Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Rosetta Stone for Introverts

10 Myths About Introverts

I adore this article by Carl King about how introverts tick (a little self-analysis is a good thing!) and wanted to share it with our readers. It's very enlightening in the spirit of "I'm Okay, You're Okay" for those of the anti-extrovert persuasion by explaining what introverts are not via myths of perception--Introverts Don't Like to Talk, Introverts are Shy, Introverts are Rude, etc.

Well worth a read for the many OMGYes! and Hellyeahs! Your time investment? About seven minutes max.

Mr. King's article also prompted me to click a link at the bottom of his site and pick up a copy of his book SO YOU'RE A CREATIVE what? which he describes as a "creative career survival guide." I found his book chock full of affirmations and inspiration for creative types and easy to read in either quick 10-minute snippets or an afternoon sitdown.

Endorsements? My, yes! This book has 44 reviews--41 of them are 5 stars, the balance are 4 and 3 stars. (No 1 or 2 stars to date.)

I'm adding my kudos. I recommend this as an upbeat, positive, fast, funfun read! (One caveat: This is not a lengthy book...but it doesn't need to be.)

Monday, February 27, 2012

Got News!

Mission Success
Laurie's Journal

Yes, I have news!

I'm very excited to announce a Revise & Resubmit letter is on the table for my 2011 Golden Heart finalist, P2PC, and discussion and work has already started on the project. I'm very excited about this opportunity and hope to share more details (details! details!) with you soon.

I also sent two more contest entries off yesterday. Unlike 2010 when I was storming the contest circuit, I've started to be more selective about what contests I enter. My main thrust is to get my work in front of editors and agents who I'd love to work with. Of course, it doesn't always work out that way...but no guts, no glory.  Right?

Meanwhile, critiques have started coming in on my third novel and I'm very excited about all the fantastic feedback I've received.

I also have a short story in the works: Farewell, Andromeda. Planned length is approximately 20,000 words--we'll see if this one escapes becoming an epic! I've got a keen eye on a couple of upcoming anthologies for possible submission. Progress so far about 1,500 words.

My Current Mood? 


Upcoming Events

Only 69 days until the release of Pippa Jay's debut novel KEIR from Lyrical Press!

Only 277 days until the release of Sharon Lynn Fisher's debut novel GHOST PLANET from Tor!

Less than 3,500 hits until our big 50,000 hit landmark here on the blog. We're kicking around ideas for a big celebration. Stay tuned!

It's going to be an exciting year here on Spacefreighters Lounge!

The Buzz

Triberr! Several members of the SFR Brigade are exploring the idea of forming a SFR Tribe as a way to support each other and optimize online and social networking time. If you're interested in knowing more about Triberr, check out the poll and Triberr Discusion & Questions post on the SFR Brigade blog which includes several informative links.

SFR Author Arlene Webb ran a two-day promotion on Amazon where she offered the first novel in her Colors series, SPLINTERED ENERGY, for free download on Amazon. The response was tremendous with over 3,600 copies downloaded in 48 hours and a huge uptick in her Amazon ranking. Arlene kept the SFR Brigade updated on the progress via the  Facebook Group Page. There were many surprises along the way--even for Arlene! I hope to complete an upcoming interview with Arlene on her strategy and development of this very successful promotion.

The release of Disney's JOHN CARTER, based on the Science Fiction classic A PRINCESS OF MARS by Edgar Rice Burroughs (also known for penning TARZAN) is coming soon! The link above will take you to the FREE Kindle version of the book being offered on Amazon, but you can read more via Wikipedia. I'm very excited about this SFR (usually toted as a Fantasy because of the now implausible Martian adventure).  A clip recently featured by io9 depicted a coliseum fight sequence that had a very Star Wars feel to it. You can check out the clip on io9 here.

Ping Pong

Donna, have fun on your well deserved vacation and Sharon and Pippa , enjoy working on your edits and pre-release funness!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Guest Blogger Greta van der Rol

Today, we're welcoming author Greta van der Rol to Spacefreighters Lounge so she can tell us a little about her new release. Welcome, Greta!  

A womanising admiral

Thanks for having me. I'm celebrating the release of my new novel, Starheart.

Here's the blurb.

She's lost her husband, her best friend is missing. What else has she got to lose?

