Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Happy Holidays From Spacefeighters' Lounge


Wishing you a stellar holiday
and a New Year that's out of this world.
Spacefreighters Lounge
~~ * ~~
This greeting will stay up until after the holidays, so check for new posts below.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Sweating the Small Stuff

I realize the title of this post normally has a Don't in front of it, but when final revisions are being done, it really is time to sweat the small stuff.

Novels (mine, at least) don't get written from beginning to end. They get written in layers. Each layer adds more complexity to characters, themes, plot or setting. Sometimes whole new ideas jump out in later drafts and the information to support those ideas has to be woven in throughout the story.

It's inevitable that, upon doing revisions on page 499, I realize: "Oik! I need to change something on page 5 to support, introduce and/or foreshadow this." Since it's counterproductive to leave the scene I'm slaving over and hit the Go To button to backtrack, I make a "Go To List" of things I need to fix/add/enhance earlier in the book.

My Go To List might include:

1. Ideas or details to be worked into the WIP
2. Scenes that need to be incorporated
3. Elements that need to be added, enhanced or brought forward in more detail

and after doing all of the above, there's a final step:

4. Do at least two complete read-throughs for continuity, orderly plot progression and character development. (Did I find problems? Start another Go To list.)

I often use keywords to prod my memory. Here's an example of a current Go To List from P2PC:

Cradle
Epic
Uniforms
Ship-to-ship protocol
Gull
Munchkins
Cambriar blossoms

(A couple of my critters probably "get" at least two of those seemingly random references.)

OK, it's back to sweating the small stuff for me. I hope you all had a fantastic holiday and your muse is recharged and ready for duty.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

P2PC Backstory: Variations on a Theme

In developing the characters for P2PC, I realized that the three principle characters all have something in common; they are refugees from their pasts--each in a very different way. Each suffers from grief and confusion over a life-altering event. They have all endured personal torment. They all have inner demons to defeat. One of the characters even seems to have benefitted, until the reader is clued in how their life was impacted. (Yes, I'm intentionally being non-gender specific here.)

P2PC has three protagonists--one male and two females--though two of the protags become enemies. In a twist, the lives of the two who are at odds end up having close parallels. It takes a violent confrontation to reveal the common ground.

The characters all deal with their loss differently--by escaping from it, by swearing to avenge it, and by living in denial. Eventually, they all have to face it.

Backstory is always one of elements I enjoy discovering, whether I'm writing the tale or reading it. The novel begins at a place and a point in time, but what came before defines how the characters will act, feel, and respond to other characters and their environment. It's the buried treasure chest waiting to be uncovered. But what's inside? Is it bright and shiny or dark and twisty? (Dark and twisty is so much more fun.)

When I sit down with a story idea and begin working, I don't know every nuance of the characters or their pasts. These elements come to light as the story evolves.

I think that's why writing is such an addiction for some (*raises hand*), because it's constant discovery and you never know what surprises and revelations await you. Writing a story is, as Forest Gump said: "...like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're going to get."

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Champagne All Around. I Did it!!!

*corkpop* Yes! I am BACK! Internet problems RESOLVED late this afternoon. *deep breath* Ahhhhhh! Feels great to be able to move around cyberspace again, no longer frozen in time.

Lots to fill you in on! :D

P2PC is DONE!!!! Wooo hooooo! I finished at 3:21 pm this afternoon. Dark & Twisty ending ensues. After deciding to throw word count to the wind and write as many dang words as the ending needed, I'm up to about 110,700 words. Not too horrible, and I'm sure I'll loose some with trims, but I'm expecting the final product around 105,000 - 106,000 or so. *sticks out tongue at the 95,000 word rule* Neener, neener.

I very happy with it. Drea stays more true to herself during the whole Ryn-pulls-the-wool-over-Sair's-eyes episode. She becomes divided between her cold professional pilot self who sees the value in the high-risk mission and her warmer feminine side who loves Sair and is terrified of losing him.

I think Ryn comes across as--well, still a pompous jerk at times--but a by-the-regulations senior officer who for the first time realizes he has something very important to lose--Zjel. And she ranks at least as high in priority as his carrying out his father's vision, but he has a hard time showing or expressing that in clear terms. He's divided. (Yep, runs in the family. hehe) Does he get the girl in the end? Well, you'll have to read the novel. LOL Sair affixes a term to their relationship that popped into my my head when I was writing a scene and I love it! It's a running theme through the various events, now.

The new ending. I wasn't happy with the last one. In fact, I haven't been happy with the last three. What I did, at last, is crammed most of the important elements of Book 2 into one chapter. *turns on trash compacter* Yup, the story wraps and I think that's what my instincts were telling me needed to happen. I can still write other books in this universe. There's Jagger's story, the kids, and cousin, Daava [Jaeo's estranged daughter] who never came out of the woodwork on this one, and many others. Oh yes, and D'nar Rand...the evil personna who haunted the Toasted Scimitar Halloween chat, and kept sprinkling salt on all the guests.

Well, back to work tomorrow but I am a happy camper tonight. I reached my goal of completing my novel before my leave was over. Nothing but tweaks, tightening and tidying ahead. Oh yes, and writing the synopsis and query letter. *Does Bugs Bunny contortions* ACK!

*skips off to her bed, whistling I Can See Clearly Now*

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

What I'm Researching Now

The Navajo culture. Why? Because their society is predominately matriarchal and incorporates a clan or Ke system. It is the females in their society that do the majority of the planning and setting of direction for the community. The Ke system regulates social conduct and behavior, and guides personal interaction.

What does that have to do with my SciFiRom? Actually, quite a lot. The male protag in my story is from a male-dominated, warrior society, but their system of naming and recognizing a primary heir puts huge importance on the female family. Learning more about the Navajo traditions is giving me some great insights on customs, quirks and paradoxes that I can throw into the mix.

If you have any interest in a bit of enlightenment about the Navajo culture, this site has a good paper on the subject done by a land use planning committee: http://www.cbcrc.org/2003speakerpapers/Calsoyas%20-%20Navajo%20Four%20Directions%20Research%20Model%20Paper.pdf

Monday, December 3, 2007

If This is Chapter 22, We Must be on Veros

I have a serious case of 'revision-muddles' tonight. That happens when I've worked so hard on scrubbing and polishing my draft that everything--plot, characters, conflict--becomes a blur. From experience I know that the next stage is the dread Writer's Meltdown, soooo...

I'm going to take a deep breath.

Pry my hands from the keyboard.

Take two giant steps back.

And leave my novel alone for a night...maybe two. (We'll see how it goes.)

Meanwhile, I snagged this classic quote from Lisa Shearin's blog. (With her permission, of course.) Yes, this hits the nail on the head.

"Some people are intimidated away from writing a book because they think we authors have the whole book in our heads when we start. Heck, most of us don't have the whole book in our heads when we finish."

LOL. Love it!

There was a movie I saw a long time ago called "Make Mine Chartreuse." The male and female leads involved a pretty major role-reversal (he was a romance novelist and she ran a big construction company). [Those familiar with P2PC know role-reversal is a huge element in the story. ::: wink, wink :::] Anyway, I remember one scene in the movie where she wears this big, black fur coat to his room and tells him, "Think page 132."

And I thought: Yeah, right! Like he's going to remember what's on that particular page after it's been revised and renumbered fifty times. Silly non-writer. LOL

OK, time to start my mini-vacation. I'll be back soon.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Woohoo! Productive Weekend.

Wow. Did I ever have a great weekend, production-wise! My internet has only been working intermittently, which is bad for blogging but great for working on manuscripts.

Where Am I?

I have the first sweep of my P2PC rewrite done, except for the last few pages which have to be hashed out from scratch. Almost there! :)

Current word count: 105,500

Yes! I've slashed another 1,200 or so words. Added some. Slashed some more. Still need to cut about 6,000 words, but that's within the realm of "doable."

Am I Happy With The Changes?

