Monday, January 16, 2012

Laurie's Journal: Mission Success

Over the holidays, I haven't had big chunks of time to write, but I did devote some head time to a short story idea. It seems a lot of my peers have been writing shorts, where my ideas always seem to morph into 100,000 plus word novels. This will be a real test to see if I can tell a story in one tenth the word count, about 10-15K.

Meanwhile, I have one glowing iron in the fire with the submission of a full manuscript of P2PC to a publisher. Hopefully I'll have more news on that front soon.

Yesterday, Spacefreighters Lounge sponsored author Jenna McCormick in the last stop on a blog tour to celebrate the release of her Kensington novel, NO LIMITS in both print and digital versions. Her post explained how her success is a good thing for all SFR writers and authors, A Win For Us All. And it's so true. And I'm thrilled to report that NO LIMITS has become a Canadian bestseller, rising all the way to #22 on the erotica list at last report. It's exciting and awesome news for the SFR community.

Pitch Tournament

This past week, I hosted a new sort of competition on the SFR Brigade main blog. It was a Pitch Tournament. What's that?  Eighteen authors entered 24 blurbs in a fun competition to receive comments and readers feedback on the effectiveness of their SFR pitches or blurbs. Readers voted for their three favorites in each of three initial heats with seven finalists advanced into a championship round--two from two heats and three from a third that had a voting tie.

The pitches were open to any Science Fiction Romance work--whether published, manuscript or WIP, of any length. As host, I couldn't enter, but I did learn a lot from reading the entries and seeing how voters responded.

The event was a resounding success with over a hundred comments, almost 700 votes and over 2,150 visitors to the blog. The eventual top three winners--in order of votes received--was Tethered (WIP) by Pippa Jay, The Warlord's Comeuppance by Gail Koger, and Knight Medieval (Time Travel/SFR) by Kaye Manro. If you'd like to see the pitches, stop by SFR Brigade and click on the links on the upper right sidebar.

The winner, Pippa Jay, is scheduled to be a guest blogger here on Spacefreighters Lounge on Wednesday, so be sure to stop back and read what she's learned on her journey to publication. Her first novel, KEIR, will be available this spring from Lyrical Press.

Cover Scouting

Thinking forward to the day I'm actually published, I've started devoting more thought to cover art. I've been keeping my radar tuned for covers that really appeal to me, and stumbled on a few that I would have loved to snag for my my work. But alas. Best I can do is share them with you.

P2PC is the story of Sair, a man on the run from a galactic superpower that's out to recover him as owned property.  He negotiates passage with a private female space courier and his choice ends up being a very wrong one--or a very right one. Specter is no ordinary cargo ship, and her captain is headed straight into the vortex of hell. His heart is telling him it's a hell he should chance to stay with her...but he carries secrets even her mindprobe can't uncover. Secrets that may tear them apart and leave Sair in her path of destruction.

If I had to chose a cover that already existed, I'd love to have Zoe Archer's COLLISION COURSE.

The physical attributes, dress and expressions of the characters--wary, guarded-- are close to perfect, along with the wonderful space ambiance of the ships in the foreground.

I love how at one glance it says SFR. There's no mistaking this novel as Urban Fantasy or any other genre. And there's a certain grittiness there in between the lines of the technology that fits the story to a "T."  (By the way, I'm currently reading COLLISION COURSE and so far it's been one impressive read. Last I checked it was only $1.99 on Amazon.)

Draxis is the story of a contemporary female hurled through space and time and thrust into an alien civilization that is, in truth, not so alien. Draxis is a planet with technology that's both far more advanced than Earth, but in other ways far behind it. Laws and religion have molded a unique society with traditions and taboos that are at odds with their technological capability. And Katrina, the heroine, may be the key to their future, or lack of one, if a 12,000 year old prophecy is to be believed.

