Category Archives: Paranormal Romance

An Indie Author’s Update

Readers of my blog are science fiction and fantasy fans who also are interested in book marketing and writing. On the science fiction side, I often throw in current, relevant science news.

To that end, I want to offer a link to a blog that talks about the discovery of time crystals. This intrigues me because alien crystals play an important role in influencing my characters in the Alysian Universe Series, particularly in the book Touching Crystal. To discover that my made up time crystals actually exist, blew me away.

(We have been having large windstorms lately).

Nevertheless, they are not the same as the crystals in my stories influence certain humans and heighten their Talent abilities. My crystals are also alien and no mention of that had cropped up with these real crystals… as yet

Still the blog is worth a look and if you are interested in actual time crystals take a peek at:

https://futurism.com/the-first-quantum-computer-you-own-could-be-powered-by-a-time-crystal/

On the marketing side, my Books Barbarian ad outdid the Freebooksy ad. This may be due to the book advertised. Caught in Time always sells better as it is the first in the series and is a time travel romance–always popular.

Cosmic Entanglement doesn’t sell as well (maybe the title is too hard science) and actually has a more Ender’s Game YA flavor. Romance still plays a part in the story, however, with a bet that the current Sunpointe Academy’s Lothario can’t get the Ching T’Karre princess to acknowledge him or even speak to him. He takes on the challenge and falls in love. Young men in love with a bet on the line are known to do crazy things. It’s a fast-paced book that contains an attempted murder and a dramatic martial arts competition finale.

Spring into summer is usually my best selling time, so I’m looking forward to warmer weather and increasing sales. Let me know what works for you in the marketing and sales department, so we can exchange ideas.

Last week, I enjoyed the light-hearted fantasy Tinker by Wen Spencer. Therefore, when fellow Powell’s reader, Lea Day, suggested Anne Bishop’s Others series, I jumped in with Written in Blood, the first in the series. Lea has read an enormous amount of speculative fiction and knows her stuff. Having once been the personal assistant to the late Anne McCaffrey, she has also been a valued Beta Reader of mine. When she speaks, I listen, even when she whispers the werewolf word.

Written in Blood takes place on an alien world discovered by humans. Immediately, they try to take over, only to find the indigenous species is the stuff of nightmares. The planet is populated by deadly werewolves, vampires, elementals, crows and others who can shapeshift from human to monster at will. They consider humans “meat.”

Like native Americans, the humans are restricted to certain areas of the planet in return for an exchange of their technology and trade goods. Often at the edge of these human reservations are compounds inhabited by the others who watch the humans, and sometimes interact with them.

Into one of these compounds, on a cold winter night, comes Meg Corbyn who is fleeing from some terrible secret and begs for a job and sanctuary.

The vampire leader calls her “sweet blood” and marks her off limits. The managing werewolf of the Lakeside compound, Simon Wolfgard, smells her and receives the scent of “not prey.” He offers her the job of human liaison and puts her to work in the post office. Surrounded by deadly creatures whose touch, look, or bite could kill, she charms them all.

Simon discovers that Meg is a cassandra sangue who has been held with similar girls against their will. When a cassandra sangue is cut, their blood produces prophecies for wealthy patrons who willingly pay large sums to get a glimpse of the future. Covered with scars, Meg hides from her human tormentor, known as the Controller, who plans to recapture his “property.”

Anne Bishop nicely weaves this impossible story with believable characters. Deadly creatures tiptoe around the innocent girl, attempting to protect her from harm as she, in turn, saves them from danger using her own unique abilities.

Enthusiastic about the story and wanting to read more about what happens, I immediately read the next book, A Murder of Crows. In this second of the series, Meg’s secret is out. Lieutenant Montgomery, a local human detective, realizes the problems and the escalating conflict between human and indigene. Arrogant humans do not realize what they stir up when they use the blood of the cassandra sangue to create a drug that incites the indigene and humans into a frenzy so that they will attack each other. These uncontrolled behaviors are meant to start a war between the species. When Meg is attacked, the elemental, Winter, exacts revenge by sending a devastating storm, which almost wipes out the nearby human town.

