Friday, July 31, 2009

Beyond Enthused!

What a great upcoming week for SFR! First, the debut of Defying Gravity on August 2, a new television series about space exploration from the folks who brought us the hit series Grey's Anatomy. See earlier post and video.

Then, just two days later, the debut of BEYOND THE RAIN on August 4, an exciting new Science Fiction Romance novel by author Jess Granger. Read on and prepare to be swept up in this fascinating world.

In a universe torn apart by civil war, a warrior and a slave must fight for their freedom, for their lives, and for a love that may destroy them both…

After five years behind enemy lines, Captain Cyani is ready to retire to her homeworld of Azra as one of the Elite — the celibate warrior sisterhood that rules the planet. But first she must complete one final mission to rescue her fellow Union soldiers. The last thing she expects to find is a prisoner, chained and beaten — but radiating feral power and an unbroken spirit…

Soren is a Byralen, an enigmatic people who possess a unique hormone that they use to bond with their mates — and that is sold as a sexual narcotic in the shadow trade. For years, he has endured torture at the hands of his captors as they leeched his very essence. The last thing he expects is to be freed from slavery by a beautiful warrior woman with radiant blue eyes.

Driven by her rigid sense of honor, Cyani frees Soren even though her life hinges upon the success of her mission. But after so many years in bondage, his hormones are so unbalanced that he will die if he does not bond with a woman. Can the lovely but distant warrior be the woman he needs to survive, or will the forbidden bond destroy them?

Here's what the reviews are saying:

Beyond the Rain is a sensual, action-packed debut by a bright new voice in futuristic romance!

–Susan Grant, bestselling author of The Warlord’s Daughter

“Granger’s incredibly original and entertaining tale delivers passion, compassion and personal destiny…it’s a touching story about two people finding each other under unusual circumstances and changing their lives forever.”

—RT Book Reviews

Information used by permission of author Jess Granger. Website

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Online Publishing Article

io9 has an interesting article posted entitled: The Best Way to Break into Science Fiction Writing is Online Publishing.

Definitely worth a read.

At Last!

It's official! Defying Gravity, the new ABC television series premiering Sunday night, August 2, is Science Fiction Romance.

Four men, four women, and a six-year mystery mission in space...

Click here to read more about
Defying Gravity.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Book Promotion at RWA

One of the fun things I did at RWA was check out the "Goody Room" where authors drop off promotional materials for their books. I immediately noticed something.

The tables were covered with bookmarks and postcards, so many that nothing really stood out or caught my eye (well, with the exception of Lisa Paitz Spindler's Danger Gal icon bookmark and Michelle Moran's Eqyptian motif for CLEOPATRA'S DAUGHTER, because those were "familiar faces" to me). It occured to me that these are a great thing to hand out in books or send out to readers individually, but on the goody table they were simply lost in the crowd.

So what did work?

There were a few items that grabbed my attention and ended up in my tote bag.

The first was a clip magnet. t was a pretty shade of royal blue and sported a graphic of a bowtie and underneath it the words: Let us tell the world about your book, Nancy Berland Public Relations, followed by the contact information. I'll file that one away (or more probably hang it up on my refrigerator) for future reference.

The next thing I saw was something that intrigued me because it was so practical. A sealed plastic bag with a brightly colored pack of travel Kleenex, a couple small sheets of Bandaids, two packs of rubbing alcohol swaps and the business card of Zenobia Renquist, Romance Author. Another card was included for DC Area Storytellers, D. Renee Bagby, that said "Contact us about promotional materials and book signings." What a great idea, and a necessity for my purse. That went home with me, too.

Then, a little mermaid charm got my attention, and it was attached to a fan of promotional materials including a postcard for the novel IN OVER HER HEAD by Judi Fennel, as well as a bookmark depicting that and two related novels, WILD BLUE UNDER and CATCH OF A LIFETIME and her motto, "Dive into my romances." Also attached was a brochure on her novels--which are Mermen romances (now there's something you don't hear very often)--and her bed and breakfast in Ocean City, New Jersey, which, by the way, is called The Atlantis Inn and looks fabulous.

