - wars with machines, or AI's, a bit like the wars depicted in the Terminator movies. Determined never to allow machines to dominate them again, humans use people like Morgan to control their technology. Known as supertechs, they have a supercomputer implanted in their brains soon after birth, and are genetically modified to obey the people who control them. Apart from that, they are completely human. But Morgan's a little bit different from the other Supertechs. Her story starts in a short story, Supertech.

That's the wonderful thing about science fiction. It raises possibilities, then explores the effects – both good and bad.

Please tell me about your favorite SFR cyborgs.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Magic New Mexico - New #Release and #Fair Fun

So today my blog theme is Magic New Mexico. We're very lucky to live in a state that is chock full of history and ancient tradition. Did you know Santa Fe was settled by Europeans at about the same time as Jamestown? It's true. Did you know we have the oldest church and government building? Also true. Did you know we had the first citizen's militia that would later evolve into the National Guard? That's subject to debate, with some of the eastern states laying claim to the title, but it is true that New Mexico had a citizen's militia decades before any of those in New England. New Mexico was also the site of the first gold rush, centered in the aptly named Golden (just a hop, skip and a gallop from our home) at least 20 years before the first strike in California.

It's also a land chock full of paranormal legends and phenomenon--from the eerie wailing spirit La Llorona, to the haunting of Cimarron's legendary St. James Hotel, to the devil of Devil's Canyon, to the Ghosts Tours of Santa Fe, to the mysterious Taos Hum, to the UFO crash near Roswell, to Native American brujeria (witchcraft), to the many sightings of Bigfoot.

And that makes for a perfect introduction to...

NEW RELEASE BY LEA KIRK!

When the Magic, New Mexico Kindle World first came on the scene, it was one that really caught my attention because...New Mexico!

Yes, the setting is a fictional town in my home state where just about anything can and does happen. It's a mash-up of science fiction and paranormal romance stories about this wondrous place and the people--and not people--who live there.

Fellow author Lea Kirk has stepped a little outside her usual science fiction romance bounds to release a brand new title in the Magic, New Mexico series, Made for Her. Here she is to talk a little more about it.

Thank you, Laurie, for having me on Spacefreighters today. Yes, Made for Her really is a step outside of my normal SFR genre. The thing is, as writers, we never know where our next idea is going to come from. This one came from a dream. A really vivid dream that I woke up from with my heart racing because things didn’t look good for the couple who’d eventually become my protagonists. I ran to my computer and typed up everything I could remember then saved it in a file.

Fast forward a few months, I was messaging in a group chat with Susan Smith and another friend, and Susan invited me write for her Magic, New Mexico Kindle World. At that time I was buried under a double-deadline. I had two stories coming out within a week of each other—a novella for an anthology and the second book in my SFR Prophecy series. It was such a crazy time, so I asked if we could talk about it again after the new year. Thankfully, she said yes.

By the time January rolled around, I’d had time to research what Magic, New Mexico was all about, and there were aliens living in this little desert town! Yay! But, what was I going to write? My Prophecy series was such a different world than Magic, it was the “square peg, round hole” scenario. So, I delved into my file of story ideas and the one marked “Vampire Dream” popped out at me.

Boom! I knew this was the perfect “peg” for Magic, New Mexico. And that is how my first paranormal romance came to be.

MADE FOR HER
By Lea Kirk

Vampires and faeries and snake-shifters. Oh, my!

Donnie McAllister’s dream job turns into a nightmare when she discovers her boss isn’t as human as he seems. Racing against time to return a legendary dagger to the land of the Fae, she must rely on a dangerously sexy vampire to navigate a world she never knew existed. Because if she doesn’t deliver, it’ll cost Donnie her life and leave the ancient weapon of untold power in the hands of her corrupt, venomous boss.

Four hundred years ago one man destroyed everyone vampire Mikhail Cherneski held dear. Now his nemesis is after Donnie, the human woman whose blood calls to Mikhail like no other. For she means more to him than a simple snack to satisfy his despicable eternal thirst. When Mikhail comes face-to-face with his enemy, he must risk his immortal life or watch Donnie suffer the same fate as his family.

Another enchanting story from Magic, New Mexico



About the Author

Lea Kirk loves to transport her readers to other worlds with her science fiction and paranormal romances. She is the author of the sci-fi romance Prophecy series.

