Journey to the Stars

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Did you ever stop and think what it would be like to live on a different world from Earth?  Not just an inhospitable one like Mars or a moon around Jupiter, but a world capable of supporting human life.  Trouble is, planets like those are light-years from us and to travel to another star system would take years, decades even.  Would you still sign up to go if given the chance?  I agree, it’s a big decision.

In my science fiction series, The Epherium Chronicles, I wanted to explore that possibility.  There are choices to be made—both good and bad—to make it happen.  The outcomes of those decisions will have severe repercussions.

One of the fun parts of writing Embrace, and the other novels in this series, was the creation of the characters.  My main character, Captain James Hood, is a brilliant commander, but a reluctant hero.  He’s been on the forefront of a lot of battles.  Despite his victories, there are combat decisions that continue to plague his mind.

For another character, I wanted to add something close to me.  My father suffers from Parkinson’s disease.  To honor his struggle, I used a nervous system disorder in the background of Lieutenant Maya Greywalker.  Maya is one of three surviving subjects from a genetics experiment to cure a disease similar to Parkinson’s.  The results of the experiment left her with augmented abilities.  I’ve had long conversations with readers about my characters, and besides Hood, Maya Greywalker is always a topic.

It’s been a great experience creating Embrace and I’m excited for readers to enjoy it as well.

The Epherium Chronicles: Embrace

Book one of The Epherium Chronicles

Hope. Captain James Hood of the Earth Defense Forces remembers what it felt like. Twenty-five years ago, it surged through him as a young boy watching the colony ships launched by mega-corporation Epherium rocket away. He, like so many others, dreamed of following in the colonists’ footsteps. He wanted to help settle a new world—to be something greater.

Then came the war…

Hope. During years of vicious conflict with an insectoid alien race, it was nearly lost. Though Earth has slowly rebuilt in the six years since the war, overcrowding and an unstable sun have made life increasingly inhospitable. When mysterious signals from the nearly forgotten colony ships are received, Hood is ordered to embark on a dangerous reconnaissance mission. Could humanity’s future sit among the stars?

Hope. Hood needs it now more than ever. As secrets about the original colonists are revealed and the Epherium Corporation’s dark agenda is exposed, new adversaries threaten the mission, proving more dangerous to Earth than their already formidable foes…

 

T.D. Wilson

T.D. Wilson was born in 1968 in Troy, Ohio and has been an avid fan of science fiction and fantasy from a very young age. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering and has supported the systems and networks in several of the largest Supercomputing data centers in the world. His early thirst for adventure in reading began as he explored many of the great stories of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. As his reading scope expanded, Mr. Wilson was fascinated by strange new worlds from the magical of Middle Earth and Narnia to the far reaches of space in Star Trek and Babylon 5. As a science fiction author, he strives to integrate a realistic flavor to his worlds by providing his readers a feel for the real science in science fiction. A topic he loves to discuss with his friends and readers. Mr. Wilson still lives in Ohio with his wife and their two sons.

Connect with T.D. Wilson – Facebook | Twitter | Blog

 

The Path to The Furnace by Timothy S. Johnston

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(Giveaway contest details below)

TSJ, 2013

Agatha Christie’s murder mysteries inspired me to write The Furnace. It may sound bizarre, but there’s something calmly comforting to me about a secluded and claustrophobic location, a small cast of characters complete with one investigator and one killer, a rising body count, extreme paranoia, and a setting that will surely kill if any one of the characters tries to leave. That being said, it wasn’t enough for me to just write a mystery of this type. Instead I wanted to transform it into “techno-thriller” status. That is to say, I wanted to incorporate a scientific plot line into the actual murder. It had to be something that the protagonist had to uncover and understand in order to solve the mystery. Michael Crichton is another inspiration for me, and so it could be said that The Furnace is “Agatha Christie meets Isaac Asimov with added Crichton for flavoring.” (In fact, that quote is from eBookanoid.com’s review. And yes, that was extremely gratifying for me to read—to know that someone got it.)

However, before I wrote the book, I had to decide on a location. I knew that, once I’d settled on the science behind the murder, the setting was key. It had to be hostile. Since the investigator was going to find himself behind the eight ball from the second he arrives at the station where the murder occurs, I wanted an environment that mirrored the mystery’s tension. There have been many settings used for books of this type—snow storms (The Mousetrap by Christie), small secluded islands (And Then There Were None by Christie) and a variety of remote places like cabins in the woods—but I wanted a unique and dangerous location appropriate for my techno-thriller.

