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Saturday, April 30, 2011

Kindle or Cover?

Here's my latest Kindle sales ranking---Judgment on Tartarus ranks #255,060 out of over 900,000 available titles! Which means that I am at or slightly under the top one-quarter in Kindle sales! That's amazing!  I am so excited! My book just came out in its Kindle version, and I never expected it to do this well so fast!

The biggest drawback that I can see to owning a Kindle copy of Judgment is not having the beautiful cover in full color! And I'm not tooting my own horn because I didn't actually design the cover, although it's spooky how close the finished design came to the thumbnail sketches which I had made! Of course, Kerry Graham never got to see those sketches---I guess it was just a case of two people being on the same wavelength!

I continue to receive great reviews and comments from first-time readers. Can't tell you how happy it makes me that people enjoy the story I wrote. I'm dying to see how they react to Book Two: True Son of Tartarus!

As you can see, I've added the number of views at the top of my blog entries. Between my blog, my facebook page, and the fb page for Judgment on Tartarus, I seem to be getting quite a bit of publicity, for which I'm also thankful. I'm hoping to add a website soon, as promoting two books at once might be a little tricky! And then, of course, I must get working on editing Book Three: Ransom of Tartarus as soon as possible if I hope to have it published by early 2012!

Wish me luck!


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Brain Food? Yum!

 I guess I have a weirdly-wired brain! It remembers trivia clearly and in detail---but not what I had for breakfast this morning---or even if I had breakfast! Oh, well! Guess it can't be expected to remember everything! The strangest stuff gets stuck in my head, and I can't manage to clear out all the junk! Sometimes that actually comes in handy in my writing, especially when I realize that I know something that I didn't know I knew. How's that for clarity?

For instance, I don't think I ever mentioned that I grew up reading the National Geographic Magazine from cover to cover, and I remember an amazing amount of that information. I credit that magazine with sparking many of my lifelong interests, including art history, anthropology, archaeology, zoology, botany, and marine biology, as well as my early interest in outer space.

As Rona Scott notes early on in Judgment on Tartarus, reading is a painless way to broaden your education---and it costs relatively little! So whether it's magazines, or books, or Kindle, keep reading; take things in like a sponge. Take a page from the Sword of Griffindor in J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter books: it repels whatever would harm it and takes in only what will make it stronger! Follow that advice and, whatever your creative endeavors, they are bound to succeed!

Until next time,


Saturday, April 23, 2011

Kindle's Okay!

Yesterday I downloaded Judgment on Tartarus on Kindle, just to see what it looked like ( I'm admittedly a very nosy person! ) and so I'd know if I could truthfully recommend it to my readers. I was honestly impressed. Having downloaded only one other novel on my Kindle ( All the Weyrs of Pern by Anne McCaffrey---one of my favorite authors. ) I think my book translated more successfully. Unfortunately, there are lots of odd errors in the McCaffrey Kindle!

In mine, errors were few and far between, thank goodness! And some may have been my own---I really haven't checked yet. Much as I hate to admit it, I do make mistakes, as I'm human ---I think. I still prefer a book I can hold in my hot little hands, but ---I could get used to Kindle for the convenience. Only time will tell. Hopefully, Kindle readers will enjoy my book just as much as those who read the hardcopy.

Love to know your thoughts about Kindle!


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Some Writing Techniques ( And Advice! )

When I started writing fiction many long years ago, I found that the best way for me to work is to concentrate on one "scene" at a time, like the acts of a play. I begin by considering what the main point of the scene is and how best to get that point across to the reader. I think about what characters are involved and what setting is most suitable. I never outline a story. I just develop a good idea of what I want to achieve in the end and what needs to be done in order to get there. Some authors find they work best using other methods---I just do whatever works best for me.

When I finish a book or a short story, I let it sit and "marinate" for some time before I go back over it. Then with fresh eyes, I review and critique my own work more objectively---as if someone else had written it! In that way I don't get too emotionally attached to my work---one of the major hurdles authors have to deal with.

Another helpful technique I use is to just sit and think about my characters: their backgrounds, feelings, and motives. I ask myself questions about them, try to picture them in my mind, listen to them speak. Once I have a clear idea who they are, I find it easier to write for them.