Slightly shady freighter captain, Jess Sondijk, thought she had her life under control until Admiral Hudson's Confederacy battle cruiser stops her ship to search for contraband. His questions reopen matters she had thought resolved. What if her husband's death on his way back from Tabora wasn't accidental? Jess decides to investigate, while keeping Hudson at arms' length.

While he's attracted to the lovely Jess, Hudson is also concerned about what might be happening on Tabora and how that may involve the Confederacy's enemies.

Jess and Hudson's interests collide in more ways than one. But while Jess is more than willing to put her life on the line to protect what's hers, Hudson must balance the risk of inter-species war at worst and the end of his career at best, in a deadly game of political intrigue, murder and greed. At the end of the day, how much is he willing to lose for the woman he has come to love?

So far, I haven't said much about the male main character and love interest, Admiral Ullric Hudson. I'll let Jess introduce you to him when she first meets him when she's taken over to his flagship, Defender, for interrogation…

The warship's side loomed like an apartment block with a few lighted windows. The cutter aimed for the window with the flashing light and slid into the vessel's interior. A few minutes for the airlock to air up and they were out. Jess sniffed the air. Not even a hint of mustiness or cooking. Their filters were obviously better than Saintly Maid's.

Jess and Santh walked together, the troopers behind them, while Lieutenant Douglas led the way to a transit foyer, where he pressed a button to summon a car.

Jess stared around her at clean, grey walls and floors, and a row of no less than ten lifts. Strewth. The buttons went up to thirty. Thirty levels. This ship was huge. A group of people appeared from a doorway, also heading for the transit foyer. Three senior officers. She fixed her 'not sure why this is happening but I'm being co-operative' expression on her face as they approached.

Well, well, well. The captain, a senior commander and a rather dishy admiral. Tall, thick brown hair, heavy eyebrows over blue eyes that right now were shifting his gaze over her body and most especially down the carefully-judged split at the front of her shirt. She smiled at him, taking care to adjust her hair while she did so. Now what would a Star Fleet admiral be doing at Nordheim?

Beside her, Lieutenant Douglas and the two escorts stiffened to parade ground attention.

The admiral stopped in front of her, still staring. "What have we here, Lieutenant?"

The look in his eye sent a sexy shimmy down her spine. No prizes for guessing what was on his mind right now. And under different circumstances, she wouldn't mind. No, not at all.

"Captain and First Officer of a suspicious ship, Sir. The Saintly Maid. They're here for interrogation."
Jess widened her eyes. "Suspicious ship? Oh, really, Lieutenant, you must have mistaken the Maid for some other vessel."

The admiral grinned. The transit car the senior commander had summoned arrived with a gentle ping. The captain and the senior commander both had their bodies pointed towards the open door but the admiral lingered, gazing down at her.

"Delightful to meet you, Captain…?"

"Sondijk. And equally delightful to meet you, Admiral…?"

"Hudson. Ullric Hudson."

She gave him a long, hard once-over, her gaze traveling slowly down his body and back up to his eyes.

"Welcome to Nordheim, Admiral Hudson."

He chuckled, jerked his head down in a brief nod and followed the two officers into the transit.

A womaniser he might be, but Jess soon discovers Hudson's no fool. His arrival is about to make life very complicated for her as he stirs up matters she thought she'd dealt with, like the death of her husband.

I'll be at tomorrow for a little bit more about that initial meeting.

To celebrate the release of Starheart I'll be giving a $25 Amazon gift voucher to one person who leaves a comment on any of the blogs I visit until 10th March. So leave a comment here and you'll be in the draw.

Greta van der Rol loves writing science fiction with a large dollop of good old, healthy romance. She lives not far from the coast in Queensland, Australia and enjoys photography and cooking when she isn't bent over the computer. She has a degree in history and a background in building information systems, both of which go a long way toward helping her in her writing endeavours.


Monday, February 20, 2012

The Miniaturization of Sci-Fi Romance Part II

Last week, I discussed the disturbing (IMHO) scaling down of SFR novels and why this is an alarming trend. You can read the post here:

The Miniaturization of Sci-Fi Romance

Since then, I discovered one of the digital publishers I was scouting is now only accepting SFR of up to 50,000 words (usually less than 200 pages). Discouraging for a writer of full length (i.e. 100,000+ word count or roughly 370-400 pages) SFR? Absolutely.

But how does this impact readers?

What are we really buying?