Her fascination with science fiction began at six years old when her dad introduced her to the original Star Trek TV series. She fell in love with the show, and may have run through her parents’ house wearing the tunic top of her red-knit pantsuit and white go-go boots pretending to be Lieutenant Uhura. By nine years old she knew she wanted to be a writer, and in her teens she read her first romance and was hooked.

She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her wonderful hubby of twenty-seven years and their five kids (aka, the nerd herd).

You can connect with Lea Kirk here:
 Website      Amazon Author Page        Facebook        Twitter       Newsletter 


Experiencing the New Mexico State Fair

We try to hit the New Mexico State Fair every year. It's one of the nation's largest State Fairs and always has a lot to see and do, from farm animals to Alligator and Sea Lion shows, horseshows to live horse racing, an abundance of eclectic foods to try from Indian Fry Bread in the Native American Village to fresh tamales in the Spanish Village to a wild assortment of treats and rarities in the open air food court.

Here's a photo journal of some of the things we saw during a quick visit last Tuesday.

A covered wagon parked on the Fair's Main Street.
 
It was sponsored by the Bernalillo County Sheriff's Posse
based in Albuquerque.
 
A stop by the Dairy Barns to grab some fresh ice cream.
Vanilla and Pecan...yum!
We always stop by the huge horse arena to see what shows or events are taking place. Today was a surprise. It was Mule and Donkey Day.

A Donkey Race event.
 
Jumping Mule Puissance. (He got up to 39 inches.)

A little spotted burro cutie.

"Judge me by my size, do you?" The little guy clears 33 inches.
 

Youth showing sheep.
We were greeted by four babies of this rare species when we
entered the rabbit and fowl area. They got quite a bit of  attention!

A big chicken. Pippa can probably ID the breed.

A sweet little bunny waiting for his big moment.
A visit to the agricultural area was decorated with some mouth-watering displays of New Mexican produce and products. We bought some local offerings, like Cowgirl Coffee White Chocolate bars, Green Chile flavored Pistacios, Mountain Man Chocolate Flavoring, Cowboy Cinnamon Cookies, Green Chile Stew mix and a Red Salsa mix. *smacks lips*
 
A few choice chiles--red, yellow and green.

An award-winning display of some of our state's more
colorful corns.
Prize goodies.

Bread Winners!

Champion Wine. New Mexico actually had some of the first
vineyards in the country and produces some excellent wines.

More Wine prize winners.
A stop by the crafts exhibit hall had our cameras working overtime: dolls, models, sewing, crafts, paintings, textiles. So much to see in the big exhibit building. Here are just a few of the highlights.
 
So many BEAUTIFUL quilts. So little time.
 
This Champion was so detailed it looked like a photo.
The artist nailed it, right down to the gnarled hands
and wrinkled jeans. The award was well deserved.

A gorgeous teal, blue and turquoise peacock quilt.

A lovely Native American inspired running horse.

This zebra really caught my eye. Hypnotizing, isn't it?
It won first place plus a couple of specialty awards.
This Best in Show embroidery work was exquisite.

A colorful embroidered seascape.
There was a huge showing of models--everything from horses to Leggos to World War II aircraft and ships. Star Wars models were out in force. Here are just a few.
 
There were four display cases full of Star Wars inspired crafts.

Everyone's favorite "fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy!"


Who ya gonna call? Ghostbusters!
And of course I had to get a shot of this handsome guy
before we left the exhibits.

We grabbed a late lunch while there, me ordering up some authentic Parr's Greek lamb gyros--delicious!--and David getting a green chile cheeseburger from Asbury CafĂ©. Settling down at a picnic table on the grass along main street, we were treated to a spontaneous concert by the Street Drum Corp. They were fantastic!
The Street Drum Corp performing live. 
Words and snapshot alone do not do them justice, so here's a quick video snippet of their jam.
 
 
We had a wonderful time on Tuesday, and we were back on Saturday to catch a couple of races, a rodeo and then our first ever Kenny Loggins concert, live! It was magical. Viva la musica!
 
In closing, I want to mention that Embrace the Romance: Pets in Space 2 is due to release in just 22 days on October 10th! If you haven't pre-ordered a copy, I hope you'll consider doing so now. Or making a purchase within 30 days after release. Why? Because 10% of all preorders and the first month’s profits go to Hero-Dogs.org. Hero Dogs raises and trains service dogs and places them free of charge with US Veterans to improve quality of life and restore independence.
 
We really want to do great things for this wonderful organization this year, but we need your help and support to do it. You can click this link to see all vendors where it's available for pre-order now:
 
 
 
 
I hope you enjoyed a little New Mexico flavor today. Have a great week!
 