Now I'm not advising anyone else to write the same way I do. I wouldn't expect them to! I'm only suggesting that you find the methods that work for you and perfect them. Above all, don't have the attitude that every word you write is perfect and therefore should be chiseled in stone! Try many different ways of expressing each thought until you're satisfied you've got it right.

And remember, a wee bit of bending rules is usually okay, but be very careful! I've been known to bend a few rules myself---but more experienced writers can get away with a heck of a lot more than us newbies can! And all writers are bound to make a few mistakes from time to time---all you can do is learn from them and try your darnedest not to repeat them!Good luck!

All for now,


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A Doctor Who Fan?

I've never been what you'd call a really big fan of the TV series Doctor Who. Well, until fairly recently! My hubby is a long-time fan of the BBC series, but it's growing on me. My favorite Doctors? I'm really fond of Sylvester McCoy's portrayal---as well as his companion, Ace ( Sophie Aldred ). They made a great team, and McCoy's Doctor had just the right mixture of mystery and puckish fun!

My second favorite was the late Patrick Troughton, the second actor to portray the Doctor. He was also noted for his sometimes-humorous interpretation of the role and his puckish charm. So close is my third choice that it's almost a tie: Christopher Eccleston---a much more recent Doctor. His Doctor is also charming, a bit child-like, with a deep sense of melancholy all his own. ( And what the man lacks in looks, he more than makes up for in talent! ) Some of his episodes have actually brought me to tears. I really wish he had chosen to do another season, he was that good!

I wouldn't exactly categorize Doctor Who as science fiction---although time-travel is definitely an SF concept going back to H.G. Wells! And the UK TV show breaks the "rules" for SF right, left, and sideways! ( See my blog titled "Things You Cannot Do in Outerspace" ) However, the show, especially episodes with the last five Doctors, is fast-paced, fun, entertaining, and often gorgeous to look at!

I've also noticed that the Doctor appears to be getting younger with every new regeneration! Hmmm! Verrry interesting!!!


Thursday, April 14, 2011

Planet Graham

Yesterday was a real banner day for me! First, I discovered that Judgment on Tartarus' sales ranking went up again---from a discouraging 2 million and some to 482,750. Not bad for a first time author whose book has only been out three months!

Second, I was going over comments left on my blogsite ( I'm not really what you'd call computer literate, but I'm learning! ) and discovered I had received a very nice comment from the graphic artist who designed my book's front cover, interior layout, fonts, etc. For some time I'd been wondering who my designer was, and I'd always wanted to thank him personally and let him know how pleased I was with his work. His name is Kerry Graham and on his website ( ) he has an entire page dedicated to how he designed my book! ( Look it up by going to his page and the list on the right side; click on science fiction and there it is! ) Can't tell you how thrilled I was to find it!

I'm hoping to be able to get him to design True Son of Tartarus next. That would be ideal, since I have in mind another scene in outerspace. Granted, it's going to be even more challenging because I'd like to have a couple spaceships portrayed. We will see, we will see!

Again my thanks go to Kerry!


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Destiny Is Destiny: Huh??

In my novels, Malkis of Tartarus often speaks about fulfilling one's destiny. Even I'm not exactly sure what is meant by this. Do we all have an ultimate destiny? Or do only a chosen few have any real destiny? And is it ever perfectly clear to any of us what that destiny is? Are we supposed to figure it out for ourselves---or just muddle through life hoping for the best? Or perhaps we should wait to receive some kind of divine revelation? Well, I'm not a big fan of that last one, but more thoughts on that at some later date.

I know many people have thought that they'd discovered their ultimate destiny, only to find they were as wrong as wrong could be! Like the guy who attempted to sail around the globe by himself only to have to be rescued shortly after setting out! Sometimes it's a heck of a lot easier to discover what your destiny isn't, rather than just what it is. To give you another for-instance, I ruled out any kind of a medical carreer at a fairly early age---I can't stand the sight of blood, even fake blood!

Several times in my life I've wanted to do something very much, never achieved it, and ended up feeling depressed or angry or both! But looking back on such instances now, I'm not only grateful for the way things turned out instead---I'm extremely grateful that I didn't get some of those things I wanted so badly! So did destiny play some role in my life? I have a feeling it did. Okay, I'm not a movie star, or royalty, or the president---God forbid!---but I have everything I ever truly wanted most and am remarkably content with my lot. Anything else from here on out is simply icing on the cake!

