Friday, August 31, 2018

A REPEAT POST: GIVE A BOOK, GIVE THE WORLD


I looked up to my brother from a young age.

When I was nine years old, my much older brother gave me a book for my birthday. It was a big, heavy, hardback copy of the complete works of Lewis Carroll.

This was no watered down kids’ version of Alice in Wonderland, with lots of colorful pictures and a few whimsical words that told Carroll’s story in easy-to-understand form. No, this was the real deal, with the original black-and-white Victorian drawings by John Tenniel and the dense Victorian writing, too. It was WAY beyond my skill level, and included poetry, for God’s sake.

I loved it. I struggled for years to read it. And I’ve carried it with me through all my moves, even here to North Carolina.

A few years later that same brother gave me the complete works of Arthur Conan Doyle. Same thing, though I’ve passed that one on to my daughter who reads.

A gift of a book is like no other gift. It says as much about the giver as it does about the receiver. I’ve always treasured these books not only because they opened wonderful new worlds for me, but also because they meant my brother thought I was smart enough to read them. I worked hard to live up to them, to devine their secrets, because that would help me understand my brother—and his world. He was smart, and I wanted to be like him.

But what he knew, and I eventually discovered, was that the books held their own marvelous appeal. The stories they contained captivated me, swept me away to another place and time. They weren’t my first or necessarily my favorite such fictional worlds, but they were certainly a level up from the Nancy Drew mysteries I was fond of at the time.

Book revelations can come to you in surprising ways. I found Ian Fleming’s James Bond by looking out a high school bathroom window. I was there between classes, hanging out with my friends. I looked out and saw a pink cover (maybe it had once been red—rain had damaged the book) splayed in the grass. I could read the title—Diamonds Are Forever—and knew it for what it was. I suspect someone was reading the juicy parts out loud to a friend when a teacher walked in. Whoops! Out the window it went!

I waited all day to retrieve the abandoned piece of salacious writing, worried the whole time that its owner would go back to get it. But it was still there at the end of the day, pages woefully swollen with damp. I took it home and dried it with a hair dryer—you know, the kind you put over your head like a cap. (The year was about 1966.) Then I devoured it. Wow! James Bond was one sexy guy!

Then I went out and spent all my allowance and babysitting money on others in the series. My mom finally noticed and wanted to call a halt, thinking maybe I was a little young for all this. I convinced her I was “mature” enough by suggesting she read one. (he he!) Since most of the action was implied, she relented. I only gave up my 007 series last year when I moved to NC.

Finally, I have a long grocery store line to thank for my career as a romance writer. I was standing there, bored, having read all the fantastic headlines on the NATIONAL ENQUIRER to my left, when I looked to my right. I found a display of paperbacks, which was unusual in itself. But in that display was a dramatic dark cover highlighting a beefy male biceps with a tattooed circlet. Oooh! I picked it up and checked the back cover. Seems this was a time-travel romance (Kiss of the Highlander) by Karen Marie Moning. Say what? Who knew there was such a thing? I bought it to find out more—what’s it like? Who writes such a thing? Who publishes such a thing?

Once again, the story swept me away. I loved it. I bought the whole series. And the science fiction story that I’d been struggling with suddenly worked as a science fiction romance. The rest, as they say, is history.

Books can come to you from anywhere. Take it as a gift and be grateful to the universe. Or be the agent of change and give a book you love to someone special. They will love you for it forever.

AND, AS FOR THAT BROTHER . . .

I'm very sad to report that my brother Reg just passed away this week, after a brave and prolonged struggle with cancer. He gave me any number of gifts, in addition to those books--a love of learning, an ear for storytelling and a wry sense of humor among them. We will all miss him.

Sadly, Donna




Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Get Ready For A Reunion #scifirom