Meg cuts herself to cause prophecy in hopes of saving her fellow protectors. She reveals a series of strange images that warns of the drug baited in meat left for the indigenes to eat. Her actions attract the notice of the Controller who sends out several hunters to recapture her.

The second book is just as good as the first and is the reason that I just got back from the library with the third one called, Vision in Silver.

I wanted to find out what happens next to characters I have come to care about. The idea of deadly creatures doing everything they can to protect a particularly vulnerable young girl because she treats them well, makes a touching story. I also wonder how the other human who respects the terra indigenes will fare, the divorced detective Lieutenant Montgomery for example.  And then there is the werewolf, Simon, who is half in love with Meg and struggles with that fact. I want to plunge myself back into this fascinating world. The fifth in the series, Etched in Bone, just came out and is now available.

Thus the power of writing a series…if it is good enough.

And I found this one was.

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Filed under Alien and human bonding, alien life forms, Alien worlds, Best selling author, Cutting Edge Science ideas, fantasy series, hard science, Marketing and selling novels, Paranormal Romance, Self-publishing, YA science ficiton

Author: Juggler in disguise

As an author, I often feel like a juggler, tossing a multitude of balls around, trying to get everything accomplished.

First ball that gets thrown into the air is the time needed for the actual act of writing. Many experts suggest delegating specific segments of time each day to write.

Doesn’t work in my life.

Sometimes my creative juices are flowing and the words pour out. At other times, I stare at the wall wondering what is going to happen next, or I have other events that demand my attention. Yesterday, I was at the dentist.

That’s when Larry Brook’s outline suggestions help me move to the next chapter. When I start a book, I spend time laying out an outline that encompasses his plot points and pinch points. I have an idea of the overall scheme of the book. The devil is in the details as to how it is all going to happen.

But how do I know to do this?

Research.

That ball of time is important, but it takes time to learn about the writing game if you’re planning on being good. Hundreds of websites offer helpful advice of how to improve your writing. I have to balance what will make me better against what will confuse me. Not all advice is right for what I write. I have found that science fiction is written differently than, say, fantasy. Readers of science fiction want fast moving action with lots of tech toys and interesting science. The best stories also include relatable characters and an interesting plot. Fantasy leans more toward elaborate descriptions of time and place. Characters often have a mentor who guides an acolyte fighting against evil creatures. Often a magic system is in place. Rarely does it happen in a futuristic society. Romance readers require a still different format. Taking the time to understand your genre is critical.

Then there’s editing that bounces into the picture. I doubt there is any author that gets it right on the first draft. As for me, I have my writing group edit, I edit, and often a professional editor goes through it. I spend hours using the search/find on words such as that, was, looked, and lately some. I love to repeat words and often need to tighten up my sentences. So a lot of time is spent in the editing penalty box… And still I find errors. I also edit over fifty pages a week for my writing group as a reciprocal for their edits. However, I find editing others’ work helpful to understand what makes my stories sing.

The third segment that I have to juggle around is blogging and reading other websites. I love to blog about my favorite books and read what other authors are doing. (hence, this blog) I spent a huge chunk of time on Utube watching Brandon Sanderson’s lecture series. It was helpful. I should interact more on Facebook, Twitter and others, but it takes so much time because I end up going down the garden path. You know what I mean. You start to read one article, and next thing, hours have passed and you’re asking: How did I end up here, and where has the time gone?”

I spend a major part of a day on my blog, but I can’t even begin to blog until I’ve read the book that I want to suggest. Have you seen how long some books are? Actually, it’s my own fault, as I like to submerse myself into a world. But keeping up on the reading is a major commitment.

Then there’s marketing. Gah! Now with this time sphere, you can vary your involvement. A signing or attending a convention takes a huge portion of time and money. Signing up for an ad takes only money and a little bit of time. An author has to weigh the results to his bottomline. Time needs to be spent researching the best avenue for marketing according to the author’s resources and situation. An author with a bestseller and an eager publishing house may spend days traveling and attending conventions or signings while a self-publisher with a modest pocketbook (like moi) may be more limited. Each individual has different options available. I attended a craft show and sold very little, but a fellow fantasy writer in her own hometown where she was well known sold sixty paperbacks at a Christmas open market. Seasonality can be key. And a book about a dog’s journey might sell at a vet’s, or an advice book sell in a small boutique, whereas science fiction might not sell well there.

