Friday, November 30, 2018


CA wildfires: global warming at its worst. (ABC News)

Wildfires in California, Greece, Sweden. Floods in Pennsylvania, India, England. Hurricanes in Florida and North Carolina; typhoons in Japan and the Philippines. Droughts in Australia, South America, Africa. Extremes of temperature, well, everywhere. Ocean temperatures rising. Ice caps melting. Islands disappearing.

A plot for a dystopian novel of the future? No. Just a status report on the world’s climate. Something you could read in detail in the just-released Fourth National Climate Assessment, just released from, of all places, the U.S. White House. (The report is required by Congress every four years.) This year’s report was released the day after Thanksgiving (Black Friday), but its conclusions were so startling it made news even in the midst of the post-holiday shopping frenzy.

If you needed support for those conclusions you could find them in the latest State of the Climate 2018 report from the World Meteorological Organization. The WMO report declares the last four years have been the hottest on record for the planet.

The National Climate Assessment is based on the work of scientists and analysts across 13 agencies throughout the U.S. government and focuses on the impact of climate on the U.S. alone. The WMO collects data from countries and remote locations around the world to provide a global perspective. Both scientific reports describe the devastation, in both financial and human terms, of the many climate-related events that are already occurring. Both reports lay the blame for the global rise in temperatures on the activity of humans—the generation of greenhouse gases, deforestation, pollution. And both warn of dire consequences if nothing is done to change that human behavior.

Because the World Meteorological Organization has more freedom to speak, its conclusions are blunter. Action must be taken now to reduce greenhouse gases (ie. to reduce the dependence on fossil fuels that produce them) or the planet faces possibly irreversible damage—inundation of vulnerable coastlines, famines, disruption of world economics and displacement of human populations.

“Every bit matters,” said Elena Manaenkova, the WMO deputy secretary general. “Every fraction of a degree of warming makes a difference to human health and access to food and fresh water, to the extinction of animals and plants, to the survival of coral reefs and marine life.”

The WMO report says we have no more than 12 years to make major changes before it will be too late to avoid disaster. Consider: it has taken us since the dawn of the Industrial Age to reach this point of no return, some 250 years. As Petteri Taalas, the secretary general of the WMO, a leading authority on climate change, says: “We are the first generation to fully understand climate change and the last generation to be able to do something about it.”

Reversing direction on our excesses will take time, even if we all agree and start now with the best of will. That, however, is saying a lot.

*Warning: Political Opinion Ahead*

It is less a political statement than an observable fact to say that our current governmental leadership in the U.S. is willfully blind to scientific fact on the subject of climate change. The President has no scientists of note in his Cabinet to advise him in this area; instead, he relies on businessmen from fossil-fuel energy industries to set our environmental policies and long-term climate change strategies. He admits that he has only read “some” of the Climate Assessment Report and disbelieves its conclusions.

Sacrifice now or pay the consequences later.
You could say that’s a natural optimist talking. I have another word for it. But when I was a youngster, my mama told me the story of a lazy grasshopper and a bunch of industrious ants with winter coming. I don’t think that story applies just to a change of seasons. It might just apply to a change of climate, too. I’m thinking the ants have the right idea--prepare for the snow even while the sun shines.

Cheers, Donna

Information for this post provided from:
Past four years hottest on record, data shows,” by Fiona Harvey, The Guardian, November 29, 2018.

“New U.S. Climate Assessment Forecasts Dire Effects On Economy, Health,” by Jennifer Ludden and Christopher Joyce, NPR, November 26, 2018.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

A hootin' tootin' space adventure

Instead of finishing my fifty thousand words in NanoWriMo, I've been doing a bit of reading. Don't get me wrong. Nano was useful as a kick in the arse, so to speak, but writing a set number of words in a given time period was never the real target. Finishing a book is. And no, I haven't. Not yet. But we're getting there. Yes we are.

One of the books I read was most definitely an SFR - the type I like, where the romance is just a part of a larger story. The book was Space Deputy by Jenny Schwartz.

Newly-graduated Galactic Justice officer Thelma Bach might have graduated top of the class but that didn't mean she'd get a plum job. She's sent off to the Saloon Sector to serve time as a deputy sherrif reporting to Sheriff Max Smith. While Thelma's not happy about being posted to what she sees as a dead-end job for the seven years it will take to fulfill her obligation to the Galactic Justice Department, she resolves to give it her best - and create a career for herself as a purveyor of information.

There's a lot about this book which is just plain fun. The blurb describes the environment as "the Wild West meets the 1950s" and that's about right. We meet prospectors looking for El Dorado, a crooked religious zealot, a vindictive politician, several sentient alien species - and Sheriff Max Smith, an enigmatic ex-space marine who happens to have known Thelma's brother, Joe. Oh - and a couple of fascinating Artificial Intelligences. Did I mention an intergalactic diner in a mining area?

