Friday, May 27, 2016

NEW MOUNTAINS TO CLIMB



I was whining to a friend the other day about a production delay for my third book, FOOLS RUSH IN. She wouldn’t have it.

“Girl, what are you talking about?” she said. “Just think where you were five years ago.”

Five years ago I was at the BOTTOM of this mountain.

Five years ago, my first two books were unpublished and generally unloved, making the slow rounds of state and regional contests, their queries being rejected over and over by agents of all descriptions. In 2011, I hadn’t yet finaled in the RWA® Golden Heart® contest; I had no agent; I had no publisher. I just had those two manuscripts and this blog and a few friends to encourage me.

My friend is very, very right that I have met so many of my goals from those days and I have come so far. I got that Double Golden Heart® Final in 2012, then I signed with my wonderful agent Michelle Johnson. A year later I cleared the last hurdle and signed my contract with INK’d Press to publish not only those first two books, but a third as well. And I’m SO grateful for all of it!

But the problem is, as I suspect anyone knows who accomplishes great goals they have set for themselves, once I reach one peak, I always find another craggy mountaintop ahead of me. It’s not like I can stop, telling myself, “Well, that’s done. Think I’ll just go on back down the trail now!” I wouldn’t describe myself as a “Type A” personality; I’m just restless, always looking for that next challenge. So if one goal is met, I have to set myself another. And another.
 
That would be me, third from right, last row.
It’s not enough just to have a few books out there with my name on them. I’d actually like to sell some of them. (Ha! you say. And so do I—every time I look at my Amazon rankings.) I want good reviews—lots of them. (There I’m doing pretty well, thank you, readers.) I’d like to sit with the big dogs at the RT Book Signing—even if no one much knows who I am the first time. And someday I’d like something I’ve published to be nominated for an award or two.


 New goals. Something to strive for. Because as Jim Kirk once said, we humans are not meant to live without that constant struggle to overcome obstacles. To do better. To be better.

Even if it means every once in a while, we whine that things are not as we wish them to be.


SL Crew Member a PRISM Finalist!

Congratulations to co-blogger Sharon Lynn Fisher for her 2016 PRISM Awards nomination! Sharon’s SFR novel ECHO 8 is one of four finalists in the Futuristic category of the annual awards given by the RWA® Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal online chapter. PRISM winners will be announced at The Gathering, FF&P’s epic awards dinner/party at the RWA® National Conference in San Diego in July.

Cheers,
Donna

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Going #Cosplay Crazy #StarWars

If you follow me on social media at all, you might have caught a glimpse or two of the General Hux cosplay I'm making for my 11yo.




















I'm not one of those absolutely-must-be-exact-to-the-very-last detail people, but I like to get the overall look right. I don't have a pattern for the Hux outfit, just a lot of photos and bookmarks to various cosplay threads such as this one at RebelScum Forums (where they're even suggesting fabrics, making their own metal insignias etc. I wish I had their skills!).
I've been fortunate in avoiding a huge amount of blood, sweat and tears over this one in creating it. I bought the First Order badges from eBay and etsy (although the hat one wasn't quite what I expected and not quite correct colour-wise), picked up a jacket and some satin trousers from my local charity shop that I've adapted. I've not yet got the belt (which is a fairly simple plain metal buckle) and I need to make the tunic and create a brim for the hat (I've been using this one on etsy as a guide, but you can actually buy it HERE if you don't want to try making it ).
My main worry was the boots. The costume is for my 11yo, and he has huge feet for his age. Riding boots (the closest equivalent) would cost a massive £80 and never be worn for anything else - too much. So, we picked up some ankle length riding boots for just £16 (which he can wear elsewhere) and a pair of leather trousers for £1. The plan: Use the leather trousers to make fake tops to fit to his short boots, thus creating the look.
If you want to see how that works out and more details on the whole process, I'll be posting it on my tumblr blog during my summer break.
This is not my first attempt at cosplay though possibly my biggest. I made a Blake's 7 hooded tunic with fabric teleport bracelet, and the trademark Liberator gun made from a lemonade bottle, the curly cable from an old set of headphones and painted ping pong balls for the handle for ArmadaCon when I was 19. I've made a Princess Leia dress for my husband (don't ask), and a Hobbit outfit for my 11yo. A couple of years ago I finally made myself a Jedi tunic and cloak: Not as a specific character but the general kind of Jedi uniform (which I plan to wear for the Star Wars Experience in July). The Hux outfit is for 11yo to wear to the event.
But yesterday my friend Stephanie McGee - a more serious cosplayer than I am and one who directed me to Rey and Hux cosplay threads - tweeted that McCalls had patterns for Kylo and Rey outfits that were '80% screen accurate'. Now, I can work without patterns, but a pattern takes a lot of the stress and guesswork out of costume making. I didn't think much of Kylo as a character, but I do like his outfit, and I promised eldest a Rey costume (I've already bought her the staff). So I looked. Here they are on the McCalls site (images only, no buy links. To buy you need to go to McCalls main site and type the pattern codes on the front cover into their search, otherwise you'll be hunting all day).


















