Coming Soon: Terran Temptation

I have a new release coming soon with Changeling Press. This is my first SFR/Futuristic romance. Cover art by Angela Knight. And thanks to my wonderful editor Kira Stone.

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Dr. Annalisha Montague has earned a glowing reputation as a Terran scientist. She has also attracted the attention of two men, a senator who wants her for her bloodline and a Terran commander who wants her heart and soul. Will she choose to honor her bloodline or her heart?

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Fictional Worlds I’d Love to Visit

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This week’s topic: Fictional Worlds I’d love to visit

I am a fan of the craziness of Alice and Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass so it’s always fascinated me. The book version, the Disney film version, and the live action version with Carol Channing as the White Queen.  (1984) There is also a fairly decent 1995 TV version too. I remember it from when I was young back in the days of video tapes and I rewatched it until the tape wore out. I also enjoy books (romances!) that play around with  the Alice in Wonderland world.

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I have been rewatching Babylon 5 recently and it makes me realize how much I like that world. I wouldn’t mind finding accommodations on Babylon station; maybe even a trip to the Minbari homeworld if I were invited. 

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There are a lot of urban fantasy worlds I’d like to live in. I devoured urban fantasy and paranormal romances and it’s still a healthy portion of my entertainment. One of my favorites was the Elfhome series by Wen Spencer. I’ve never been to Pittsburgh-but her Pittsburgh with a half of the Elf world on it is fantastic. I love this series and I love the way it combines real world with a well-developed Elf world.

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Books that should be made into movies

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This week’s blogging topic…Books that should be made into movies.  Check out some other authors at Long and Short Reviews.

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I read The Priory of the Orange Tree primarily because I wanted a fantasy novel that was in one volume. I don’t have the time to commit to multi-volume, multi-year sagas all the time, but I do love high fantasy. This one turned out to be even better than expected. With contrasting European, Central Asian, and East Asian influences. Well-developed characters. Dragons. I think it would look great in movie form.

I am clearly an Octavia Butler fan. I’ve heard rumors that her Parable series was being optioned for TV/Movie, but those things come and go. I actually thing the Patternist series is a better choice. It begins with an immortal who selectively breeds humans in his seed villages and ends with a Patternmaster who can control humans through thought. It’s one of the best takes on telepathy I’ve seen used and I really enjoyed the series. 

I first became a Thomas Ligotti fan after reading “My Case for Retributive Action” in an anthology. Since then, I’ve become a devoted fan of his work. He’s a short story writer, but I think his Teatro Grottesco collection would work well together because the stories follow the same theme of a nameless, faceless corporation, the Quine Corporation. Once again, I’ve heard tales of adaptations but nothing else. His dark, beautifully written horror in the hands of the right director could be wonderful. It’s be a great Netflix binge. 

Humorous Book Titles

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This week’s blogging challenge is Humorous Book Titles. I chose a few of the oddest that I found.

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I wonder what this says about the future of our species and what is happening to our planet. I think I do know the difference between an abandoned Costco cart and and abandoned Sam’s Club. Does it distinguish between a Walmart and a Target?

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Well, something speaks through my cats but I don’t think it’s God. 

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There are times when you need to really think through your title more.

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What genre is it? Who is the target audience? What is going on here?

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Today’s youth use smartphones so much that this may someday be a classic study.

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I know a fair bit about Genghis Khan, but next to nothing about dentistry. Now I have a chance to learn it all in one book. 

Anyone out there with some great choices for odd books? Feel free to leave them in the comments.

 

Favorite Book Covers and Why

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This week I’m back to blogging with the Long and Short reviews challenge. Check out some of the other bloggers by following the link.

There are a lot of book covers that I like for a variety of reasons. I love hardcover books, old books, those fancy, expensive art books too. And because I am an SF fantasy fan, I occasionally buy books featuring the art or costume design of a favored franchise. For this post, I decided to pick a genre: historical romance.