Pretty much. I had one of those creative moments where a surprise element sprang from my stream of thought and started flopping around on the page like a beached fish (other writers probably know what I mean). Anyway, I need to come back to that scene later and see how well it flies...er, swims. It's a religious-mysticism-meets-military-rigidity scene that helps define the conflict between one of my protags and my problem child, Ryn.

What's Next?

Write the ending.
Do another sweep of the new material.
Have my critters have a go at the new stuff.
Do a complete readthrough from page 1, fix minor problems and tweak a few things.

I'll keep you posted. :)

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Now I'm Clicking Along...Backwards :)

Sometimes not writing words is a huge accomplishment. Sometimes the exact opposite is a major achievement. How can this be?

My (over-long for a first novel) 120,000+ word manuscript is now--ta daaaa!--106,700 words. It's been an epic slash-and-burn fest in the last week. I fired up the laze-saws and went to work with a vengence. I slashed entire scenes, re-arranged chapters, relocated sentences and dialogue to tighten up passages, and extricated anything that didn't absolutely have to be there. I rewrote one scene that lasted an entire chapter and changed elements that made it only about 1/3 of a chapter (700 words) in length.

So that's the good news. The bad? I still have over 7,000 words to burn. That translates to about three average chapters. ::: insert melting scream image here :::

Can it be done? Um, that's a definite maybe. I still have ten chapters that haven't been through the meatgrinder yet, so there could be more fodder for the Deleted Scenes files, but...I still have to write several new scenes. That concerns me. One step back, three steps forward, and in this case, I don't wanna go forward.

If any of you have been following Lisa Shearin's blog, you've been indoctrinated into the life of a writer (provided you aren't experiencing it first-hand :) ) It's a messy, convoluted process, with a lot of traffic jams and wrong turns. Even some trainwrecks. It's like taking a long roadtrip and trying to find your destination with just a few major landmarks in your head, and no roadmap to follow.

Ah, the creative process. Isn't it grand?

Monday, November 26, 2007

Holiday Lament

Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving (should you be among those who celebrate).

Me? Well, yes I did. Good times, great food, wonderful to see everyone again from the far flung corners of the country, and it's great to have a five day holiday, but...

It's also somewhat frustrating when I can't dive into my writing head first and stay there for the entire hiatus. 'Tis the season when houseguests and family activities abound, and sadly, zilch time to devote to my manuscript. It's *gasp* finally! the end of day five, my fingers are twitching and I've developed a nervous tick. Oh yes, writing can be as addictive as anything they sell on the street corner. A writer denied their "fix" is not pretty. (Quick! Hide the mirrors.)

So it's back to work tomorrow...in more ways than one.

Have a great week.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Thought for the Day...

Don't follow your dreams.
Chase them down.

(C) Me :)

Oh, yes. I'm so on the hunt.

I have mapped out (I have mental blocks against doing outlines) the redefined ending succession of events for P2PC and I'm starting to work on the 'deep muscle massage' of the text.

I like the direction this is taking. I like the way it [should] better define the actions of one of my problem characters. (For those of you familiar with the WIP, this is, of course his most obstinate highness, the admiral.) Mapping allows for creative and unexpected things to pop up as I write, and I thoroughly enjoy that element in the process.

On another spacey topic, don't forget the Leonid meter shower tonight. The articles say it will start here at about 11PM (Mountain time). I'm looking forward to staying up for a little stargazing...the real variety, for a change. :)

OK. Nuff said. Back to work!!! *cracks whip*

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Quiet? Why Yes, I Have Been.

That's because I just scoured through thirty-seven (count 'em...37) chapters of critiques in the last five days. My mind is fried, my eyes are crossed, and I think I have a touch of carpal tunnel syndrome (can you get just a touch?) but....my final premarket draft is finished. TADA!

Now....I move on to the Market Draft. I need to write a new ending, do a bit more tweaking and finessing, incorporate a few common themes, but I'm in the home stetch.

December 31st is my target date to have P2PC ready to pitch. I can't wait to unleash this one on the world. Make that the universe. :)

Sunday, November 4, 2007

P2PC: Moving Right Along

Back on track and back in the saddle.

I'm finishing revisions of the pre-market draft of P2PC, then that gets saved to my P2PC Archives and I begin work on my (fanfare, please) Market Draft. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I'm almost there.

I've got a character who has given me a lot of problems. He's a stubborn sort. He's evolved from pseudo-villain, to damaged goods, to staunch military man who has to make a decision between what is right in terms of his command, and the welfare of those close to him. Some indepth discussion with my crit partners helped me see what I needed to do with this problem child. He's not a major character in the story, but he's a very important character because of his role and relationship to the MCs. Now I think I have him defined in my head, and lately he's been "talking" to me about some future scenes in a possible second book in this universe. One he'll be an MC in, of course. LOL

But back to P2PC. This novel has only taken a little over a year to write, edit, revise and groom for its debut in Queryland. That's quite an accomplishment considering I have two novels that are already 10 years old and still far from this landmark (though my goal is to have them both ready to market in 2008).

Those of you who are in close contact with me know this story really struck a chord with me. I decided it was the prime candidate as my "first" novel, so it's been my focus. I'll keep posting updates on my progress until this one is out the door.

Monday, October 29, 2007

P2PC Progress Report: The Best Intentions...

Wow. An entire day just to write. Yahoo. Couldn't wait to get started. It was 7:00 am.

I sat down to focus on the ending of P2PC, which I feel needs the most work. My to do list included re-reading my critiques and making edits and revisions to the current draft, as needed. Next, I planned to extract Chapters 23 - End and apply concentrated effort to whipping the conclusion into shape.

OK, that's what I planned.

Then...

Realized it was approaching 8:00 am and went out to open the gate for water delivery.
Empty horse tanks had to be filled before water was delivered.
Water deliver showed up at 8:30 -- another 2,000 gallons since Thursday. Gah!
Then the former barn manager stopped by to drop off her key and garage door opener.
And we chatted.
Then the brand new manager showed up to start work and had a few questions.
And we chatted.
Short break to grab lunch.
Wrote a couple of critiques and read Kristin Nelson's Pubrants blog on pitches.
Then the well people arrived to do the assessment on our (apparently failing) well.
Frequent trips made to see how things are going. Not well. (No pun intended.)
After talking over options with them for an hour, they left.
I returned to filling horse tanks and the water promptly stops flowing. Yikes!!!
Call well guy back frantically (ACK! -ly adverb) to tell them something has gone wrong.
Well guy returns 45 minutes later and switches the breaker back on that he forgot when he left.
Horseshoer calls to schedule next round of trims and shoes.
Call spouse and report on all findings. *puff, puff*
By then it's 6:45 and I'm just sitting down to start on my to do list for the day.
Needless to say, I didn't get much done.
Tomorrow, and the next four days, are work days.

And so it goes...

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

P2PC: Final Construction Continues

Progress Update

I'm still slaving away on P2PC, focusing on getting the end chapters in shape and redefining a few of the more controversial characters. Meanwhile, my next two projects have been "talking" to me--giving me a scene here, a rework there.

I'll continue to post updates and items of interest.

Lisa Shearin posted her brand new artwork for book two of her Raine Benares series, ARMED & MAGICAL. Gorgeous! It's a perfect compliment to the cover of book one--MAGIC LOST, TROUBLE FOUND (imho). (Although, I would like to get a glimpse of her male leads, Mychael and Tam, maybe some things are best left to the imagination.) I also read the first two sample chapters of A&M she posted. I like the opening even better than the original. Promises to be a rollicking read when it's released next spring. Can't wait.