 

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Why Did We...? The Authors Explain

This week, in a continuing Saturday series of video responses by authors we have a new topic:

Why did we price Embrace the Romance: Pets in Space 2 as we did?


Much thought went into the price point, and the two authors who spearheaded the set weigh in on why the story collection is such a great value for readers.

The interviewer is Narelle Todd of Get My Book Out There.





And now we hear from Veronica Scott:


 
 
In case you missed my previous Monday blog, I also had a response:
 
 
 
I'll close this week's offerings with Carol Van Natta explaining why Hero Dogs is such a wonderful organization for the authors to support:
 


 
And now we're just a little over three weeks away from the release of Embrace the Romance: Pets in Space 2 on October 10th!

If you're just finding out about this exciting new collection of Science Fiction Romance stories that feature cuddly--and not so cuddly--pets, here are two related links:

Learn more herePreorder here.

Thanks for tuning in.




Friday, September 15, 2017

WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM MY FRIENDS



I have some very smart friends. You might even call them experts, in a wide variety of fields. And that’s lucky for me, a writer and jack of all trades, but master of none. When I set out to write a story that requires knowledge of something about which I know little—kidnapping, say, or psychiatry—a Google search will only get me so far. Good thing I happen to know the right people.

Let me say right here that I believe the old saw “write what you know” can only be interpreted to mean “if you don’t know, you better find out”. The world of SFR would be a bleak one if we only wrote about what we had really experienced. None of us have actually been in space, after all, and I doubt seriously that any of us have encountered an alien in real life. In speculative fiction of all kinds, imagination must stand in for actual life experience. That doesn’t mean our stories shouldn’t be based on some kind of plausible scientific theory or grounded in solid human emotional behavior. That is what we should know before we write.

On the other hand, if you propose to write about organizations or cultures or norms here on Earth, best know what you’re writing about. So, research. And friends with experience.

This isn't me, but, well, you get the idea--ask.

The experts I go to for help with my novels are separate from my wonderful (and very patient) critique partners (thank you, Laurie and Sharon!). Critique partners or beta readers are there to make sure your writing is on track—characters consistent, plot holes filled, pacing lively. It’s not your editor’s job, either, to notice if your psychiatrist hero is crossing the line with his patient, though a good one might pick it up.

No, for that you need someone who knows about psychiatry. For my first book, Unchained Memory, Interstellar Rescue Book 1, in which the plot revolves around a psychiatrist and a woman with memories of alien abduction, I had to know just how far I could push their attraction while she was still his patient before it became unethical. Fortunately, my good friend Joyce was a psychiatric nurse for forty years. She read the manuscript, gave me advice and sent me material to read. Her feedback was invaluable, and is definitely the reason I’ve had very few objections to the story on that point over the years.

In Trouble in Mind, Interstellar Rescue Book 2, an FBI agent must team up with a half-alien tracker to solve a kidnapping here on Earth. Before I started, I needed to know all sorts of details about FBI agents—what kind of guns they carried, how they operated in the field, what resources they would rely on, etc. (Believe me, it’s tempting to think we know all this from watching cop shows on TV, but we don’t.) So, I sat down with my friend Robert, a former FBI special agent who had worked in the unit responsible for investigating kidnappings, and he gave me the lowdown. I learned, among other things, that kidnappings perpetrated by a stranger are rare in the U.S. That chilling factoid led to Ethan being considered a suspect for part of the book. 

Fools Rush In, Interstellar Rescue Book 3, is set entirely in space, but I still needed some “expert” advice. Laurie did double duty here, reading the manuscript both as my critique partner and as my space tech advisor. Mostly she had to keep reminding me not to bleed Star Trek all over the pages.

In my latest WIP, Not Fade Away, Interstellar Rescue Book 4, my heroine is a nurse who works with the elderly father of my Rescue agent hero. She has a dog who accompanies her, working as her partner. I had originally envisioned Happy as a formally trained therapy dog, but I needed him to do some things plot-wise that are uncharacteristic for that kind of animal. My canine expert friend Beki pointed this out, requiring me to do some rethinking. Happy is on his way to becoming a companion dog with a talent for cozying up to old folks, but a dislike for my heroine’s mean ex-husband. 

I hope that’ll work. Because, of course, if you ask for expert help, you should take the advice you’re given. Even if it’s sometimes painful.

Cheers, Donna