Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Interview with a Bored Florist (but Gifted Writer)

Today I'm interviewing Arlene Webb, one of my IPs and co-bloggers over on the Take it to the Stars blog. From first hand experience, I can tell you Arlene is a talented writer with a very fresh voice. (Pssst....and just between you and me, this is a name you may want to watch for in the SciFiRom section in the future. ;) )

Q: Arlene, you’ve written a unique Science Fiction trilogy with a heavy dose of romance that doesn’t involve star ships, blasters or another civilization. Where did you get the inspiration?

A: There’s many vibrant colors surrounding me in my profession—running a florist shop—I was coerced into managing when the wholesale greenhouse I ran got flattened by a tornado. There’s too many shades of boredom that surround me in a job I’ve been at too long. Color took on personality, characters were born, they hijacked the series.

Q: When did you start writing?

A: About six years ago, my son went off to college. Yippee, an empty nest and the notebooks started filling.

Q: When is your prime time for writing?

A: Every waking moment customers aren’t annoying me. Sure, I’d sleep at my paying job if the phone would stop ringing, but most times it’s a sentence here, a whaaat do you want there, then a rewritten sentence. But Sundays are my most favorite day.

Q: Besides writing, what else do you invest a lot of time doing?

A: Reading, critiquing, but unfortunately the bulk of my time is spent earning a living.

Q: How many writing projects are you working on?

A: Two and a brood. I’m polishing book 3 in the Color series, just started a stand alone that’s got a minor tie in to the series, and I’m mentally cluttered with the wrap to the series.

Q: Who are your favorite authors or who has inspired you?

A: Barbara Elsborg. Bill Watterson. Harlan Corbin. TC Boyle. Christopher Moore. JK Rowling. Tolkien. Frank Herbert. Kurt Vonnegut….just a few that immediately come to mind. The list is endless.

Q: Do you have a most favorite book?

A: Nah. I’m too easily delighted, and surrounded by too many wonders to play favorites. I do have a book, Robin Hood, I stole when I was seven. (Hey, put the phone down. Petty theft has a statue of limitations, and I didn’t murder that particular librarian.) It’s pretty tattered and torn, so I’ll twist your question to oldest book.

Q: What’s your favorite Science Fiction (Romance) movie or TV show?

A: Ohh, again, there’s too many to have a favorite. Buffy, but not the movie. Fireflies series and Serenity. Stargate Atlantis. Heroes. X-Men...

Q: Who is you favorite character from your stories and why?

A: Malcolm. He’s the most annoying. If you have an hour I’ll go into detail, but you might as well give up getting him to do something he doesn’t want to do. His character grows more complex with every book so that I, his reason for being, have to go round and round with him if he feels the slightest detail is off. Every other character cooperates, grows and expands without trying to take me with them. I mean, the nerve trying to teach your creator what’s what, but you have to respect that in a character.

Q: What do you enjoy most about being a writer?

A: It can be painstaking drudgery, and it seems never ending to learn how to pour convoluted detail from your head to make a logical sentence, but most of all I love snickering to myself when a line works itself out to have an ironic twist.

Q: What do you enjoy the least?

A: The hours that disappear.

Q: Anything else you’d like to tell us?

A: Yes: Thanks for being such a great friend, Laurie, and for promoting sci-fi-romance on your blogs and encouraging me to keep writing.

Thank you, Arlene, for doing this interview. I'm looking forward to seeing your novels--and your particular word palette--in bookstores in the not-so-distant future.

Poll Ending Soon

The poll to choose a motto for our Intergalactic Science Fiction Romance Week will be closing sometime today. Get your last minute votes in for your favorite.

We'll have a new poll going up soon. In fact, if all goes well *sweats a bit* it'll be part of an interactive fun exercise sometime later today. Or tonight.

It's taking two connected posts and a poll to pull this one off, so I'm still attending to details.

Interview with Barbara Elsborg

Barbara Elsborg: Author and Reader Extraordinaire!

Q: In addition to being the published author of two erotica e-novels, Perfect Timing a Contemporary by Ellora's Cave and Consolation Prize, a Fantasy/Vampire by LooseId, with two more sold and many more waiting in the wings, you are also a Reader Extraordinaire! You told me this week you finished three books in one day. :O What books did you read?

A: Those three books were -

ALIEN ENCOUNTERS -Ladd, Nash, Tomas and Toombs

The first of those was one of the best historical romances I've read. The second was disappointing and the third just average. I haven't read much of Hamilton though I do love vampire and paranormal stories.

Q: On the average, how many books do you read in a week?

A: When I'm in the UK, maybe eight on average. In the US that would go up to twelve on average but could be twenty.

Q: *gulps* Wow. Have you taken formal speed reading training, or are you just a natural (and what’s your secret)?

A: No training - I just read very fast and I read for hours. My reading speed is about 75 pages in 25 minutes - I know that because I read on the exercise bike at the gym. I sort of see the words in blocks rather than reading each one individually - maybe that has something to do with it. I've always read a lot but having to read quickly at university pushed my speed up. Dickens in a night!!

Q: Do you read all genres or tend to stay with certain ones? What’s your favorite genre/s?

A: I read all genres. I can't think of one I haven't read at one time or another. I used to only read suspense and horror. Then I moved to romantic comedy and that led me to scifi romance and straight scifi and to historical romance and erotic romance. I tend to swap and change. What I read depends on my mood. If I need comfort reading - funny historicals hit the button every time. Or Harlen Coben - he makes me laugh.

Q: Who is/are your favorite author(s)?

A: That's hard - I couldn't name one but I might fill pages with those I really like. Jenny Crusie, Lisa Jewel, Julia Quinn, Mary Balogh, Fiona Walker, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Jill Winters, Adele Parks, Freya North, JR Ward, Keri Arthur, Harlen Coben, Dean Koonz, Lee Child, Nelson Demille - with those writers I would buy automatically without reading the blurb.