I settled on the sun.

A space station in close orbit around the sun, to be precise.

The techno-thriller nature of the book allowed me to use a location like this. It’s a futuristic thriller, after all, and this opened up a myriad of options for me.

But why the sun?

I wanted the investigator, Kyle Tanner, to be on his heels and reeling from the hostile situation. He had to be the target of people’s scorn from the second he arrives. His very presence needed to cause friction among the station’s personnel, and I knew this would ramp up the page-turner aspect of the novel. Also, the heat of the sun increases the tension of the investigation. In a big way, this mission is a descent into hell.

The Furnace  is a murder mystery with a scientific plot element that the investigator must solve in order to survive. The environment created an intensely dangerous situation for the characters, and the paranoia as the story unfolds is palpable.

An Excerpt of The Furnace by Timothy S. Johnston:

“What are your procedures for a situation like this?” the Captain asked in a whisper.

“Truthfully? I’ve never been in one.”
“Never?” He was incredulous.
“Usually I chase a killer when they have a place to run. I’ve never backed one into a corner like this and not known who it is. Most often they make a mistake and I make a capture. In this situation, who knows what he’ll do? His behavior is escalating, there’s no doubt of that.”
“Why do you think he’s killing?”
I frowned. “I don’t think it’s random. There’s more going on here than three murders.”
A heartbeat, and then, “What do you mean?”
“I can’t tell you until I know everything. But there is definitely a reason for the killer’s method.”
He grew furious. “This is my station, Tanner. I demand to know —”
“I can’t tell you. It’s as simple as that.”
“Why? Because the Council sent you? Because you’re the best at this job?”
“Because frankly, Captain, you could be the killer.”
He looked down and saw my hand on my pistol. His jaw dropped. “You’re serious.”
“Absolutely.”

Thanks for joining me today to discuss this type of murder mystery. I’d like to leave you with a question: Why do you think these types of mysteries appeal to us? Why are we attracted to the murder of innocents and the resulting investigation (a “procedural”) to uncover the killer?

Thanks for spending your time with me today.

Timothy S. Johnston
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(Giveaway contest details below)

 

The Furnace by Timothy S. Johnston Back Cover Copy

Dead Space, 2401 AD

Kyle Tanner is about to die. Alone, floating in a vacsuit only a few million kilometers from a massive, uncaring sun, he has barely enough time or juice to get out a distress signal before either his oxygen runs out or he succumbs to the radiation.

When the CCF sent investigator Kyle Tanner to SOLEX One, a solar energy harvester past Mercury, he thought it would be an open-and-shut murder case. A crew member was found dead, minus his head and hands. Not the worst Tanner has ever seen, but the deeper he delves, the more nightmarish it becomes. A shadowy figure, bleeding from his hands, assaults Tanner in his quarters. Then two more turn up dead, missing their heads and hands as well.

With no one to trust and everyone a suspect—even the intriguing chief engineer, Shaheen—Tanner must navigate a crew on the brink of madness to uncover a conspiracy that could threaten the whole of the human race. Even if it means making the ultimate sacrifice…

 

Giveaway

I’m hosting a giveaway of The Furnace by Timothy S. Johnston during my blog afternoon on December 24! From 3:15 to 5:15 PM, email me at  tsj@timothysjohnston.com using “Carina Giveaway” as the subject heading.  Specify the format you’d prefer (.mobi or .epub). I’ll email the winner.

 

Timothy S. Johnston’s Bio

Timothy S. Johnston is a lifelong fan of techno-thrillers and science-fiction thrillers in both print and film. His greatest desire is to contribute to the genre which has given him so much over the past four decades. He lives on planet Earth, but he dreams of the stars.

Connect with Timothy on Twitter, Facebook, and his website (which includes reviews of The Furnace)!

Once Upon A Time On Mars

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ICERED

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Grimm brothers are popular dudes these days. Within just the last three years, movies, books, television series and comics have begun reworking the old popular tales that the Grimms and other folklorists recorded. Interestingly, these latest interpretations of the classic stories, like “Snow White and the Huntsman” or “Once Upon a Time” are aimed at adults who grew up with the Disney versions of the tales. They have therefore been imbued with heavy doses of sex and/or violence in order to un-Disneyfy them. Of this approach, I heartily approve. Thus I offer up my own new novel Ice Red, a retelling of Snow White that has plenty of flash-bang action in the bedroom and out, and also happens to be set on Mars.