The cover of IN HER NAME: EMPIRE by Michael Hicks is enough to make me salivate. The color, the drama, the suggestion of mystery, tradition and history--it's all there. Simply dazzling. (In exchange for "borrowing" Mr. Hicks gorgeous cover, the least I can do is mention that the Kindle version of IN HER NAME is currently available for free on Amazon.)

I haven't yet found a cover that would easily represent The Outer Planets. There aren't that many Near Future SF or SFRs on the market. The cover I had commissioned (while on the verge of self-publishing) is attractive and captures the soul of the story, but I've been told it suggests an erotica story, which it clearly is not.  Putting Mitch--the hero--in uniform might be a simple fix.

This story takes place on a planetary research vessel bound for Jupiter and Saturn circa 2040. The heroine, hiding behind a new identity and altered features, brings a dark secret on board only to face the one man from her past who could blow her cover--and take back her heart. But she's not the only crew member aboard who carries a dangerous secret.


Maybe you've seen a cover that might work for The Outer Planets?  Let me know.

My Most Admired Writer


As a writer, I'm often asked who I most admire as a writer. I surprise people when I name Martin Luther King, Jr. as one of those who inspire me. The typical response is, "He wasn't a writer." Wasn't he? 


True, his writing was defined by his speeches, letters and sermons rather than bestselling books, but does that disqualify him? A writer evokes powerful thoughts, feelings and emotions through their prose, by arranging words in such a way that anyone who hears or reads them has a mental or emotional response. The words transcend politics and religious beliefs--even if you happen to be at polar opposites with the individual--and speak directly to the heart. See if you agree that this work qualifies:


"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that...The chain reaction of evil -- hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars -- must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation." Strength To Love, 1963


"The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy...Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth...Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars." Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?, 1967


"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." I Have A Dream, 1963


"We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”


“It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tired into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one destiny, affects all indirectly.”

“We are not makers of history. We are made by history.”

Hope you enjoy your MLK, Jr. holiday.



8 comments:

  1. Thanks so much for the mention, Laurie!
    Nice choices on the covers! I love trying to imagine, or sometimes even trying to mock up covers for my books. Sometimes it's a nice break to do one, and at the same time helps me focus on the important themes in the story.
    And who wouldn't be inspired by Martin Luther King, Jr.

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  2. Pippa, wish I had the talent to mock up my own covers.

    The saying goes "don't judge a book by its cover" but I think many readers do. It's the first introduction to the story and communicates so much. I think attractive, relevant covers are very important.

    Thanks for stopping by. :)

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  3. Attractive covers are essential but I wonder if being relevant- within reason - matters. It should!! But judging by a lot of the covers I've seen and books I've read, there is often little connection at all. Having said that - Mitch with a bare upper torso is a no for me. He really does need a uniform. It's a super cover but screams sex and your book isn't like that!

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  5. LOL Barbara, well it's certainly not an erotica, but it has a few steamy scenes.

    Personally though, I'd prefer Mitch in a uniform and looking like the career officer he is.

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  6. I know for a fact the cover is the first thing that catches my eye. Then it has to be the blurb and the first page. But a bad cover wouldn't necessarily put me off if I know the author or have heard about the book. I guess that implies your first cover and book has to hook you a fan base.I'm not entirely sure if my cover really conveys the genre of the book, but definitely the overall theme and the main character. It's had a lot of admiration certainly!
    I wouldn't say I have a talent for mocking up covers. It's something visual to play with when I need a break from writing. Like doodling when you're on the phone. If you already know where to find stock images, a good piece of free software for making covers is Aviary Phoenix. They have tutorials and videos on how to work it if, like me, you don't have much of a clue. It is time-consuming though.

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  7. In Her Name: Empire is a top-notch book! Just read it recently, and loved it. And Mike's a really nice guy.

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  8. Thanks, Laurel. I'm really looking forward to reading it!

    Pippa, I love your Keir cover. Something about it, together with the blurb, makes for a great hook.

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