But a little bit expensy. So I turned to eBay, and there were the same patterns. Only a fraction cheaper for the actual patterns, but way cheaper on the shipping to the UK ($15 with McCalls, only $8.32 on ebay. No brainer).
So I succumbed and spent my latest royalties on patterns. Oops? The seller dispatched them just a couple of hours later AND refunded me a bit of shipping because I bought two items - bless! Goodness knows when I'll be able to afford the fabric but at least I won't be guessing over Rey's costume now.
The problem with writing and cosplay is they both take soooo much time and there just aren't enough hours in the day. >_<
If you're interested in cosplay or costume making, I generally post to my tumblr blog HERE. At the moment my step by step conversion of two Monster High dolls into two of my book characters are up, with more to follow...



















Status Update
The June project is still in edits with me and I'm starting to wonder if I should rename it July or August, while Reunion and Revived still await my attention.
The Bones from the Sea is back up, edited, and (as far as I'm aware) free at all retailers.
A Scifi Short Story
Goodreads | Webpage
Available from... Amazon
Kobo | Omnilit | iTunes
Smashwords | B&N
Portals: Volume One is also free to download from multiple retailers. Volume Two is set to release on the 31st of May.
Available from...
Amazon | iTunes | B&N
Kobo | Google Play | ARe 

Smashwords
Keir and Keir's Fall are on sale until the end of May.
Keir (Book #1): 
Amazon | ARe | Kobo | iTunes | B&N

Keir's Fall (Book #2):
Amazon | ARe | B&N | Kobo | iTunes 
Happenings
Submission call! From Carina Press:
Alien Love: A Romance Anthology "We’re looking for romances featuring at least one main character from another world... Tone of the stories should be sexy, but can range from darker to campier, sensual to trashy....we want to see new races, new cultures and lots of sexual tension..."
For more details visit their site here: http://carinapress.com/blog/2016/05/carina-press-submission-call-for-five-2016-romance-anthologies/
Submission link: http://carinapress.submittable.com/submit/59131
Closing date: September 6, 2016 Decision made by: September 16 2016

Chook Update
I close with a rare photo of all six of our girls together, and the arrival of another new critter to our garden.
Left to right: Effie, Fizzgig, Pitch, Scoop, Kyru, and Chiana

Broad bodied chaser dragonfly (female)


Next week I'm off for half term holidays again (hubs is home and a heat wave is predicted - time to hit the beach!) so I'll be leaving a snippet from something for you to enjoy. Haven't decided what to share something from yet. Pippa Jay signing off...

Monday, May 23, 2016

The Moon Guards Her Secrets: Part IV

How the Moon Created Life on Earth

[This week I'm including a few Sci-Fi Romance offerings that have the Moon as a setting in at least part of the story. See the links at the end of this blog.]

Last week, we looked at the continuing theories on the Moon's formation and the influence of Earth in the processes. But the Moon has affected Earth's processes just as dramatically. The Moon may very well be responsible for life on Earth.

How?

First let's look at how--and when--life began on Earth. Prior to recent discoveries, scientists believed simple life forms first appeared on Earth some 3.8 billion years ago, after the major bombardment of the Moon that caused its massive craters. New evidence shows that life on Earth happened "almost instantaneously" or at about 4.1 billion years ago, not long after the Theia collision that formed the Moon.

Photo credit NASA
That far back in time, as discussed in last week's blog, the Moon was much closer to Earth. After having recently been formed by debris from an impact between planet Theia (which was destroyed in the cataclysm) and Earth, the Moon may have been orbiting as close as 20,000 miles away, and would have appear 80 times larger in the sky than it does today!

The proximity of the Moon to Earth created ginormous tides--miles high!--and great tsunamis that were the result of Earth's oceans being drawn up toward the Moon and then released to slosh around on our planet's surface.