Now, Snow White, having lasted for centuries already, has a high probability of surviving in popular literature for centuries more. I have no doubt that the tale will still be in circulation three-hundred years from now, when our descendants are actually living on Mars or on space ships hurtling out of the Solar system. Of course, the people then will probably regard my visions of the future with the same bemusement with which we regard “The  Jetsons”. But the underlying themes of female power gone wrong, the generosity of strangers, and true love conquering evil will be as archetypal as ever.

And who knows? In three-hundred years, talking mirrors and poison apples might be ordinary artifacts of technology, taken for granted like smartphones and Google are today. as Arthur C. Clarke wrote, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” But all the mirrors and apples and spindles and beanstalks, cool as they are, are just props. The true magic of fairy tales is in the enduring faith we earthlings have in happily ever after.

Mirror, mirror, full of stars,
Who will claim the throne of Mars?

The princess: Engineer Bianca Ross, heir to a megacorporation and the Mars elevator, needs to acquire a mine on the surface to secure her place in the company. All that stands in her way is the mine’s charming owner, Cesare Chan. The evil stepmother: Victoria Ross is plotting to gain control of Mars. She plans to assassinate Bianca and seduce Cesare to further her goals, and Bianca’s trip is the perfect opportunity. The charming prince: Cesare shouldn’t get involved. Bianca’s visit could reveal the escaped slaves he’s hiding at his mine, but he can’t ignore a damsel in distress—especially one as beautiful as Bianca. Alone, neither would stand a chance against Victoria. But together, they could rewrite a tale that’s meant to end with Bianca’s blood.

Carina Amazon Goodreads Barnes & Noble

Happy reading!

Jael Wye grew up on the American Great Plains, went to school in the Midwest, and now lives in beautiful New England with her family and her enormous collection of houseplants. For more of Jael’s unique blend of futurism and fairy tale, don’t miss her ongoing series Once Upon A Red World. Come visit my website at jaelwye.net

Drynn

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I still get nightmares.

Not so much lately, they seem to have mellowed out a bit and found better prey once I hit my thirties, but they’re still around.  Lurking.  Even though I don’t like them much, I can at least appreciate them; anything that can make my heart boom that fast and hard is pure platinum for a writer.  Payment required?  A mere childhood of dashing off the living room floor anytime a scary scene even thought about flashing across the television screen.  Even scary music would have me peeping through splayed fingers.

And that’s what it’s all about, right?  Booming hearts?  Sitting up in your bed when you get to that scene, a little smile tugging at the corners of your mouth, your mind thinking, Oh my God, this is awesome, please don’t die, two hours of sleep is plenty of time… That’s what I live for when I read a book.  Heart-booming.  Somebody once asked me to distill into one word exactly the emotion that I wanted to evoke in my readers when I began writing  DRYNN.  It was hard because there were so many feelings dancing around in my head that I wanted to share, but okay, one word.  I could do that.  Same way I had to have a one-line pitch at a moment’s notice. So, here it is, the one word…ready for it?

Badass.

That’s what I wanted to evoke.  I want somebody to go up to their friend, yank the Kindle out from said friend’s hand, clickity-clack in carinapress.com, command them to put in their password and get the book.  And when it’s done I want that ‘somebody’ to go buy said friend a cafe mocha and talk about it.  Pie-in-the-sky stuff, really.  I once heard the saying, “Shoot for the moon, maybe you’ll fall in the stars,” something like that?  I figured, why not shoot for the Andromeda Galaxy instead of the moon and land someplace on Neptune?  Might as well, right?

I believe I may have done just that.  Neptune City.

Speaking of one-lines, here’s DRYNN’s:  The heroes of two worlds reluctantly join forces to fight the Lord of the Underworld.  Ta-da.

So, genesis #1—harnessing the power of nightmares, pouring that emotion into a basin within my mindscape, modifying it as I see fit (exhilaration, passion, fear, all the things that boom hearts) and forging stories with high tension.