Q: Do you have an all-time favorite book, and if so, what is it?

A: No, I couldn't pick one.

Q: Do you think reading has a direct influence on your writing?

A: Absolutely - I used to write suspense when I read mostly suspense. Once I discovered romance, I started to write romance. When I read a good book, it makes me want to be as good as that author. A more recent interest in scifi romance caused me to start a novella of my own about a spaceship landing on a woman's flowerbed - much to her fury. Next on my - must finish list.

Q: How many novels have you completed? (Peeks through fingers and feels unworthy.)

A: Eight full length novels, plus a first hidden in the closet never to see the light of day, seven long novellas - average 60,000. Three more part written.

Q: That's amazing. How long have you been writing?

A: I'd guess - nine years old when I wrote stories based on TV series. First novel took about five years in my twenties and then I messed around with other sorts of writing - travel articles for the largest regional newspaper in the UK etc until about ten years ago. Then I got serious!!!

Q: You live in England (most of the time). Does this have an impact on your writing, reading or both?

A: I write more in the UK than in Florida. Read more in Florida. Maybe I have a rest here and build up ideas. My suspense stories were set in the US, but my romances have been set in the UK. I've never tried to write a romance set in America. It's an interesting thought. I feel more comfortable writing about a country I know really well.

Q: Anything else you’d like to say?

A: If I was stuck on a desert island and could only have 1000 books by my favorite authors or a huge pile of paper and pencils - what would I go for? The paper and pencils. Guess I'm a writer!

Barbara, thanks so much for taking time out from your very busy schedule to do this interview.

Barbara's next erotica release from LooseId will be FALLING FOR YOU with a tentative date of November 18th (the male MC in this story is Alek, the mysterious brother of Luka in CONSOLATION PRIZE). No release date yet set by Ellora's Cave for SOMETHING ABOUT POLLY (where Jake's scheming brother Adrian from PERFECT TIMING takes center stage and is delightfully redeemed).

SFR What is it? What ISN'T it?

Science Fiction Romance covers a lot of ground for a subgenre niche. But what is it exactly? Or can it even be described in exact terms? Do you feel there no boundaries on that universe or are the sector lines clearly drawn? We'd love to hear your opinions.

For the sake of discussion, here are several blurbs for books defined as Science Fiction Romance using the Amazon search feature. Would you consider these to be Science Fiction Romance? Why or why not? Would you be interested in reading the book? Why or why not?

Eye of the Beholder by Stacey Klemstein
Echelon Press Publishing (February 29, 2008)
240 pages
Some women would be thrilled to have a troublesome ex-lover mysteriously disappear, but when he's an alien-human hybrid and you are supposed to be his leader...the rules change. Zara Mitchell fears the worst when Caelan vanishes while investigating a hate group...one that might have information about the strange female Observer they've been seeking. But Asha, Zara's rival and only available source for help, claims it's too dangerous to attempt a rescue. Desperate to locate Caelan and hoping against hope for a little luck, Zara strikes out on her own. Unfortunately, luck deserts her (just like everyone else) when she walks straight into a trap, one set just for her. Now, with the leader of the Observer Council breathing down her neck, and Caelan's time running out, Zara has to summon courage and strategy skills beyond anything she's ever known to save Caelan, herself and our world.

Star-Crossed by Marilyn Byerly
Hard Shell Word Factory (September 2000)
304 pages
Earthman Tristan Mallory discovers that on Arden, men are sex slaves. He has no intention of belonging to anyone, not even beautiful Mara d'Jorel. Mara despises the harem system and has refused to participate, but her heart won't allow anyone else to own Tristan, To give Tristan the freedom her world denies, she must risk everything, her reputation, home, and her freedom and life. Her greatest risk is losing Tristan's love to another woman. Tristan's friend Kellen is acquired as a bed slave by vicious Cadaran d'Hasta, head of Arden's Internal Security, who has used the lives and deaths of thousands of men to gain her power. Intelligent and amoral, she'll do anything to destroy him and Tristan and any woman weak enough to love them. With the help of a local intelligent alien who resembles an Earth cat and Dorian Dalia, Tristan's long-time romantic interest, Tristan, Mara, and Kellen escape the planet. Through the vast emptiness of space and the most primitive of human colonies, they seek freedom, but Cadaran is always one step behind them.

The Islander: A Romance of the Future by Charles Whittlesey
Lulu (February 20, 2008)
372 pages
In 2155 there are two Americas: one for the wealthy and one for the poor. The wealthy control most of the land and all the technology, while the poor lead short and squalid lives confined to the remnants of America's collapsed cities, known as Islands. The two cultures collide when Galen Fairchild, a young Islander, falls in love with Mata Vandermere, the daughter of a prosperous family from the modern city of Stratis. Like Romeo and Juliet, Galen and Mata struggle to stay together in the face of daunting opposition from family, friends, and many other forces. Their troubles finally lead them into the ghostlike ruins of downtown Minneapolis, where no Islander dares to go. Inside the crumbling skyscrapers, they discover a strange power linked to Galen's past, which not only changes his life forever, but also pits the two cultures against each other with cataclysmic results.

The Quest (The Rystani Series, Book 4) by Susan Kearney
Tor Paranormal Romance (June 27, 2006)
352 pages
A warrior on a mission

Kirek of Rystan's objective is to destroy the Federation's deadliest enemy, but he needs help. When assistance comes in the form of a sexy and irresistible space pilot , he takes on a second goal--to win her heart.

A woman with a plan

Captain Angel Taylor's going after the biggest salvage haul in her career. Fiercely independent, she can't imagine a life with Kirek, a traditional Rystani warrior with extraordinary psi powers -- but he has seductive skills she can't resist.

The Quest

Teaming up, Angel and Kirek risk their lives to fight the evil Zin empire -- but Kirek's biggest battle of all is to win Angel's love.

