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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

More Pi-con

For such a small con ( usual attendance is around 300 ), Pi-con had an excellent variety of events and program items. I was impressed.

Friday evening hubby and I attended a reading by award-winning author and guest of honor Jo Walton. She was very entertaining and not a writer we were previously familiar with. From now on we will definitely keep an eye out for her work.

Early Sat. morning we both attended a live demonstration of medieval sword fighting techniques. This wasn't your usual "stage" fighting; this was the real thing! Swordsmaster Steven Hirsch has studied texts of the time describing, even picturing, the actual techniques used---and they were pretty brutal.

We also attended some lively panels: NASA's 100-year plan for sending out starships, Star Trek's "attitude" toward the disabled, and several others. We sampled some of the rooms in "dealers' row". But one of the highlights of the con for us was the "rapid-fire reading" given by several members of Broad Universe---a group that I belong to, which is dedicated to promoting the work of women writers. Not only were the readings interesting, but we were able to get acquainted with some of my fellow writers.

Quite a few con-goers decided to leave Sat. pm due to Hurricane Irene; others, like us, decided to wait out the storm at the hotel and stay over one more night, which the Holiday Inn was very gracious about. Sunday turned out to be a really fun day. I attended a panel discussing e-books and self-publishing and publishing in general. Hubby went to one across the hall on 1960's SF movies ( his forte, not mine! )

A wrap-up/gripe session commenced at 3 pm and ran for about an hour and a half. We'd never attended one before as we usually had to head for home before then. Comments were overwhelmingly positive. And there were several first-time Pi-con-goers besides ourselves.

Instead of closing shop at that point and leaving the over-nighters to their own devices, the con committee scrambled to come up with additional panels. And very thoughtfully, the con suite, where free food and drink were available, stayed open to accomodate the remaining fans. We attended a very entertaining spur-of-the-moment panel discussing "Babylon 5", one of our all-time favorite TV series, the one credited with inventing the arc storyline. That panel was one of the best at this con.

We really didn't want to leave Pi-con, but perhaps the best thing of all was discovering a "new" convention, dedicated to geeks like us, that was close enough to get to by car, and that was small, friendly, and welcoming. We made some new friends and really look forward to seeing them at next year's Pi-con!

That's a wrap!


Monday, August 29, 2011

6 Pi-con

We had an absolute blast at Pi-con this weekend past. There was a fair amount of traffic going west on the Mass. turnpike, but it thinned out considerably once we'd passed the NYC exit. We reached Enfield, CT in about 2 1/2 hours. No trouble finding the Holiday Inn, which is conveniently located just off the highway. The staff there was very friendly and helpful, more so than is typical at cons. ( They like us; they really, really like us! )

Attendance was down from their usual due to an unwelcome guest---Hurricane Irene---which passed almost directly over us. We had some rain, a bit of wind Sunday, and a beautiful rainbow Sun. evening, but nothing too bad. We lucked out compared to the Southeast and the rest of New England.

The fans who attended Pi-con ran the gamut from writers, editors, scientists, and serious readers to filkers, gamers, costumers, anime buffs, and LARPers. They were all more than usually friendly and welcoming. Quite evidently, this is a con that is glad to have first-timers attend. Because Irene was due to pass by at the time we'd usually be heading for home, we decided ( as did quite a few others ) to stay put an extra night, and we were glad we did. The con scheduled extra events to entertain us and provided plenty of food and drink for those of us who chose to stay.

We had no trouble at all getting home in beautiful sunshine Mon. am, very little traffic so we made it in two hours. Pi-con was one of those cons that you leave thinking, " I can hardly wait to come back next year!" I'll give a more detailed account of events, program, and guests later!

All for now,


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Looking Ahead

I'm looking forward to attending Pi-con 6 in Enfield CT this weekend. We've never attended this con before, but it looks like fun. For many years my hubby and I attended United Fan Con in Springfield MA until that convention became defunct. What a shame! We really miss it. UFC was one of our all-time favorite cons: small, friendly, with a large, loyal following, and a lot of fun guests. Oh, well.