Genesis #2–inspiration.  Every writer has their muse, mine’s music.  Notice the first three letters by the way.  Interesting, huh?  When I hear a song, I see a scene instantly—two cars roaring down the highway, weaving and crashing; a small, anguish-filled shake of the head as tears spill; an electric ripple under the skin summoned by a brush of fingers—I just see it.  And I have to write about it.  I immediately start fleshing things out—who are the players?  Who’s getting chased?  Is it an affair or a first crush?  Is the creature from this world or some other?  And what would lightning wreathed in pale blue flames smell like?

Donald Maass (who’s counsel I hold in high regard) calls these scenes ‘uranium isotopes’.  When I say the movie, AMERICAN HISTORY X, what’s the first scene that comes to mind?  The curb scene, no question about it.  “Hello.  My name is Inigo Montoya…” do I need to finish?    Every great story has them, no matter what vehicle used to tell it–movie, novel, novella, play–pick your ambrosia.  The coolest thing, a thing I am most grateful for, humbled by, a blessing bequeathed,  is that I get these scenes and ideas every day; I actually conjured a whole book (yet to be written but in the noggin) by a single song.  I think of myself as a reservoir, a wellspring of feelings, concepts and bits of dialogue that just…bubble out of me.  Consider yourself invited to drink.

I’d like to share something with you.  While looking for a CD the other day (yes, I still have my black leather zipper-closed CD holders) I stumbled upon my sacred box.  I’ve had it since childhood.  Within it is contained every story I ever wrote as a kid, every paper I ever got an A in, and one of my greatest treasures…

Left hand side, 7th grade, 42 pages on 42 blank restaurant placemats, the first story I ever wrote.  On the right…DRYNN, my first published novel.

I’ve waited my whole life for this.

I hope you think DRYNN’s as badass as I do.

Steve Vera

Twitter: @stevewvera

Facebook: http://goo.gl/iSVY3

Webpage: http://goo.gl/U4Scl

Blog: http://www.vera-talk.blogspot.com/

Aliens in sock kilts

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My in-laws gifted my 8-year-old daughter her own digital camera and her bedroom is now a sound stage, complete with “Quiet I’m filming” sign on the door. She’s made several movies starring her dolls. Most of these independent films revolve around Barbie’s rockstar career and/or Barbie’s trip to the mall. I don’t know how I birthed a mallrat. I’d rather go to the dentist than the mall. I’ve never liked Barbies in my life (those were another gift from her grandparents). Oh, and, in case you hadn’t guessed, I’m not a rockstar, either.

But I do have some strange qualities in common with my offspring. We both loved to spin in circles until we fell over, whirly drunk, when we were 5. At age 6, we would lay upside down on the couch, hanging our heads off of the edge of the seat, and pretend to walk on the ceiling. We still believed in Santa and the Tooth Fairy at age 7, no matter what anyone said.

Then, there’s this.

A few months ago, peanut asked me to edit her latest cinematic masterpiece and share it with her Facebook audience – her dad, the aforementioned grandparents and a few aunts and uncles. I popped the SD card into my laptop and began viewing.

She opened with an overhead crane shot of a naked Ken doll riding a “ferry” (box) and finding a sword and some “clothing” — one of her socks, tied around his lower half. Thus girt in trusty sock kilt, he hied hence to a “town,” (box) where he parked himself in front of Barbie’s “house” (another box) and started begging for money on her porch steps.

“Oh, hello,” said Barbie, in my daughter’s girliest of girly voices, which is pretty dang girly, considering that she’s an 8-year-old girl. Barbie conversed with the scraggly-haired Ken, whose very visible plastic package peeked out from beneath his ill-fitting sock kilt, reminding me of a vagrant I encountered once upon a time in a Los Angeles toy store. One of us had been going “commando” in a pair of Daisy Duke shorts at the time, and it wasn’t me.

I stopped the movie. “No. No. Just. No.” And then, as gently as possible, I instructed her about the ills of talking to strange men who beg for change while half dressed on one’s porch.

“It’s OK, Mom. He ends up being rich.” Yes, she’s seen Disney’s Aladdin. What can I say?

“It doesn’t matter. Barbie doesn’t know that. All she knows is that she’s got a bum in a sock kilt darkening her doorway, singing a Jem song from 1986. If you ever see anyone like that in real life, you call the police. You don’t say hello. We’re not going to finish this video. Please, honey, make a different story.”