A little over a month until the release of THE DOWN HOME ZOMBIE BLUES by Linnea Sinclair, one I was fortunate to get an ARC on. Looking forward to that. I'll have to pick one up. Since the original cover art has been changed, I'll have both covers in my collection. :)

Thanks for your interest in my blog. :)

P.S. Did you notice my new trial 3-D globe radar tracking system? >>>> Love it. Think I'll upgrade when the trial expires. :)

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

If it's Monday, This Must be Spacefreighters

New Blog on the Scanner
I'm convinced I'm a blog-aholic. In addition to my two, and my joint Fantasty blog, I'm now in the process of creating yet another along with a couple of writers I work with very closely. We're calling this one Take it to the Stars. It focuses on what I call "extraordinary romances" sometimes refered to as Speculative Romance. It's Romance blended with Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Paranormal, Horror, etc. It will feature our running commentary, book reviews, comments on the industry, notes on our work, etc. It's not up and running just yet. We're working out some kinks.

Update on P2PC (WIP)
My Sci-Fi Romance is coming along nicely. It still needs some tweaks and flourishes, but I'm very close to turning my core group of critters lose on it for final feedback. This didn't start out as a full-blown romance. At first, I resisted taking it down that path every word of the way, but in the end, it decided what it wanted to be when it grew up. I hope to have P2PC ready to market in November, provided my critters don't pursuade me that a major change in direction is required. This will be a debut novel, so I have to get it right.

What I'm Reading
Gabriel's Ghost by Linnea Sinclair. I'm fascinated. This has turned into a study session for me. The story begins with a life-or-death struggle and a surprise. That sets the precedent. The way Linnea introduces elements of the characters' backstories is brilliant. She springs surprises about them every step of the way--the knock your socks off variety. Each chapter brings new insights into the two MCs, and what is really lurking beneath the surface of the male MC. I'm about 3/4 done and so far I would highly recommend it for anyone who enjoys an adventure through outer--and inner--space.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Musings: Writer's Meltdown...It Happens

I thought I'd share a little about my writing, for a change. Unfortunately, this is all about writing woes. My first novel, which is actually my fourth novel, but the first I'll attempt to publish (did you get all that?) is finished. Again. I finished it once before, but that was just the 1st-6th draft version. Since that time it's been critiqued and re-critiqued, and I've added scenes, changed scenes, added characters, slapped on a few more coats of polish...

It is now my Pre-Market Draft version. I hope to begin marketing it before the end of this year. But that's today. Let me tell you what's been going on with me that led up to this point.

I've been cashing in massive amounts of my leave time to finish this little puppy before the end of October. I have a few close critters working with me again this round, and I got as far as revising and posting Chapter 22....and at that point something triggered a total meltdown. Meltdowns are a scary thing. It's when you question everything about yourself and your writing. Suddenly you doubt you have the basic talent or the ability to write anything that will ever be good enough to publish (or publish again, if you're already there). Ironically, meltdowns often occur because you've gotten too close to the story. You're judgment is shot. You're looking through black lenses.

Meltdowns are serious attitude-adjusters and "wake up and smell the coffee" sessions. You either survive a meltdown as an artist or you don't. I've seen a few of my peers suffer a meltdown, say "To hell with it." and never get back. Writing is not easy. It takes enormous amounts of your time, attention and energy. It sometimes causes problems within your family because you have to spend so much time pounding away at the keyboard. Housework suffers, errands get pushed back or put on indefinite hold. If you hold down a full-time job, and most of us do, it can even affect your career. When things go bad--or you think they have--it's easy to resent all the time you've spent writing that you could have been spent pursuing other things in life. Like sleep, for instance.

Thank goodness for Flick and Dawn, my IPs (Indispensable Peers), who verbally picked me up, brushed off the dirt, and told me it wasn't as bad as I thought. Dawn told me a parallel story about an artist she once knew, and Flick blazed through all my chapters in about a day(!) and gave me some excellent insights. Then they both gave me a good swift boot in the butt and told me to get back to work. I did. I heart my IPs.

The ending of my story was, and has always been a major problem in my WIP. Yea! I think I got it fixed today. I'm proud of it. It's a good wrap of the story, ties up the plot lines of all the major characters and most of the minors. It's a good resolution. It's a happy ending, but not a saccharine one. It's light years ahead of any ending I've written to date. My critters haven't had at it yet, so future tweaks may be in order, but I think it works, and works well.

I'm going to attempt to write an article on Writer's Meltdown for Toasted Scimitar to go along with the Writer's Block theme. Writer's Meltdown is similar to Writer's Block in the way that a cute, bored little chimp has similarities to a 500-pound rampaging gorilla. Writer's Block causes frustration and doubt. Writer's Meltdown causes you to question why you ever thought you could be a writer in the first place. Both can be a learning experience, if you let them.

I think I learned a lot this round.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Alien Illness Brought by Meteorite?

The crash of a meteorite near a small village in Peru may be the cause of mysterious illnesses among those who came in contact with the impact site and fragments of the meteorite. Symptoms include respiratory problems, headaches and vomiting. Health officials are on the scene now to try to determine the cause of the sicknesses.

The meteorite left a crater 100 feet wide and 20 feet deep when it impacted.

See the video here:
http://us.video.aol.com/player/launcher?ar=us_en_video_748x541_full&mode=1&pmmsid=1972225

Friday, September 28, 2007

New Reference on Governments Added

I just added a new link to the Sci-Fi 101 reference list in the right-hand column. A topic no red-blooded Sci-Fi/Fantasy author should miss...government! A great story demands a well-defined government to really muck things up for the protagonist, doesn't it?

Here you'll find an extensive list from Wikipedia of different types of government and links to more details on each. Ever heard of a Grand Duchy? A Grand Prince? What are the various types of Theocracies?

Go have a look here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_forms_of_government

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

I've Been Tagging

You might notice the new section on the sidebar at right calls "Labels." I've been busy tagging previous posts with category tags so blog readers can scan the list and pull up posts on any subject that interests them.

Since the point of this blog is to be a research site for Science Fiction writers, readers and anyone interested in the universe in general, I thought it would be a good transport to beam you back to browse past articles. :)

Now, at a glance, you can go directly to topics like Book Reviews, Nebula, NASA, Shuttle, Solar System, Science Fiction, etc., etc. Go browse and have fun. Oh, and be sure to let me know if you find this a helpful feature.

A Galaxy's Tail

Scientists have spotted a galaxy some 200,000 light years from earth that has a tail much like a comet, and--to quote a popular Sci-Fi movie--"It's full of stars."

The tail, another 200,000 light years in length, is believed to be full of incubating suns. Though this phenomenon is believed to have been common in the early universe, it's quite a spectacular find for modern day observers.

Check out the full story with photos here:

http://blog.wired.com/wiredscience/2007/09/orphaned-stars-.html

Friday, September 21, 2007

The Cycle of History and Storytelling

Yesterday, one of my horse breeder associates sent me a forward that made me think. It was slanted toward a particular presidential candidate (who I happen to support, but I won't get into politics on this blog--at least other than fictional politics LOL).

Comparisons aside, I felt this portion of the script was worth bringing forward:

About the time our original thirteen states adopted their new constitution in 1787, Alexander Tyler, a Scottish history professor at the University of Edinburgh, had this to say about the fall of the Athenian Republic some 2,000 years earlier:

"The average age of the world's greatest civilizations from the beginning of history, has been about 200 years. During those 200 years, those nations always progressed through the following sequence:

1. from bondage to spiritual faith;
2. from spiritual faith to great courage;
3. from courage to liberty;
4. from liberty to abundance;
5. from abundance to complacency;
6. from complacency to apathy;
7. from apathy to dependence;
8. From dependence back into bondage"

This got me thinking about parallels in my soon-to-be-marketed Science Fiction Romance entitled P2PC. (If you follow this blog, you know the name of this blog came from the pages of this WIP. *wink*)

The back story (and future story, since it will be a series) follows this pattern. Two centuries before the story opens, the people were at 8. The plot of the first in the series covers 2 and 3, and future books will move through phases 4, 5, 6, 7, and back to 8. History does repeat itself. It's followed this same cycle in the past, and it will follow it 1,500 years in the future--at least in my fictional universe.