In Search of Dom Perignon

This is for all the Science Fiction Romance aficionados, and I’m addressing both writers and readers. We’re the mavericks of publishing world, brewers and consumers of a fiction hybrid that’s neither science fiction per se or romance by definition. It’s both. It’s neither. And it’s something above and beyond.

You could think about it this way. Fine wine is blended from grapes and a few select ingredients. When it becomes wine it becomes something new. Something different. Something more sophisticated. The blending of elements turns it into a thing apart and removed from its origins. It has variety. It can be light, dark, subtle, bold, sweet, surprising.

Thus, my analogy: SciFiRom is a blend that takes romance to new heights and grounds science fiction in the dynamics of human emotion.

So taking my analogy a step further, today I begin my search for the Dom Perignon--the finest champagne--of Science Fiction Romance. I’m looking for novels that represents a perfect blend of sparkling technology, delicious world building and/or captivating human emotions. I have a couple of nominees in mind already, but I’d like to get recommendations from other SciFiRom fans.

So send me your nominations for the best Science Fiction Romance novels in the comments below or email Lgreen2162 AT aol DOT com. (Sorry for the encryption, but I’m on a crusade against spammers.) I’ll start building my Dom Perignon wine cellar of SciFiRom excellence soon.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Interview with Heather of The Galaxy Express

Q: I know you’re a big fan of SciFiRom. Tell me a little about your background and why you decided to create The Galaxy Express.

A: Laurie, thanks for your interest in my blog. It’s an honor to be interviewed by a SciFiRom veteran such as you.

I’ve been a fan of SF since age twelve, starting with rare—at the time—anime fare such as GATCHAMAN and UCHUU SENKAN YAMATO, which aired as BATTLE OF THE PLANETS and STAR BLAZERS in the U.S., respectively. Since those shows and others like it stuffed my mind with exotic otherworldly adventures, I moved on to books, hoping to discover more.

I began with “straight” SF and read anything that promised voyages to fantastic realms and dimensions. However, I usually gravitated toward stories with a romance, or at least romantic elements. As time passed, I read more books and watched as many SF/science fiction romance films and television shows as possible. I was a big romantic at heart, and my reading/viewing habits reflected that. Strangely, I didn’t know much about sub-genres or niche markets for a long time, even though I indulged in them frequently.

Now, for whatever reason, SFR wasn’t exactly the hobby my parents had in mind for me. They disapproved, but luckily didn’t confiscate the TV or anything. By then, the stories had taken root in my soul and refused to budge. Even as I went on to college and then graduate school for a Masters Degree in Counseling Psychology, I still pursued my interest, albeit undercover at times.

I met my husband, we gave birth to a wonderful daughter, and I resigned my job to become a full time mother. Around that period, my interest in science fiction romance reasserted itself. I spent more time online, and started discovering new authors. While acquainting myself with their books and their Web sites, I noticed that science fiction romance was a sub-genre that didn’t seem to have the visibility of other ones, neither in the romance nor SF communities.

How could this be? I thought everyone liked blends of SF and Romance! I asked a couple of authors about creating a one-stop site for science fiction romance, figuring that’d be one way to increase awareness. I learned that such an endeavor would be too much of a time-suck for these authors, who with multiple book contracts were usually under deadline most of the time. Not to mention the cost.

Oddly enough, I had both the time and the resources for such a site, enabling me to launch it with minimal cost. So I decided to create a hub for science fiction romance, one that would serve as a gateway site to a very deserving niche market (what, me biased?). For me, science fiction romance started out as an elusive, and at times, forbidden fruit, and for years I wanted to share this interest with more people than I was able to as a youth. In essence, The Galaxy Express arose because science fiction romance is a habit I just can’t seem to quit—or keep quiet about anymore.

Q: The Galaxy Express blog has been a huge success in both readership and in bringing the SFR community together to promote and educate about the (sub)genre. Can you give your insights on what themes or subjects seem to hold the most interest for the SFR community based on responses?

A: Thanks! My goal is definitely to facilitate such a community.

To answer your question, I’d first like to address what story elements excite SFR readers. They come from both the Romance and SF sides of the fence, and admittedly, the integration of these two genres can be a challenge. However, I believe most fans would agree about the following based on discussions at both The Galaxy Express and other sites:

• Believable yet accessible scientific elements.
• Well-crafted sexual tension. Hot sex scenes are nice but not a requirement.
• Stories that are multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, and multi-generational (i.e., ones that feature parents and their children).
• Well-thought out worldbuilding.
• Sophisticated, engaging characters, especially regarding heroines whose actions should ideally help drive the plot rather than be overshadowed by the hero. SFR readers seem to prefer a relationship that’s also a partnership.

Additionally, SFR readers seek variety in their books (the same goes for TV and film). They also crave more of them—but that’s the Catch-22 of a niche market. Publishers believe that releasing more books is too risky, but readers don’t have the abundance they’d like. Even though SFR readers are voracious, some books will not suit their tastes.

The good news is that there’s more to SFR than meets the eye if a reader is willing to be flexible about her expectations. Some SF publishers release books with a healthy dose of romance. There are also great offerings from small presses and e-publishers. The books are out there…you just have to know where to look.

Still, there’s something to be said for a science fiction romance that mines the romance genre just as heavily as the SF one. The SFRs currently hitting shelves represent a new generation, and it’s these books that readers are supporting with their hard earned cash.

And finally, SFR readers enjoy discussing lots of fun topics, ranging from covers to hero-types, other niche markets, sex in SFR, craft/publishing issues, world-building, favorite characters, you name it! What strikes me about all of these conversations is everyone’s impressive knowledge about the genre—encyclopedic in the case of Jacqueline Lichtenberg!

Q: Besides The Galaxy Express, what other SciFiRom groups, activities or sites are you involved with?