Now I've learned about another con, one we never heard of before: Anthocon, to be held in Portsmouth NH in Nov. It appears to be aimed primarily at writing/publishing professionals: writers, editors, artists. publishers, etc.---even more specific than Readercon. Most cons are aimed at a broader spectrum: book lovers, fans of TV shows, comic and anime fans, and so forth. Some are aimed at specific fandoms or genres: Star Trek, Star Wars, Twilight, etc.

While hubby and I used to attend cons simply for the fun of it, to meet and talk with other fans and media guests, get the latest news on our favorite shows, books, and movies, now we have to look at attending cons as more business-oriented. Our aim is to familiarize fans of SF&F with my name and my books. Not an easy task as there are thousands upon thousands of related books/authors. Besides achieving name regognition, it's always good, no matter what profession you're in, to make connections!

Will write again after Pi-con and give you a review.


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Onward and Upward

I find it really hard to believe that True Son of Tartarus is finally finished ( at least as far as my writing and editing is concerned. ) Shortly, it will be on its way to the printer. After living with a book night and day for so long, it's rather an odd, empty feeling, sending it out into the world all by itself without me there to protect it---sort of like sending your baby off to school for the very first time!

But, fortunately, there'll be no "empty nest syndrome" here. Ransom of Tartarus is patiently waiting to be edited, pored over with a fine-tooth comb! When all three books of my trilogy have finally been published and are off my mind for the first time in over twenty years, now that will be a truly odd experience!

After taking a breather in order to recharge my batteries and mentally readjust, I intend to continue working on my space opera, to be titled "Galaxy Rand". Can't give you much more info at this point---ideas are, after all, a writer's stock-in-trade. I've been working on this book off and on for several years. As most writers do, I've started two or three other books that just didn't make the grade. The idea, the characters, the plot all have to latch onto you and cling like a blankedy-blank leech long enough to finish a book. Fact is, I've grown to love the two major characters in "Galaxy" and enjoy telling their story.

This one will be space opera, a good old, rollicking adventure story and a far cry from my Tartarus Trilogy. But I'm hoping that someday my readers will enjoy it as well.

All for now,


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Prejudiced Against Science Fiction?

I've often asked myself why certain people are so prejudiced against science fiction. Here are a few of the reasons I've come up with:

1) They've read some really bad SF.
2) They've read some really good SF, but couldn't get into it because it had too much technical jargon, way-out theories, or high-faluting vocabulary. ( I could name a few examples, but I'll refrain! )
3) They presume SF will be boring.
4) They consider all SF to be along the lines of "Star Wars" ( which is really space opera, not SF. )
5) They've read only SF that is outdated, the ones reality has already far surpassed.
6) They haven't yet discovered that one book that would really, truly appeal to them.

I've read a great deal of science fiction over the years, as well as related genres. Do I enjoy all of it? Frankly, no. But since I write mainly in the field of SF, I need to be aware, at least somewhat, of what other authors have done. But that doesn't mean I consider all equally good or to my tastes.

Once in a while I find something that I really admire, something that speaks to me. For instance, long ago I fell in love with the work of Zenna Henderson. Her " People" stories perfectly suit my tastes; they have humor, emotion, characters I could easily identify with, warmth, and a great sense of place ( the southwest ).

And much more recently I've, oddly enough, acquired a taste for urban fantasy, such as Tanya Huff's "Blood" books, Charlaine Harris' Sookie Stackhouse books, and Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments books. A bit of an odd combination, eh?

Any suggestions about converting those who purport to "hate" SF?


Monday, August 22, 2011

Classics, New and Old

Lately, in certain online discussion groups there seems to be an unfortunate tendency to deify the classics of SF&F, and therefore, to denigrate anything NEW, particularly from unfamiliar authors. Well, I'd just like to remind those who tend to think this way that many of the authors of those great classics are now dead! There will be no new writing from them. Would you really want to be confined to reading only THE CLASSICS for the rest of your life? Or are you willing to take a chance on authors you've never read before?

As I've admitted ( shamefacedly! ) one of the biggest mistakes of my life was reading only the first page of The Hobbit---and promptly putting it back on the shelf. I'd never even heard of J. R. R. Tolkien! Fortunately, I rectified that mistake and later discovered The Lord of the Rings, in my opinion one of the greatest fantasies ever written.

Of course, those who have recently discovered some of the great classics are in awe of them. But time doesn't stand still, and many of those who were influenced by those books are now writing SF&F of their own. Don't be too hasty to lump all those books into the category of "non-classics" and therefore dismiss them, untried.