Side note here is that next Friday (after Easter is over) my book Cosmic Entanglement will be advertised on Freebooksy and be offered free for a limited time only on April 20, 21, and 22. Although this is the third book of the series, it can be read first.

Time travel stories will let you do that.

Last Friday Free Kindle Books and Tips advertised Caught in Time. They just wanted a mention in my blog and here it is. So check them out. In March I advertised with Book Barbarian. They take only science fiction and fantasy, but I sold the whole series to a couple of readers.

You can buy the series and get a special price on Amazon. Amazon provides several ways that help authors sell. Check out my Author’s Central page under Sheron Wood McCartha.

Which brings me to the business part of the juggling act. Yes, if you are serious about the time commitments that you will need to make, then you should take the time to rough out a business plan or at least a business direction. We all know that if you don’t know where you are going, often you’ll get lost or end up in the wrong place. How many books do you plan to write this year? How much do you need to sell to pay for a cover? And, gosh, who’s going to do it? Do you keep track of sales? Do you even control that information? How are you going to publish and distribute? A big publisher? A small publisher? Self publishing? And how are you going to decide?

While you’re pondering that momentous decision and reading blogs about it or talking to colleagues, the laundry is beeping, you’re running out of food, and the house needs a vacuum. Maybe you have delegated some of these chores to a significant other, but life and family still come rolling in and want attention. I have a smallish social life, but Sunday I’ll be attending a family and friends get together. I spent two hours at social security today so my daughter’s married name will be legal on her taxes.

Juggle. Juggle.

And finally, (or maybe not) is that ball with the great big word job. Whether you’re a mom, and your job is raising kids, or a wage earner out in the business world, that ten-ton ball can be hard to juggle around. You’ll have to reshape and be creative with your tosses.

It can be quite an act for anyone wanting to be an author.

****

This week I picked an unusual book for me.

I warned you.

I’m not one for fairies and such, but trans-dimensional worlds were involved, and again it was a Powell’s reading selection. I’m trying to keep up in my reading group and writer activities also.

It turns out that Tinker by Wen Spencer was delightful.

Tinker is a feisty, petite orphan who scratches out a living in a junkyard located in near-future Pittsburg, which now exists mostly in the land of the elves. A trans-dimensional gate built by her father is responsible for the situation. When a pack of wargs chases Windward, an Elven noble, into her scrap yard, she saves his life and becomes entangled in the royal elven court, which is full of intrigue. Tinker is one of very few who is able who understands the science involved in building the gate that brought Pittsburgh to the land of the elves. When certain enemies discover that, she becomes vulnerable to kidnapping by those who want to control or destroy the gate.

Possessing genius level mental ability, steel-toed boots, and a “take no prisoners” attitude, she takes on the NBA, the Elven court, technology smugglers, and an amorous, but powerful, elf out to change her life in disturbing ways.

A delightful, fun romp with engaging characters and non-stop action, Tinker takes everything in stride, including her first kiss.

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Filed under Alternate Reality in Literature, Alternate Universes, Best selling author, fantasy series, Marketing and selling novels, modifying humans, Paranormal Romance, Self-publishing, the fae, Wizards and magic

Ebook Marketing and Talking Starship Crew Members

IMG_9518Sometimes I can control time.

It’s a Talent I have.

I told myself I needed to wake up at 12:00 a.m. so that I can take my next set of pain pills. As most of you know, I did a little stair sliding recently and broke a shoulder bone..the humerus. So I’m not as funny as I used to be.

Not recommended at all! Very painful. I need my meds.

In pitch dark, my eyes blink open to see the digital clock click over to exactly 12:00 a.m. Time for my meds.

How did I do that?

And it happens on a regular basis.

With all of time swirling around me, how can I pluck out the exact moment that I need to wake up?

Do humans connect more subconsciously with the universe than we realize? Will we ever be able to use this connection? Do we already use this connection in some way? Or is it just a random event?

As you might know, I’m exploring ebook marketing programs. For me, the KDP Select platform has been successful. My numbers are still coming in, and last month I did very little with any marketing.