A: The totally rad Lisa Paitz Spindler launched the Shelfari SFR Group, of which I am co-administrator. I also started “The Official Science Fiction Romance Thread” at Tor.com (that’s a party I couldn’t resist crashing!).

I’m also a member of Grasping for the Wind’s “Inside The Blogosphere” feature. Proprietor John Ottinger III presents various questions about SF/F topics, and his roundtable of bloggers puts forth their observations. I’m so impressed with the caliber of everyone involved.

Lastly—and this is a new development, very exciting—I’ve been invited by John DeNardo to participate in one of SFSignal’s Mind Meld features wherein questions are posted to a cross-section of the science fiction community. The topic of my first discussion is “What is your favorite sub-genre of science fiction and/or fantasy?” Hmmm…will have to mull that one over quite a bit…! ;)

Q: Anything else you'd like to mention?

A: Yes, Laurie, thank you. I’d like to emphasize that the SFR authors in this community are so personal, accessible, and generous with their time. Not only have I had a 100% response rate regarding interviews, but also they’ve often matched books for the giveaways I do during my special “Author Supernova” feature. I’m grateful for their willingness to participate in my blog promotions from the very beginning.

Additionally, authors such as Rowena Cherry, Linnea Sinclair, Susan Grant, Even Kenin, Ann Aguirre, Jordan Summers, Sandra McDonald, and Jess Granger have shown up to comment at both The Galaxy Express and other SFR-friendly sites, including Spacefreighters’ Lounge, The Book Smugglers, Ramblings on Romance, and Enduring Romance. That kind of presence, along with the support of SFR’s avid fans, is the very definition of community.

There’s also a great group of aspiring SFR authors who frequent The Galaxy Express, and they are just awesome. I’m humbled by their participation and support. If you look on the right hand column of my blog under the “Skiffy Rommers” heading, you’ll see a list of their Web sites.

Oh, and here’s a little known fact about me: I dabbled for two years in SFR fan fiction. My stories are still up online. But the location is classified. ;)

Heather, thanks so much for your indepth responses and all the great information you're sharing with "Skiffy Rommers" during our celebration this week. (Pssst, by the way, for anyone who didn't know, Heather coined the "skiffy rommer" tag.) The Galaxy Express has been a fantastic site for bringing Science Fiction Romance fans together to help give us a collective voice.

Test Drive a Starship

OK, what's a celebration without a little product promotion? Our little Intergalactic Science Fiction Romance Week has brought in some of the most famous captains in the galaxy...and their rides.

Soooo....here's your chance!

There's a whole row of shiny starships lined up just waiting for a test drive from our guests. Which one will you grab and take for a spin around the solar system?

1. The Millenium Falcon

2. Colonial Viper

3. The Enterprise

4. Serenity (Firefly series)

5. An X-Wing Fighter

6. Space Shuttle Atlantis

7. The Nostromo

8. Battlestar Galactica

9. Slave 1

10. The Galileo shuttle

11. Imperial Star Destroyer

12. Voyager

13. Delta Flyer

Don't see what you're looking for? Turn in a request. I'm sure we must have one parked, docked or orbiting around here somewhere.

Recommended SFR Events?

I've started a sidebar for workshops and events that might benefit Science Fiction Romance writers and/or fans. So far, I have just three entries:

Romance Writers of America Annual Conference

Romantic Times Booklovers Convention (coming up in April 2009 in Orlando)

(and...a new find, courtesy of Sandra McDonald's site)
Viable Paradise Workshop for SFF writers

I'd love to hear from all of you. What are some of the best events you've attended, off line or online, to polish your writing skills or just enjoy the camaraderie of the publishing industry? Do you feel some of the big Science Fiction conventions are worthwhile? The ongoing online workshops for writers?

Share your thoughts, experiences and insights. Make your recommendations and we'll beef up our list. Feel free to discuss any of the events listed or mentioned.

Han Solo for President!

Tired of politics as usual?

How about the Han Solo/Chewie ticket for '08!

Were you a Hiliary Clinton supporter? Standing with Sarah Palin? Princess Leia might be your choice, with her ominous campaign slogan: This is our most desperate hour.

You want experience in the White House? Yoda is in the running, too. Check out his bumper sticker: Do. Or do not. There is no try.

You lean toward the Dark Side? Yes, Darth Vader is making his presence known. Check out his spiffy campaign mug. His platform? "Together we can rule the galaxy."

There are several other characters to choose from. Check out the entire selection of Stars Wars Election items at Zazzle.

(And hopefully this is as close as I ever get to making a political statement on my blog!)

Disclaimer: Spacefreighters has no connection to nor does it receive any profit from these items. Although we tend to steer away from any sort of product endorsement--except books, of course--these were just too fun and timely not to share.

Poll: SFR Motto

Our list of suggested mottos once at the top of the blog has now magically been beamed into a poll format so you can vote for your favorite.

Thanks to everyone who contributed to the list.

More polls are coming.

*adjusts transporter configuration*

The Official Cake

We're unveiling our official cake for


Would you like that with or without a dash of Cosmic Comet ice cream?


Yes, it’s SciFiRom Week because, well…because we said so! I think SFR needs its own week, don’t you? Well, Spacefreighters just created one! Happy SFR Week!

And being that it is--Science Fiction Romance--I think it needs to go beyond a mere national holiday. Let's dub it Intergalactic Science Fiction Romance Week! Yes! I like it.

*throws confetti*
*twirls noisemakers*
*lights fireworks*

OK, so what do we have planned for the first inaugural SFR Week launch?

Lotsa stuff!
Book Previews
The launch of the Dom Perignon side bar
(you’ll have to read the article to see what I mean)
...and more.

But most important of all, we want to make this an interactive event with Science Fiction Romance writers, readers and fans. Let's exchange ideas, offer opinions, give information...in other words, share the wealth!