In my lifetime I've started and failed to finish a good number of books---mainly because they failed to hold my interest or weren't up to my standards; however, I at least gave them a try. Be daring! Try reading a new book by an author unfamiliar to you. Try reading a new genre. You never know when you just might discover a new classic!

All for now,


Friday, August 19, 2011

Fantastic Genres

Previously I discussed science fiction sub-genres, so I'll attempt to briefly give equal time to fantasy. What exactly is fantasy, and why is it a separate category from SF? Many people tend to lump them together, including many bookstores.

Fantasy doesn't depend upon science as its foundation, as SF does. Instead of revolving around the visible, physical world with its multitude of hard-and-fast rules, fantasy delves into the world of the invisible, the impossible, the imaginative, ie: spirits, demons, prophecies, fantastic creatures, and unseen forces.

High Fantasy features strange new lands, heroic characters engaged in epic battles between good and evil, and various magical elements such as swords, rings, wands, potions, dragons and giants. The example par excellence is "The Lord of the Rings" by J.R.R. Tolkien.

Traditional fantasy has fewer laws about what is and is not possible; the reader enters an almost dreamlike world of infinite possibilities: fairies, gnomes, talking trees and animals, magical portals, etc. One good example of traditional fantasy is "The Chronicles of Narnia" by C. S. Lewis.

Dark fantasy is another popular category, and it is just that: dark! Dark fantasy abounds with frightening supernatural creatures, such as vampires, werewolves, demons---evil personified! Anne Rice's "Vampire Chronicles" are good examples of dark fantasy.

Lastly, in urban fantasy, a recent innovation, stories tend to be set in modern times, in the real world, usually in a city rather than an idyllic pastoral setting, where magic or magical characters intrude upon reality. Examples would be Tanya Huff's "Blood" books, set in Canadian cities.

Although my ventures into writing fantasy have so far been limited to a few short stories, I'm extremely fond of the genre in general. Some of my favorites are The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, the Twilight Saga, and Charlaine Harris' Sookie Stackhouse books. Harry Potter, in particular, seems to me to be a clever combination of elements from all the fantasy sub-genres!

Fantasy or SF or whatever, light or dark---keep on reading!


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Senses of Humor

My entire family has the strange habit of picking up odd phrases from movies, TV shows, etc. and quoting them for years on end---until hardly anyone else in the universe knows what the heck they're talking about! Some of these sayings include:
     "Holy Toledo, Batman!" (inspired by Adam West's TV series )
     "Have fun storming the castle!" (from The Princess Bride )
     "Inconceivable!" ( also from The Princess Bride )
     "That's like locking the barn doors after the horses have eaten your children!" ( from Staurday the Fourteenth )
     "Wot? The curtains?" (from Monty Python's Holy Grail )
     "I'm not dead yet." (ditto )

I'm left to conclude that a weird sense of humor is indeed hereditary; it's in your genes, so there's absolutely nothing you can do about it---what it's doing in your jeans I'd hate to say! ( I was brought up on the Marx brothers, sorry, folks! )

So what does a SOH have to do with my writing? Well, I tend to think of at least some of my characters as having a similar SOH. While I try to restrain myself, some lines manage to sneak their way in there, particularly whenever Kalom of Eris is speaking. That cocky, cheeky Thrasian just says whatever he likes. Try restraining him!

Malkis of Tartarus' SOH is perhaps the oddest. Tartarians don't really possess much of a sense of humor, but he's been around Terrans and other races long enough to have been "culturally contaminated". Hughes has very little SOH---he takes life and all his responsibilities far too seriously. At times he's downright grim. ( He had a much better SOH as a young man---which you will hopefully see someday in the prequel "Malkis of Tartarus". )

Rona Scott is a lot more fun than either of those two, which is probably why she gets along so well with Kalom. She's imaginative and playful and enjoys teasing people, particularly her husband. But it's no wonder she doesn't enjoy being trapped on gloomy Tartarus, among such humorless, rigid, and judgmental people.

Here's hoping that True Son of Tartarus will be available in just a few more weeks. The wait is killing me! But I promise you, it'll be worth the wait.