Last Monday, I looked at evidence that SFR offerings are becoming shorter than the "traditional" length of those published in print first, which tend to be 90,000-120,000 words in length, not 30,000-50,000 words. (Let's face it--a 150 page SFR novel would look pretty puny in print!)

Since I have a Kindle, I buy almost all my digital books on Amazon. I did a random sampling of SFR titles available on their site along with prices and page length if it's offered. Here's what I found:

(In order of highest to lowest price with KB listed first)

565KB - Print publisher, newer SFR author - $8.69       289 pages
278KB - Print publisher, popular SFR author - $7.99     320 pages
469KB - Print publisher, popular SFR author - $7.99     320 pages
423KB - Leading digital pub, new SFR author - $7.00   286 pages
626KB - Print publisher, popular SFR author - $5.79     381 pages
385KB - Digital publisher, est. SFR author - $5.79           not listed
420KB - Print publisher, popular SFR author - $4.99     560 pages **
790KB - Leading digital publisher, SFR author - $4.24   294 pages**
252KB - Digital publisher, popular SFR author - $3.99     not listed
566KB - Digital publisher, newer SFR author - $3.99       not listed
200KB - Digital publisher, newer SFR author - $3.99       88 pages
382KB - Leading digital publisher, SFR author - $3.82   158 pages
326KB - Leading digital publisher, est. author - $3.03     135 pages
285KB - Leading digital publisher, new author - $3.03      not listed
237KB - Digital publisher, newer SFR author - $1.99       36 pages

Although there is some correlation on price points for length of book, it's not definitive. If you pay $3.99 for a SFR title it doesn't necessarily mean you're purchasing a work that even close to a full length novel. Unless the approximate page count is listed, even the KB size isn't a good reference. Here's a quick comparison of four novels with KB and page count available:

1772KB = 832 paperback pages
465 KB = 320 paperback pages 
420 KB = 560 paperback pages ** (also included in above analysis)
790 KB = 264 paperback pages ** (also included in above analysis)

Eye-opening? The variance in pages vs. KB may be due to some file sizes including graphic artwork where others may have only text. And if artwork is included in the file size, files reflecting higher resolution may reflect a higher KB than a lower resolution.

Since this is an unknown, it could mean buyers using KB as reference may think they are purchasing a traditional novel-length story in some cases when they're really purchasing a novella or very short novel, and the artwork is making the novel appear to be a lengthier work. 

What are your thoughts?  Do you have a preference for traditional SFR novel length (90,000+ words) or do you prefer to read shorter works in digital format? As a reader, do you think the shorter SFR novels are a good trend or a bad trend?

Friday, February 17, 2012


As we wait for the big blockbusters of SF film to debut in March (JOHN CARTER and THE HUNGER GAMES), we have to find something to entertain us at the theater. This week’s offering was CHRONICLE, written by Max Landis and directed by Josh Trank.

Really, I was just going for the popcorn, but I was won over by this surprisingly thoughtful tale of three teenagers who stumble upon a mysterious cave and come out “gifted” with superpowers. Do they use these powers for good—to right wrongs, save the innocent, punish bad guys? No, they’re teenagers. First they hide what they can do, like a secret club. Then they play goofy pranks in stores and parking lots. Then things turn dark—very dark.

We see the story through the eyes of Andrew (Dane DeHaan), an isolated, abused, self-described loser whose mother is dying of some chronic illness and whose only interest is his new (used) video camera. (Andrew at least has some skill with the camera so the shakiness of the “hand-held” technique so in vogue these days is minimized. Later on, his telekinetic skill allows him to manipulate the camera from a variety of angles. Even better.) His cousin Matt (Alex Russell), a kind, but clueless soul, is his only friend. The third member in the trio, Steve, is a popular kid running for school president (Michael B. Jordan). How he ends up with them is a mystery, but it turns out he is also much more generous than such folks in high school tend to be—a genuinely nice guy. (Also black. Guess who dies first?)

When the changes come, Steve sees the potential for bringing the painfully shy Andrew out of his shell. It seems to work at first, but the inevitable rejection by a girl at a party sets up the eventual downfall. Andrew becomes stronger and angrier as his home situation grows worse. His friends can control him less and less. And in the last half-hour of the film, Andrew loses all control of his powers and himself.

