Science Fiction Fears - Just Our Overactive Imaginations?

Eek! Aliens are going to abduct me. Oh no! Skynet is going to take over the world!

There are a lot of wondrous things in the worlds of science fiction. We've seen technology from stories made real decades later and events happen just like they were written. Yet it doesn't make the horrors of sci-fi true. The fact that so many people fear these things could happen only says how well the authors did their jobs.

Are there aliens and would they abduct us? There are likely aliens, but the chances they are here are very slim. Plus would a greatly advanced race with amazing technology really resort to kidnapping and probing humans to learn about them? They would have scanners that could tell them everything they want to know, and they can observe us in our natural habitats. Nope, not creepy at all.

Will an asteroid hit Earth? Not at all likely. NASA says there are no near-Earth asteroids or comets, and their chances of identifying a big one that might cause worldwide damage early so something could be done to stop it are nearly 100%. But a Sharknado, now that's a different story!

Will AI evolve and take over the world? No. AI is only composed of what we put in it. If robots try to take over the world then someone programmed them that way. AI can never replace the ingenuity and perseverance of humans. Plus a few well placed EMP bombs will take care of the problem easily!

Dystopians are immensely popular be they primal or technologically advanced societies. If there is a worldwide disaster or war, would it be likely something like that could happen? Not really. These are pessimistic views of our future. People will want the society they lost and seek to rebuild it. No matter how dismal it looks sometimes, never underestimate the power of hope and compassion.

Let's hope we have more of a Star Trek future than a Hunger Games or an Idiocracy.

Do you have any fears that have stemmed from science fiction?


Flavors of Book Fests, Author Retreats, Signings and Figuring Out What Works Best

The subject of book conferences and writing retreats is the obvious one for me to post about, since I've just attended two of them, with a third happening next week. In August, I went to ChapterCon in England, the brainchild of my author friend, Katie John. This was its first year. It was mainly craft-based with panels, but it did have a full Saturday public signing event. I was eager to listen to the panels, which ranged from diversity in lit, to romance, to how to keep your stories flowing (I was on this panel). We all learned that Bank Holiday weekend, which is the equivalent of Labor Day weekend in the states, is not the best time to invite the public to a signing, because everyone is streaming out of town for the last big party of the summer. That said, we had some book-lovers in, plus it allowed us authors to hobnob and buy each other's books.

My favorite workshop was a mindfulness one, which taught zen style tools for unwinding author stress. I needed this tool that very night, as Katie texted me an hour before my bedtime and asked if I'd deliver the second keynote speech! The scheduled author had a personal emergency. I have never scribbled my lecture notes as quickly as I did that evening. People told me it was an inspiring speech, so I guess I did okay. LOL. Talking about one's own rollercoaster journey is apparently something most writers relate to.
Me delivering a keynote speech at ChapterCon UK

The second writing conference was this last weekend's Next Chapter Writing Retreat held in NYC by Janet Wallace, the founder of UtopiaCon. There was a small handful of very savvy authors, and it was a rare treat to get to know them. We had sessions with high-level branding and media experts, which was intimidating, until I realized that these "experts" were simply speaking about their own personal journeys, as I did during my keynote. The authors had time to chat and compare notes over dinner and drinks. There was only one two-hour public book signing, which I found refreshing and fun, and low stress as compared to some marathon book signings I've been part of.
A new reader of mine treating herself to an early birthday present at NCWR signing

What are my takeaways from these events?
A two or three hour book signing event seems perfect.
I love hand-selling and getting to know new readers.
I need to boundary off my time to write, and to take my writing more seriously.
I love meeting authors and sharing stories and marketing tips. Community is key.
European events rock, as does the Welsh coast. LOL.
I need to take calculated risks and stretch myself in my craft and marketing.
De-stressing is important. Meditation, massage, whatever works!
Create a long game plan. (I can always revise it as I go).

What are your personal tools? What is most important to you in your writing life? Do you create a long game plan or do you prefer making it up as you go?