So pop in early and often. After all, it's not often you get invited to an intergalatic holiday!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Opening Ceremony Fireworks

Opening Ceremonies

Welcome to Intergalactic Science Fiction Romance Week!

What is it? It's a celebration, a conference, a sounding board, and an information exchange all rolled into one.

This week, we're not going to just talk about Science Fiction Romance, we hope to share ideas, opinions, news, events, and issues with you, the readers, writers, fans of our fantastic little subgenre.

The schedule? There is none. That's the beauty of an online celebration. Come when you can and see what's up and what's happening.

We'll begin bright and early Monday morning with Meet and Greet. This is for introductions, a chat, whatever you'd like it to be. Sound off and tell us a little about yourself, post your blog or site links, tell us what you've read or published, recommend other sites, ask questions, make comments, get in discussions, have fun!!!

So, with no further delay, let the opening ceremonies BEGIN...

Friday, September 26, 2008

Friday Five

I've decided I'm going to declare next week Science Fiction Romance Week. There isn't one already, as far as I know, so I'm going to invent one and have fun with it.

For today's Friday Five, here are five things you might see on this blog next week:

1. Interviews
2. Polls
3. Preview of coming SciFiRom attractions
4. A mention of other SciFiRom blogs
5. Possibly an interactive "game"

We'll see how this goes...

Find of the Week

I'm always scouting for new bricks to add another layer to my Leaning Tower of TBR (C). This one I stumbled across in a chat group that admitted shying away from anything Science Fiction or Romance, and they ordered the book based on buzz and were surprised to find it was a Science Fiction Romance, and a great read at that. One of the members named the book as his/her favorite read of the month.

So I'm picking up John Scalzi's ZOE'S TALE as another of my "must reads." From the descriptions, this is a parallel novel to the OLD MAN'S WAR series, told from a different perspective, and I've heard many positive things about the books and have yet to read one.

So there's my find of the week. You can read more about ZOE'S TALE by John Scalzi here.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A Little Tuesday Morning Jaunt

My distraction for the day was a little jaunt over to Atomic Romance to tune in to Robert J. Sawyer's three-part YouTube rant:

A Galaxy Far, Far Away My Ass: How Star Wars Ruined Science Fiction

Why read rants when you can hear 'em and get the visuals!

Disclaimer: The posting of this link does not imply endorsement of or agreement with the subject matter by the management!

Monday, September 22, 2008

On a Motto

You'll notice the five Science Fiction Romance motto suggestions listed above in answer to the "What We Need is a Motto!" post below.

Have a favorite? Any other suggestions?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Primed for Launch!

I've been chomping at the bit to share some exciting news for the last week or so, and I was given the go-ahead today. One of my co-hosts over on Take it to the Stars, Dawn Jackson, has just had a short story accepted for publication in an anthology. Fabulous news, but the even more exciting part is that now a lot of interest is being shown in her other work.

I can tell you from first hand experience that Dawn is a very talented and prolific writer (ticks off novels on fingers, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6...and I know I'm missing several) who uses her military background to write wonderful SciFiRoms, SciFiErotica, and SciFi/Fantasy and YA Sci Fi. I think I'm as excited as Dawn about the sale. Well, almost.

Dawn has been very active on a number of SciFiRom blogs, so many of you may be familiar with her user name.

Please join me in wishing Dawn a spectacular launch on her writing career. :)

Best wishes, Dawn. The Billins is on the house!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Friday Five

Announcing the Friday Five. Each Friday, I'll be posting a list of five things. Today, the Friday Five is:

Five Things You Can Do to Promote Science Fiction Romance

1. Support debut SciFiRom authors.
2. Buy SciFiRom books new.
3. Ask your bookstore about SFR. Where is it shelved? Anything new coming out?
4. Give SciFiRom books as gifts.
5. Connect with other readers or writers via clubs and online sites to create a collective voice.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

What We Need is a Motto!

I've been doing much thinking of late about our favorite little sub(sub)-genre, Science Fiction Romance. Now if someone were to put together an ad campaign to promote SciFiRom, what would they do?

1. Come up with a readily identifiable logo? Tall order to find just one that unifies the big wide world of SciFiRom.

2. Come up with a motto. This seems doable. For our purposes, more of a log line or tag line might work. "To boldly go where no man has gone before." "May the Force be with you." "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." "Get a job. Get paid. Keep flying." (You'll recognize most of these from my Great Quotes in Sci-Fi last week. :)

So I wanted to come up with a motto to post under the header of my blog. A Science Fiction Romance motto. I gave it some thought. I wanted something short and catchy that embodied Science Fiction Romance, but didn't limit it to space vessels, other planets or futuristic elements. So it had to have universal meaning, a broader meaning than just the words at face value. Maybe a common phrase with a twist.

Aha! *lightbulb* I think I have one.

Science Fiction Romance. The sky is not the limit.

(OK, other than it's the title of Neil deGrasse Tyson's book, but titles aren't copyrighted.)

Have another suggestion? OK, I'm all ears. Give me your ideas. Let's brainstorm.

Where's the Juice?

Content Warning: Ramble ensues

My writing has suffered this week. So have my blogs. (Didja notice?) Just no creative juices flowing. With the change of after-work atmosphere from brilliant New Mexico evening sky to dark and stormy night, and the step-up of problematic professional processes (nice alliteration, eh?) at the office, all my energies were diverted from my quest to master a couple of wayward WIPs. (How's THAT for a long, convoluted sentence? Disclaimer: I am a professional. Don't try this at home.)

I did, however, find the energy to battle a Black Widow insurgent last night, cleverly dug in around my door frame. The threat has been annihilated with the use of chemical weapons and plastics (i.e. a flyswatter). It's amazing what a little well-timed terror and disgust can do for energy levels.

But I digress. What was the topic again? Oh yes. Where's the juice?