These monster tides created quiet tidal pools on land, safe zones from the violence of the seas where evaporation could have created thick concentrations of chemicals in the water, a thickening of the "primordial soup." These complex organic compounds, which included amino acids, may have formed life. This is known as Darwin's "warm little pond" theory.

There are other theories, of course. Life-generating compounds may have been carried to Earth from elsewhere on comets or asteroids. Or life may have developed in other areas on Earth, such as volcanic vents deep on the ocean floor.

We don't really know how life first formed, but science has proven that Darwin's Warm Little Pond theory is the least problematic, and that theory may have relied on the Moon's influence to create those warm little ponds.

So the Moon, indeed, may be responsible for life being here at all.

But the Moon's role didn't end merely with the formation of life. Over billions of years, the Moon created stability to Earth's axis, because a large moon can do this, making the seasons regular. Without the Moon, Earth may have met the same fate as Mars, an unstable tilt that caused the equators to cool and poles to warm, thus inhibiting the temperate climate that helps life--and the vegetation that life relies on--to flourish. It could result in dramatic climate changes. Ice Ages could even have come and gone like seasons, making the evolution of culture and society much more difficult. (Winter is coming.)

This has taught us something important. In our search for exoplanets, or alternate Earths, and the possibility of intelligent alien life inhabiting them--look for big moons!

There's no doubt that the Moon has had a huge impact on life on Earth. But are large moons required for the development of life elsewhere in the galaxy? Probably not.


As mentioned above, I'm including a few stories with the Moon as a location. Here are some SFR offerings that take place at least partly on the Moon. (Click the title to read more about it.)

Moonlight by Aeon Igni (novelette) involves characters who work at a mining operation on the Moon.

Mako's Bounty by Diane Dooley starts out on Lunar Base before moving to Earth.

Grand Master's Game by Aurora Springer, involves an alien attack on Moon Station before moving to other points in the galaxy.

And here's a fun blog by author Carol Van Atta entitled:
SF Thought Experiment: Fun With Total Eclipses


Next week:

The Moon Guards Her Secrets Part V
Death of the Moon

Resources:
How the Universe Works: Secret History of the Moon, Science Channel S4/E6 (2015)
IBTimes.com: When Did Life Begin on Earth? 300M Yrs Earlier Than Previously Thought...
ScienceClarified.Com: Did Life on Earth Begin in a "Warm Little Pond?"
Space.com: Earth's Stabilizing Force may be Unique in Universe

~~*~~

Friday, May 20, 2016

KICKASS COVER IS A LUCKY FIND



This has been my week for wild and serendipitous discoveries.

First, this great SF magazine cover from 1943, which I found in an antique shop in the little town of Mars Hill, NC, not far from my home of Marshall. I had gone into the place looking for coffee while my husband had his hair cut at the barber’s down the street on the recommendation of a third party. The shop was undergoing renovation, and a bit of soul-searching, too. Seems the owners hadn’t decided whether they wanted to go all-in on the antiques/junk thing or double-down on a coffee shop. But they had coffee in a big carafe and some interesting stuff to look at.

At the back of the store were these fabulous framed vintage SF magazine covers. I zeroed in at once on this one. Why? Because the heroine is taking an active role in engineering the escape from the “Alcatraz of the Starways,” and in a skirt and sandals, no less! (Of course, the hero’s not faring much better, fashion-wise, since he appears to be wearing a skirt, also.) Meanwhile, members of a variety of alien species seem to be trying their best to hinder the escape, using knives, guns(!) and, in one case, an overgrown crablike claw. (Oh, for the old days of science fiction, when a writer could do just about anything and readers ate it up!)

Compare this cover, though, to one from 1951-52. Here the presumed heroine is in a more typical faint, being carried off by the evil alien. We can only hope there is a rugged hero somewhere in her future to rescue her. Of course, by this time in the history of SF (and SF cover art), real-life heroes had returned from WWII to resume their peacetime place in American society. By extension, women had to take up their “proper” roles again, after the independence of the war years, in which they had served in the place of men in factories, hospitals, farm fields and offices.

Not until the New Age revolution of the Sixties would science fiction see a re-emergence of the strong, independent heroine in SF. By that time, SF cover art had moved on to a preoccupation with less human themes, the graceful lines of spaceships or awe-inspiring star-or planetscapes.


A Message from a Star

The American Greetings® greeting card company sent me a special message this week from someone I love. Yes, it was a come-on, but one I just couldn’t resist. Click on the link below and you’ll see what I mean. Now I have instant motivation whenever I need it. Maybe you should consider sending yourself a message like this one, too!


Cheers,
Donna