Spurned by her studio executive like so many directors before her, my child returned to her room. Meanwhile, I returned to the final edit of my latest novel, Stellarnet Prince. and the following scene:

Belloc tossed shirts into an open case. Duin entered the bedroom and eyed the stack of crates beside the closet. “Do all of these contain clothes?”

“Some have shoes or musical instruments. I haven’t packed the pillows and blankets, yet.”

“When I met you, you were barefoot with one shitty wallump suit.”

“Thanks. My mother made that suit.”

“When you were what, eight rain seasons? The pants hardly covered your knees, and the shirt didn’t close in the front. You, bugloim, were a ragamuffin.”

Duin was right. Less than a year ago, Belloc didn’t understand why J’ni would buy more than one dress. When he left Meglin, everything he had would fit in a single sack. Now, he had a closet full of clothes.

“But J’ni loved me anyway.”

“Yes. Because you are attentive, sensitive and handsome…”

I should also add that in the first book of the series, Stellarnet Rebel, Belloc sat in the heroine’s doorway and played music on a flute. She’d saved his life, and Belloc had no family and no where else to go.

And that’s the kind of weird thing. My daughter doesn’t know anything about my books, other than the fact that I’ve written them, and she won’t be allowed to read them for at least another eight years. But I guess the acorn really doesn’t fall far from the tree. Who knew that an attraction to musical diamonds-in-the-rough on one’s porch was a genetic trait?

I’m still telling her not to talk to strangers… unless they’re hot sapphire-skinned alien strangers who are built like Michael Phelps. Maybe then.

To celebrate the release of Stellarnet Prince, book two in the Stellarnet Series, I’m giving away a r’naw eye pendant designed by Gypsy Moon Art Studio and handmade by me. This is in homage to the giant alligator-like creature who attacks our heroes in chapter two.

To enter the drawing, tell me: If you could have anyone on your front porch, who would it be and what song would they sing to you? I doubt it’s this one.

* * *

J.L. Hilton is the author of the Stellarnet Series published by Carina Press, including Stellarnet Rebel (January 2012) and Stellarnet Prince (November 2012), and a regular contributor to the Contact-Infinite Futures SF/SFR blog. Her artwork is featured in the books Steampunk Style Jewelry and 1000 Steampunk Creations. Visit her at JLHilton.com or follow her on Google+, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads and deviantART.

You tell us: Do you read science fiction?

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OCT 1, 2012 — I’ve met many women who don’t read science fiction. They might enjoy supernatural, fantasy or historical romance. But anything with aliens, robots, space ships or lasers, don’t bother to beam them up, Scotty.

Reasons for their dislike include a lack of characters to whom they relate, pervasive misogyny in the genre, absence of emotional depth or romance, too much violence, and too many boring descriptions of aliens, machines and technology.

I’m a woman who likes science fiction, sci-fi, SF, or whatever you want to call it. There are women who write great futuristic stories for Carina Press. And I meet women at science fiction events. Yet, even there, I hear a lot of “I only became interested after watching Firefly with my boyfriend.” Or they don’t read the stuff, they just like steampunk cosplay, anime, RPGs or video games.

Maybe I should keep this to myself, since I’m a science fiction author, but I don’t read a lot of science fiction, either. I’m turning into a fan of steampunk, but steampunk is kind of a weird cross-genre thing that can be science fiction-y … or supernatural, fantasy, romance, historical, horror, mystery, Western and just about anything else.

For the purposes of this question, I’m mainly talking about futuristic lasers-pew pew science fiction.

I grew up with Star Wars, Buck Rogers, Battlestar Gallactica, Alien, Terminator and Star Trek. As a kid, I read my dad’s Heinlein books and Omni magazines, though I preferred Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes to his Martian Chronicles, and Michael Moorcock to Isaac Asimov, so I guess I had steampunk/supernatural leanings even then. My doctor is the Ninth Doctor and my favorite TV characters are Jayne Cobb, G’kar and Gul Dukat – all from science fiction shows.

Yet, when I settle down with a book, I tend to chose fantasy, romance, classics or non-fiction. With maybe a dash of supernatural. And I spent most of my life writing non-fiction or fantasy. Which is why I’m still a little surprised that my first published novel, Stellarnet Rebel, is science fiction — as is my second, Stellarnet Prince, coming out next month. And I have a third Stellarnet Something WIP. How did that happen? (I’m being sarcastic, but… no, really, how did that happen?)