So how do I, as a writer, make my story fresh and interesting? By bringing in a character who arrives on the scene out of desperation, with no idea who or what he has stumbled upon--and then having him discover he's a major player in the conflict.

Steven King has a great quote about effective storytelling:
"I try to create sympathy for my characters, then turn the monsters loose."

"Monsters" can manifest themselves in many forms. :)

Any thoughts?

Posting Days

In order to more effectively manage my time (i.e. have more time for writing and revisions!!!) I'm going to adhere to the following schedule going forward. (Really, I am. heh heh heh).

Draxian Trilogy
http://www.draxiantrilogy.blogspot.com
Tuesdays
Thursdays

Spacefreighters Lounge
Mondays
Wednesdays

Toasted Scimitar
http://www.toasted-scimitar.blogspot.com
Tuesdays

Weekends...OFF! :) But I may pop in if the mood strikes me.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

New Landmark for Spacefreighters' Lounge

1,500 hits!

It seems not that long ago, this blog was celebrating it's first 500 hits. Thanks to all who've docked their flagships and enjoyed a bit of galactic hospitality. Kick back and trade a space tale or two in celebration. The Billins is on the house!

--The Management

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Admiral Kel-Paten Stands for Questions

Linnea Sinclair has convinced her reluctant male protagonist of GAMES OF COMMAND to submit to questions from his readership (after much arm-twisting and bribery).

The brilliant human/cyborg Triad admiral captured the imagination of many a reader, according to Linnea's favorite character survey on her Intergalactic Bar and Grille website. Is there anything you'd like to ask him about his relationship with Captain Tasha "Sass" Sebastian? About his career as a Triad officer? About his state-of-the-art ship, the much-feared Vaxxar? Or his telepathetic conversations with Tank the Furzel?

Linnea will be accepting questions for Admiral Branden Kel-Paten this week, which he will begin answering next week.

Check out Linnea's post on the Alien Romances blog for more information.
http://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2007/09/questioning-kel-paten.html

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Space Tornado?

An astronomical event was recently caught by the Spitzer telescope. It appeared to be a tornado in space! Read the story on Science Daily and see the video on this phenomenon here:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/videos/2006-05-08/

I admit it. I'm addicted to the fascinating images from Spitzer, Hubbel and some of our other deep space telescopes.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Spacefreighters Lounge in Cross-blog Contest

Spacefreighters Lounge will be involved in a cross-blog Scavenger Hunt which will hopefully kick off early Sunday morning. Contestants will be given a list of blogs to visit and 'collect' words and clues, then form them into a sentence. The first to post the correct solution wins.

The prize list for the winner is growing rapidly. Stop by Scavenger Hunt Central to check out the details, prizes and updates:

http://www.toasted-scimitar.blogspot.com

Hope you'll join in the fun. :)

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Attention: Scavenger Hunters

EDITED: We have a WINNER! Thanks to everyone for joining the Great Scavenger Hunt contest. It was a lot of fun.

*whistles* Hey, over here!

Yes, you've found the post with another piece of our Scavenger Hunt puzzle, but you'll have to work for it a bit.

To collect this word, you'll need to know a bit of movie trivia.

In the movie Conan the Barbarian (the original), the hero loses his love interest, Valeria, after she is hit by an arrow that is really a poisonous snake. What does the villain whisper to the snake before he turns it into the disgusting projectile? That's your root word. Then add an "ing" to the end.

Oh, BTW, this post also includes a freebie. ;) There's another Scavenger word in the text above. Hints: We made a bold move. Do you think it might stand out? There could be a larger purpose to it. *winkwink*

Wondering what this post is all about? There's a cross-blog Scavenger Hunt underway. Read the details at http://www.toasted-scimitar.blogspot.com/
There are lots of great prizes for the winner. You're welcome to join in the fun. Just stop by the blog for rules and clues.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

New Slogan for NASA?

WiredScience is having a "write a better slogan for NASA" contest. Check out their website for guidelines and to check out some of the entries (some serious, some amusing, some scathing). You can find it here:

http://blog.wired.com/wiredscience/2007/09/write-and-vote-.html

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Contest on Draxian Trilogy Blog

If you're up for a little contest, here's one that may be right up a Spacefreighter's alley.

Test your space knowledge. Name that heavenly body and win an "Alternate Universe in progress" mug from Cafe Press. Contest can be found here:

http://www.draxiantrilogy.blogspot.com

Have fun!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Lunar Eclipse

Check the skies in the early morning hours of August 28. A lunar eclipse--one of the longest in seven years--will occur.

Read more here: http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/news/display.cfm?News_ID=22597

On a Mission

Excuse the sudden lack of posts and commentary on this blog. Real life has intruded in a big way and forced a temporary hiatus from my blog duties.

I'll be back with more content and rambling very soon. I've got some great sci-fi and futuristic novels in my TBR (to be read) pile, so expect more reviews in the pipe soon, too.

Meanwhile, drop a comment and let me know what you've been up to lately.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

THE DOWN HOME ZOMBIE BLUES

Check out one of my sister blogs, The Toasted Scimitar Pub:

http://www.toasted-scimitar.blogspot.com

to see my review of Linnea Sinclair's Sci-Fi Romance due out on November 27, 2007.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Odds of Extraterrestrial Life

This is a fun and educational article with lots of interesting links. Recommended for Sci-Fi writers and fans alike.

http://encarta.msn.com/encnet/Features/Columns/?article=BN_Extraterrestrials>1=10289

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

When Galaxies Collide



Four galaxies in a monster collision that might form the largest known galaxy in the universe. Story and photos can be found here:

http://news.aol.com/story/_a/nasa-photographs-big-galactic-collision/20070806172409990001?ncid=NWS00010000000001

Friday, August 3, 2007

The Life and Times of Light

In our universe, light may be the only thing that really gets around. Light brings us information in the form of detail from other stars and galaxies and distant points in the universe. We learn things about far-off places because of this light, and learn things about the universe around us because of the effects it has on light.

But the distances are so enormous that what we're seeing by the time the light reaches us is the situation as it was tens, hundreds, thousands, even millions or billions of years ago. Sometimes what we're seeing may have occured before Earth even existed. It is, quite literally, like looking back through time.

Imagine seeing your neighbor pick up the morning paper and wave, except what you are seeing happened yesterday, or a week ago. You don't even know if your neighbor or their house are still there, although chances are pretty good that they are.

The interlinking elements of light, distance and time are important ingredients in writing Sci-Fi. Suppose Starship X sees Planet Z through their futuristic high-powered telescopes, some 16 light years distant, and decide to go there. Planet Z looks like a great place to visit. Acceptable proximity to its sun suggests warm oceans, tropical vegetation, maybe even classy nightclubs. Just the place for the weary crew to enjoy a bit of planet-side shore leave. They plot a course using their hyperdrive, but when they arrive they discover Planet Z ceased to exist the year before. In order to visit, their ship must have the ability to travel much faster going to the planet than the light carrying the image of Z did coming from the planet, so the status quo is unknown until they arrive. What they saw was Planet Z as it had been 16 years before. Meanwhile, well...there went the neighborhood. The "messenger" was carrying old information. The crew may be in for a rude surprise. Especially if Planet Z was obliterated by an astronomical event or attack by another civilization. So much for their vacation.

Light doesn't always have an uneventful voyage as it shoots through universe. It can be affected by gravity, deflection, refraction and absorption. Gravity can bend it (as Einstein surmised in his Theory of Relativity), and black holes can swallow it. For light to be generated in the first place, some sort of event had to take place--fusion or an explosion.

Rough neighborhood, the universe. It isn't easy being light.

To read more:
http://www.mathpages.com/rr/s6-03/6-03.htm
http://physics.ucr.edu/~wudka/Physics7/Notes_www/node100.html

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Space Slide Show

MSN has a great series of photographs from space. All different topics. This is a great resource for Science Fiction writers to add to their list of references. I did.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6955261/?GT1=10252

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Imagination and Science

I heart The History Channel. I heart Nova, too.