Even if some of you don't recognize your destiny as yet, don't allow yourself to become discouraged! The journey to discover it can be a heck of a lot of fun! Try to enjoy the journey to the full and let destiny take its course!


Monday, April 11, 2011

Looking Forward With Crossed Fingers!

Just gave True Son of Tartarus its final edit before sending it to my publisher; it's 267 pages long on Microsoft Word and approximately 93,000 words! That's a heck of a lot of words---but they mean nothing unless they connect with readers!

I do have some worries that a few people who read and enjoyed Judgment on Tartarus may find True Son a little too violent for their tastes. I don't like writing graphic violence, and try to keep it to a minimum, unless there's a very good reason to include it. And in this particular case I thought long and hard about it and decided the violent aspects of the story are justified. Traumatic events tend to change people dramatically, and my characters are no different.

Also, the events depicted in True Son foreshadow events -to-come in Ransom of Tartarus ( Book 3, already written and which I hope to have published by early 2012. ) Until True Son comes out and I get reader- feedback, ( very important to me! ) I'm keeping my fingers crossed that my readers will enjoy the book just as much, if not more than Judgment. Meanwhile, as I"ve told you before, I'm hard at work on one of the prequels to the Tartarus series, Malkis of Tartarus, and anticipate a second prequel, probably to be titled "The Hero of the Gorgonian Wars" or something to that effect.

Must get back to work now,


Sunday, April 10, 2011

Rough, Rough!

Not to get too far ahead of myself ( which I manage to do all the time! ) I've pretty much completed a rough draft of Malkis of Tartarus which is a prequel to my Tartarus series. This book tells the story of how Malkis left Tartarus in the first place---against his father's wishes, thus beginning a life-long feud between the two! The rest of the story involves his meeting  Hughes at the ISS Academy and how those two became rivals and bitter enemies!

Though it's a heck of  lot of fun writing the rough draft of a novel, it usually turns out to be pretty badly written! First drafts tend to be written fast and dirty! Going back to refine them later is dang hard work ( but still rather fun! )  The editing process is where you really get down to the nitty-gritty, nit-picky stuff that can drive an author absolutely crazy! Editing is time-consuming and tricky; all your learning and experience comes into play as you  spell-check, make use of the thesaurus, check every line for grammar, punctuation, accuracy, etc. Then you have to reread for clarity, tone of voice, continuity, natural sounding dialog, too much repetition, and so on.

You really have to love the work and believe in what you are writing---or don't become a writer! If you dare to do so, above all else, do not allow yourself to become a lazy writer! If you think you are above such mundane issues as spelling and grammar, better think again! Writing is damn hard work!

Whew! Got that off my chest! ' Til next time,


Thursday, April 7, 2011

SF and Fantasy Films and TV Shows

Besides reading and writing books, I watch a fair amount of TV and an occasional movie. ( Though I love movies, I see most of them on DVD. ) Past and present TV shows which I've loved most include Babylon 5, Farscape, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Lost, CSI, House, Medium, Moonlight, Blood Ties, and True Blood ( on HBO and definitely adult! Not for the faint-hearted! )

As with the majority of TV shows, not all episodes are terrific, so I usually try to watch several before I judge a show---unless they're so stinking bad it's a waste of my time! For example, season one of Babylon 5 was sadly lacking in many areas, but had definite potential. I stuck with it, fortunately, for B5 built into a truly great show! Most of the acting, by the major characters at least, was superb---and the sets, costumes, lighting, etc. were literally out of this world! Why no actor on that show ever won an Emmy for their role beats me! At least, more recently, many of the actors on Lost were recognized for their performances!

Don't even get me started on the prejudice which exists in Hollywood against science fiction and fantasy! Avatar and District 9 were both passed over for the Oscar. In fact, to my memory ( which is not always reliable! ) the only fantasy film to ever win Best Picture was Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King! I think many people were embarrassed not to vote for it because it was so darn good!

Any thoughts on the subject? Let me know!