I love history. I think what I love about historical romance covers, admittedly, is the clothes. There is just something about long flowing dresses that look so beautiful on a cover. So I picked a few.

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 I’ve been reading Beverly Jenkins novels for a long time. Her contemporaries are good; but my love is for her historical romances. She writes deep complex characters and had so much information about African American history. Love them. 

 

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Alyssa Cole writes multicultural romance across the board. Contemporary, historical, paranormal, IR/MC romances, LGBT romances. 

 

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PJ Dean writes SF romance, but also historical romance.  I particularly loved this one and she has so much original research about African American history in the early Americas and Native American history.

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Piper  Huguley writes inspirational romances. A few historical and some contemporaries.

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Vanessa Riley. This hadn’t been on my radar but it’s a regency. Regency romance has never been my thing, but I’m willing to expand my horizons.

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Roslyn Hardy Holcomb  and Lisa G. Riley have a series which is historical paranormal, The Eshu Chronicles. 

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And here’s another Beverly Jenkins just because her covers are always lovely.

SF Obscure- Star Trek:The Animated Series

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So, I decided to watch Star Trek: The Animated Series. I’d seen a few episodes here and there, but decided a full rewatch was in order. It premiered in 1973, and I am not sure how often it’s been in syndication. For a while, it seemed to disappear, but it’s on Netflix now.

I watched some of it with my daughter-who grew up with far more sophisticated animation. So her observations were ‘why do all the faces look the same?’ and ‘ why do their mouths just move up and down like that?’ She also noted that there are only about four pieces of music used over and over.  And there is a separate animated series theme rather than the classic Alexander Courage theme. 

Still, even if you’re not watching it with snarky offspring, the animated series was enjoyable. The animated series is meant to be a continuation of the original series. It was to appeal to all ages. Some of the more romantic themes in TOS are dropped, but it never became a ‘kiddie’ show. It’s solid Trek for the most part.

 The original crew is back -minus Chekov. He’s replaced by  Arex(voiced by James Doohan), a tripedal alien and another feline officer, M’Ress (Voice by Majel Barrett).  Because of Nimoy’s intervention Nichelle Nichols and George Take-originally cut-were asked back for voice overs. Walter Koenig was also cut, but did write a script for one episode.There is also the appearance of the first Enterprise captain, Robert April and his wife, Sarah,  the doctor on the first Enterprise. The animated series gave them the chance to have more alien looking aliens that were not possible with special effects at the time of TOS. There are some neat ones introduced; a few goofy ones (“Bem”) and at least three feline aliens. Someone much really love cats.

 And it gives more screen time to other characters-Uhura gets more command time and away missions; and Sulu actually uses his weapons expertise. It’s not all Kirk-Spock-Bones.  Most are solid, old style TOS episodes with powerful godlike beings who are really just advanced aliens; science saves the day; reflections on the goals of the Federation, etc. There’s a goofy Tribbles/Klingon one (“More Tribbles, More Trouble”), and a few silly science (“The Counterclock Incident”).  The episode “The Slavers” was written by Larry Niven is a crossover from his Ringworld universe.  I particularly liked this episode’s use of Uhura-Sulu-Spock; rather than the usual Kirk and Spock. The animated series is debatable canon, but there are recurring characters from TOS.  The episode “Yesteryear”  was clearly mined for used in the 2009 movie and in Enterprise’s season four Vulcan episode arc.  And there is also a pre-cursor to the holodeck. (“The Practical Joker”) Oh, and apparently, a giant clone Spock is still out there. You’ll have to find that episode on your own.

I had a great time watching this.