Remember the stair sliding/wall smashing bit?

In April I intend to do a guest blog over at my friend Diana’s website and interview her on my blog here. She has several intriguing fantasy novels published that I want to mention.

EarthriseThis week I went to my Kindle shelf to select Earthrise by M.C.A. Hogarth to review. I have signed up at various sites that offer free and discounted books. on a daily basis. To a certain extent, these sites curate books by price, genre, popularity (number of five star reviews) and other factors often selected by the customer.

This is a dramatic shift in how books are bought.

I am conflicted about this trend. I recognize the desperate need for a way to select out the better books from the overwhelming tsunami of books being currently published and shoved out to a bewildered public. I also see the need for Amazon to have competition. However, my email box is getting jammed with advertising by Bookbub, Freebooksy, Sweetfreebooks, ebooks daily and other such services that now proliferate the web. Okay, so I signed up and can unsubscribe if I want. But, cleaning out the various email boxes is becoming another boring time sink.

Surprising is the growth of my sales via Kindle Unlimited and The Kindle Library for Prime members. Based on the Netflix model of a monthly fee, my sales in that arena have skyrocketed. This a a double-edged sword in that Amazon doesn’t set a fixed amount for the sales, but sales are dependent on how many books are sold and how much Amazon puts in the coffer that month. The question for the author is: would this book have sold the usual way if not in the program or was the book an incremental sale? The income from this kind of sale is not considered a royalty, and the net profit to the author is set at the whim of Amazon.

And yet, it is an increasingly popular way readers are now buying books…especially the voracious reader. If your book was not there sitting on the KindleUnlimited shelf ready to be plucked off for someone’s Kindle library, would another book be the one chosen instead of yours? Would that sale have gone to another author? Let’s face it, after 10% of the book is read, Amazon pays you whether the reader finishes the book or not. Those nickels add up, and no initial fee is required from you, the author. Neither program costs a dime, except in the opportunity cost of sales on other sites due to Amazon’s requirement of 90 days exclusivity.

It was while scanning my email and discounted book sites that my eye caught Earthrise by M.C.A. Hogarth for $.99. Normally I don’t read science fiction where the aliens are talking animals or the aliens so alien that it is hard to relate to them. But the blurb sounded interesting, I got a deal on it, and soon found myself enjoying the story so much that I couldn’t put it down.Rosepoint

The story concerns Reese Eddings, a feisty, independent, black female who comes from a maternal culture that expects their women to return home and procreate. Instead, Reese scrapes together her funds, one being a mysterious loan from a very wealthy benefactor, the other from family resources, to gather enough to buy a broken down ship and pay her micro crew their salary. For several years she struggles this way, her nose barely above water.

She manages to assemble a fascinating and diverse crew onto her ship, Earthrise. The ship is run more like a family than a business enterprise. Irine and Sascha are Harat Shar, twin felinoids from the pelted universe. Think lusty cats that can fly space ships. Also on board is Kis’eh’t who is a Glaseahn and carries a centaurean body shape that includes two sturdy black arms, four black and white legs, feathered ears, a flicking tail and two small leathered wings. Kis’eh’t’s calm personality and strength come in handy slinging cargo around.

Image 3Next, Breyer is a Phoenix or a large birdlike creature with metallic plumage and hidden talents and abilities. Finally, there is Allakazam, the Flitzbe, that strongly resembles a Star Trek Tribble and communicates through touch, color, and internal emotions. It carries healing abilities.

Contemplating the need to crawl back to her family for yet more money in order to survive has given Reese an ulcer and digestive problems that she tries to solve by escaping into a good Eldritch and human romance story.

And then, after all those years, her long ago wealthy benefactor resurfaces and calls in the loan. Reese won’t have to pay back the money, however, but rather rescue an Eldritch prince out of the clutches of drug smuggling pirates.