(If my dream 25th Anniversary trip to St. Martin doesn't happen, I'll probably be giving her a call!) Bottom line, she used standard promotional materials and packaged them in an interesting way, and boy, did it work.

A plastic business card holder with Author Isabo Kelly and the motto "Brings Fantasy, Love and Adventure to Life" and her website addy also went into my tote bag as a keeper. I can always use another business card holder, and besides that, Isabo was one of the panel members at the FF&P dinner, so there was a personal connect for me.

One of the things I received directly from author Jessa Slade that I thought was wonderful (though not unique, as I learned later) was a little book with the first two chapter of her novel, SEDUCED BY SHADOWS, nicely bound with the attractive cover and even a back cover blurb. The inside front cover said when it would be released (October 6) and by which house (Signet Eclipse). I bet most readers would be delighted to receive such a nicely done "preview of coming attractions" keepsake.

I later received a second bound mini-book with a slightly different treatment (it was closer to actual book size in height and width and stapled rather than having plastic binding) for Leanna Renee Hieber's THE STRANGELY BEAUTIFUL TALE OF MISS PERCY PARKER, which, by the way, got a lot of buzz at the FF&P (Futuristic, Fantasy & Paranormal chapter) dinner and a mention at at least one workshop.

So there you have the standouts (though if I had snagged one of the gorgeous space-themed t-shirts that Donna Frelick had done to promote her as yet unsold SFR novel UNCHAINED MEMORY, it would surely have been at the top of my list).

Have you seen any book promotion items that really caught your eye or tweaked your imagination? What were they?


Today I have an excerpt from the first chapter of BEYOND THE RAIN, a Science Fiction Romance that will debut in just eleven days, on August 4th.

Hook warning! :)

Chapter One

“Damn it, Hatch! This is war. If you can’t handle it, get your ass back to the transport.” Cyani slammed her back against the tunnel wall as the shattering explosion of a K-bomb shook the ground. Fine pebbles and dust crumbled over her head, illuminating the laser sights streaming from her team’s eyepieces. She scanned the other men in the tunnel to see if any of them were beginning to panic. They couldn’t lose focus.

“I’m fine, Captain,” Hatch shouted back. He cringed as another blast rumbled in the distance. “Don’t like tight spaces is all.”

Earthlen, they could be so damn unpredictable.

“Keep control, I’m counting on you,” she urged.

Hatch squared his wide shoulders. “I got your back, Amazon.”

“I’m Azralen. Get your species straight.” She brushed the fallen dust off her shadowsuit and assessed the tunnel to see if their path had caved in.

“Wouldn’t get it, Cap’. It’s an Earth thing.” He winked then focused on the holo-map projected in front of his left eye. “We have coordinates on the prisoners. Vicca found them.”

“Good girl,” Cyani whispered to herself as she touched her com unit to turn on her own holo-map. The tiny floating screen lit with brightly colored dots, indicating the location of each prisoner her fox had marked with her com collar. She just hoped the little ball of fur was safe.

The seven Union soldiers they were assigned to rescue huddled in a small cluster in a single cell near the supply storehouses, but Vicca had discovered an eighth humanoid. The unknown prisoner had been locked in the more secure section on the other side of the compound.

“Shakt, Vicca, not now,” Cyani cursed as she pressed the recall button that should have sent her fox racing back to her. The blue dot on the holo-map jumped forward then remained still. It seemed her scout wasn’t going to return.

“You stubborn little myhrat. You were supposed to stay with our prisoners, not find one of your own.” Cyani flicked the sensor at her temple and the holo-map disappeared. Whoever the lone prisoner was, he had earned the sympathy of her wayward scout. She would have to go get her. She couldn’t let the security codes in Vicca’s collar fall into enemy hands.