I’ve had several female readers say, “I don’t usually like science fiction, but I loved Stellarnet Rebel.”

So, here I am wondering what’s up with that — not with my books, specifically, but the genre in general. I’m addressing women, because I have yet to hear a man say, “I don’t like science fiction.” But, if you’re a man, I’d like to hear from you, too.

You tell us: Do you read science fiction – hard, soft, military, cyberpunk, futuristic, apocalyptic, space opera? If not, what turns you off of the genre? And if you do, what are some of your favorite titles and why?

J.L. Hilton is the author of the Stellarnet Series, a regular blogger for Contact-Infinite Futures, and an artist whose work is featured in the books “Steampunk Style Jewelry” and “1000 Steampunk Creations.”

* I know some people use “science fiction” and “sci-fi” interchangeably, while others make a distinction between the two. I’ve also received conflicting information about the abbreviated “SF” — it’s used in place of “science fiction” and also “speculative fiction,” in different circles. I’ve chosen to just use “science fiction” throughout, but you’re welcome to substitute your favorite term, abbreviation or euphemism as you read.

The Speculative Worlds of Carina Press

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I’m an author published by Carina Press, but I’ve also been one of their customers since they launched. I’m an eclectic and voracious reader, so I enjoy the wide range of genres that Carina publishes and often find myself tempted, by beautiful covers and intriguing blurbs, to purchase and read a variety of books in genres that I don’t write in. You can call me a happy and satisfied customer.

Most of my purchases, though, are from Carina’s speculative fiction categories and I am continually impressed by the wide variety on offer. Steampunk? Check. Space Opera? Check. Horror? Check. Fantasy? Check. Cyberpunk? Check? Speculative world M/M and F/F? Check. Military Sci Fi? Erotic SF? Time Travel? Superheroes? Check, check, check and check. My joy would be complete if Carina offered a discount purchase program for their authors! (hint, giggle, hint) I do subscribe to the newsletter, though and take advantage of the many special offers and coupons. You can, too, if you haven’t already. Right here.

My own speculative offerings with Carina consist of Blue Galaxy and its recently released sequel, Blue Nebula. They are space opera novellas, set in a dangerous future and populated by damaged people who must do nefarious things if they are to survive evil villains, untrustworthy comrades and even their own family members. The love story between Captain Javan Rhodes and Marisol de la Vega underpins both books, but don’t expect a feel-good romance. Rather, expect twist and turns, lies and betrayals, dark humor, and hard-fought battles for both personal redemption and the survival of Planet Earth. I tend to the darker side of fiction *grin*

If you, like me, are a fan of the speculative worlds of Carina Press, you would probably enjoy the Contact: Infinite Futures blog, in which several Carina Press authors, including myself, blog about a variety of delightfully geeky subjects. You are cordially invited to stop by for a visit.

May I end this blog with a question? Of all the speculative fiction stories you’ve read from Carina Press – which has been your favorite and why?

* * * * *

Diane Dooley writes science fiction, romance and horror – sometimes all in the same story.

You can keep tabs on her website for current and future releases, check out the links to her short stories on her blog or interact with her on Facebook or Twitter. She blogs at Contact: Infinite Futures and is also a regular contributor to The Galaxy Express.

 

Catch Me I’m Falling: A Hero’s Playlist

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Sept 18, 2012 – When it comes to writing, I typically prefer to listen to Pandora’s soundtrack radio–soundtracks offer me the wide variety of action songs with sweeping sections and high intensity. They also offer moody, melancholy movements that summon tears to the eyes.  Songs like The Kiss from The Last of the Mohicans soundtrack are wildly distinctive–every time I hear it, I see Daniel Day Lewis racing through the woods, the fight scenes, the passion—it bursts into life in my mind’s eye.

You can’t really beat that.