Unless new episodes of Grey's Anatomy are airing, I don't watch much network television. Too often, however, I catch myself with rear end firmly planted on couch, gazing at some scientific documentary when I should be writing or revising. I can't help it. I love to look at science. I have little talent for "doing" science, but understanding how these brilliant minds develop theories and make hypotheses often captures my imagination and jump starts my muse.

Recently, I saw a documentary on History Channel with the unlikely title "How William Shatner Changed the World." I was quite sure I'd be making a face and reaching for the remote in moments. Instead, I found myself staring, wide-eyed, and nodding my head.

You could call the general theme "life imitating art" but it's more than that. The documentary illustrated how Star Trek, through sheer imagination, created a destination for Science to follow in developing some of our current technology. As early as the mid-1960s, Star Trek showed us sophisticated devices and systems. Many of the kiddos who were uttering "Cool stuff!" and "Neato!" started thinking about how those things could be achieved.

As a result, many of the top scientists and physicists today were those who cut their teeth on Star Trek episodes. They saw interstellar travel, communicators, tricorders, transporters, photon torpedos, worm holes...and it inspired them. They wanted to start building roads to those "shining destinations" that the Star Trek universe revealed. They sought education and careers that would take them where they wanted to travel, "to boldly go where no man has gone before" in the real world.

Today we have technology like cell phones, wireless communications, PCs, the internet, space exploration, and advances in the medical field that have brought Bones McCoy's futuristic sick bay much closer to reality. What if there had never been a Star Trek to set that course? What if some of today's brilliant minds hadn't had a low-budget television series as a guide to spur their ambition? Would we be living in a very different world? Could be.

As a writer of Science Fiction and Futuristic Fantasy, I was delighted with the documentary's theme: Imagination and science are powerful allies. Imagination creates castles in the air, then Science strives to build the foundations under them. As a species, we are obsessed with creating roads to the shiny empires we see on imagination's horizon.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Book Trailers as a Marketing Tool

Check out my article on The Toasted Scimitar about book trailers....like movie trailers for books. I've included three examples from authors Linnea Sinclair and Michelle Moran. Be sure to add your comments.

http://www.toasted-scimitar.blogspot.com/

You Know it's a Well Done Spoof When...

...you're half way through the article before you realize it's a joke.

Had to share this one. Hey, it's almost Friday. Time for a good laugh. :)

http://www.theonion.com/content/node/54360

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Another One Bites the Dust?

Could it be the end of the Mars Rover mission, due to a massive dust storm?

Mars has been notoriously non user friendly to our probes in the past. NASA is holding its collective breath.


Monday, July 16, 2007

Our First 1000 Customers Have Been Served!












Spacefreighters Lounge has now surpassed its first 1000 hits. Your patronage is appreciated. I hope the blog is fulfilling its mission parameters as a muse motivator and research center for Science Fiction and Futuristic writers and fans.

Pull up a hover chair and join the celebration. The Billins is on the house. :)

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Sunday, July 15, 2007

Review: MAGIC LOST, TROUBLE FOUND

MAGIC LOST, TROUBLE FOUND
By Lisa Shearin
Ace Books
Urban Fantasy

Opening Notes From the Reviewer: If you’ve read my reviews before, you know I try to avoid spoilers for potential readers. Knowing what’s going to happen takes the joy out of the journey.

So, instead, I look at the elements…

COVER ART: Nice use of color and I like MC Raine’s slightly cocky, slightly whimsical expression. The outfit the MC is wearing and some of her accessories are described in the book. Great attention to detail, there. I like the active font that was used for the title. It’s fun, unorthodox, charming and mysterious—just like the story. I would have liked to see more characters portrayed, one in particular (more on him later)--but then again, maybe sexy, silver-skinned goblins are best left to the imagination.

INITIAL IMPRESSION: Intriguing hook. “Sorcerers weren’t normal, sorcery wasn’t natural, and Quentin Rand didn’t like either one.” These are the MCs opening thoughts that propel her into an adventure. Actually, “adventure” is much too weak of a word for what’s in store for this gutsy elf. I was pulled right into Raine’s head courtesy of First Person POV. By the end of Chapter One, she is already engaged in a fierce battle with a band of goblin shamans and temple guards. Chapter Two brings even more action and greater danger.

MAIN CHARACTERS: Raine Benares is a seeker, a finder of lost things, and a sorceress of moderate powers. Make that a world-wise, quick-witted, been-around-the-block-a-few-times sorceress…with a supportive extended family. Her occupation promises peril, because, as she mentally notes, “some things are better left unfound”.

SUPPORTING CHARACTERS: I found the goblin Tam—Tamnais Nathrach—a mesmerizing individual. He is at once exotic, clever, steamy, and trustworthy in a dangerous sort of way. Tam is a primaru, a goblin shaman of royal blood, whose current gig is as owner of the classy nightclub, Sirens. Raine’s relationship with Tam is established before the story opens, and when these two get together, things sizzle. This is not a romance, though it certainly has a fair measure of intriguing sexual tension. But wait. Is there soon to be another man in her life? Spellsinger Mychael Eiliesor, a Conclave Guardian and fellow elf, becomes acquainted with Raine suddenly through a very unpleasant introduction (for him). Piaras, Raine’s young cousin, has a “kid brother” appeal and some developing powers of his own.

VILLAIN: Oh, it’s a cast of thousands. Some of the most notable are goblin Prince Chigaru, his brother the goblin king, goblin grand shaman Sarad Nukpana, creepy, oily shadows that can drink a person whole, and other magical beings that hunt and feed in the darkness of the ruins. Maybe foremost of all (and worst of all?) the Saghred itself, the Thief of Souls.

OTHER CHARACTERS: Raine has an extended family and a circle of friends that make frequent appearances at opportune, and sometimes inopportune, times to assist, shelter and counsel. A wonderful support group for any girl to have.

WORLD BUILDING: A nicely layered and districted Fantasy world of some complexity. Well-drawn cityscapes and ruinscapes. Several locales with considerable creep factor.

CONFLICT: In a nutshell, Raine acquires something she didn't want, attached to trouble she didn't need, and the attention of some evil personas/entities she definitely wants to avoid. Chaos ensues, along with a number of unexpected twists and turns and a journey through some of the darkest corners of this imaginative fantasy world.

ROMANCE: No romance, but plenty of tease and innuendo. In my opinion, more than enough to satisfy those readers who believe no story is complete without a romantic element. (Raises hand.)

READABILITY: Reading MLTF is like being in the head of a close friend as she observes, comments on, and reacts to the situation around her, sometimes with hilarious results. Sometimes with terrifying consequences.

EVIL AUTHORS GUILD STAMP OF APPROVAL: The Evil Authors Guild exists to encourage writers to inflict appropriate amounts of terror, angst and emotional torture into their characters’ lives, and to leave them twisting in the wind at every opportunity. Happily endorsed.

MOST QUOTABLE QUOTE(S): There is a perfect summary of Raine's relationship with Tam. When he asks if she trusts him, she replies: “With my life, yes. But not with the rest of me.” Raine’s initial impression of Conclave Guardian Mychael Eiliesor painted quite a portrait: “His eyes were stunning. Tropical seas stunning—and lock up your daughters and wives trouble.”

MAGIC QUOTIENT: Magic is used in imaginative and surprising ways in MLTF, and in at least one scene it had me ROFL. (Like gondolas, Mychael?)

SECOND READ: There’s so much going on here—character-wise, politics-wise, and plot-wise, that this one is perfect for multiple reads. Many of the subtler points come into sharper focus on the second (or more) pass.

OVERALL RATING: If you’ve read my reviews before, you know that I don’t rate on a number scale. Each novel is like sightseeing in a strange city. You learn about the territory as you go. I rate MLTF as a Chicago. It’s fast-paced and exciting facade covers a dark and sometimes threatening underground. It’s a hub of action, a melting-pot of fantasy icons and fresh ideas. It’s a big, big place with a lot to discover. A delightful destination. If you’ve never read Urban Fantasy before, let this be your first. And, oh yes, expect a sequel.