I can't believe how quickly 2018 is passing, and that it's been almost a year already since I last released something. But finally, and after three years in edits (THREE YEARS?!), another chapter in Keir and Quin's adventures will be out. Reunion at Kasha Asor (set directly after Keir: Book One of Redemption) will be available from the 1st of September, but you can pre-order it now from all the main ebook retailers (just click the cover below for the sales links).
So here's an excerpt to tease you with...
The beating rain tore all the warmth from him as he turned, desperate to find a familiar landmark. Behind him, the jagged, broken spur of rock he and Quin had climbed to see S’rano’s distant island stood above the worst of the chaos, its water-drenched black surface gleaming.
Keir wrapped his arms around himself, shivering.
But that is not where I directed the gateway... 
Panic gripped him, stole his breath. He had focused on their hut, been sure of his target, however new to this talent he might have been. What power had sent him that astray?
The storm answered him with a blinding flash as lightning tore across the skies, matched by the earsplitting crash of thunder. The force of it drove him to his knees on the wet sand, and the sea took its chance to lash at him, almost pulling his legs out from under him. Gasping, soaked, Keir scrabbled for the safety of the nearby trees, but the ocean would not give him up so easily. It snatched at his ankles and ripped the sand from beneath his feet. Keir fell, clawing uselessly for a hold as another wave surged around him. As the ground shifted and washed away beneath him, sand and water filled his mouth. He choked, flailing for purchase, but the waves caught him, dragged him out, flipped him over. Hard rock smacked into his side then scraped his skin, tearing it as the sea threw him against the ridge of stone. For an instant, he surfaced, gasped a breath, before the water sucked him back under.
Blood pounded in his head, drowning out the crash of the sea and storm. His lungs burned.
No. Not again. 

Paradise isn't always what you expect it to be...


Returning to the island of Kasha-Asor, Quin and Keir need to reconcile a question of trust: of secrets untold and their precarious situation on a planet where Quin has already been betrayed once. Can they find the idyll they seek, or will they be forced to run?

A Travellers Novella and a side story in the Redemption series, Reunion at Kasha-Asor follows on immediately from the events in Keir: Book One of Redemption. 

Monday, August 27, 2018

Fun With Graphics

A  picture is worth a thousand words. How many times have you heard that old adage? But it seems to hold especially true when talking about book promotion.

Words are good -- but images! colors! impressions!-- that can add so much to the message and may help convince readers to try a particular book. Images and backgrounds combined with just the right text can speak to the emotions, and in this sea of millions of books, it's important to have a very special way of "talking" to your readers.

I was never much good with graphics. I'm still not much good with them, but fortunately for me, there are other people who are...and even some who can help me be better at designing graphics by providing the proper tools.

I thought it might be fun to do a little diary blog of my history with graphics.

This was one of my very first graphics which was done by my cover artist, Danielle Fine, while my first books were still in the works. It did a wonderful job of capturing the genre and atmosphere of my books--and maybe help create some anticipation, as well as utilizing certain elements from the covers. (Those familiar with my books might recognize Sair and Drea.)


Danielle did most of my early graphics, but later I was provided with images designed for a SFR Brigade project called Portals -- seven volumes of first chapters/beginnings of science fiction romance stories so readers could sample over 70 stories by multiple authors to see which stories and writing styles appealed to them--saving them loads of time to find SFR books they wanted to read!

Pauline Baird Jones did the wonderful graphics for the volumes, which began as only four volumes but due to popular demand, later expanded to seven! They are still Amazon freebie favorites! The Portals Volumes.




Later, I got involved with the last two Pets in Space collections which were created around a fun very idea--Pets. In Space. It was also the (genius!) idea of Pauline Baird Jones and came to fruition with the joint collaboration between Pauline, Veronica Scott, the amazing promotional talents of Narelle Todd of GetMyBookOutThere.com, and with very effective collaboration from the authors themselves.

This New Release graphic was one of many and made for a fun spin on the Pets in Space theme:


Please note that the first two Pets in Space collections were limited runs and are no longer available...but Pets in Space 3: Embrace the Passion is coming in October and preorders are available now! Click the link above to follow the news on their website!

Author and peer Carol Van Natta created this super special graphic to not only promote Pets in Space 2: Embrace the Romance, but to also use in conjunction with a fun post here on Spacefreighters Lounge -- The Music Behind the Words: Nine Authors Talk Inspiration



Carol Van Natta also helped me with this pull quote design for Courting Disaster, my story in the Pets in Space 2: Embrace the Romance collection that I will re-release as an expanded stand-alone book in the near future.



And a series of very special graphics were created to allow authors to celebrate and share a very special milestone for Pets in Space 2: USA TODAY Bestseller! This is just one...



This was about the same time I discovered PhotoFunia--a site to create graphics using your book covers or other images. I had a riot creating some really fun graphics and promos, though some of the designs were easier to work with than others when it came to book covers. Here are a few...


For a Valentine's Day suggestion for a romantic book 
in the "love conquers all" vein: Farewell Andromeda!


This image above was created using PhotoFunia 
for use on my Facebook Author Page
and in a video to show that Inherit the Stars 
is available in print, too.

I had a lot of fun creating these Inherit the Stars posters!



Another site offered limited free use to highlight my book covers
in various ways, such as showing Courting Disaster on an e-reader.

