Friday, May 3, 2013


Donna’s Journal
Ta Da!
It’s been a while since I’ve reported anything much under this rubric.  Last year was huge, with all the Golden Heart® excitement and signing on with my wonderful agent.  But 2013 has so far been a year of nose-to-the-grindstone and dodging the slings and arrows that are inevitably launched your way in this business.

I can finally report some good news, however.  This week I put “the end” to my third draft manuscript in the Interstellar Rescue Series.  Fools Rush In is a science fiction romance in the space opera vein, with lots of exciting space battles and noir-ish down-planet action.  I don’t neglect the romance, either, this time between the captain of the pirate ship Shadowhawk and the Rescue agent undercover on the slaver he commandeers.

Putting the words on the screen for this third book in my series wasn’t always easy.  It took much longer to complete the draft than I like.  But now that the structure is in place, revisions will be much easier to do, even if they have to be extensive.  That’s the secret all the “fast draft” folks try to impart (and one I wish I could really take to heart).  Just get the story out there in some form.  Then you can trim it, shape it or expand it as necessary.  What will be needed will be much clearer once the words are out of your head and onto the page.

Ping Pong 

--Congratulations to Sharon for her successful live video chat about Ghost Planet with Felicia Day (Supernatural, Eureka) and friends on Goodreads Vaginal Fantasy Hangout earlier this week.  Science fiction romance has a natural connection with geek girls, since the days of TREK fanfic, and this just proves it!  Geek Girlz Rule!  Go Sharon!

--Pippa, your comments on the rumored “death of paranormal romance” struck a chord with me.  I’d been noticing some changes on the NYT and USA TODAY bestseller lists for the past six months or so.  Most of the romance novels on the lists now are either contemporaries (Sherryl Woods, Robyn Carr) or romantic suspense (Lisa Jackson, J.D. Robb/Nora Roberts).  J.R. Ward’s latest stayed only three weeks on the top ten (maybe because it featured gay lovers?).  Sherrilyn Kenyon is hardly seen anymore, though she continues to produce in hardcover.  Christine Feehan produces less and less frequently. 

Newer PNR writers are never seen, though they used to break through fairly regularly, for one book here, one book there.  Now it’s RS or contemporaries that do that.  Romantic suspense is clearly riding the coattails of the male suspense/thriller trend—Harlan Coben, James Baldacci, Stuart Woods—which dominates the lists.  I suspect it’s because RS can command some crossover readers, or maybe just some respect from male editors.


The cover that caught me at B&N.
I don’t often review books in this space, but I just have to mention—no, I have to rave about—this little book I read recently.  It’s a science fiction novel, the first by writer Ernest Cline, titled Ready Player One (Broadway Paperbacks, 2011).  I found it in the 3-for-2 stacks at Barnes and Nobel and only picked it up to make up the third.  The other two books I’d heard of and had been wanting to buy for a while.  (And this is another reason to keep bookstores.  This is a gatherer’s way of finding new books and buying them.  It was a serendipitous discovery.)

Now, lots of other people knew about this book.  Maybe you’ve already read it and love it, too.  USA TODAY, the NEW YORK TIMES, NPR, and on and on. But I, lost in my own little world, hadn’t heard of it.  And, no, Amazon hadn’t recommended it.

It is that rarity among modern SF—a readable page-turner of a book, with a wonderful set of characters, a lovable geek of a hero and even a little romance.  Yes, romance!  An arc (barely discernible, but there) and **spoiler alert** an HEA!

The set-up is this:  in the near future the economy is collapsing in on itself, with the predictable energy and global-warming crises reaching critical levels.  Those who can (which is anyone with a nickel to spare) escape the gray drudgery of daily life by logging into the Oasis, a virtual universe which is combination Internet/entertainment center/shopping mall/travel service/role-playing enabler/alternate reality.  Think Xbox on steroids, with the ability to put you anywhere or –when you want.  You go to school in the Oasis (that much is free).  You shop in the Oasis.  You travel to see the Pyramids in the Oasis (much too dangerous and expensive to try and do that in the real world).  Want to explore space with Captain Kirk (or Banzai Buckeroo or Captain Mal Reynolds)?  There’s a world for that.  Want to fight orcs with Aragorn?  There’s a world for that.  You just slip on your visor and gloves (or your full body suit or sit in your chair, depending on what kind of gear you can afford) and slip away.

Then the man who invented all this, by all accounts an antisocial geek of epic proportions, dies.  In his will he states that all of his worldly goods will be bestowed on the person who finds an Easter egg he has hidden somewhere in the vast universe of his Oasis.  The race is on, with our hero, a lowly nerd in high school at the beginning of the quest, matching wits with thousands of other experts on this man, as well as the bad guys, sent by a corporation out to gain control of the Oasis.

The cover for U.K release. Note heart!
The fun part is that the inventor was obsessed with science fiction and fantasy and with the 1980’s—the decade's movies, music, TV shows, technology and, especially, videogames.  He’s filled his Oasis with sly references to all these things, and the quest for the Easter egg depends on knowledge of them.  So the author of Ready Player One can gleefully send his hero through stargates or use warp drive or have him fight anime monsters with names true geeks would recognize (but I, regretfully, didn’t) because it’s part of the ’80’s thing.  One test for our hero had him reciting the entire script for MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL.  Hilarious!

Fortunately, of course, our hero shares his hero’s obsessions.  He can actually play those old videogames, even the ones we might have played on old Commodore 64 computers and the like.  For those of us who can remember what it was like to type in instructions for role-playing games (which is why I quickly bored of such games and never went back), this book is a hoot.

Even if you are too young to remember such sad old days, this book is wonderful.  Highly recommended.

Cheers, Donna


  1. Congrats on finishing your draft!

  2. Ready Player One sounds like a great find and great fun, Donna.

    Many congrats on typing The End. Oh, what a feeling.

  3. Congrats, Donna! First drafts are the most intimidating part of this whole business, IMHO.

    Thanks so much on the VF review! It was a lot of fun, and rather surreal to listen to these four gals talking about GP.

    As for Ready Player One, yay, serendipity! I will have to check it out.


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