The amateur reviewers I read saw this film as a movie in the comic book tradition, that is, as something focused on the superpowers, a la Spiderman or the Hulk. In those comics, a teenager or a scientist is accidentally given powers overnight and must come to terms with what to do with those powers. (Such a conferring of powers is a Marvel Comics thing, by the way. In DC comics, the superheroes either have no powers, like Batman, or were born with them, like Superman.)

At any rate, in the comics, you may have an uncomplicated hero, like Spidey, or a raging anti-hero, like the Hulk, but they usually do the right thing. In CHRONICLE, Andrew disintegrates under the pressure of his new-found powers (and the crumbling of his family). Only Matt survives to become the hero.

My first thought was not of comic heroes but of an older story—The Invisible Man. A scientific experiment succeeds in rendering its author invisible, but it also destroys his mind. The power of remaining invisible—and thus outside society’s constraints—is too much for him and megalomania ensues. He descends into madness and murder and is eventually destroyed. H.G.Wells, the author of the story, was himself well known for flaunting society’s conventions, but his cautionary tale is not usually read as a story of personal hubris. He meant his scientist as a representative of science in general, in need of some form of ethical restraint.

I don’t think writer Landis and director Trank set out to make that kind of film with CHRONICLE. It’s a much simpler story of the effect of too much power on an all-too-human personality. But it wouldn’t hurt for a lot of the teenagers who might see the film to think about the larger implications of that question—for themselves and their society.

Donna’s Journal

The 2012 Virginia Romance Writers Fool For Love Contest is open for entries.

Contest entries must be no longer than 50 pages with an optional synopsis of up to five pages. Categories include: Short Contemporary, Long Contemporary, Historical, Inspirational, Romantic Suspense, Published Author, and Paranormal, Futuristic, Fantasy, Time Travel. Final judge for PFFTT category entries will be Amanda Barnett, Senior Editor, The Wild Rose Press. Contest deadline is March 14, 2012.

For contest details and entry forms:

I will be judging again this year (and not entering), so you may be lucky enough to have an SFR-friendly judge in the early round. Polish those manuscripts and send ‘em in!

Cheers, Donna

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

How Alien are your Characters?

One question that my editor asked me on the first round of copy edits was why all my characters were human or humanoid. Why were there no aliens who, basically, looked more alien?

I’ll confess that until then I hadn’t really thought about it but I had a logical explanation. For one thing, when writing a science fiction romance it, of course, makes it easier if the two main characters who are due to fall in love have a fairly close physical similarity. Sex scenes would obviously be a lot more involved and, er, convoluted shall we say, if the physical differences were very marked. Perhaps that’s something to explore when I’m more confident of my skills in the genre. :D

For my first book I wanted to keep things simple. And I felt that in a galaxy full of diversity, those species who had more in common with us would be more likely to interact, and to therefore form friendships or even romantic attachments. For instance--who do you spend the most time with? A best friend? A partner? Work colleagues? Family? Obviously with family you have that tie of blood and unity that (most) families take as the basis for their relationships together. You might not have chosen each and every one of your work colleagues to be with, but you’ve (presumably) all chosen to work in that profession and therefore have that bond. With a best friend you often have shared experiences and/or interests--things that unite you. With a partner there must have been some initial attraction that has led to a mutual bond and the desire to spend (hopefully) the majority of your lives together.

So in each relationship, there are one or more areas of related interest or goals that connect you. That compel you to spend time together. So it seemed logical to me that races with certain aspects in common might be more inclined to socialize and interact together than, say, those whose even basic needs are incompatible with our own. An oxygen-breathing race like us, for example, would be unlikely to want to spend time with a race that breathes or needs cyanide. A marine species may not want to risk asphyxiation in our atmosphere any more than we’d like to drown. 

It wouldn’t be impossible, and the very nature of a completely different society would no doubt compel a lot of humans to pursue such interactions, but the average person would probably seek the simpler solution. How many of us learn to deep sea dive, for example? How many would want to learn? Of course, there may be other ways to adapt ourselves in the future--as an example I recommend Neal Asher’s books where cybernetic and genetic adaptations abound--which would make these interactions easier, perhaps even commonplace.

There are more alien-style aliens in the universe I’ve created. Few interact with the humanoid races that tend to have dominated my stories so far. But there are always opportunities to explore those in the future.

What’s your view on it? Do you think I’m just evading the issue with my reasoning? Do you go for the most outlandish species you can imagine, or do you prefer to keep yours close to human?