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

In the Top 10%

When I checked my Kindle sales ranking this AM, I couldn't believe what I found! "Judgment on Tartarus" now ranks #84,122---well within the top 10% of Kindle sales. ( The highest I've ever ranked was in the top 5%. ) So I'm very grateful to anyone who decided to give my first science fiction novel a try, and I hope you enjoy it as much as my other readers have.

There are many thousands of books currently available online, all competing for your dollars. Unfortunately for readers, many of those, especially on the lower end of the pricing scale, are badly written and amateurish. My book is not. As with all things, you get what you pay for.

If you aren't convinced that I'm telling the absolute truth, I invite you to visit and please use their Look Inside feature to read any part of Judgment on Tartarus. On Kindle, I believe you can actually download a sample for free. If you find the book isn't your cup of tea, that's fine, but at least you'll have given it a fair chance. And you'll know for sure that my books aren't just "slushpile crap".

Thanks again, all!


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Genre Upon Genre

Although I usually categorize the Tartarus Trilogy as science fiction, I tend to think of those books more as "space adventure", maybe a sub-genre of science fiction that is not quite "space opera" and not as literary as most "soft" SF. They definitely aren't "hard" SF. That genre is defined as heavily dependent on science to carry the story: physics, chemistry, etc. Nothing impossible can take place, as least as projected into the future, ie: nanotechnology. Writing hard SF requires at least some scientific background, an understanding of the principles the cosmos operates on. "Mission of Gravity" by Hal Clement ( Harry Stubbs ) would be one example of hard SF.

In "soft" SF or "sociological" SF, writers create worlds that spotlight the human condition and its inherent problems. It's not as concerned with true science, for example "Dune" by Frank Herbert. Soft SF tends to be fairly literary.

"Space opera" is probably what most people these days associate as science fiction---lasers and rocket ships and light-sabers. These stories are seldom concerned with scientific accuracy; the tale is told for the sheer adventure of it, the fun! "Star Wars" is a great example of space opera. ( Some SF actually crosses genres---you usually get a taste of fantasy in your space opera. )

In my books I've tried to maintain scientific accuracy as closely as possible, although I've had to cheat a bit in places. Hyperspace and hyperdrive are theoretical concepts that are quite probably impossible; however, SF stories that wish to deal with space travel to distant places have to invent a plausible means of such travel. ( Travel to other galaxies is, at this point, highly implausible and would tend to push a book into the "science fantasy" genre. )

And I realize that concepts such as an "ice-planet" or an "idyllic planet" are implausible, but I chose to use them to get a point across, more as metaphors than reality. Hopefully, people will read and enjoy my books, rather than spending time judging or categorizing them. To me, the story is everything.


Saturday, August 13, 2011

Never the Twain Shall Meet

Harking back to my "weird" sense of humor, I simply can't resist blogging a quote from Mark Twain's famous essay critiquing "Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offenses":

     "The personages in a tale shall be alive, except in the case of corpses, and always the reader shall be able to tell the corpses from the others.
     The personages in a tale, both alive and dead, shall exhibit a sufficient excuse for being there."

Well, perhaps this criticism is a bit outdated now that we have The Twilight Saga, The Vampire Diaries, Trueblood, etc. It's sometimes a bit difficult in our modern literature and other media to tell the difference between the living characters and the living dead!

If you don't know who James Fenimore Cooper was, better review your history of American literature. If you've never read any of his work, uh---hmmm---well, you are excused. Instead, see the latest movie made from his written material, " The Last of the Mohicans". And by the way, for Harry Potter fans, Jason Isaacs ( Lucius Malfoy ) plays the bad guy in that movie.

But if you don't know who Mark Twain was, shame on you---unless you exhibit a sufficient excuse for not knowing.

Keep on laughing; it will keep you young! Trust me.


P.S. My blog recently passed the 700 views mark!

Friday, August 12, 2011

A Strong Female Protagonist

I've seen queries posted by discussion group contributors who are searching for books with strong female characters. In Judgment on Tartarus the major character is Ensign Corona ( Rona ) Scott. She's in almost every scene, from page one to the final paragraph. The story is told almost exclusively from her point of view, and I think most people can easily identify with her as she's thrown into situations that range from uncomfortable to downright life-threatening.