Hogarth deftly has this ragtag crew bumble into the pirate’s den and attempt a daring, edge-of-your-seat rescue. Upon meeting him, Reese denies any feelings for the unusual and unbelievably handsome Eldritch prince, Hirianthial. The ship returns to Harat Shar for much needed repairs where Hirianthial would be better served if he listened to Reese and did the opposite of what she claims she wants. Meaning well, crew member Sascha recognizes the growing bond between their captain and the intriguing Eldritch and tries to give the bewildered prince some romantic advice, whether he wants it or not. A few stumbling blocks hinder the process. Eldritch cannot stand to be touched or touch others as he becomes overwhelmed by the memories and emotions of the other. Also, Hirianthial is at least five hundred years old, give or take a few. And, he knows something about the pirates that they are desperate to cover up. They will do anything to recapture him and search out the Earthrise with a vengeance. Then Fleet learns of Reese’s connection to the pirates and gets into the act, entreating Reese to act as bait so they can swoop in and close down the drug ring.

Think C.J. Cherryh’s Chanur series to get a feel for the book. I found myself drawn into Reese’s escalating problems. A delightful book, I’m looking forward to how Reese will figure out how to survive it all.

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Filed under Alien and human bonding, alien life forms, Alien worlds, Aliens in Science Fiction, C. J. Cherryh, ebook marketing, ebook science fiction, gene modification, Indie authors, Indie Publishing, Marketing and selling novels, Paranormal Romance, science fiction, science fiction series, Science fiction thriller, Self-publishing, Space opera, space ship, space travel, The future of publishing

Costume Ideas from Science Fiction

 

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Halloween is coming, so get ready! Do you have your costume yet?

What Urban Fantasy book could you enjoy and get lots of ideas?

Why, that would be Skin Game by Jim Butcher, the latest in his Harry Dresden Series.

Jim Butcher writes Urban Fantasy, and although I’m not usually a reader of the genre, I am a fan of this series.Skin Game

Throughout the first several books, Harry has dealt with Vampires, Werewolves, the Fae, Chicago gangsters and every fantasy creature imaginable, including his faithful Foo dog and Bob, a genius spirit that resides on a shelf in a skull.

We have watched Harry develop from a sketchy, part-time detective, cooking up amateur potions in his underground basement, to becoming a full fledged wizard that gets killed and returns from the dead. He is now a warden of the White Council while serving as Maab’s Winter Knight…

A juggling act if ever there was one.

And when he yells, Forzare, Disperdorius, Lumios, or Artispinae, step back because powerful magic is about to happen.

Now in Skin Game, Maab, Queen of the Fae, lends him as her Winter Knight to assist Nicodemus Archleone of the Blackened Denarius as payback for a favor. Nicodemus pulls together a team that he plans to take into The Underworld in order to steal the Holy Grail. They have to blow up a Chicago mobster’s vault and pass through the three gates of Hades: the Gate of Fire, The Gate of Ice and the Gate of Blood.

Ghost StoryThe team consists of: Hannah Asher, expert of fire, Anna Valmount, safecracker extraordinaire, Goodman Grey, fantastical shapeshifter, Genoskwa, Bigfoot style monster who can go invisible, Binder who controls an army of men that leap from the ground and dissolve back into dirt, Deirdre’s, Nicodemus’s demonform daughter, Karrin Murphy, ex-cop and weapon obsessed sidekick to Harry, and Harry Dresden, wizard. Harry is traveling in dangerous company, most wanting to eliminate him from this world all over again, so he has to watch his back at all times.

However, Knight of the Cross, now retired, Michael Carpenter, takes up his sword again for Harry’s sake, and the Archangel Uriel makes an appearance, along with several other familiar Dresden characters, including Kris Kringle also known as Santa Clause and Hades, Greek god of the Underworld.

Plus, Waldo Butters…who?…well…you’ll just have to read the story.Summer Knight

In spite of the fantastical creatures that populate Dresden’s world, the story contains real human emotion as Harry and Michael struggle to protect their family and the world against evil.

Storm FrontIt also provides an array of imaginative creatures, any one of which would make a great Halloween costume.

So now, you have some ideas.

I have seen the power of offering free books. I’ve read where many believe that free or discounted books, once downloaded, sit somewhere on readers digital bookshelves, collecting digital dust where they never get read. So it was interesting to see the blog: Eleven Things You Don’t know About Bargain Ebook Buyers from Bookbub that indicates otherwise. Keeping in mind that Bookbub provides discounted and free books, I still found the information worth mentioning. Follow this link: http://unbound.bookbub.com/post/87615381745/11-things-you-dont-know-about-bargain-ebook-buyers for more specific data and information, but here’s the top eleven conclusions concerning Bargain Ebook Buyers.