Can't put it down? I'm with you! Want to read more?
Click here for more of Chapter One on Jess Granger's website.
Except used by permission of author Jess Granger.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Remembering Apollo 11

Forty years ago we reached up from our cradle and touched The Moon.

Now we peer around our universe with wonder--with wider, sharper eyes--seeing amazing things we hadn't even dreamed of so long ago.

We reach out, but we can't yet grasp. We listen, but we can't yet comprehend the voice of the cosmos.

When will we take our first step into the stars?


T-minus two weeks and counting!

Jess Granger's BEYOND THE RAIN will be released on August 4. I'm so anxious to get my hands on this debut SFR that I've already pre-ordered it from Amazon.

And isn't that cover fantastic?

This promises to be a really great read. Learn more on Jess Granger's website or check it out on Amazon. can even jump over to Something Wicked and make a comment to enter a contest for a free copy of BEYOND THE RAIN. It's part of a lovely tribute to the Anniversary of the Moon Landing: What a Blast! But best get over there at hyperspeed. The contest is only for a limited time.

Just a Few Cards from RWA...

I met a lot of people at RWA. Some in workshops, in corridors and seating areas, via mutual friends, over breakfast or at lunch. I'm listing some of the many business cards I collected. If you see your name here, give me a shout. :)

Donna Frelick
"Three hours had ripped away her past. His love promised her the future."
A gorgeous galactic card that really caught my eye.
We struck up a conversation in the main lobby when I noticed her space-themed tote bag and Donna turned out to be a fellow SFR writer. We had a great time with Sharon Lynn Fisher talking SFR, blurbs and plots over dinner and drinks.

Erin Kellison
"Dark Fantasy meets Modern Fairy Tale"
A lovely fantasy-inspired business card in warm reds and yellows.

a. c. Mason
Author and writer
"Darkness & Desire"
An intriguing layout and smokey background in pinks and greys

Jessa Slade
Writer, Urban Fantasy Romance
Love conquers all...which explains the scars.

[GREAT line!]
SEDUCED BY SHADOWS (a novel of the Marked Souls)
Available 10.09.09
Pictured is (I assume) her very fetching book cover.
I remember telling her about Sandra McDonald's THE OUTBACK STARS.

Kim Sheard
A vertical card in mint & white with a lovely quill pen logo
Kim was a lucky local attending RWA. Wish they had them in Albuquerque.

Kimberly A. Lowe
A very patriotic card with an American flag background.
Fitting, since Kimberly is associated with RomVets (Romance-writing military Vets).

Marta Bliese
Author, Romantic Fantasy
2008 Heart2Heart Winner (Paranormal)
A very elegant card in ivory with a pen and pad.

Mary Gramlich
The Reading Reviewer
A very classic card with an oil painting of a woman reading a book.

Suza Kates
Romantic Suspense Author
Another vertical card with Suza's photo and a catchy font for her info.
I saw Suza again and again at workshops. She was everywhere.

Jean Huets
Writer / Copyeditor / Book Designer
Very businesslike card.
I sat with Jean and Kimberly Lowe for one of the luncheons.

Bernadette Marie
Romance Author
A two-sided business card with contrasting ivory and brown colors on each side, and a scroll and tome.

Julia Amante
(About two Argentine families making lives in the USA)
On sale September 25, 2009
A bookmark card with a comment by reviewer Susan Wiggs (author of FIRESIDE) "touching, funny, tragic, and triumphant" with a book blurb on the back.

Monday, July 20, 2009

My Very First RWA

I'm back with a head full of ideas and great memories from my first RWA. It was a fantastic, crazy, head-spinning experience. Loved it. :)

A Few Highlights

Janet Evanovich's keynote speech, especially the story of the day she almost gave up writing...and what happened next. Pure unadulterated inspiration.

The FF&P Chapter sponsored "The Gathering" dinner where I got to meet, greet and/or hang out with my Skiffy Rommer cohorts, Sharon Lynn Fisher, Lisa Paitz Spindler and Jess Granger (pssst! you can see our pic on The Galaxy Express), and listen to a fabulous panel of authors answer questions about Paranormal Romance.