So when I start a new novel, sometimes I make a playlist for it. These are the songs that bring key sequences to life for me. Some are familiar, some are not. But in no particular order, when I wrote Yesterday’s Heroes, this is what I listened to:

  1. Black Widow Kicks Ass – Ironman 2 Soundtrack
  2. Catch Me Now I’m Falling – The Kinks
  3. Ghost Rider – Henry Rollins
  4. Jimmy Olsen’s Blues – Spin Doctors
  5. Superman’s Song- Crash Test Dummies
  6. Superman – Five for Fighting
  7. Extreme Ways – Moby
  8. Iron Man – Black Sabbath
  9. Don’t Fear the Reaper – Blue Oyster Cult
  10. Hot Blooded – Foreigner
  11. A New Day Yesterday – Jethro Tull (And where we got our name)
  12. Carry on My Wayward Son – Kansas (for all the guys and yes, completely inspired by Supernatural)
  13. Rock of Ages – Def Leopard

And the song that inspired the whole series:

The Terminator theme—the moody piece that bookended the first movie with the opening credits to the moment Sarah Connor drives off into the desert because a storm is coming…

I get chills just thinking about it.

Music doesn’t tell the whole story, but Yesterday’s Heroes is just the beginning…

About Yesterday’s Heroes
Aurora “Rory” Graystone

Codename: Halo

Abilities: superior reflexes, I.Q. and aptitude for calculating probabilities

Mission: find missing teammates

Rory knows she’s being watched, and she’s not about to let the hunter catch her in his trap. She’ll confront her stalker, a man she suspects is involved in the disappearances of other superheroes–if she can ignore the sensual heat that fills her every time he’s near…

Michael Hunter

Codename: Hard Target

Abilities: expert tracker and sniper

Mission: kill Rory Graystone

One of five desperate men sent back in time to save the future, Michael believes eliminating Rory is the key to his mission. But even as he takes aim, a split second of doubt causes him to miss his shot.

Drawn together by passion, and on a collision course with fate, can Rory and Michael work together to change the future? Or have they set in motion the horrific history the time-travelers are trying to prevent?

Heather Long lives in Texas with her family and their menagerie of animals. As a child, Heather skipped picture books and enjoyed the Harlequin romance novels by Penny Jordan and Nora Roberts that her grandmother read to her. Heather believes that laughter is as important to life as breathing and that the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus are very real. In the meanwhile, she is hard at work on her next novel.

Website / Facebook / Twitter

Snarky Heroines Forever

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Here’s something that might surprise you, given that I’m a straight male sci-fi author in my early thirties: of all the heroines I’ve written, including hot space pirates, buxom models and nubile warrior women, by far and away the most popular with readers is Grace Peters, a snarky deep space prospector approaching retirement age. Grace (from Sparks in Cosmic Dust) is only a supporting character, and doesn’t even have her own POV, but I’ve received more glowing feedback about her than any character I’ve ever written.

“Why is that?” I hear you ask.

Well, I can tell you why I think that is. No big secret really. It’s an author having fun. Throwing caution to the wind. Having a character speak her mind, often, and at others’ expense is a storytelling elixir for me as a reader and a writer. You know the character I’m talking about—most romance stories have at least one—the sassy best friend, the put-upon relative having a bad day, or the snarky heroine who continually puts her foot in it.

She’s someone you cut loose with, and she’s usually the most fun. For me, there’s something instantly humanizing about a character who resorts to irreverent humour or pithy put-downs instead of facing a situation glumly. If there’s an element of world-weariness in there too, well, that’s just my favourite heroine in a nutshell.

One of the best writers of this character type is Sloane Taylor, whose erotic romance heroines are an absolute treat. We collaborated on an erotic sci-fi novel a couple of years back­—Claire de Lune—and I learned a lot from her about blending humour and character to make a scene sparkle. If any of that’s rubbed off onto my Carina books, I’m a happy space camper. Incidentally, two minor characters from CDL have received the full-on snarky heroine treatment in my SF series here at Carina. Grace Peters is one. The other, starring in this week’s release Cyber Sparks, is here to introduce herself (via the blurb):

My name is Allegra Mondebay, and this is the story of my last days on Earth…

Unlike my sparsely populated home, on Earth everything and everyone is plugged in. As a blacklisted model who needs to reboot my career, I can no longer resist the ultimate in virtual-reality networking: the omnipod. At first, altering the sights, sounds and scents around me seems harmless. Then I hear the voice.

Do not adjust your headset. You are in danger…

He says I must help him warn the public about the perils of the omnipod. I think he’s just a hacker—until innocent people start dying, and the police want to hold me responsible. Now, I’m on the run in a stolen shuttle, trying to figure out why he needs me. And if I don’t do as he says, he’ll kill the woman I love.