Rona Scott is a young woman who has been on her own for some time; both her parents died in the Mars-colony disaster, and she's been pretty much alone since then. But instead of seeking a relationship, she was single-minded enough to make it through four years at the ISS Academy in Houston. After spending five years planet-bound at Earth Base One's DataComm Center---a job that failed to fulfill her dreams of a career in space---Rona was desperate.

She becomes the unwitting catalyst for change aboard the retired battle cruiser Astrella II, and later, on the planet Tartarus. Rona admits to herself that she would have taken any assignment, short of outpost duty on Hermes Six, just to get into space. Driven by a passionate desire to succeed, and to excel, she finds the prevailing atmosphere aboard Astrella damn depressing---not at all what she'd expected!

Despite her determination to remain open-minded, she conceives an almost-instantaneous hatred for Astrella's Executive Officer, Malkis of Tartarus, who lets her know in no uncertain terms that he has no use for Terran females. Rona refuses to be cowed and stands up for herself.

So if you are in search of a book featuring a strong female protagonist who is feminine, intelligent, very human---certainly not Wonder Woman!---resourceful, and remarkably resilient, Rona Scott is your woman.

Haven't yet read Judgment on Tartarus? Why not give it a try? Even the guys who've read this book enjoyed it immensely.


Thursday, August 11, 2011

A Weird Sense of Humor?

Currently on Twitter there's a game of sorts, started I believe by the SF writer Margaret Atwood. The idea is to drop one letter in the title of a book and make a funny new title, ie:
     Horton Hears A Ho
     The Handmaid's Ale
     Huckleberry Inn---the story of a Mississippi B and B
     Moby Ick---the messy business of whaling

This is what I came up with using titles from my own library:
     The Lord of the Ings---the history of a famous Chinese overlord
     Fellowship of the Rig---male bonding on deep-sea oil rigs
     The Two Owers--trials and tribulations of a couple deep in debt
     Return of the Kin---relatives who just won't leave
     Red Moo, Black Mountain---the adventures of a daring cow in an alternate reality
And one non-book: A Christmas Tory--- a man who sides with the redcoats seasonally

I know, I know, I have a weird sense of humor. To prove it, here's one of my all-time favorite jokes:
     Two British nuns were traveling by car one night. As they drove down a dark, deserted English lane, a hungry vampire jumped out into the road, blocking their car.
     The Sister who was driving told her companion, "Quick, Sister! Roll down the window and show 'im your cross!"
     So the other Sister rolled down the window, stuck her head out, and yelled at the vampire, " Get outa the road, you stupid git!"

That one is thanks to the BBC's Vicar of Dibley, a show I occasionally catch. ( We do love our BBC! )

Can't help it that I have a sense of humor that tends to make other people groan!


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Some Questions To Be Answered

Below are some of the questions that will soon be answered in my upcoming SF novel True Son of Tartarus:

     Why did Malkis of Tartarus abandon his homeworld?
     Why was his father, Kadris, so angry that he irrevocably disowned his only son twenty-seven years later?
     How did Malkis and his cousin Shadris become mortal enemies when they had once been the closest of    friends?
     How did Richard Hughes and Malkis first meet and why did they quickly become rivals and enemies?
     How did Hughes first get captaincy of Astrella II? And what did Malkis have to do with that command?
     What was Malkis' true reaction when he first met Rona Scott?

Not only will all those questions be answered, but in True Son of Tartarus you will get your first look at the Compact's long-time mortal enemies, the "Gorgonians", as well as your first taste of the famous Battle for Tartarus, the final battle in the Gorgonian Wars.

Hope it sounds like fun!


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Black Lagoon as Social Commentary?

As hubby was watching "Creature From the Black Lagoon" with commentary ( he loves that stuff! ), I happened to overhear a comment that struck me as pretty close to my own way of looking at the arts. Many forms of art, such as SF and F, can be employed to make social commentary palatable to the general public, even to those who watch, read, or listen purely for entertainment purposes.