A workshop featuring Lessons of Firefly (of course!) and Joss Whedon's amazing character-building talents hosted by Jacqui Jacoby, a paranormal writer and Golden Heart finalist. (But I'm so bummed I didn't win a Browncoats t-shirt.)

Two words. Free books!

Listening to Dorchester senior editor Chris Keeslan's infectious enthusiasm for "BATTLE SILF" (not sure of the spelling), a March 2010 Paranormal release. Can't wait for this one!

The "Titanic" staircase in the grand ballroom at the Marriott Wardman Park.

Hearing Dorchester is saying YES to SFR.

Hearing TOR is saying YES to SFR. (Do you sense a pattern here?)

The Goody Room.

Asking a very attractive waiter, "How are your muscles?" (Honest, I really meant the shellfish.)

Meeting other SFR writers. (Yes, there are others. We're a rare but hardy breed.) *waves to Donna*

Sharing an elevator with Brenda Novak--but not figuring out it was really Brenda Novak until two seconds after she'd stepped off. Special note to RWA: Please, please, please make the names larger on the nametags. :]

The Rita and Golden Heart Awards ceremony. The Academy Awards for romance books!

Anne Stuart's crazy cell phone intro and endlessly entertaining wardrobe changes.

Being invited to sit in the finalist section at the awards ceremony with Golden Heart finalist Sharon Lynn Fisher.

Being cab-less after the awards ceremony, and somehow ending up sharing a ride with a well-known agent. (Does this kind of thing only happen at RWA?)

Much more on RWA later.

I'm Back from RWA National

I had an incredible time in Washington DC and I have so much to blog about, I think I'll have enough articles to last for weeks! It was such an amazing experience that I want to share some of the highlights, observations and news, but...

Today it's back to work.

Stay tuned. :)

P.S. Check out a picture of the "
Skiffy Rommers," Jess Granger, Lisa Paitz Spindler, Sharon Lynn Fisher (Golden Heart finalist) and yours truly at the FF&P "The Gathering" last Thursday night that I subspaced to Heather at The Galaxy Express.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Sky is Not the Limit

That's now my official SFR motto. It was one of my suggested mottos for Intergalactic Science Fiction Romance week in September 2008, and also the title of my interview on The Galaxy Express last fall. It's even on my new batch of business cards. And this week, it really has some added meaning.

Ah, yes! I'm off to RWA National tomorrow. WOOT!!!

While I'm away, please tune in to The Galaxy Express to join host Heather for the Parallel Universe event. I also hope to be posting live Twitter updates from Washington DC, along with other SFR writers and authors, letting you know all about the experience and the latest happenings. Follow the tweets and feel free to join in the conversation at #rwasfr. It should be a very fun, exciting and educational week for this first timer.

See you on the flip side. :D

Monday, July 13, 2009

"Geek" is a Four Letter Word

[A tongue in cheek rant from yours truly.]

I don't like the word "geek." I've also never been fond of "nerd." If you look those up in the Thesaurus, you'll find they're pegged the equivalent of "bore." Say WHAT?

Galloping around the universe is not a game for the boring!

I'm a female writer and reader who loves the possibilities of science fiction, along with a liberal dose of romantic action. I'm a SFR fan. A Skiffy Rommer. Proud member of the Brigade. That doesn't make of those "other" words.

Thank you, Dr. Bailey!

If I must have a label I prefer "adventurist." Or "forward thinker." Or even "space groupie." Isn't it time female readers interested in science, space, astronomy and astrophysics are thought of in more flattering terms than geek and nerd? It's okay for females to be doctors, lawyers, astronauts, CEOs, even presidential candidates, but not to be hooked on science fiction? There's something fundamentally wrong with that picture, don't you think?

After all, it is almost 2010. ;)

Sunday, July 12, 2009

SFR Coming to Television?