  1. They are Power Readers
  2. They read everywhere: at home, while traveling, in bed, at work,
  3. They read primarily on Tablets
  4. They don’t just read e-books but read paperbacks and hardbacks also
  5. They have higher than average income
  6. They are genre readers: mysteries, thrillers, romance
  7. They buy full priced e-books
  8. They read the books they download
  9. They try new authors
  10. They become loyal fans
  11. They recommend the books they like.

As an ebook author, it’s food for thought I wanted to share.

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Filed under Alien and human bonding, alien life forms, Alien pets in science fiction, Aliens in Science Fiction, Best selling science fiction, ebook marketing, ebook science fiction, fantasy series, magic, Paranormal Romance, science fiction, science fiction series, the fae, Urban Fantasy, Wizards and magic

Calling on Angels

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If you’re one of my hard scifi readers, this week my writing has taken me off that path a bit.

I will return. (scramble, scramble)

Currently, I’m writing about one of my favorite characters–Angel. Angel is the offspring of two aliens who live on Alysia in seclusion. These are Enjelise that at one time protected the humans of Alysia and now have “evolved.” Modeled on our concept of angels, Angel doesn’t have wings like his parents, but he has been tasked with protecting Richard Steele’s daughter, Tempest, and it’s quite the challenge.

And fun to write about.

 While I was contemplating what to blog about, I recalled Sharon Shinn who wrote a whole series on a planet where angels ruled.

 Often as an author writes, great creative ideas seem to pop out of nowhere. I loved writing about the Enjelise and was rolling right along with them when I remembered Sharon Shinn and her series, and was surprised at how much they unconsciously influenced me.

 Where do we get our inspiration from? Sometimes I think an idea or concept is rolling around out there in the ether just waiting for creative people to harvest it, and at other times it’s buried in the subconscious and bubbles to the surface when needed.

 Well, I was bubbling.

 So I wanted to at least mention this author in case you’re inclined to this style of story.

Because I am.

I first read Sharon because the title of a particular book was so compelling, and then the reviews were also good.

The Shape-Changer's WifeThe Shape Changer’s Wife was such an intriguing title I wanted to read the book to see what the author would do with it.

 So authors, your title is important. It should draw in a reader.

 I enjoyed the story of Aubrey who decides he wants to learn more than his current University’s training offers and seeks out the most accomplished wizard of shape changing, Glyrenden. Odd events and and dark rumors cause Aubrey to try to figure out what is going on in the wizard’s household. Often Glyrenden goes off for long periods of time and leaves his wife, Lilith, alone. She carries a sad secret and Aubrey tries to help her. As he helps her, he discovers a lot about himself.

Archangel Because I liked that story, Sharon Shinn’s name came onto my radar screen, and then I discovered her Samaria Series. Samaria is a world dominated by angel like creatures that are beautiful, have wings, live high in the mountains and sing. Once each year the reigning Archangel and angels gather with the lesser humans and sing a chorale praising Jovah so that God will not smite the planet. The praising must be a duet of the Archangel and his wife.

Gabriel is the newly selected Archangel who will be elevated at the next celebration. Several challenges face him. First, the previous Archangel has created a division of poor and rich upon what had been an egalitarian society. The world is worse off, but Raphael doesn’t want to relinquish his power and step down and plots to thwart Gabriel’s election. Meanwhile Gabriel has delayed in seeking a wife and when he finally visits the oracle to learn who she must be, he finds out his chosen is a slave in an oppressed culture who dislikes the angels and is quick to tell him what is wrong with the world. Neither one is happy about the choosing and would rather marry another, but to save the planet, they try to make it work. However, Gabriel’s delay means he has only six months to do that.

The clock is ticking…and no one is co-operating.

Jovah's Angel An interesting love story with several twists and turns.