Does This Change Everything We Know?


[Please note: As a writer, I love to explore new theories and ideas. I have written the following article for speculation and further musing. I have not researched the validity of statements made, some of which are reportedly based on scientific evidence and some on personal hypothesis. If you want to learn more, please follow the links at the end of the article and develop your own theories.]

Recent articles are proposing a shocking new idea from the astronomers of the University of Massachusetts: We may not be who we thought we were. Not children of the Milky Way Galaxy at all, but adoptees.

There is recent evidence that our solar system was not originally part of the Milky Way, but was formed in the Sagittarius Dwarf galaxy, which has since been all but consumed by the monstrous Milky Way.

But we still go about our daily lives without much change, right? Well, maybe not. As we are absorbed into the Milky Way, a galaxy of considerably more energy, things are being to change.

Our sun might be burning hotter. Dark spots are appearing and growing. Auroras have been sighted on Saturn and the magnetic field on Jupiter has doubled. The Martian biosphere may be changing, and there are early indication an atmosphere could be forming on the Moon. Maybe the most startling change is that Uranus and Neptune have registered polar shifts. If it's happening elsewhere in our neighborhood, will it happen on Earth? NASA information indicates there may already be a movement in the Earth’s poles. Polar shift is believed to have happened in Earth's past, possibly more than once. Are we in for another 'big shake up'?

And what are the implications for global warming, which the increased energies may intensify, but our emissions activities certainly accelerate?

In looking at the 'what ifs', we can't overlook the enigma of the Mayan calendar, currently the center of much speculation, as some believe it has predicted major events through time, and comes to a sudden halt in the year 2012. Research indicates this may be when our solar system will move through the central axis of the Milky Way galaxy.

If you'd like to read more, click on the following links:

Daijaworld: Massachusetts Discovery: Earth Part of a New Galaxy Rediff
http://www.daijiworld.com/news/news_disp.asp?n_id=34995&n_tit=Massachusetts%3A+Discovery+-+Earth+Part+of+a+New+Galaxy

American Chronicle Article: If This Be True, Then... by Philip F. Harris
http://www.americanchronicle.com/articles/viewArticle.asp?articleID=32272

All About 2012
http://www.greatdreams.com/2012.htm

Alignment 2012: What the Maya Left Behind by John Major Jenkins
http://www.alignment2012.com/

Wikipedia: Sagittarius Dwarf Eliptical Galaxy
http://www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sagittarius_Dwarf_Elliptical_Galaxy

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Houston, We Have Water!

Meet HD 189733b.

The first hard evidence of water on an alien world was just discovered on this gaseous giant, described as a "hot Jupiter."

HD 189733b is in the Vulpecula the Fox constellation (only 64 light years, or about 380 million million miles from our Sun). Astronomers were able to analyse its chemical makeup and determine the presence of water.

Read the entire article here:

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Friday, July 6, 2007

Dream Job...or Nightmare?

Got 17 months to spare? Want to make $92,000?

The European Space Agency is accepting applications from Russian citizens and other member nations of the ESA for six positions to be virtual astronauts on a simulated space flight to Mars and back. During the time "onboard" the virtual astronauts will eat packaged space food, experience communication delays that will range from a few seconds to forty minutes (just like on a progressing space flight) and handle 'emergencies'.

Read more here:

http://www.tgdaily.com/content/view/32542/113/

Hubble Finds Ring of "Dark Matter"

Scientists have suspected the existence of dark matter for some time. Now they have visual proof, thanks to the Hubble Space Telescope.

Dark matter has "...a unique structure that is different from the gas and galaxies in the cluster," said M. James Jee, Johns Hopkins University astronomer.

The ring has a massive width -- 2.6 million light-years across -- and was discovered in the cluster ZwCl0024+1652. The cluster is 5 billion light-years distant from Earth.


For more information, click the link below for an article on Wired Science: http://blog.wired.com/wiredscience/2007/05/hubble_finds_la.html

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Independence Day = Mars Solstice

Did you know July 4th is the Martian Solstice?

Or that on July 7th the Dawn probe will launch with a mission to study the minor planets Ceres and Vesta in the asteroid belt (arrival 2011)?

These are just a couple of the interesting facts on NASA's Solar System Exploration site. Here's the link:
http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/news/index.cfm

It will also be added to our permanent list of reference sites on the lower right.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Review: GAMES OF COMMAND

GAMES OF COMMAND
By Linnea Sinclair
Science Fiction Romance
Bantam Books

OPENING NOTES FROM REVIEWER: I try to avoid spoilers in my reviews for all potential readers. Knowing major chunks of the plot takes the fun out of the read.

So, looking at the elements…

COVER ART: I can only dream one of mine gets such a great cover. The artist is Stephen Youll. It’s got "pick me off the shelf now!" factor. Dark, other-worldly landscape. Spacecraft in blast-off mode. Competent-looking, uniformed female captain, front and center. And who is that hunk behind the female MC? ::: flips through a few pages :::: Oooh, that’s got to be Admiral Kel-Paten.

INITIAL IMPRESSION: Dialogue is used effectively as an opening hook. “You might want to sit down.” You bet I did…book in hand. I was drawn into the MCs world, feelings and situation. I understood her past, her current dilemma--and her concern about her possible futures. Or lack of one.

MAIN CHARACTERS: Captain Tasha “Lady Sass” Sebastian is intelligent, strong-willed, self-assured, and always up for a party or at least a pitcher of iced gin. I like her immediately. She’s coffee-fueled. She makes me root for her and she makes me laugh. Admiral Branden Kel-Paten is cold, calculating, angry, aloof, and impossible to read. But that’s how he’s wired, quite literally. Like, Tasha, I start out with a healthy dose of skepticism and suspicion. As I learn more about him, his past, and his present, I am thrown off balance and then won over, like she is. It takes time. He’s a difficult individual to get to know but the discoveries are more rewarding because of his complex layers. In the end, I cheer for these two. I am upset when their world—make that universe--falls apart. I need them to have a happy ending.

SUPPORTING CHARACTERS: Doctor Eden Flynn is a strong enough character to be an MC in her own right, and Jace Serafino, pirate and outlaw, is equal parts worthy hero and enigmatic scoundrel. The two main female characters are close friends and conspirators. The two main male characters are often at violent odds, and I found myself on Kel-Patent’s side every time.

VILLAIN: There is no stand-out villain. It could be Kel-Paten. It could be Serafino. Or an important Triad politician. Or the Faction. Or any of a number of questionable characters. Not knowing who the real enemy is half the fun.

OTHER CHARACTERS: There is a cast of effective and memorable personas, not the least of which are two who share the adventure with, and the affection of, the MCs. They aren’t human. They’re Tank and Reilly, a fidget and a furzel. These are not silly alien sidekicks. They are very recognizable and entertaining entities who play an important role in the outcome of the story. The other various crew members, friends, and past acquaintances are also well drawn, even in brief appearances.

WORLD BUILDING: An appropriately complex array of shifting alliances and enemies, influential organizations, ancient religions, legends and a certain unknown menace called The Faction. Good descriptions of setting throughout, from the spit-and-polish corridors of Kel-Paten’s flagship, Vaxxar to the refuge of a lush forest or an orbiting “raft.”

CONFLICT: Conflict exists on almost every level, but central plot themes focus on issues of trust versus perception. The animosity between the two male leads is sometimes intense. The romantic conflict is realistic. The characters have a deep chasm separating them and no talents for bridge-building. Or do they?

ROMANCE: The sexual tension begins as a faint flicker and allows the reader to develop an emotional investment before it becomes an ion flare. It’s through the MCs sexual encounters that their paradoxes are revealed.