*sigh* Sadly lacking. Fall is almost here, so out go the distractions of summer only to be replaced by the temptation of NaNo WriMo. For the uninitiated, that's National Novel Writers Month, aka November, when thousands of misguided writers attempt to write an entire novel--or six, in the case of my Toasted Scimitar co-blogger Mercwriter last year. (Scary part is, she almost pulled it off.) Things get real quiet while NaNo WriMo is in full swing, but for the third straight year, I've decided to forego this exercise in craziness to focus my attention elsewhere. Namely, on wrestling these two alligators (okay, one's more like an anaconda), otherwise known as my works in progress, my WIPs. My goal is to have three market draft SciFiRom novels ready to pitch, push, and otherwise propagandize (is that a word?) at the RT Booklovers' Convention in April. Provided [insert winking smiley face] some brilliant editor hasn't snapped one or more up in advance of that event.

Some serious leave time starts very soon, and hopefully my juice and/or muse will make its presence felt by then.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Category Five

Woohoo! A find. And one more for my Leaning Tower of TBR. I stumbled on this one in my wanderings. It's not SciFiRom, per se, but it's close enough for me. (Ya think this might have sometime to do with my involvement in Hurricane Ike relief efforts?)

Here's the blurb:

In the Atlantic Ocean, hurricane Helena is gathering strength, becoming the most powerful storm in recorded history. As Helena bears down on Bermuda, Donovan Nash and other members of the scientific research organization Eco-Watch are called to fly in and extract key government people who have been studying Helena. For Nash, the routine mission turns deadly when an attempt is made on the life of the lead scientist--and a woman from his past--Dr. Lauren McKenna. In a bold attempt to diffuse the power of the hurricane, Eco-Watch is called upon to conduct a final flight above the massive fury of Helena.

And here are the endorsements:

"For those of us with a love/hate relationship with the weather, Category Five is a great book. The last 100 pages were better than most movies. . . I could feel myself drowning."
- Steve Thayer
New York Times best selling author of The Weatherman and The Wheat Field.

"Category Five is a first rate thriller filled with believable characters and lots of inside information! I can't wait for Donlay's next book!"
- Vince Flynn
Author of Executive Power and Term Limits

In Memory: Seven Years Later

September 11, 2001

We will never forget.

Monday, September 8, 2008

And the Tower Grows Taller

I just placed another book order and I'll soon have three new SciFiRoms for my Leaning Tower of TBR (TM).

GRIMSPACE by Ann Aquirre
I've heard a lot of good things about this one.

CORDELIA'S HONOR by Lois McMaster Bujold
Thanks to the Shelfari Science Fiction Romance gang for the recommendation.

SHADES OF DARK by Linnea Sinclair
Can't wait for the continuing adventures and trials of Chaz and Sully.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Queue Twilight Zone Theme...

Rosetta, a European deep space probe on a flyby of an Asteroid 2867 located millions of miles from earth between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, incurred a sudden and unexpected shutdown of its high resolution camera just before making its closest pass. To quote the European Space Agency mission manager, Gerhard Schwehm, "The software switched off automatically."

Hence, my recommendation for the theme music above. Is this strange, or what? It does seem wildly coincidental, don't you think. Do the stars have eyes? Or ears?

Don't mind me. I'm just allowing my Paranormal Muse to surface this morning and exert its influence in pondering this strange bit of news. Now, if I flip the channel over to my Science Fiction Muse, it realigns my thinking to consider something else (i.e., something non-unknown intelligence) could have occured such as unexpected emisions from the asteroid, or unaccounted for gravitational or magnetic influences on sensitive equipment. My Muses and I have such interesting discussions.

Oh, and for the record, the flyby was captured on Rosetta's wide-angle camera as it passed within 500 miles of 2867. And that camera was able to capture images and send them to the control center. Lacking the detail, mind you, but at least it got some photos for the scrapbook.

Paranormal Muse: You see! There's something there we're not being allowed to see.

Science Fiction Muse (in annoyed voice): Yeah, yeah. And the moon is made of cheese buried under forty feet of dust and little green men live on Mars.

Paranormal Muse: Well, now that you mention it...there have been quite a few strange incidences involving Mars probes, too.

Laurie: Time out! Let's turn our focus back to writing, shall we? * cracks whip *

Science Fiction Muse (being dragged out the hatch by its boss): But, but, this is fascinating stuff! Did you know scientist Rita Shultz said 'Asteroids are a sort of memory, or the DNA of the solar system.'

Paranormal Muse (helping Laurie pry the Sci-Fi Muse's fingers off the exit): That's not as interesting as what Schwehm said. 'Dead rocks can say a lot.' See? Dead. A ghost asteroid. Oh, yes, maybe with powers to affect probes. Or possess them!

Science Fiction Muse: There you go again, off on some Fantasy tangent. Just the facts, ma'am.

Laurie (* clears throat *): Excuse us while we take this outside, won't you? Oh, and for those readers...and their muses...who'd like to know more about the Rosetta Probe incident, you can read about it by clicking the link below. * cracks whip again * OK, staff, let's get to work! The weekend's a-wastin'.

Review of DEAD BEAT by Jim Butcher

By Jim Butcher
ROC Fantasy
(A Novel of the Dresden Files series)

OPENING NOTES FROM THE REVIEWER: With one notable exception (Lisa Shearin), I don’t read a great deal of Fantasy, but if a book, or a series in this case, gets enough buzz, I figure it’s my duty as a writer to investigate. The extent of my understanding of Harry Dresden was that he’s a wizard. Needless to say, I jumped into this without much background or knowledge of the main character or his journey, and although there were frequent references to past events, I found it very effective as a stand alone novel. The front cover blurb for DEAD BEAT is: “A great series—fast-paced, vividly realized, and with a hero/narrator who’s excellent company.” I’m afraid I can’t agree with the “fast-paced” part of that, as I felt the plot at times moved at the speed of aggravation and the MC seemed to wander from place to place and gut-punch to gut-punch without much true direction. However, the “excellent company” part I can endorse, since the first person delivery was often witty, humorous and clever, if a bit self-defeatist at times. BUT…I am writing this review and I don’t review books I didn’t enjoy or that I found substandard. Nuff said. DEAD BEAT more than made the grade.