This could be very big news for the Science Fiction Romance market, if it turns out to be anywhere near the hit Grey's Anatomy is. Is this the breakthrough we've been waiting for? Fasten your crash harnesses and get ready for the premier of Defying Gravity (reportedly debuting on August 2).

On a personal level, I have some concerns about this series, since it hits very close to home on the premise of my current WIP. But we shall see...

Meanwhile, if you want to read more about Defying Gravity, check out
this article from Blog Critis Video, which says, "Set 50 years in the future, Defying Gravity has been called Grey's Anatomy in space. It may also be Lost in space. But it's definitely not Lost In Space."

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Has SF Missed the Starship with SFR?

A thought struck me the other day, and the title of this article is the question I want to pose. Has the Science Fiction genre missed the starship by scoffing at the Science Fiction Romance niche market?

There seems to be a trend for traditional SF writers to turn their noses up at SFR. Yet the romance market is the strongest of any of the fiction genres, and as millions of traditional romance readers are being introduced to Science Fiction Romance, isn't it logical that those who really take to it are likely to venture into the straight SF market with a just a bit of wooing?

Shouldn't SFR be viewed more as a stargate for a larger (predom-inantly female) reader-ship to discover straight SF, rather than a door to be slammed?

As a SFR fanatic, I often venture the way of straight SF. Along with Susan Grant, Lois McMaster Bujold, Rowena Cherry, Sandra McDonald and Linnea Sinclair, my Leaning Tower of TBR includes John Scalzi, Robert Charles Wilson, and David J. Williams. I read Heinlein, Herbert, Clarke, and Asimov only after first reading McCaffrey.

The economy has tanked and times are tough for the publishing industry. It seems this would be a good opportunity for the SF genre to openly embrace the SFR niche as a way to attract transitioning readers into the greater straight SF universe. Do you agree?

Friday, July 10, 2009

Commentary: Old Man's War

Old Man’s War: Progressive Comments #1

Let me start by saying this isn’t one of my typical reviews, it's more a comment-by-numbers. As I read through this novel I made notes at certain points about my thoughts and impressions. It's very much a stream-of-consciousness piece.

OLD MAN’S WAR is an excellent novel, hands down. John Scalzi’s work is compared to Heinlein in a cover blurb. I beg to differ. I think Mr. Scalzi’s work is far better, no insult intended to the SF great, and that statement comes with a disclaimer that I read Heinlein’s work as a young adult many, many *ahem* solar flares ago.

Instead of a review, I want to focus on what elements went into making OLD MAN’S WAR so superb, and why it defies some of the rules of getting a debut novel published in our time.

First of all, the hook. There is none. The story begins with a 75-year-old man contemplating the past over the grave of his wife. In his mind he rehashes her rivalry with another female, who in one of life’s ironies, is buried beside her. He says his goodbyes. Then he enlists in the military--the Colonial Defense Force.

My first thought is that it’s amazing some genius editor or agent somewhere read past the first twenty pages of mundane introspection to see the brilliance of this story. How did John Scalzi manage to grab someone’s interest with his first novel, when it’s been pounded into the heads of writers that we can’t sell a novel if it doesn’t grab the reader by the collar and drag them into the story within a paragraph or two. No grab and drag here. Instead you get the slow build of facts that lead you to understand what the protagonist is facing. What he will sacrifice. What he is getting himself into. What he will lose and what he may gain. But most of all, you understand life is never going to be the same for him again and he is, literally, venturing into a great unknown. "To boldy go" takes on a new depth of meaning. But it takes a couple of dozen pages to get you there.

Having read those first pages, I am now thoroughly on John Scalzi’s hook. And it has me wondering if just plain good writing can still sell novels, even without the throat-grabbing dynamic hook.

Old Man’s War: Progressive Comments #2

I’m not off the hook yet.

After a rather slow start, the story is building with some thought-provoking twists and turns. Through the MCs eyes I’ve now experienced his indoctrination into the Colonial Defense Force or CDF, his transport to a space station, catching first sight of an alien and then being packed off on an interstellar ship where he meets some of his fellow inductees.