Lesson I Learned From a Book Character

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When I first read Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower I was struck by the fact that the character was so real because she seemed so much like me and the people that I know. #Representation Matters is a very real thing. For those who haven’t read the Earthseed Books it follows the tale of Lauren Olamina as she lives in a post apocalyptic America. Her father is a minister  who loves and protects his family in worsening chaos. Butler pays a stark picture of a future California of limited resources, increasing violence, and homelessness. With the loss of her family, Lauren has to  survive in a harsh world which leads her to starting a new religious faith.  What I really loved about it-as in all of Butler’s books-is that all the characters are fully developed. She shows people who are helpful and kind; but also the ways in which people can be cruel and petty. Yet, somehow, there is always a hopefulness in Lauren’s character that carries you throw the difficult things. I plan to re-read it soon, because it’s been to long, but I’ve always loved this character. 

Another great character of Butler’d is Lilith Iyapo of her Lilith’s Brood series. Like Lauren, she has to adjust to a changed human world-in this case the arrival of an alien race who alter humans to create new creatures. Watching Lilith try to understand her own children-who are only part human and very alien-was a fascinating ride. I guess what I admire about Butler’s characters is the ability of her heroines to deal with extraordinary change. And even though I doubt I’ll have to deal with aliens and (hopefully) not an apocalyptic downfall of civilization I hope that I can always maintain a sense of ethics and humanity and hope regardless of what life brings.  I read both of these books just after college, and they had a powerful effect on me.

On a lighter note two other characters I’ve learned from are Precious Ramotswe from the No.1 Ladies Detective Series and Granny Weatherwax from the Discworld Universe. Precious Ramotswe, because of her optimism despite her past pain; and her complete acceptance of herself and love of her own culture. Granny Weatherwax is my fantasy universe alter-ego. If I get to be a witch, I want to be Granny Weatherwax. 

Anyone else out there have some unforgettable characters? Or characters that you learned from?

Books I love that became Films

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The Martian is one of my favorite books. I’ve read it at least three times. I love reading about science, and science used well in science fiction. I first found out about it from a suggestion thread in a FB group. Here’s the weird thing: I still haven’t seen the movie. Somehow, my attempts for a watch are always interrupted. But, yes, when summer vacation rolls around it’s on my TBR. 

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The Arrival is based on a short story “Story of your Life” by Ted Chiang. I first read his short story “Hell is the Absence of God” in an anthology.  I really loved the way he used real science with a beautiful talent for language. I bought his collection and it is one of my frequent re-visits. If you’ve seen the movie, and never read the short story, it’s well worth reading his whole collection. 

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Dune is a classic. The spice. The worms. The Bene Gesserit. I need to re-read Dune. I was first introduced to Dune by a friend who lived down the hall from me at my dorm room or so many years ago. She was a Dune fanatic. She had all the Dune books arranged on a shelf in her room and loved it. The truth is, it’s been so long now since I’ve read the novel, I doubt I remember it correctly. My feelings about Dune are largely based on the 1984 movie with Kyle McLachlan and Sting and the TV movie (which I remember as being pretty good)  and Children of Dune. I guess I’ll do a re-watch after the re-read. I have the soundtrack to Children of Dune, which I really love. A Dune movie (2020) is in the works-but as the cast grows larger and the rumors spread-one wonders what will actually happen. I will probably go and see it out of some weird sense of nerd/fandom loyalty regardless of its reviews.

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Favorite TV Shows and Why

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Most of the shows I watch are shows I like that I own (DVDs) or streaming shows. Some of it is because of the limited number of western shows on Japanese TV; some shows are Japanese shows that English speaking audiences probably haven’t heard of; some of it is frankly, time. I can’t watch TV everyday between work and family. I’d rather read or write in the down time I have. So shows tend to be binge-watch affairs on vacations (or home with a cold). Most are SF or mysteries. I’ve recently started watching Killjoys, which I enjoy.  And Orphan Black is now fully available on worldwide Netflix so I can watch the run. And I have to watch The Crown so my mother and I can compare historical notes. 

So, I decided to write this post about shows (other than Star Trek) that I have binge-watched over and over through the years because they are special to me. When I’m feeling depressed or sick with the flu, these are the shows that are my tv medicine. 