Book Review: BLOODGIFTED by Tima Maria Lacoba #paranormal

Tima Maria Lacoba

What’s a girl to do when she learns she’s descended from a vampire? Being unable to age is only the beginning… 

Laura Dantonville is a Primary school teacher with one wish—to marry her boyfriend, Detective Matt Sommers. When her aunt Judy reveals a frightening family secret that explains her rare genetic mutation, it threatens to propel her into a dark underworld where her true family waits. 
Laura’s future with Matt hangs in the balance. 

Alec Munro never wanted to become guardian to a Dantonville regardless that her blood is coveted by his vampire-kind. But his sire, Lucien Lebrettan, gave him no choice. Now he’s faced with not only protecting the girl, but fathering a child with her in order to end his servitude—and a centuries-old curse. 

… which some among his kind will do anything to prevent.


Cathrina's Review: I haven't read a vampire story in quite a while, so this book intrigued me. The author, Ms. Lacoba kept some of the olden time lore of vamps, like, the sun frying their bodies to a crisp. And similar to the Twilight Series, Ms Lacoba tweaked our perception of the blood sucking creatures a wee bit. An example: vampires do have a reflection in mirrors.The book begins in the year 263 AD and a woman invokes a wicked curse after Romans slaughter a Pict village. (Human blood will be your food. As beasts you shall kill and walk in the night and sunlight will be your enemy) There's more in the history of the story where those cursed resurrect the woman's spirit to revoke the curse. (A marriage and a birth are involved, a mingling of Pict and Roman blood) 
The mc, Laura is 50 years old but you'd never know it because she looks 25. And she is descended by Lucien Lebrettan, a vampire and Judith, one of the descendants of the bloodgifted. Being the Bloodgifted, Laura doesn't reach maturity until the young age of 50 when her blood reeks with power. Alec Munro, the Princeps and a doctor in the human world, becomes her guardian. By drinking Laura's blood Alec is sustained with strength and able to walk in the daylight, a gift that many vamps long for and are willing to die for. A problem commences when the scent of her blood brings evil vamps to suckle. 

I was entertained by Bloodgifted, in fact, I liked the book. A little lengthy, yet the action and intimate scenes between Alec and Laura were literally steamy. If you like to read about sexy, wicked, bloodthirsty vamps, then Bloodgifted is for you.


Shake, Rattle and Row, a #CozyMystery #CleanRead from the Spirits in the Water #Anthology

Spirits in the Water, an Untethered Realms short story anthology is coming in October! My contribution to the collection is a #CozyMystery. 
You may have noticed that the world’s gone a little crazy lately. #CozyReads are meant to entertain, but not stress you out. If this sounds good to you, check out my sweet, fun, cozy and quirky short story, Shake, Rattle and Row!
Shake, Rattle and Row is a sequel short story glimpse into my new series coming out in 2019 called, Ask Crystal Ball. 
A Riverboat Casino sounds like a roaring good time, but it can be murder for those who suffer with seasickness...
Harlow Grayson is the journalist who unwillingly inherits Crystal Ball’s agony column after Crystal is found murdered. Unfortunately, the agony column, called Ask Crystal Ball, comes with a nasty side effect: the ghost of Crystal herself. Complete opposites, Harlow and Crystal never did get along, even when Crystal was alive. Nothing has changed. 
In this short story, Crystal needs Harlow’s help to recover an item of sentimental value—but it comes at a hefty price. 

I jumped. “Crystal! Where’ve you been?” I looked around to see if anyone was listening.

“Scouting. Did you bring it?”

I held up the pen. “Yes. But I’m not sure about this. It’s not right. We shouldn’t be messing with this stuff.”

“Oh, get over yourself.” She fairly bounced with excitement.

I sighed and knew I’d regret this.

“Try the gold ink this—”

“Shh, I got this.” With my heart pounding, I pushed down the gold nub. A golden glow descended over the room and cast an unearthly light. My skin prickled as latent sparkles of ethereal energy settled over me. I blinked several times, adjusting to the illusion of the veil merging between the mortal and spirit worlds.