Since no one who has joined the CDF has ever returned to Earth and communications aren’t allowed, the MC and his friends don’t know what’s coming. They suspect that they’ll somehow be made young again in order to be useful combatants, but they don’t know exactly what that process will entail. I sensed the MC’s mixture of unease and excitement at the next step. First he is tested in some painful, embarrassing and humorous ways--all in the spirit of helping the scientists understand how he thinks and reacts.

And then the threshold to youth is passed—which came with a lot of surprise and more than a little irony.

Old Man’s War: Progressive Comments #3

Oh my, it’s playtime! The MC gets to try out the new improved self while given a bit of R&R time to adjust. One of his companions—they call themselves the Old Farts—surprises him…or maybe ambushes him is the better description. Brave New World, indeed!

More play. Dosey do, switch your partners and promenade home.

All good things must end. Very soon, the MC finds himself in boot camp. He’s singled out as a leader. That’s not necessarily a good thing. He’s tested--or rather his new, younger self is tested--to the brink of endurance. He surprises even himself.

Old Man’s War: Progressive Comments #4

The novelty has worn off and now the MC goes to war. War is hell. Again and again. Different day, same stuff, different planet, different enemy. Go to exotic locations, meet strange new species…and kill them.

Sometimes the enemy surprises him. Sometimes he doesn’t even recognize the enemy. Alien enemies can come in many shapes, forms, sizes and belief systems. Flora and fauna. Giant and microscopic. Aggressive and complacent. Terrified and enraged.

After months of endless fighting, the MC goes a little crazy.

He begins to lose his friends, one by one, as they meet their ends, usually in ironic or foreshadowed ways.

MC is still alive, but doesn’t want to be.

War is hell.

Intergalactic war is the worst kind of hell.

Old Man’s War: Progressive Comments #5

MC is put into an impossible situation, and let’s just say the MC has a very bad day. A terrible day. And with it comes introduction to the Ghost Brigade (also the title of book 2). Ghost Brigade troops are downright nasty, sociopathic grunts—and not in a good way.

And then MC sees Jane.

See Jane throw MC across the room.

Bad Jane.

And now I must be careful to avoid spoilers and ruin all the fun. Let me just wrap this by saying this story kept me hooked, start to finish. Extremely well written with liberal doses of very wry humor, irony and eye-opening observation, and one of the more terrifyingly humorous disaster scenes I think I’ve ever read, all because the MC never really takes himself too seriously.

The only shortcoming of this story—IMHO—is the seeming lack of emotional depth of the MC when really bad things happen. (But I would say that because I’m a science fiction romance writer, and...well, emotion is my business.) Even so, it seemed at times the MC had no deep connection to anyone or anything happening around him, to friends or peers being killed or to situations devastating enough to make a real human being curl up into a fetal position in a dark corner. I realize this book wasn’t written for the romance crowd, but at times the MCs responses and reactions fell very flat for me. It seemed he never felt deep emotion--no panic, no terror, no love. It was as if he gave complacent mental shoulder shrugs in the face of great personal loss. If you look for romance in this story, you won't find it, but all the basic ingredients were in place that it could have been a profound romance or at the very least, a story with a poignant romantic slant.

Nonetheless, OLD MAN'S WAR is an engrossing read--a must read--and a big hit for traditional SF readers.

And yes, I’ll definitely…definitely…read the sequel.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Command Presence in MCs

When I attended police academy years ago, my instructors had a phrase for the quality that allows an officer to step up and take charge of a difficult situation--command presence. They encouraged their students to develop this trait in how they deal with the public, suspects and victims in the line of duty.

Command presence can be incorporated as a personality trait in an MC, a secondary character, even a villain, if you're selective in how you frame the words, actions and attitudes. This quality should never be shown as haughtiness, superiority or conceit. It's more about how a character's demeanor is perceived by other characters. A person who demonstrates command presence instills confidence and trust in others. He/she is looked at as the natural leader, the go-to person, or the one who calls the shots.