***

One of the things I wanted to avoid when writing Cyber Sparks was a dystopia. Like many of you, I absolutely love The Hunger Games; and I’m very fond of Philip K. Dick, not to mention cyberpunk in general. But I’m also kind of optimistic about our future. The free sharing of information we currently enjoy (hi, internet) is a big part of that. Corruption at every level is becoming increasingly difficult to hide. One day, when governments are frightened of the people, the future will be in our hands. What will we make of it?

I had the idea for Cyber Sparks during a bus ride home from work, when almost every single passenger was either texting or chatting on a mobile phone or reading an e-reader or surfing the web on an i-phone. Human body language? Zilch. Digital language? Off the scale. It’s a strange paradox, to be at once social and anti-social. Many’s the time I’ve grumbled quietly when a friend has cut off his face to face conversation with me to answer an unimportant phone call or a text or a freaking tweet. You’ve made the effort to go and meet him in person, but noooo, you play second fiddle to LOL and smiley face and inane callers still at home in their pajamas.

Does it irritate you when that happens? Or is it just me?

Allegra’s omnipod lets her do anything, buy anything, be anyone, speak to anyone—but still she feels cut off. Pretty soon, she’ll wish she was cut off.

Enough to make anyone snarky, if you ask me.

***

BUY LINK

Also available in the Cosmic Sparks collection: Alien Velocity, Sparks in Cosmic Dust and Pyro Canyon.

EPIC Award winner Robert Appleton is a multi-published author of science fiction, steampunk and historical fiction. Soccer and kayaking are his favourite outdoor activities. He has travelled far but loves the comfort of reading Victorian adventure books or watching movies at home. His mind is somewhat mercurial. His inspiration is the night sky.

Author website:  http://www.robertappleton.co.uk

Goodreads author page: http://bit.ly/nm9r5G

Twitter ID:  @robertappleton

Countdown for blastoff

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I’m lousy at math. When I’m at the supermarket, I can do a simple pennies-per-ounce cost evaluation, but that’s about it. An accountant does my taxes, I don’t balance my checkbook, and I don’t do Sudoku. Where’s the fun if there’s no words?

So whatever possessed me to put numbers into Zero Gravity Outcasts, I don’t know. Maybe I thought the math would be simple enough. If there’s 10 warships threatening the peace conference, and 4 leave to fight my heroine, and she disables 2 of those, then how many warships are left?

“I think the numbers are wrong,” came the note from my fabulous editor, Lynne Anderson. “How many warships end up at the peace conference?”

Um, there were 10. Take away 4. Six are left.

“Except on page 15 it says 8. Right?”

Well, yes, it does say 8. I need those odds to be overwhelming! Readers must be worried! I need 8 warships threatening the peace conference!

“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” Lynne says. “So what happened to the other 2 warships?”

Okay, reasonable question, what did happen to those other 2 warships? Perhaps they needed to have an extrasensory outer-space tune-up and oil change. On their way to the fabulous Macy’s one-day clearance sale. Because people just had to get those fringed, pink leather boots.

“Maybe the heroine disables four warships,” Lynne says cheerfully.

Yeah, the heroine doesn’t have any weapons. Disabling four warships would be tough, even for those superheroine-type people who can make nuclear bombs from paper clips, which my heroine makes no claims to be able to do. Although she’s handy. But nuclear-bombs-from-paper-clips handy, no.

“Actually, you don’t really say exactly how many warships start out threatening the peace conference,” Lynne says. “Maybe there’s just 8 to begin with? And then…”

I could see that my math problems were transferring to Lynne. Not good.

“How about this?” Lynne says. She’s sounding desperate, but I know she’s better at math than I am. I see a solution coming!

“There’s 10 warships threatening the peace conference,” she says. “Four leave to fight the heroine. She disables 2. The other 2—”

“Go back to the peace conference!” we exclaim simultaneously.

The warships probably would have had more fun going to the Macy’s one-day clearance sale than getting shot at in the battle at the peace conference. On the other hand, this way they didn’t have to do any math figuring out what 35 percent more off the last 25 percent markdown was, either. Although those fringed, pink leather boots would have been worth the effort. At any price.

And next time, there’s going to be 10 warships threatening the peace conference, and they’re all going to stay put. Because only a dope messes with outer space math.

(And a final note to readers: this story is true, but I’m sure the numbers are way, way off.)