READABILITY: Major Snarf Factor. Shall I explain? Last summer, I started reading a best seller but couldn’t get past Chapter Six. Not because it isn’t well-plotted, intriguing or effective writing, but because I simply didn’t have the time to finish it, and no motivational Snarf cracking their proverbial whip and chanting, “Must read more!” In contrast, I picked up GAMES OF COMMAND on Tuesday night and finished it Saturday afternoon, despite three fourteen-hour days at work. I made the time to finish it. I couldn’t put it down. It was a white-knuckle “what happens next?” adventure. I was Snarf-driven. This book should have a warning label: Addicting Substance. Determined by the Surgeon General to Result in Severe Sleep Deprivation.


EVIL AUTHORS GUILD STAMP OF APPROVAL: The Evil Authors Guild exists to encourage writers to inflict appropriate amounts of terror, angst and emotional torture into their characters’ lives, and to leave them twisting in the wind at every opportunity. Enthusiastic approval.

NEAT, CATCHY LINGO:
McClellan’s Void. Just the tag elicits mystery and foreboding.
Neverwhen. Suggests a place that can’t be described in physical terms, like Anne McCaffrey’s “between” or Never Never Land.
Psy-Serv. *suppresses shudder*

SECOND READ: What fun! All the subtle hints and nuances suddenly jump off the page. Kel-Paten’s personality quirks have deeper meaning. Tasha’s offhand comments crackle with irony. Little things that seem like visual details become major icons. This one is written for a second read. Maybe a third, a fourth…and beyond.

OVERALL RATING: I don’t rate novels on a number scale. Each novel is unique and, just like sightseeing in a strange city, you learn about the literary ‘points of interest’ as you get to know the territory. This one has adventure, excitement, shiny technology, a gritty underbelly and a variety of surprises. GAMES OF COMMAND is a Las Vegas. Definitely, a Las Vegas. And just like Vegas, if you haven’t ever been there, my advice is that you should make the trip. Soon.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Now Reading...

GAMES OF COMMAND
by Linnea Sinclair
Science Fiction Romance
Bantam Books

Initial Comments:

Great hook.
Gut-wrenching conflicts.
Compelling characters.
Fascinating sci-fi universe.

Captain Tasha Sebastian is suspicious of Admiral Branden Kel-Paten's nonnegotiable request that she serve on his flagship as first officer. She fears what he really wants is her head on a platter. She and the biocybe admiral are old adversaries who have faced-off countless times. But an uneasy alliance between her resource-rich United Coalition and his technologically-superior Triad has changed the rules. She has no idea that his rules changed long ago.

Look for a full review in early July.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

1908 Tunguska Impact Crater Located?

In June of 1908, something exploded in Siberia, devastating everything for nearly 800 square miles. The cause has remained a mystery.

Has the site of a possible impact crater now been located?

Read more:
http://news.aol.com/story/_a/famous-1908-impact-crater-found/20070626132209990001

Monday, June 25, 2007

Just For Fun

Found this on YouTube. Very cute. Great editing.

The Millenium Falcon Theme (Greased Lightning)

(Note that these are the original lyrics from Grease sung by John Travolta--rated PG)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vHt60suZsRA

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Quick Tour of the June Sky

Go to Hubble Site for a four minute tour of what to look for in the June night sky. The position of stars, constellations, planets, and deep space objects are explained. Amazing stuff.

Click here and go to podcast: http://hubblesite.org/explore_astronomy/hubbles_universe/

Hubblesite has been added to the list of Sci-Fi 101 reference links at the lower right.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Sci-Fi 101: Meet Eta Carinae

Located right in the neighborhood (in astronomical terms), Eta Carinae is a very bright, very unstable star. Only about 7500 light years distant, the star is believed to be consuming its internal nuclear fuel at an alarming speed. Is it close to its explosive demise?

Read more: http://www.physorg.com/news101558374.html

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

From Whence Came The Name...

Thought this might be an entertaining read for my blog buddies. This is the excerpt of an early (and now axed) opening of my current WIP that gave this blog its name. :)

Sair pulled open the plain steel door of the Post, his gaze sweeping the dim interior as he slipped inside. From the nearest seat, a Parol swung his head around and snarled, exposing sharp orange fangs. Sair’s heart skipped. If he hadn’t seen a Parolian smile before, he would have jumped back. He glanced down at his thigh sheath and frowned. Going for one of his weapons had never crossed his mind.

He’d survived his brief walk through the dusty streets of Eliptis, but it proved to be an unsavory experience. Focused on his destination, head up and sunshield in place over his eyes, he ignored the rough-faced crewies and hangtown beggars that moved aside as he approached. Being Rathskian offered that advantage. His subspecies’ reputation got him to the Spacefreighters Trade Post in one piece. Now he had a slim chance to escape.

Sair allowed his eyes time to adjust to the low light of the large, gloomy hall. He spied no towering Ithians or fellow Rathskians milling about. No shoulders or hats bore the purple hexagon of Ithis, the blue four-pointed star of Rathskia or tri-tone triangle of the Ithian Alliance. He removed his eyeshield with care. It was a risk exposing his face, but leaving the device on indoors might bring unwanted attention.

Sair avoided the row of dispatcher’s windows, looking for the spot where less official transactions might be conducted. Spying a door in the back, he moved toward it. A large sign in Dartian script hung on the wall: Spacefreighters Lounge. Sair walked through the connecting passageway, turning his face aside as figures stumbled past in the darkness. He halted at the entrance and scanned the room.

Inside, pilots and crew of many subspecies hulked over the bar or carried on quiet discussions at a number of booths and tables swallowed in gloom. Pirates and privateers, from the look of most. And no doubt more than a few bounty hunters. Thick smoke hung in the air, a pungent mixture of Dartian tobac and contraband. Sair choked back a cough, glad to have the extra concealment of the dark haze.

When no one glanced at him, he moved forward to prop a foot on the floor rail of the bar. Pressing a coin to the counter, he slid it across to the attender. “Billins, if you have it.”

Sunday, June 17, 2007

ApolloCon 2007 is Coming

ApolloCon 2007 will take place on June 22-24, 2007 in Houston, Texas. This conference is for broadbased Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror interests and is attended by fans, writers, authors, editors, artists, actors, musicians, etc. Sounds like a blast. I hope to make it next year.

Guest of Honor: C. S. Friedman, Best Selling Fantasy and Science Fiction Author

Editor Guest of Honor: David G. Hartwell

Other special guests include artist Jeff Sturgeon and many more.

Looks to be a fantastic event!

More information available here: http://www.apollocon.org/

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Link In A Wink

Baby Monitor Picks Up Video Of Space Shuttle Atlantis
http://abclocal.go.com/wpvi/story?section=bizarre&id=5396513

Stephen Hawking to Write Childrens Sci-Fi Novel

Stephen Hawking, the British theoretical physicist whose book A Brief History of Time stayed on the British Sunday Times bestseller list for an amazing 237 weeks is working on a science fiction novel targeted at mid-grade children. Hawking will co-write the novel with his daughter, Lucy Hawking.

Read more about it: http://www.azcentral.com/ent/arts/articles/0614hawking0614.html

More on Stephen Hawking: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_Hawking

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Robot Code of Ethics Drawn Up in South Korea

Seriously.

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2007/03/070316-robot-ethics.html

Sci-Fi 101: Cosmic Log

I stumbled on a new research site that looks like a lot of fun. Read articles on the Egyptian City of Sin, High Tech Frontiers, and Space Tourism and follow links to dozens of interesting cutting-edge topics. This is a must see site for sci-fi and sci-fantasy writers.

http://cosmiclog.msnbc.msn.com/

An example of just one of the links that intrigued me:
Robot Reptile "Released" Into Wild from National Geographics News

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2007/06/070606-robot-reptile.html

Extreme Sport of the Future: Space Diving

What blends the exhilaration of skydiving with the wonder of spaceflight? Space Diving. What is it? Thrill seekers take note: It entails jumping off a rocket ship with a parachute at an altitude of 120,000 feet or more.