Holy mother of— I crossed myself. Although I’d done this before, I’d never get used to it.

I surveyed my new—but somehow same—surroundings. I was still on a riverboat casino, but it was more alive, if that even made sense, given that the room was full of ghosts. A roulette wheel spun, and the clickety-clack of the marble bounced from slot to slot until it found its sweet spot. Joyful shouts erupted. Spectral women in flapper dresses and feathered headbands hovered over gray-suited men in pinstripes playing cards and smoking fat cigars. And above it all, the fog of cigar smoke clung to everything.

I wrinkled my nose. Observing the two worlds together made me dizzy. Between the smoke and the boat rocking, I felt green around the gills. I knew as soon as I had stepped on board in my four-inch stilettos that this was a bad idea. And trust me, a full figured diva on heels was no easy feat to begin with.

“This isn’t natural,” I whispered to Crystal.

“Welcome to my world,” said Crystal, hovering at my side.

Crystal Ball—her real name—used to be my annoying coworker before she got murdered. Now she was an annoying ghost. I unwillingly inherited her agony column—Ask Crystal Ball, if you can believe it—a pseudo- psychic hocus-pocus bunch of baloney. But worst of all was that Crystal’s ghost came as a nasty side effect of the job. My fate was sealed when I’d picked up and used her favorite pen. Somehow the pen allowed me to see the ghostly realms she saw. I’d never seen another era, though, until now. What business could Crystal possibly have with the 1920s, and more importantly, why involve me?

But I had bigger problems.

“You could have warned me.” I spoke into my digital voice recorder so it didn’t look as if I were talking to myself. That and the press pass around my neck should cover any awkwardness that might arise while speaking to my spectral sidekick.

“I told you it was formal, didn’t I?” She eyed my gown and then perused the room as if looking for someone. “Besides, what do you have to complain about? I’m the one stuck throughout eternity in skin tight pants.” She squirmed and tried to pull out a wedgie to no avail.



Summer Adventures with the UR

"In the summer, the days were long, stretching into each other. Out of school, everything was on pause and yet happening at the same time, this collection of weeks when anything was possible." - Sarah Dessen, Along For The Ride

* * * * *
Christine Rains

This summer I discovered something new and magical. It's called Camp Brosius, and it's a family camp. What's that, you ask? It's summer camp for families, and it's like a cruise on land. There are activities for kids, for adults, and for the whole family. My son stated it was the best vacation of his life, and I have to agree. I relaxed for the first time in like ten years. Really, truly relaxed. That's magic.

* * * * *
River Fairchild

Summers aren't really my favorite time of year to do anything, but I was thinking back to the carefree days of my childhood. The endless opportunities to do nothing at all. Lie in a field of flowers for no reason. Idle the time away. Thinking about wanting to grow up... and not understanding the value of having no responsibilities for the one and only time in your life! LOL

* * * * *

Cathrina Constantine

Every year we try to get together for a family vacation. This year we ended up in Chautauqua Lake in a small cottage. It sure was cozy. It was especially special because our three grandchildren met for the first time. Sammy, our 3 year old snagged his very first fish! Fishing, boating, kayaking, and nightly fires with s'mores, good conversation, laughter, and reminiscing made it a perfect vacation.

* * * * *

M. Pax

Zip lining! With the new job, Husband Unit and I rarely get a day off together. When we do, we take advantage. One of the most enthralling things we've ever done was the zip line tour near Crater Lake. Heights scare the crap out of me, but I also like adventure. I'd never jump out of a plane or bungee jump, but zip lining scared me a little bit less. It was fantastic! Flying through the trees, being out in the glory of nature, laughing under the sun. Now I want to zip line everywhere there is a zip line.