But now I've discovered -- and bought an upgrade for -- the Covers Sell Books site, which offers all variety of graphic design tools including Twitter and Facebook ads and cover images. You can sign up for a free version to try it out. You can use their images, backgrounds and overlays or upload your own and choose from a wide variety of ways to showcase your books--as print, on e-readers, on smart phones, etc.--and create your own colored fonts and stamps to include in your design. 

Here are a couple of my first two attempts. It took me less than two hours to put together my designs and that was as a complete newbie. As I get more skilled with the tools and options, I'm sure I'll be able to create them much faster.

A spotlight graphic for Inherit the Stars:



And finally, I designed a Facebook cover photo for my Laurie A. Green Author Page using four of my covers, a stock background, and incorporating special fonts and colors.

(It's much larger on the page. You can click the link above for a larger view.)



And even my signature below was designed on a special site to create signatures or phrases.

I enjoy working with graphics, but I still have a lot to learn. I'd love to hear what you think of my attempts to date.

Have a great week!




 




Friday, August 24, 2018

ALPHA: BOY TO MAN, WOLF TO DOG

ALPHA: Wolf and man contemplate the stars.

Most of the time, as an SFR writer and fan, my head is in the future. But my body was clearly built for the past. I have the chunky construction, sturdy bones and indomitable metabolism of our Paleolithic ancestors. I would have been Queen of the World in the Stone Age!

Maybe that’s why I’m so fascinated with stories of that time: Jean M. Auel’s Clan of the Cave Bear series, the film QUEST FOR FIRE, the stunning opening to 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY. And the film in theaters now, ALPHA, a creative interpretation of how our human ancestors and the wild wolf forebears of today’s friendly canines came to have a single, interdependent story.

Okay, I’m a sucker for animal stories, too—dogs, cats, horses. And the old “humans against nature” schtick. This film has all of that. Plus a decent director in Albert Hughes (one half of the Hughes Brothers of BOOK OF ELI fame) and young actor Kodi Smit-McPhee (Boy opposite Viggo Mortensen in THE ROAD, now grown to adolescence). What’s not to love? Pass the popcorn!

I was on the edge of my seat for most of this film, as young Stone Age hunter Keda is dragged over a cliff on his first buffalo hunt and left for dead by his grieving father. The boy wakes up on the narrow ledge of a sheer rockface, and the first of his many challenges is finding his way down with a broken foot. A sudden rainstorm fills the canyon below with enough water that when he falls (which is inevitable), he’s not killed. (Yeah, convenient, but you have to suspend belief a bit here. It’s a heroic story, after all.)

Keda sets the bones of his foot between two big rocks, splints it, and begins bravely to try and limp home. Until the wolves start tracking him. He fights them off with a stone knife tied to a long stick and manages to injure one. Then, he scrambles up a tree just ahead of snapping jaws. It’s a stand-off, but the pack eventually gets bored and leaves him and the injured wolf behind. After a while he climbs down. He starts to kill the injured wolf, yet something stays his hand. The filmmaker reminds us of what his mother had said, worried about him before the hunt: “He leads with his heart instead of his spear.”

So begins the friendship between human and wolf, tentative at first, and touchy. Keda must bind the wolf’s jaws lest it bite him, but he carries the creature to a cave to keep them safe from hyenas. He hunts and shares food, water and fire while they both heal. He makes it clear who eats first (the human), thus who is alpha. By the time they are well enough to travel, they are friends for life.

Nothing about this process, or about what follows as they make their hazardous way back to Keda’s home, is surprising. The story is predictable and familiar, really, if you’ve seen any of a dozen Disney nature or kids’ films—INDREDIBLE JOURNEY comes to mind, or even OLD YELLER. There are those moments when the pair’s bonds are tested; when their courage is tested. There is the final moment when Keda must stand up for his friend, too, though that is somewhat more muted here than in the usual Disney film of the Fifties or Sixties. It is a new day after all.

But if Keda has returned to his tribe an adult older and wiser in all the ways that matter to a hunting/gathering society, he has also brought his people a gift that will echo down the generations. The wolf he calls Alpha is female, and her pups will soon be hunting alongside their humans, standing guard for them, protecting them, sharing their joys and sorrows. And their descendants will be our steadfast and loyal friends, no doubt, even when we journey to the stars.

Cheers, Donna






About Spacefreighters Lounge

Hosted by 5 Science Fiction Romance authors with 8 RWA Golden Heart finals and a RITA final between them. We aim to entertain with spirited commentary on the past, present, and future of SFR, hot topics, and our take on Science Fiction and SFR books, television, movies and culture.