Sunday, April 3, 2011

Rona's Relationships

In Judgment on Tartarus, Rona Scott's experience is a perfect example of how differently Cythereans and Tartarians are regarded and treated by Terrans. Rona's best friend aboard Astrella is Tiko of Cytherea; she's fun to be around, easy-going, attractive, and graceful. She has a good sense of humor and tends to laugh a lot. She likes Rona immediately, even gives her a "heads-up" about both Malkis of Tartarus and Kalom of Eris---for very different reasons of course! And Tiko is obviously one of those aboard Astrella who think Rona is "involved" with Captain Hughes. ( And may have shared her suspicions? )

As far as Rona's relationship with Malkis goes ( and he happens to be the one and only Tartarian aboard, and in fact the only one serving aboard a Terran-based ship! ) it doesn't take her more than a few minutes   to realize she can't stand him! Rona finds him cold, abrasive, smug, acerbic, and pretty darn annoying! He has no sense of humor, enforces regulations to the letter, and he's weird-looking! Despite her aversion to him, she tries valiantly to maintain an open mind, to be tolerant of other cultures.

Perhaps you've had a similar experience: you have no particular animosity toward a race or ethnicity---until you run up against a representative of that group whom you can't stand! It's a frustrating, exasperating, embarrassing, and humbling experience! Fortunately for my story, Rona Scott manages to remain fair, to do her duty no matter what, to be as truthful as possible---without getting herself into too much difficulty! And the result of all her struggles, if you've read Judgment, is a destiny beyond her wildest dreams!

All for now,


Saturday, April 2, 2011

Tartarus: Not a Vacation Hotspot!

To continue with the comparison I was making between Cytherea and Tartarus, Tartarus is one heck of a harsh planet---not a place you'd want to live, or even visit! Its surface is cold, bleak, barren---Tartarus is a frozen world bereft of sunlight and hostile to all but a few forms of life which have been able to adapt to the frigid temperatures. In order to survive upon their adopted planet, Tartarians have suffered much. Over the centuries, they've learned to patiently endure whatever must be endured, without complaint. They adhere to a strict code of honor which stresses fulfillment of duty and loyalty to their Law. Children are brought up from infancy to obey their parents in all matters. Almost from birth, they are trained in both mental and physical disciplines, meant to insure survival.

Children must study the Law, learn to fast and meditate, and practice Rahn-tzl, a particularly-athletic form of martial art. In addition, Tartarians are taught to be stoic, to repress even the least sign of their emotions---unless for some reason they find it appropriate to reveal their feelings ( usually anger! ) They make no real music---after all music evokes emotional responses!---and their surroundings, though beautiful, are spartan. Comfort means little to them; they sit and sleep on the polished-stone floors, as if they still lived in the caves and caverns their ancient ancestors dwelled in!

To Outworlders, Tartarians appear to be cold, humorless automatons. They aren't exactly fun to be around. No jokes, no smiles, no touching! No wonder they're generally not well-liked! Their way of life may seem unnecessarily harsh, but it has meant survival for their race. The sparsely-populated planet has no civil war, no poverty, no divorce---and very little crime. On Tartarus, the punishment for serious transgressions is either exile or death---neither one a terribly  pleasant prospect!

Yet as my stories reveal, beneath the veneer of a peaceful, highly-civilized society lies an undercurrent of political intrigue, conspiracy, pride, arrogance, and the lust for power and vengeance. Sound at all familiar?

Food for thought?


Friday, April 1, 2011

Hedonistic Beings?

In my book Judgment on Tartarus, the neighboring planets Cytherea and Tartarus are philosophically light-years apart, on opposite ends of the spectrum. Tartarians consider Cythereans "hedonistic beings" who live for the day and only for themselves and their comfort. Cythereans refuse to worry; they favor such sentiments as "Spilled water eventually evaporates!" and "Do not worry so much about everything!" ( Perhaps good advice practiced  in moderation! )

Most Cythereans tend to be light-hearted, appreciative of humor, easy-going, and friendly. They laugh frequently, but have tender feelings which they aren't afraid to express. Cythereans enjoy to the fullest good food and drink, art and music, beauty, sports, and relaxation.

Of course, this is a broad generalization; there are some Cythereans who are more serious, tend to duty, and exhibit great concern for the welfare of their planet and its people. For instance, there is Ambassador Tal, a Cytherean who has voluntarily left his own comfy planet to spend most of his time confined to the bubble-like structure that is the Interplanet Compact Embassy on one of Tartarus' twin moons. And in Book Two, True Son of Tartarus, we will meet First Minister Ryn of the Cytherean ruling cabinet. But these two men are the  exceptions rather than the rule.

Next time, I hope to delve a bit deeper into the Tartarian philosophy and way of life.

'Til then,