Thelma gets to know her new boss and his two AI sidekicks through a series of incidents that require the sheriff's intervention. Thelma is a mix of tough operator, proud of her mining sector background, a smart woman trying to make a career for herself, and someone with insecurities and problems - especially with her inscrutable boss. Max is a tough ex-marine hiding secrets.

It's lots of high-action fun, with each incident being a little story in its own right. With each new situation the odds ratchet up until Thelma and those she holds dear are in desperate danger. Yes, there's a love story. There's sexual tension but the act itself is behind closed doors.

I loved it and I'll be looking for the next instalment.

Here's the blurb:

A millennium into the future, the Saloon Sector is where the Wild West meets the 1950s, in space, with robots. It’s where careers go to die. Thelma Bach graduated top of her class after four years at the Galactic Justice academy. But she’s a Rock Sector citizen. The core worlders were never going to let her transcend her background. So she’s been assigned to serve her seven years as a deputy in the Saloon Sector.

The message for the Federation’s out-world citizens is clear: you’ll never be our equal, so don’t even try. The stuffy bureaucrats of the Galactic Justice service chose the wrong person to push around. Thelma will subvert her interstellar sheriff, charm artificial intelligences, fight bandits and hunt the legendary Eldorado Cache. But with the frontier region holding secrets of its own, she needs to choose her new allies wisely because a scary, business-suited enemy is hunting her. “Space Deputy” is a fast-paced, offbeat space adventure.

Find the book at Amazon

Monday, November 26, 2018

The Tees Have It: Wearable Statements of Sci-Fi Fandom

Good Monday Morning, all!

I hope you had a wonderful holiday, even if you OD'd a bit on turkey, stuffing and all the trimmings. Hey, 'tis the season! We had our dinner at a local restaurant this year, which is great for not having to clean up but not-so-great for being deprived of a plethora of yummy leftovers. So I'm cooking a turkey breast today just so we aren't cheated out of those lingering goodies. Plus, there's nothing like the aroma of a turkey cooking to fill the house...Mmmmm.

As a SF/R fan -- not to mention author -- anything Sci-Fi usually catches my interest. I thought it might be fun to show off part of my Sci-Fi t-shirt collection. Since it includes dozens of tees, I'll start with just a few of the generic ones today and save the "t-shirts on a theme" for future posts.

I enlisted my Stormtrooper buddy to help me model them, but discovered his head was too big for him to properly display the shirts (without horribly stretching the necks...nooo, my precious!), so I had to improvise. Fortunately, his ample shoulder made a nice place to hang the hangers. :)

This first one is one of my favorites and it seems to compliment my SFR series theme of Escape to the Stars, to boot.

"I'm Running Away to See the Universe" set in a block of starry, starry sky. It's a simple design that doesn't use color, just white on black (I think it was also available in blue, etc. but black is usually my go-to color, as you'll see), but it certainly works for me to convey the message.

As a reader, it also speaks volumes. SF/R has always been my brand of escapism, so what better way to announce it to the world galaxy!

As a writer, it also reflects where I spend a good chunk of my mental among those distant stars.

I love this second t-shirt for its spirit. I think many of my fellow SFR authors, writers and readers will might agree with the sentiments.

I never dreamed of being a princess when I was young--in my head I always dreamed of hyperjumping off to distant worlds and engaging in galactic adventures I read about in books from the Science Fiction Book Club.

After all, who wants to be a pampered princess when you can command a swashbuckling starship!

To my way of thinking, "Starship Captain" was always much more glamorous and exciting than being something as mundane as a princess.

One of the things I especially like about this design is the use of the pink and the script font to "pop" the "Princess?" with the decidedly Trek-esque block lettering for "I'd rather be a Starship Captain!"

Nicely done!

T-shirt number three is probably one of the most loved phrases I've ever swiped from a popular sci-fi series. It is, of course, a phrase from the famous theme song of the icon of television sci-fi, Firefly.

In case you're not an afficianado of the short-lived but much loved series, here's a link to the 53-second YouTube video of the main theme. (And why yes, that's a starship spooking wild horses, which so encapsulates the space western feel of this fabulous show.) Firefly Main Theme

As an author, no matter how hard the going gets, and how difficult the industry becomes, for me, this phrase portrays a core truth: No matter what happens, no one can take away my imagination.

As a reader, it makes a statement about what sort of books and media really interests me.