Star Trek did it; Babylon 5 did it---and did it very well. Countless books and songs and even artwork have done the same, raising issues such as slavery, prejudice, sexism, and racism. So it certainly isn't without precedence that my trilogy also explores some social issues, while serving primarily as entertainment. ( I don't believe in being preachy! Turns people off---turns me off! )

But in my trilogy I bring up issues such as the nearly perpetual war between the two Erisian Empires: the Lamidians and the Thrasians---and their mutual disdain and hatred for the poor Maradinians, who are pacifists and refuse to be drawn into their on-going war. Then there's the issue of the almost universal dislike, even hatred, of Tartarians because they are "different": the color of their skin is "too pale", they look strange, they refuse to display much emotion, and they are strict in their obedience to laws and regulations---which makes them no fun at all, at least as far as the inhabitants of the rest of the known-Galaxy is concerned!

Social commentary is fine and dandy---as long as you're not being beaten over the head with it!


Monday, August 8, 2011

Choices, Challenges, and Destiny

I got some lovely news yesterday; a lady from Virginia who read my book let me know that she loved it. I'm happy to hear that. Not only am I happy hearing from people who have read or are reading Judgment on Tartarus, but also that so far the response has been overwhelmingly positive.

I really, truly, want my readers to enjoy the books in my trilogy, but also to take something meaningful from them. My "heroes" aren't vampires, or werewolves, or elves---they are ordinary prople who have worked hard to achieve their dreams, who strive against all odds to maintain their high ideals, their integrity---and who sometimes suffer the consequences as a result.

Now, a few readers might be tempted to argue with me, thinking those statements are a bit of a stretch ( at least in regard to Malkis of Tartarus being ordinary! ), but I'm sure that throughout history, both ancient and modern, many real-life monarchs have said the equivalent of, "Why me? I don't want to do this!"

Each of us has, at one time or another, balked at something in our life. Some choose to run away from their destiny: it's too hard, it will take too long, it requires too much effort, or it isn't "fun". But others choose to accept the challenges presented them and plug away at achieving their destiny, taking a leap of faith and trying their best not to allow themselves to get discouraged in the process.

As the Tartarians say: "Destiny is destiny!"


Saturday, August 6, 2011

Self Promotion

I feel as though I'm treading a fine line here: promoting my books without looking like I'm bragging! Really tough to do, believe me. I know that Judgment on Tartarus is a good book; it's well-written, fun, entertaining, emotion-provoking, and---dare I say it?---addictive. I think that's an honest assessment, rather than the baseless bragging I've heard from a lot of other authors.

As I've said before, I'm ecstatically happy when one of my readers agrees with my opinion. But if I fail to self-promote, no one is going to hear about my books, let alone read them. No one's going to care about the second book in the trilogy, or the third. This is entirely new territory to me. I'm learning as I go and trying my best not to step into any steel traps. I've already tried most of the techniques recommended by my publisher and other experts: facebook pages, Twitter, writing this blog, searching for related sites on the internet, etc.

But I'm open to any and all suggestions. If anybody has any ideas about how to let potential readers know about my books, my trilogy, please let me know. It's even more difficult to "get the word out" now that Amazon has banned writers from most of its discussion groups, a move I disagree with. I could see banning books that they themselves don't carry, but banning their own? I need more ways to assure people that my books are far from the glut of  "slush-pile crap" that is currently inundating the internet.

Is it even possible?


Friday, August 5, 2011

Captain America: The First Avenger

Went to see the Captain America movie with the family and thoroughly enjoyed it. This action movie was set in the 1940s ( WW II ) but it didn't come off as dated as I feared it would. Once again, like Thor, this movie was successful because it took the comic book hero seriously, but still had fun with the concept.

The special effects were top-notch, state of the art, and the acting, costumes, writing, etc. were all well done. I was especially impressed by Chris Evans as Captain America and Hugo Weaving as the Red Skull. If you enjoy fun movies with a lot of action and things blowing up every which way, this is the movie for you.

In the end, they have a very clever, heart-wrenching way of taking Captain America into the present day. And if you will sit patiently through the entire list of credits, you will be rewarded with a sneak peek at The Avengers, featuring not only Captain America, but also Thor, Iron Man, and other Marvel super-heroes. That movie will be coming out next summer; it looks like fun.

As for the other super-hero movies due to come out next year, Spiderman is being revamped and recast, Batman will ride again, and Superman will star in Man of Steel. Great for all us fans of comicbook heroes. But whatever happened to Wonder Woman? She was one of my childhood heroes.