COVER ART: Superb! Introduces the MC, the atmosphere, and the setting in a stylish monochromatic Chicago-after-dark landscape that suggests an edgy, mysterious, dangerous read ahead. The image of Harry Dresden, his face in deep shadow under an Indiana Jones-ish black hat, dark cloak open to a rumpled gray t-shirt captured his character extremely well, IMHO.

INITIAL IMPRESSION: I can’t say I was hooked with the Harry-at-home beginning, but the first couple of chapters were written with enough skill that the story held my interest until things started getting “faster and furiouser.” A fellow writer and avid Dresden Files aficionado told me if I’d read the series, I might find the beginning much more interesting. Possibly so.

MAIN CHARACTERS: I liked Harry Dresden. He made a wonderfully flawed hero with extraordinary powers that he sometimes didn’t always have a lot of faith in, and at other times gave too much credence to. The half-brother was intriguing, and might have been moreso had I indulged in earlier books that most probably fleshed out his history. The majority of the other characters were either supernatural friends, foes, or strange little characters that seemed odd bedfellows for Harry (not in the literal sense, but more on that in the Supporting Characters and Romance sections).

SUPPORTING CHARACTERS: At times I found Butters annoying, as if he had been inserted as the comical sidekick who really wasn’t all that comical or amusing and seemed to constantly get Harry into a deeper mess. He did redeem himself later in the story, for the most part. I also won’t go into the cast of hundreds of supernatural critters and royalty that drifted in and out of Harry’s path throughout the book, the majority of them threatening protagonists even when they were showing a more friendly side, except for one. Shiela. Without venturing into spoiler territory, I genuinely liked this character and liked the prospects she offered for Harry. The twists involving Shiela I did not see coming—and I won’t tell you if they amounted to good or bad things for our favorite Illinois wizard, but I go into more detail in the Romance section below.

VILLAIN: Many. The list is long and distinguished, and most had darker powers than Harry. I won’t name them; you can discover them for yourself if this review piques your interest enough to pick up a copy.

WORLD BUILDING: I loved the explanation of the Fantasy world overlapping with the real world and some of the “facts” put forth to present this line of thought. Suspension of disbelief? Oh yes, big time. A lot of looking over my shoulder into dark alleys after reading this one? Yes, for weeks. This Chicago that exists in multiple planes was well drawn, and the author knows his territory.

CONFLICT: A classic good verses evil, except you can never be sure who is wearing what mask. The line between the sides is also blurred and the boundaries often pushed in one direction or another depending on the circumstances.

PLOT: The mundane pace soon gave way to a wild chase, deeper tension and greater threat…but OH! What an encore! Worth every moment for the buildup to a climax that is…(grins with conspiracy at those in the know)…truly HISTORIC! I’ve been to the Field Museum in Chicago so the big surprise at the end was an absolute delight. The images Jim Butcher painted in the final scenes were fascinating. Yes, I am intentionally being vague because I won’t spoil the clincher. The clues are there, intricately woven into the plot, where the trail will lead Harry and what solution he must employ to his advantage to defeat the bad guys. My hat’s off to the author for the grand finale. Made me think of the line from Independence Day: “I gotta get me one of these!”

ROMANCE: This isn’t a romance, but there was a small element there. Being a SciFiRom writer, I have to comment. I felt sorry for Harry as a guy who just didn’t get a break in his love life. Harry is driven into jeopardy to keep his love interest safe and alive, even though she’s off with another guy for a romantic getaway. Harry struggles a bit with his feelings when another female—the aforementioned Shiela—asks him on a date. The outcome. Well, you gotta feel for the guy. Like I said. He just doesn’t get a break. And I won’t go into more detail to avoid major spoilers, but I will say there is a surprise in store that does make you think. In fact, it goes out of its way to make you think via a spirited three-way debate. Even if it’s only in Harry’s mind.

The fireplace was more of less the epicenter of the slopquake.
A shaggy section of the kitchen floor hauled itself to its feet and came to meet me...
I can disintegrate a virgin's inhibitions at fifty paces, but I can't last two weeks at a job where I'm wearing a stupid hairnet and a paper hat.
(All in Chapter One.)

READABILITY: Very readable, very satisfying, though I probably wouldn’t toss this one into the “must read again immediately” pile. Not necessarily the fault of the novel. Like I said, I’m not a huge Fantasy fan and this one would need more romance to make me dive in for another swim.

EVIL AUTHORS GUILD STAMP OF APPROVAL: The Evil Authors Guild exists to encourage writers to inflict appropriate amounts of terror, angst and torture into their characters’ lives, and to leave them twisting in the wind at every opportunity. OMG, yes. I do believe Jim Butcher wrote the club by-laws.

SECOND READ: Not applicable at this time.

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. Ok, another easy one. Chicago, of course! Chicago-at-Halloween, at that. The feel of the Windy City streets during a dark, damp, stormy fall makes you shiver and a trip to the historic Field Museum…and a tour of the town on a “souped-up ride” will give you goose bumps and a conclusion you will never, ever forget.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Ten Reasons Why New Mexico is Science Fiction Paradise

Here's my Saturday Fun Post: Ten (of many) reasons why I think New Mexico is Science Fiction Paradise. (Yeah, what can I say. It's no secret I'm very proud of my state.)