But as a person in general, it takes on a deeper meaning. For most of my life (yes, right up to the present), other people have asked me why I'm interested in sci-fi and space exploration and astronomy, rather than the things that society says most females should find important--like the latest fashions or makeup or designer purses (*yawn*). Why am I so different? Well, I've always embraced my "differentness" even long before the "This Is Me" movement came along and instilled itself as a part of our pop culture. This is Me isn't just about having an appearance that's unusual, it's also about having a mindset that's not the norm for my particular peg hole. You Can't Take the Sky from Me, indeed.

And finally, I wanted to show off Donna's excellent creation--a t-shirt for her Interstellar Rescue series. I think she did a phenomenal job with the design, which looks every bit as professional as the "store bought" tees, which is why I love to include it as part of my collection. I love how Donna framed the theme of her series in a subtle but very effective way.

This design is also responsible for Sharon and I meeting Donna at the 2009 RWA Nationals in Washington, DC. We noticed this decidedly spacey design that Donna had imprinted on her tote bag and commented on it, discovering that she, too, wrote SFR.

Donna's Interstellar Rescue series tee is one of the few I have that carries the theme to the back of shirt, where her series log line is printed. (Donna also had a t-shirt done for the first novel in her series, Unchained Memory, with a similar design and the book's individual log line on the back.)

So there are a few of the more random examples in my collection. I'll be back with later blogs featuring my Star Trek and (more extensive) Star Wars tees.

Do you have any favorite science fiction themed t-shirts? Tell me about them in comments.

Have a great week.

Friday, November 23, 2018

        Family's here, so I'm taking time out. Best holiday wishes to you all!

Cheers, Donna

Thursday, November 22, 2018

An interview with Admiral Saahren

The Iron Admiral: Conspiracy is the first of my five-book Ptorix Empire series. I expect you won't be surprised to learn that the Iron Admiral himself, Chaka Saahren, stars in the first two books.

Before the events of The Iron Admial: Conspiracy took place Admiral Saahren was a hero of the Human Confederacy after his heavily outnumbered forces defeated the Ptorix fleet at the battle of Forenisi. This is an interview he gave to a nervous young reporter after that event.

Saahren's clerk escorts me into the admiral's office. Saahren stands when I enter. Dressed in the Fleet's black day uniform, he's tall, dark and imposing, his lips curved into a brief smile of welcome. I stop myself from drooling as he waves me to a seat. "So kind of you to see me," I manage.

He offers a head bow. "My pleasure. What can I tell you?"

I point at the decoration on his breast, a blue jewel surrounded by a spreading burst of silver rays. "Congratulations on the Confederacy star."

He shrugs. "I'm honored, of course, but I was just doing my job. I see it as recognition of the valor and dedication of all the crews of all my ships."

I get the feeling he means it. So often it's false modesty. "Do you think we're safe from the Ptorix, now?"

He considers. "Safe? We can hope. But there are many, many more Ptorix in the galaxy than humans, and although we coexist on some planets, we're so very different. It's inevitable we'll clash. Especially with someone as ambitious as Lord Governor Anxhou in charge of the adjoining Ptorix sector."

I don't really want to talk about politics, though. I want to know about him. I ask him why he moved from his home world to Malmos when he was twelve years old. 

His eyes take on a faraway, introspective look. Eventually he says, "The planet had fallen into anarchy. Warlords had usurped power. My father was part of a revolt against the local tyrant. During the fighting my father was killed and I was badly injured. I was lucky enough to come under the care of a specialist doctor from Malmos. He took me back to the capital with him to finish my treatment, and then he became my foster father, you might say."

"From there you went to the Fleet Academy."

He nods. "Yes. It was an opportunity I would not have had if I'd remained on my home world."

"You've never married?"

Again, that enigmatic half smile. "My career has always been important to me. I see that as a way of giving back, making life safer for millions of ordinary people. I don't see myself as a family man."

I throw the rumour out to see how he'll react. "There have been suggestions you're gay?"

He laughs. "I've also heard I'm impotent. Either way, they can think what they like."

"Even your own officers and crews?"

The grin fades and one black eyebrow arches. "I don't expect all my officers to like me. That's impossible. But they will obey orders."

That last is said very quietly. I have to stop myself from standing up and saluting. I toy with the idea of asking him out to dinner, but I think I'll be wasting my time. He shakes my hand after I stand to leave. Warm, strong fingers gripping firmly, not one of those condescending limp fish offerings people like me get from too many 'important' men.

As the door closes behind me I wonder if he'll ever give himself the time to fall in love. I've met a few like that. They swear it'll never happen… then they meet the right woman, and BAM.
Time will tell.

The Iron Admiral: Conspiracy is the first of the five books in the Ptorix Empire series. It's available for $.99c at  Amazon B&N Kobo iBooks

And on the Morgan's Misfits front, I'm still working on Misfits 3. I might tell you a little about that next week. 

For all my American friends - have a peaceful, joyous Thanksgiving. And don't eat too much.