I also can't wait for Part 1 of Breaking Dawn ( the Twilight Saga ). I know these two movies are based on a book, which I've read, not a comic. But they seem very similar to me. All are fantasies with clearcut heroes and villains, who are put into life-or-death situations. This one will definitely be one of my guilty pleasures!

All for now,


Thursday, August 4, 2011

More Good News

Some good news to report: my Kindle sales ranking has risen back up to 213,222, which is once again in the top 1/4 of Kindle e-book sales! Paperback sales are still down, but not as low as they had been. Things are looking up. Yesterday, I took the proofed manuscript ( after layout ) of True Son of Tartarus to the local Post Office, boxed it up, and mailed it off to the publisher, who should get it on Friday.

They use an expensive computer program to make the necessary changes, then e-mail me the corrected PDF to double-check. Then, hopefully, I can sign off on it and the layout and cover will be sent to the printer to be made into books.

I remember the wonderful feeling of accomplishment I felt when I held the first copy of Judgment on Tartarus in my hands. I can't wait to hold a copy of True Son of Tartarus---soon I hope! Thanks to everyone who's read Judgment and been dying to read the next book. Your patience should be rewarded soon. But remember, if I hadn't written the entire trilogy before Judgment was published, I'd still be writing True Son, not waiting to see it in print.

Thanks again,


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Blunders Abound

As a writer, I can't help judging other writers' work as I read. That just comes along with the territory. It's both eye-opening and disappointing to discover how many published---even famous!---writers aren't always quite up to snuff. Not that I'm perfect, either; we all have our own strengths and weaknesses.

I hope he'll forgive me for mentioning this, but one of the pieces read at the most recent Readercon's Bad Prose Contest was from a story written by Terry Goodkind ( author of The Sword of Truth series ). And it was awful, ie: "he heard the sound of a screech". Really?

I've read a couple of Terry's books, and they were nowhere near that bad. Maybe he wrote the above-mentioned piece on a really bad day---we all have them. And I've written a few lines myself that were downright laughable; for instance: "grasping his dar-dul'adz firmly in his right hand..." What!? My three kids rolled on the floor laughing at that one; I promptly changed it. ( NB: it's always a good idea to have someone else check your work with a fresh eye and an open mind to avoid blunders like that. )

I've caught a few faux pas in other people's work that they somehow missed---just a matter of the wrong juxtaposition of words or phrases---wish I could remember some of them. They can be amusing to hilarious. But I find that if the story is really good, I'm more than willing to forgive a few errors---as long as they're minor. One notorious example of a whopping blunder was found in a fantasy written, I believe, by Lin Carter, where the hero's magic sword is captured---and several chapters later, with absolutely no explanation, the hero miraculously has his sword back again! Unforgiveable.

Hoping I'm never guilty of a blunder that blatant!


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Common Ground

Yesterday I happened to catch a TV interview with Danielle Steele. She has written 118 books---and I've never read a single one of them, I must admit. But I discovered during the interview that besides being authors and loving to tell stories, we share several other things in common.

First, she started out as an artist, as did I, before turning to writing. I exhibited ( and sold ) some of my work at SF conventions. Second, Ms. Steele confessed that while she's writing she stops reading altogether, as I do! There's always the danger of being unduly influenced during the delicate creative process!

And third, we both do not write explicit sex scenes. She and I believe, to quote her, in discreetly "shutting the bedroom door" on our characters. So although we write wildly different genres, maybe we aren't that far apart after all.

Never having read one of her books, I can't state that in absolute certainty, but the interview did encourage me to try reading one of her books someday---just to see if we share anything else in common.

Back to preparing the proofed manuscript of True Son of Tartarus to be mailed out tomorrow!


Monday, August 1, 2011

The Interstellar Space Service Fleet

Now that our space shuttle fleet has been retired and consigned to museums, I thought everyone might be interested in the names of some of the ships in my fleet.

Some of the early-generation ships are:

Columbia            Libertad                           
Galaxia               Atlanta
Olympia              Odin
Victoria               Britannia

Most of these ships have been retired from active service and now serve as training vessels for cadets at the ISS Academy located in Houston, Texas, USA.

Here are some of the later-generation ships:

Astrella I and II  ( The former was destroyed by Gorgonians. )
Persephone I and II  ( ditto )

And some of the ships not yet mentioned in my books include:

Buenos Aires

As time goes on, the fleet may grow. Who knows?