Space activist Rick Tumlinson's latest venture is in the early planning stages, along with a sister endeavor Orbital Outfitters.

Read more about it here:

http://cosmiclog.msnbc.msn.com/archive/2007/06/11/222688.aspx

Sunday, June 10, 2007

500!

Today marks one month since the inception of Spacefreighters Lounge. A milestone. Or should that be parsecstone? Hmmm...

Another landmark--or spacemark?--as of today the blog has 500 hits. Not bad for its first lunar cycle of operation. ;)

Thanks to all who have docked at Spacefreighters' Lounge.

Sincerely,
The Management

Saturday, June 9, 2007

An Un-Spacey Subject, But Had to Comment...


Deja Vu?

First Photo on left: Rags To Riches wins the Belmont Stakes today. She is the first filly in 102 years (1905) to win the Belmont Stakes, beating the best colts in her crop to do so. She is also the winner of the Hollywood Oaks, the fillies' Kentucky Derby.

Second Photo on right: Ruffian winning one of her many races. Ruffian is considered the greatest filly in racing history, if not the greatest racehorse of all time. She is the only horse to be buried on the infield of the Belmont track, with her nose pointed toward the finish line. The movie about Ruffian debuts tonight on ABC, 9PM Eastern.

Racing history was made today. Has the baton been passed?

Friday, June 8, 2007

Atlantis Launch

We have lift off.

The Space Shuttle Atlantis began the first mission of 2007 this morning.

NASA hopes to complete twelve more construction missions to the space station (in addition to this one). A repair of the Hubble Space Telescope is also planned before the shuttle fleet is retired in 2010.

The Atlantis crew includes commander Rick Sturckow, pilot Lee Archambault and mission specialists Patrick Forrester, Steven Swanson, Danny Olivas, James Reilly and Clayton Anderson in the first all-male crew since 2002.

Clayton Anderson will replace astronaut Sunita Williams representing the U.S. aboard the international space station. Williams will return to Earth with the Atlantis crew. She has been in orbit for the last six months.

Click here for a link to wallpaper of the above photograph:
http://www.dailybuddy.com/wallpapers/atlantis_liftoff_1024.htm

Thursday, June 7, 2007

The Toasted Scimitar Kickoff

What the heck is The Toasted Scimitar, you ask? It's a brand new Fantasy Pub blog co-hosted by four writers. (Uh, yes, you guessed it. The blogger known as Mission Control would be me.)

When you've downed your Dartian Billins and Romulan Ales, be sure to stop by and say "greetings". Oh, and be sure to check your swords and amulets at the door. :)

http://toasted-scimitar.blogspot.com

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Countdown Begins for Space Shuttle Launch

The countdown to the first shuttle launch in 2007 began Tuesday at 9 p.m. EDT.

The 7:38 p.m. EDT Friday window is NASA's first opportunity to launch space shuttle Atlantis. There is a 70 percent change the weather will cooperate.

The shuttle will conduct an 11-day mission carrying seven astronauts. Its primary objective is to deliver a third pair of solar wings, which help power the international space station. Three spacewalks are also planned to continue construction of the orbiting outpost.

Click for more details: http://www.sci-tech-today.com/story.xhtml?story_id=0120009JB9AC

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Link in a Wink: SpaceRef.com

A great resource for the latest in space exploration and related topics. Read an article about COPUOS: The United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space. Tomorrow, June 6, marks the start of the 50th Session, where a High-Level Panel on Space Exploration will discuss plans for space exploration. Where are we going from here?

http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewsr.html?pid=24398

The site offers some neat products, too. How about an Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle poloshirt to sport on those trips to the mall? Or an Arthur Clark Mars Greenhouse mug for your morning coffee?

Here's the "Home" link to add to your list of references: http://www.spaceref.com/

This site will be added to our permanent resource list on the side panel for future reference.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Star Trek Vs. Star Wars

A mysterious cross-fictional rift (and very clever editing) pits Star Trek's Kahn and the Federation Starship Reliant against Star War's Han Solo and his Millenium Falcon in this YouTube gem.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dYz4Vm9ltHo

Can Science Fiction Beat Bin Laden?

That's the title of this article from Daily Express. A must read for science fiction writers (even if only for the entertainment value).

http://www.express.co.uk/posts/view/8730/Can+science+fiction+beat+Bin+Laden

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Nature's Shapeshifters

Shapeshifters are often present in Science Fiction and Fantasy literature as beings who can alter their appearance at will to look like something--or someone--else. But do shapeshifters exist in nature? Look at the YouTube videos below and decide for yourself.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zjycOCyUZ1c
Beyond camoflage. A short 54 second video with no sound, but amazing images of one of nature's shapeshifters.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SCgtYWUybIE
A 40+ second video with no sound. Watch carefully! Whoa!? Miss it the first time? Never fear. A slow motion/reverse follows. You still may not believe your eyes!

Sunday, May 27, 2007

In Memorial

On Memorial Day, we take the time to honor all those who have passed before us, but in particular those brave souls who died in service to or defending our country. Take a moment to appreciate the freedoms you have today because of the sacrifices they made.
Because this is Spacefreighters' Lounge, I'd like to give special recognition to those who have died in pursuit of space exploration, worldwide. As Ronald Reagon said in his speech after the loss of the Challenger crew:

“The future doesn’t belong to the fainthearted;
it belongs to the brave.”


Astronauts and cosmonauts killed in the history of space exploration:

— Jan. 27, 1967: Astronauts Gus Grissom, Edward H. White and Roger B. Chaffee die when a fire sweeps their command module during a ground test at Kennedy Space Center.

— April 24, 1967: Soviet cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov is killed when his Soyuz I spacecraft crashes on return to Earth.


— June 29, 1971: Cosmonauts Georgy Dobrovolsky, Vladislav Volkov and Viktor Patsayev die during re-entry of their Soyuz 11 spacecraft. A government commission disclosed that the three died 30 minutes before landing because a faulty valve depressurized the spacecraft.


— Jan. 28, 1986: The space shuttle Challenger explodes 73 seconds after launch, killing all seven astronauts aboard, including Christa McAuliffe, intended to be the first teacher in space. Other astronauts killed were Francis "Dick" Scobee, Michael J. Smith, Ellison S. Onizuka, Judith A. Resnik, Ronald E. McNair and Gregory B. Jarvis.


— Feb. 1, 2003: Space shuttle Columbia breaks apart in flames about 203,000 feet over Texas, 16 minutes before it was supposed to touch down in Florida. All seven aboard were killed: William McCool, Rick Husband, Michael Anderson, Kalpana Chawla, David Brown, Laurel Clark and Ilan Ramon, who was Israel's first astronaut.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Star Wars Fans Take Note

A special entitled Star Wars: The Legacy Revealed will be broadcast on the History Channel tomorrow (Memorial Day). I think the time is 9PM Eastern, but check your local listings for times in your area.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Muse Motivator: Tour of Nebulae

Have a few minutes to watch a spectacular show set to the music of Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata? This video will definitely stir the imagination, spur the muse, and rack up some credits in the shock and awe department. It's a little over six minutes long and features some of the spectacular imagery of visible nebulae. After a few moments, the title of each also appears. Can you guess which is the Cat's Paw, the Pelican, the Cone, the Butterfly? Click the image shown above left in THE LATEST FEED below when it comes up or click the link at the bottom of this post to go directly to the YouTube feature.

WARNING: If you watch until the end there is an inspiring quote, followed by a personal comment that some may find controversial or offensive. (I rather wish the last statement had not been added because I feel it takes away from the impact of the quote instead of adding to it, but that's personal preference and others may have no issues with the point being made.)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8x41n9thAU8

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Sci-Fi 101: Starship Design


How do you go about designing a starship for your Sci-Fi/Science Fantasy novel? Here's some basic information about designs and drives for interstellar ships.

http://www.unmuseum.org/starship.htm
http://www.treknology.org/