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I love Blake’s 7. I don’t think there is a version available for US region; but I have a multi-season DVD and its not hard to find online anyway. Blake’s 7 follows freedom fighter Roj Blake and his fight against the Federation. He is arrested, sent to a prison planet, but gains a crew of  criminals-who commandeer an alien ship known as the Liberator. His crew includes computer expert Kerr Avon, professional thief Villa Restal, strongman Olag Gan, pirate captain Jenna Stannis, the ship’s AI Zen. Later on we get Cally, a telepath the series we get Orac, a brilliant computer mind. In later seasons we have new crew members Tarrant, Dayna, and Soolin. And their adversary Servalan. It’s about political system, oppression, freedom, independence, social control etc. All those juicy political themes. And it doesn’t try to be optimistic either. I have watched the whole series several times and I purchased many of the audio shows via Big Finish Audio. 

Peaky Blinders. Thomas Shelby is a bad man. The Peaky Blinders are bad people. But I can’t help watching every episode of that show. Set in Birmingham after WWI it’s just fantastic. The only gangster show I ever really found interesting.  And there’s going to be a SERIES 5!!!! On a gathering storm comes/ a tall handsome man/In a dusty black coat with/ a red right hand…..

X-Files. The X-files was one of the first shows outside of Star Trek that I was really a fan of. I watched it faithfully from episode one’s broadcast until the end. Even after Scully and Mulder were gone.  I even watched the Lone Gunmen spin-off and Millennium. Even after the weird second movie. And I have watched X-files 2018. X-files is just a part of my life at this point, and I have to accept it. 

Alien Nation. I go through bouts where I have to watch Alien Nation again. I have to sit through Buck’ growing pains and George’s pregnancy and Sikes and Cathy’s relationship. It’s still a good show, that I always enjoy and I’ve discussed it before.

Are you Being Served? This is a comedy classic. Set in the fictional Grace Brothers Department store. I started watching this show late at nights on public broadcasting. ( Along with Fawlty Towers) There are a few episodes I’ve missed, but I’ve seen all the most popular ones down through the years. We didn’t have cable.( My father felt that television was not worth paying for.) Mrs. Slocombe. Ms. Brahms, Mr. Humphries, Captain Peacock, Mr. Lucas, Mr. Rumbold, Young Mister Grace. 

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Yes Minister and Yes, Prime Minister. Basically, political satire and it is brilliant. With a rather small cast, and never big sets, the dialogue alone is masterful. Hacker, and MP who later becomes Prime Minister and Sir Humphrey Appleby, his permanent secretary. There aren’t many episodes, but they are well worth it. 

Books I Want Youth To Discover

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I’m joining this week’s blog hosted by  Long and Short Reviews.

I’ll start with the classics.

The first mystery books I ever read were in elementary school. The Westing Game and Harriet the Spy. The Westing Game was a difficult mystery when I was so young and I loved the feel of solving it at the end-and reading it all myself. Harriet the Spy became my idol…I did a lot of spying on my grandmother’s neighbors when things got slow during my summer visits. The next book that had a big impact on me as a young reader was Island of the Blue Dolphins. I loved the adventure and survival themes, but also it sparked a love of history and studying culture. I have loved that book for years.

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The next two books I read as an adult, but they are actually for younger readers. Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper is a middle grade book and really, really good. I read it as part of a workshop and was struck by how vivid the writing was and how well it handled  themes ranging from disabilities, to bullying, to exclusion. A very powerful book that all youth should read-and adults to.

The other is The Hate U Give. I haven’t seen the movie (yet) but the book is a must read. It takes the contentious issue of race and police and gives it layers and perspectives that you never get from news or politics. The reason fiction is so powerful is because it can take those issues we want to see as either/or and show that life is actually much more complex than that.

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Truthfully, I think youth should discover the books that they like. I don’t believe in telling people ‘books you must read’ or behaving as if someone’s genre choices are superior to others. Books are personal and the ‘best’ books are the one’s that are ‘best’ for you.