In P2PC, my male MC is a fish out of water, a fugitive, and at the mercy of the pilot who agrees to help him escape. It was difficult to keep his character strong and maintain reader respect under these circumstances, but in spite of his situation he demonstrates strength of will, even though he is always a bold pawn, at best.

Draxis is a another matter. My male MC is indisputably in charge and in his main introduction (though not his actual debut), my purpose was to establish him as a force to be reckoned with in the eyes of the female MC. He has to be confident and capable to deal with his headstrong and often unpredictable match. At the same time, I had to avoid making him too unsympathetic, a typical heart throb who has sexual power over women and alpha male power over men. His command presence had to be understated and subtle. It took a few takes to get what I was going for. The female MCs thoughts and perceptions of him were the key to the reader's impressions.

Command presence does not make a character perfect, it's more about knowing how to show the character radiates "positive vibes." But it's a lot like acting. No character can be on stage indefinitely. His/her vulnerabilities will eventually show. So command presence is akin to turning on a light when it's needed, and knowing how long it can stay on and when it should go dark.

Here are a few examples of well-known characters with command presence from cinema and television. Each of these characters are perceived as leaders or authority figures, though each demonstrates these attributes in different ways:

Aragorn (LoTR)

Glinda (Wizard of Oz)

Malcolm Reynolds (Firefly/Serenity)

Ellen Ripley (Alien, Aliens)

The Fonz (Happy Days)

Ana-Lucia (Lost)

Jack Riley (The Hunt for Red October, Patriot Games, and other Tom Clancy novels)

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


So if you’ve never heard the term, what the heck is a drabble? What you get when you cross a dragon with a tribble? A version of Scrabble that only allows cuss words? A duck? Of course, it’s related to writing, and while you might think it has something to do with novelist Margaret Drabble, it doesn’t. The term actually came from Monty Python’s Big Red Book (1971) where Drabble was a game where the first player to write a novel won.

Drabbles later became popular in science fiction and fan fiction fandom. The present concept originated in the United Kingdom. The 100-word drabble was started among Birmingham University Science Fiction Society. Beccon Publications published three drabble novels: THE DRABBLE PROJECT in 1988, DRABBLE II: Double Century in 1990, and DRABBLE WHO in 1993. You can find them here

A drabble is a very short fiction piece. The purpose of a drabble is to express something interesting and meaningful in as few words as possible. Drabble began with the 100-word definition and has since evolved to mean any short work of fiction of 1000 words or less.

Spin-offs of drabbles include droubbles, which is a work of exactly 200 words in length, dribbles, which are only 50 words, and drabblecasts which are podcasts of short fiction. Similar concepts are flash fiction, shortfic, microfiction or nanofiction.

Want to see what a drabble looks like?

You can find samples written by various authors on The Drabble Project website.

If you’re a writer, drabbles can be a way of focusing on, enhancing, or experimenting with your work. Sandra McDonald, author of THE OUTBACK STARS posted a selection of 30 Drabbles on Scribd that examines how the characters from her novel and its sequel, THE STARS DOWN UNDER, may have faired in alternate universes. [Please note the author’s warning of “naughty” content and spoilers.]

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Love and War in SFR

The ancient Greeks believed love and war were virtually the same, two pursuits driven by passion. In mythology, Aphrodite was the Greek goddess of love and Ares was the god of war. Though not married, these two were often found paired, the embodiment of Love and War.

Science Fiction Romance stories are often rooted in historical events and folklore, and love and war have been constant bedfellows (excuse the pun) throughout the ages.

Helen of Troy had “the face that could launch a thousand ships.” In the effort to possess her, her suitors waged a fierce battle that resulted in the downfall of Troy. (And, oh yes. There’s something about a horse in that story somewhere, too. *smirk*) Science Fiction Romance often draws on elements of Helen of Troy--the waging of war for love. Most wars, in either fiction or reality are fought for one of two reasons—the quest for power or the quest for love.