The series continues with the second book in the series, Jovah’s Angel and concludes with the Alleluia Files.Alleluia Files

 With the Alleluia Files, Shinn takes a fantasy series and sharply twists it into science fiction. Here’s where I had forgotten Shinn’s book and when I saw her name recently on a new series, it all started to resurface. In The Alleluia Files, a rebel Jacobite, Tamar believes the “God” of their world is more technology than deity and searches for the files of an angel, Alleluia, who proposes that a satellite ship circles Samaria controlling the weather and interacting with the angels when they sing, fulfilling the role of “God.” The current Archangel, Bael, is out to squash this idea and has ordered all Jacobites killed. But Tamar teams up with Jared, an Angel with an open mind, to discover the truth. This is an interesting finale to the trilogy.

 Sharon Shinn flavors her stories of Samaria with bible references and weaves a complex world of angels and humans, of love and conflict that you may enjoy.

Thirteeth House I also want to commend her Twelve House series. Here she revisits magic and shapeshifters. I loved The Thirteenth House, Reader and Raelynx,  Mystic and Rider and Dark Moon Defender–to name a few.Royal Airs

And recently out, her new Elemental Series, Troubled Waters, the first in the series, came out in April 2013 and the newest offering is Royal Airs out last November. In this series she works with the five elements that control everyone’s life in her created society. The society is full of court intrigue and dangerous liaisons and could take place in any of the European courts from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century.

Once again, an intriguing world with magic and romance, danger and dark deeds.

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Filed under Alien and human bonding, alien life forms, Alien worlds, Aliens in Science Fiction, Best selling science fiction, fantasy, genetic manipulation, Paranormal Romance, Wizards and magic

Best Selling and Most Popular Science Fiction and Fantasy of 2013

IMG_9518With the end of the year approaching, the “best of 2013” lists are starting to come out. I am always curious as to what others consider the best science fiction or fantasy novels of the passing year.

If you check out the current list of Amazon’s top science fiction and fantasy titles, a lot of the titles are more fantasy than science fiction. This list evolves from hour to hour, but it was difficult to find my version of science fiction that contains aliens, spaceships, or transhuman protagonists. There appears to be more stories along the lines of the contemporary fantasy tale, or contemporary supernatural on this particular list.

And media has a heavy impact on the choices. Currently, number one is George Martin, number two, Orson Scott Card and number three Toiken….all have a movie now showing or an upcoming T.V. series… Game of Thrones, Enders Game, and The Hobbit. 

Some names on the list I recognize, while others appear new and interesting.

Ocean at the end of the lane kindleNumber five is Neil Gaimon and his new novel, The Ocean at the End of the Lane. I was over number 100 on the library list for this one, but finally got it checked out and just finished reading it. I am amazed at the over 2,000 Amazon reviews, of which 1000 were five stars. However, eighty-five were only one star, and a large group gave him only three. Still, that’s awesome.

Just shows that we’re all individuals with individual tastes.

As for me, I didn’t know what to expect…and I was surprised. First off, the prose broke several rules for writing being handed around my current critique group. Gaimon is not afraid to use “was” or “had” and several of his paragraphs start with subject verb, many with “I” and a verb, even several paragraphs like that in a row. He uses flashback, first person viewpoint and never reveals the name of his narrator.

All that said, his writing flows and the story captivates.

The story is about a fiftyish year old man who returns to his hometown to attend a funeral and starts randomly driving around, but ends up at a neighbor’s farm near where he grew up.

A grandmother, mother and eleven year old girl lived there when he was a boy, befriending him, and as he shows up to visit, the grandmother warmly greets him, having not aged at all.

He asks to sit by their duckpond, which the young girl, Lettie, used to insist was an ocean. She has gone away and is not there, and he misses his childhood friend. There he reminisces over a pivotal event in his childhood where innocently he became a nexus and doorway for an evil creature bent on taking over their world. Through subtle hints and innuendo, Gaimon paints the three residents as immortals living here on Earth in order to protect humans from malevolent entities that try to invade and inhabit our world.

For some reason, the young narrator totally trusts Lettie, and doesn’t blink when she reveals supernatural powers or calmly shoos nightmare creatures that show up occasionally.