1. VLA - The Very Large Array listens to the stars. Featured in movies like 2010 and Contact.

2. It's very cool for a writer to live in a place that can't decide which century it wants to exist in.

3. The atomic age dawned here, and with it phrases like Manhattan Project and Trinity site.

4. The personal computer was invented here.

5. Roswell. Nuff said!

6. Starry, starry nights. It's easy to be inspired to write about the stars when you can see them. Low light pollution, often cloudless skies. I sometimes gaze at the Milky Way and watch satellites zooming overhead.

7. Los Alamos and Sandia National Labs are on the cutting edge of technology.

8. Moonscapes! White sands. The Bisti Badlands. The Jornado del Muerte.

9. The film industry is hot here. From Wild Hogs to No Country for Old Men, and scenes from Indiana Jones.

10. Every notice how many science fiction novels mention New Mexico? It's galactic central. :)

Friday, September 5, 2008

Dialogue Excerpts from Sci Fi

The Great Quotes from Sci Fi (below) also received several dialogue exchanges, so I'm giving them their own post.

Hudson (a man): "Hey Vasquez, have you ever been mistaken for a man?"
Vasquez (a female): "No. Have you?"

Leia (to Han, who's about to be put in carbon freeze): I love you.
Han: I know.

Riddick: "Remember that favorite game of yours?"
Kyra: "Who's the Better Killer?"
Riddick: "Let's play."

Riddick: "You made three mistakes. First, you took the job. Second, you came light. A four man crew for me? F***ng insulting. But the worst mistake you made..."
"...empty gun rack."

"A countdown... wait, a countdown to what David?"
"It's like in chess: First, you strategically position your pieces and when the timing is right you strike. They're using this signal to synchronize their efforts and in 5 hours the countdown will be over."
"And then what?"

Will Smith (Steven): "I ain't heard no fat lady!"
Jeff Goldblum (David): "Forget the fat lady. You're obsessed with fat lady. Just get us out of here!"

Bill Pullman (President): "I don't understand, where does all this come from? How do you get funding for something like this?"
Judd Hirsch (Julius Levinson): "You don't actually think they spend $20,000.00 on a hammer, $30,000.00 on a toilet seat do you?"

"You married?"

"Is he really that dangerous?"
"Only around humans."

"I know the presidents' chief scientific advisor, we were at MIT together. And, in a situation like this, you-you really don't wanna take the advice from a man who got a C minus in astrophysics. The presidents' advisors are...wrong. I'm right."

"Have you ever heard of Evel Knievel?"
"No, I never saw Star Wars."

"More color commentary from the space janitor."
"The correct term is mechanical systems engineer."

"How do you propose that I explain to Houston that two of my crew went blind drinking moonshine vodka?"
"Very carefully?"

"Whoa! You sure do get some high arc in this low gravity."
"You watching this, AMEE? We're taking the first p*** on Mars."

"Hypoxia? Dizzy. Skin'll tingle. Vision narrows. Then anoxia. Shock, convulsions, acidosis."
"Gonna hurt?"

"Aren't you gonna say anything?"
"I shoulda kissed you."
"Yeah, you shoulda kissed me."

"What tribe are you from?"
"The US Air Force."

Great Quotes from Sci Fi

Character dialogue or narration from popular media often becomes a part of our social culture. Great lines like “Make my day” or even “Oh nooo, Mr. Bill” often wheedle their way into daily conversation.

Here’s a list of famous (and maybe not so famous) quotes from a few of the Science Fiction icons. This is a “living” post. If you have other favorites, mention them in the comments and I’ll add them to the list.

“To boldly go where no man has gone before.”
“Beam me up, Scotty.”
“Dammit, Jim. I’m a doctor, not a _(insert applicable occupation)_.”
“Make it so.”
“Resistance is futile.”
“Live long and prosper.”
"I don't like bullies. I don't like threats. And I don't like you."
"There's coffee in that nebula!"

“May the force be with you.”
“Try not. Do. Or do not. There is no try.”
“I have a bad feeling about this.”
“Never tell me the odds!”
“Beware of the dark side.”
“I suggest a new strategy. Let the Wookie win.”
“Wars do not make one great.”
“Aren’t you a little short for a storm trooper?”
“Will someone get this big walking carpet out of my way.”
"Laugh it up, Fuzzball."
"I'd rather kiss a Wookie!"

“You can’t take the sky from me.”
“Get a job. Get paid. Keep flying.”
“Curse you for your unexpected but inevitable betrayal!”
“Big damn heroes. Ain’t we just.”
“May have been the losing side. Still not convinced it was the wrong one.”
“This is the captain, we have a lil' problem with our entry sequence, so we may experience some slight turbulence, and then… explode.”
“I am a leaf in the wind.”

“I need a bigger antennae.”
“If it’s just us, it’s an awful waste of space.”

“I’ll be back.”

"It's not the years, it's the mileage."

"I am the keymaster, are you the gatekeeper?"
"I collect spores, mold and fungus."
"Back off. I'm a scientist."
"Okay. She's a dog."

"So you really are cold blooded."

"That is a really bad idea."

"It's been a long time since I smelled beautiful."
"Now who do I have to kill to get this payday off my head?"
"It's an animal thing."

"Oh, my God. I gotta call my brother, my housekeeper, my lawyer. Nah, forget my lawyer."

"Creation is an act of sheer will."
"Yeah, but your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn't stop to think if they should."
"God creates dinosaurs. God destroys dinosaurs. God creates man. Man destroys God. Man creates dinosaurs..." "Dinosaurs eat man. Woman inherits the earth."
"Remind me to thank John for a lovely weekend."

"Hippy, your gonna give that rat a disease."
"Gimme a break! Coffey, those things live three and a half miles down in an abyssal trench. Trust me, they're not speaking Russian."

"Well, you know what they say. Human see, human do."
"I think it’s fair to call this hostile territory."

"This is it. That moment they told us in high school where one day, algebra would save our lives."
"I prefer one moon, you know? That way you know what to call it: The Moon."

I'll start a separate post for the dialogue between characters. :)