Another way love and war are linked is by paralleling the conflict between a couple with the conflict of the battle itself. In Lord of the Rings (the film version, at least) Aragorn and Arwen Evenstar struggle with their differences—he, a mortal man and she, an immortal elf—and what a future together would mean for them and those they care about. Arwen must decide whether to chose a mortal life or remain with her immortal family. At the same time, their two races wrestle with an uneasy alliance. Should elves join men in the armegeddon of Middle Earth, or avoid war and go in peace to the Undying Lands?

In the Science Fantasy mythos created by Star Wars, a love triangle is set up between rebel leader Princess Leia, young Jedi heir-apparent Luke Skywalker, and rogue captain, Han Solo. As the story evolved, the audience discovered that Luke and Leia were twin siblings. The relationships between the three main characters represent the two major elements of love—love of mate and love of family—within the context of a galactic rebellion.

Love and war can be used effectively in a Science Fiction Romance by giving the reader a stake in the plight of the characters. Understanding what drives a character to react or rebel brings them to life, and what better way to show their strengths and weaknesses than to subject them to a turbulent love affair or a war that threatens their lives and the existence of everything they believe in.

Monday, July 6, 2009

My Three Auction Wins Have Arrived!

During the recent Brenda Novak Online Auction to Benefit Diabetes Research, I jumped at the opportunity to bid on signed copies of Rowena Cherry's SFR "chess" series, FORCED MATE, INSUFFICIENT MATING MATERIAL, and KNIGHT'S FORK. I had the extreme fortune to be the high bidder on this lot. *insert big silly smile here*

Ms. Cherry contacted me promptly about shipping and I soon received the three very welcome (not to mention gorgeous) new additions to my Leaning Tower of TBR (R). They, of course, went to the top of the stack, and I've already started reading FORCED MATE. (Do I sound just a wee bit giddy?)

Special thanks to Rowena Cherry for putting her fine books up for auction and to Brenda Novak for another outstanding auction. (If you haven't checked out this auction yet, you really should be sure to catch it next year.)

I hope to post book reviews in the near future.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Parallel Universe Blasts Off at The Galaxy Express

Beginning today, The Galaxy Express is hosting "Parallel Universe" an event featuring and promoting Science Fiction Romance in conjunction with the RWA Nationals in Washington DC that will begin July 15th. TGE will be hosting a number of posts with a SFR focus in the two weeks to come. Be sure to join the fun.

If you're on Twitter, search the related hashtag "#rwasfr" for current tweets and live updates from RWA Nationals next week.

The Toasted Scimitar Signs Off

Some of the readers of Spacefreighters may know of my other joint blog The Toasted Scimitar, our themed Fantasy Pub. T/S kicked off in June 2007 as a joint blog co-hosted by myself and three--later four--Fantasy/SF writers, my co-bloggers Abby Rustad (published author of an impressive list of Fantasy and SF shorts), published author Ardyth De Bruyn (CHOSEN SISTER), and the talented writers known as "Skipperz" and "Spartezda."

We recently made the joint and unanimous decision to retire Toasted Scimitar from blogdom. ("RIP Toasted Scimitar") We'll leave the blog inactive for the next year before deleting it, as some of the former articles are still getting hits and comments. I will always fondly remember T/S as my tutor and on-the-job instuctor into the universe of blogdom.

Long live Toasted Scimitar.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Independence Day

As I contemplate the freedoms this country offers
and the wealth I enjoy
that goes far beyond the monetary
As I celebrate our liberty
and revere our heroes and our fallen
I remember with pride those who came before--
Those who sacrificed so our country could be born
Those who died defending democracy
Those who taught me the meaning of heroism and courage
Those who inspired me through words and music
to look in the mirror and become a better citizen of this great planet.

To them I am forever indebted.

Happy Fourth of July
Long may that Star-Spangled Banner Yet Wave