The narrator leads the reader to suspend his or her disbelief and become immersed in fantastical events that sometimes turn dark…especially when evil invades the boy’s family and tries to control them.Anansi boys

I am surprised at the overwhelming popularity of the book, but I did finish it and was intrigued by Gaimon’s world. He has a big fan base and uses social media, tweeting often. (I follow him, Scalzi and others) The story walks a fine line between adult and YA fantasy. If you consider the grandmother, mother and Lettie as aliens (and Gaimon does hint that) then it has a bit of a science fiction slant. If you see them as the crone, the mother and the child, then there’s more of a mythic/legend quality to it.

Meanwhile, I am developing my reading selections for 2014. Some I will select from various “best lists” while others will be requests by new science fiction writers that appear interesting to me. It will be strictly personal taste.

And maybe we’ll visit a few of “the best of 2013” lists of science fiction along the way and talk about the choices there.

And BTW wish me a happy birthday today. I came down the chimney in a sack, it seems.

A New Year approaches, a package of wonder to unwrap and enjoy. Hope yours is a good one.

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Between Heaven and Hell

If you’re not writing or reading about dragons, then the next best thing is angels.

Or some say vampires, zombies and assorted ghouls. Paranormal romance seems to be the hot in thing.

Last week I was talking about Urban Fantasy and mentioned Jim Butcher’s series. I thought I was done with the genre, but as I was casting about for what to read this week, I stumbled across an old favorite who has given a new twist to his stories and falls into the Urban Fantasy genre and whalaa

Has an angel as his main character.

Meet Doloriel, advocate angel of the Third House, otherwise known as Bobby Dollar, and author Tad Williams of the Memory, Sorrow and Thorn series that was a favorite of mine back in the day. Tad Williams made a name for himself in the fantasy genre with this riveting and satisfying  chunk of fantasy. I recommend The Dragonbone Chair, The Stone of Farewell and parts 1 & 2 of The Green Angel Tower novels. These are not skinny little handbooks, but large tomes full of action and interesting characters.

Now he has come out with a totally different style and story in the form of The Dirty Streets of Heaven. The story is told in the first person, as if you and Bobby Dollar, advocate angel, are in an intimate conversation while all hell breaks loose around you…literally.

The story has a very Jim Butcher taste to it and if you like his Harry Desden series, you’ll like this too.

Angel Bobby Dollar has a past as an avenging angel, which turns out to be a fierce and dangerous job. So he knows survival techniques, but has opted for a quieter vocation as angel advocate in a San Francisco area town called St. Jude. When anyone dies, Bobby goes to bat for their good side, trying to get him/her to heaven against someone from the lower region who reviews his/her life in hopes of gaining a new resident in Hell. Earth is a battle ground between heaven and hell.

Life is supposed to be quieter and healthier as an advocate, but  when a valuable article is stolen from a Lord of Darkness, fingers point to Doloriel as the culprit. Soon Bobby has a monstrous beast that is an undead avenger after him, a high level seductress and she-demon called the Countess of Cold Hands who tempts him, and a new suspect angel Haraheliel whom they call Clarence in homage to “It’s A Wonderful Life.”

Events go from bad to worse as Angel Bobby goes on the lam to figure out what’s been stolen and what’s really going on. Then souls go missing at judgement day. Both Heaven and Hell are in an uproar and Bobby is right in the middle of it all.

Wild times guaranteed.

Now for those of you that ask, “What happened to the scifi gal with cutting edge science facts?”

Here’s a tidbit that titillated me. http://inhabitat.com/transgenic-spider-goat-hybrids-produce-tougher-than-steel-silk/

David Pogue hosts several shows on the television series of Nova that are very well done. In “Making things stronger,” he mentions transgenic goats whose milk contains the gene components of spider silk. Two genes from the silk spider are inserted into a goat’s embryo. Their milk can be processed so that it produces spider silk. Spider silk, it turns out, is stronger than steel or kevlar, and is one of the strongest substances in nature.

Think of the possibilities!

There’s still a ways to go with it, but we are breaking new ground in genetics every day…see my blog “Slice and Dice” back in November 2, 2011.

Now if they could only make up a “Marilyn Monroe Cocktail” for me. With my luck, I’d turn dumb and suicidal.

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