* * * * *

Meradeth Houston

This summer I spent a good deal of time in my lab working, but that was to gear up for a super awesome adventure :) I traveled to Zurich, Switzerland, where I met up with one of my good friends and we headed to the Dolomites (southern Alps in Italy). The striking peaks were amazing and we have six days of hiking through their splendor. From there, I got to travel around in northern Italy, visit Otzi the ice mummy (so cool!), and several other places. This is me in Verona (the city from Shakespeare's famous Romeo and Juliet), and I also had some fun in Genoa and along the coast there. I have a bunch of photos on my Instagram page, if anyone wants to see. It was a trip of a lifetime, and since I really needed a break from work, I am very grateful I was able to go!


Putting Real People in your Historical Fantasy

Recently, I attended the Writers’ Digest Book Conference in NYC, and one of the panels that resonated with me was The Thin Line Between Historical Fact & Fiction moderated by authors Crystal King and Anjali Mitter Duva. They posed some interesting questions. Here are a few:

When is it beneficial to use real people in fiction? Are there rules? Can you make a good person into a dubious character—a villain even? How much can you bend the “real” history? Is there any instance it would be unwise to use a real person, or a time you might go too far?

In my Witch of the Cards, set in 1932 I injected multiple real life characters: Salvador Dali, Elsa Schiaparelli, Irene Ware and Bela Lugosi to name a few. They were mainly in the scenes aboard the Morro Castle ocean liner that sailed from Manhattan to Cuba. I wanted to show that even during Prohibition, the glitterati of high society found a way to drink. The laws that held on solid ground, were not punishable when on the high seas, or in Cuba. I also put these creative souls in to lighten the dark days that my poor character Peter Dune endured. He got to party with these folks and lounge on a Cuban beach. Who wouldn’t want to party with the madcap Dali?
Dickens at work
I am now crafting a fantasy set in 1854 Philadelphia and so far I have decided on two characters from real life. One is Charles Dickens and the other is Thomas Mutter. In addition to writing great novels, Dickens wrote an infamous treatise on the cruelty of solitary confinement in prisons. This, after he toured the supposedly humane Eastern State Penitentiary, where my girl, Evalina is serving a sentence. You see, during that time, people believed that forced isolation was a humane way to treat prisoners. But soon, people discovered that it made prisoners go mad. Dicken’s scathing article helped illuminate this. Mutter is most well-known for his strange collection of medical anomalies. Yet, more importantly, he invented cutting edge (pardon the pun!) plastic surgery techniques still used today, like the Mutter flap. Can you tell that my novel will have shady medicine in it?! Uh, huh.

So, the upshot is that one should think deeply about who and WHY they want to write real folks into their historical fantasies. Some benefits are:
*Grounding the story historically and vividly.
*Opening out a period of time in order to look at it from a fresh vantage point.
*Giving a side character his or her due. (Similar to Fan Fic)
*Imagining an alternative history.
*Giving an entire period of history its due using people from the time.
*Imagining two peers who never atually met. Having them meet and carry out a friendship, a love relationship, a rivalry, a freaking crime!

It’s fun to think of angles, right? Can you think of more reasons to utilize real historical characters? Have you ever wanted to put a real person from history into your stories? If so, who might be the most fun? The most unnerving?


#perseverance #writer #writing

I belong to a fantastic group of writer's called the Insecure Support Writer's Group. If you haven't joined yet, you should. 

The group was asked in July: 
What is one valuable lesson you've learned since you started writing? And this was my answer:

is a valuable lesson. 

Once you begin your story, you are a writer. It doesn't matter what genre or if you write flash fiction, short stories, articles, or novels. If you wish to pursue traditional publishing, small independent presses, or self-publishing, it can be quite daunting. 

The lonely and long hours you put into your work and self-sacrificing your time can be a joy and/or a drudgery. You need to persevere.

It's your first draft, and you type those phenomenal two words: *THE ENDBut really it's the beginning. A second draft, a third draft, editing, revising, beta readers and so on...persistence

Then if you seek an agent or submit to publishing houses it's another path filled with road blocks of disappointments and rejections. 

But my mantra is: "It only takes one YES" and for that one yes you need: **PERSEVERANCE**

You can join this wonderful group here: