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Friday, August 31, 2012

Blue Moon On The Rise


Folklore often gets its start when something in the natural world seems unexplainable. Science-fiction tends to reflect what might be in the future.

A blue moon can bring these two aspects together. 

Blue moons are not blue. But they are fairly rare--once every 19 years or so. Full moons in general can cause all kinds of mischief on beings comprised of 70% water (that's us). What special shenanigans can happen once every 19 years? What about today? What about 19 years in the future--at the next blue moon.

Science fiction authors have long imagined what could happen during such an event and a few random books are below.

Explore the sci-fi imagination--which is a lot more prolific than a blue moon.

    
Beyond the Blue Moon
  
Blue Moon SF Anthology
Blue Moon  

Blue Moon

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

What to blog about?


I’ve been trying to figure out what to blog about.  I can’t do my next scifi book because it’s not finished.  I can tell you about it though. The name of the new book is The Swords of Gregara – Honora.  It starts off with the hero and heroine captured and forced to be gladiators.  Can you tell I’ve been watching Spartacus?  We missed it when it was on television so are watching it on DVD.  I can tell you this.  It’s not for children.  It’s violent, has a lot of nudity but the story line is fantastic.  I can imagine that Rome was really like that.  We know from history that Rome was violent and decadent and this series shows all of that.

Now back to my new book, they don’t stay gladiators, they do escape and then they go to another planet for the rest of the story.  I just have to figure out what EXACTLY they are going to do when they get to the other planet. 

A lot of people think that just because you are creating your own world that it’s easy to write.  WRONG!  Sometimes I think it’s harder to write one of my sci-fi’s than it is my historical’s.  Actually most of the time because I don’t have to create the background.  It’s there in the history books just waiting for me to use it.

With my worlds, I have to decide everything.  What the planet looks like, what kind of government they have, why kind of animals, what are the people like.  Every little thing has to be determined, even if it doesn’t make it into the book.

Then, because I’m an indie writer, I get to decide on what my cover looks like.  I have the help of a cover artist, but in the end, if it works or not, it’s entirely my fault.  That’s what I’m working on in-between writing the book.  I’m trying to find a stock image of a woman with two swords.  I’ve found several, but not the right one yet.  That’s okay, I haven’t finished the book yet so I have some time.  
Monday, August 27, 2012

NOAH'S ARK HAS A KICKING COVER!



This cover is so good, actually, that it is a finalist in the ARIANA Awards (winners announced in 2013). This is all due to the wonderful talent of Jenifer Ranieri, who designs covers for Desert Breeze Publishing. Jenifer designed covers for all the books in the series, and Book One, WHITE TIGER, won not only the ARIANA in the Science Fiction category, but also the QUASAR AWARD, as the Best Overall eBook cover of 2009.

Many of Desert Breeze covers are finalists in this contest, and I am very proud of being published by them.

For those of you not familiar with the CHRONICLES OF KASSOUK series, here is the blurb for NOAH'S ARK, the prequel to the entire series:

Find this series at all eBook retailers:
AMAZON KINDLE - B&N NOOK - ALL ROMANCE EBOOKS, etc.

When Trixie's starfreighter, Noah's Ark, drops out of jump space in an uncharted part of the universe, she believes the M-class planet on her viewer represents hope and salvation for her motley crew and the ragtag settlers aboard her ship.

Kostas, ex Space Marine, the expert survivalist recruited for this expedition, doesn't believe in coincidences, and knows that when something looks too good to be true, it usually is.

Everyone on this voyage to seed a new planet with life, is running from something, and harbors dangerous secrets... including Trixie, who vowed to never let a man control her life again. As for Kostas, he would get lynched if anyone suspected who he really is. But on this seemingly abandoned planet, others are watching, herding them for evil purposes... And when the truth emerges and secrets unravel, Trixie and Kostas will have to fight for survival, for freedom, and for the right to love...

And here is the award-winning cover of WHITE TIGER:


HAPPY READING

Vijaya Schartz
Blasters, Swords, Romance with a Kick
Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Where Have All the Good Sci-Fi Shows Gone?

The Fall TV season starts in October and this will be the second year without a science fiction TV series.  Once Upon A Time, Grimm, and Supernatural fill the paranormal/fantasy genres but the last true science fiction show I watched was Stargate Universe (and it didn't measure up to the original Stargate SG1).

Where are the space explorer and starship shows?

Growing up there were tons of cartoons and tv series involving aliens and space exploration.  Votron, Battle of the Planets, Star Blazers, and Transformers. TV shows like Buck Rogers, Battlestar Galactica, and the Star Trek series and its spinoffs.

In the 1990s and 2000s, we had shows like Babylon 5, Andromeda, Stargate SG1 (and its spinoffs), Firefly and the Battlestar Galactica remake.  But in 2011 and 2012 we are without space exploration. I can't believe there isn't an audience for these type of shows.

Is this a new trend?  Next summer the sequel to the Star Trek reboot movie will come out.  Do you think this will bring a resurgence in science fiction tv?
Monday, August 20, 2012

The Three Worst Sci-fi/Fantasy Movies I've Ever Seen

I have to admit, we don't watch a ton of sci-fi movies. Generally it consists of Predator, Alien, Star Trek, and unfortunately, the Transformers series. On occasion we'll hit the theater or rent one that I'm pretty sure I hate, but if I watch it again or think about it really hard, I find I like it. Cowboys and Aliens, for example. At first I had a hard time putting my suspension of disbelief away on that one, but upon re-watching it, I liked it. Maybe there was a guy with stinky feet sitting behind me in the theater and it skewed my thought process--who knows? And I'm caught in limbo right now because I can't decide if I liked John Carter or not. At the end of it was going, what just happened?

Today I'm going to list the top three sci-fi/fantasy movies I hope I never have to watch again whether it's because of low budget or bad writing.

#1 - Alien 3000 - We picked this up at Movie Gallery (when there still was such a place) a few years ago thinking it was somehow related to the Alien vs. Predator franchise. We were wrong. Very, very wrong. I'm pretty sure it was just a ploy to get some soft core porn made into a movie. The first five minutes is a couple making out and the girl's boobs hanging out. This is my all-time Worst Movie Ever pick. When you pick up the box it says it starts Lorenzo Lamas. I didn't know who that was, but my husband did. During the cheesy special effects the trucks kept changing models, the computer graphics looked like they came from the original Nintendo, and no one in this movie could act their way out of a wet paper sack. Fortunately at Movie Gallery you could take a movie back, tell them you hated it, and they'd give you a free rental.

#2 - Transmorphers - This is the movie that made me realize my husband and I need to learn to read. We foolishly (again) assumed this had something to do with Transformers (because the first one wasn't that bad, you know?). This movie was so hokey with bad effects and acting, I couldn't even finish watching it. Honestly, I'm not even sure what to tell you about it aside from: stay away!

#3 - Journey to Promethea - Go look at the cover for this movie. Tell me it doesn't look that bad. It has Billy Zane in it. He . . . well, he used to be a good actor. The sound quality was terrible, but that doesn't cover half of it. They actors simply couldn't act, the camera jiggled, the writing was less than subpar. Let's put it this way: once in high school some friends and I filed Barbie dolls "acting" out The Scarlet Letter. This movie was right on par with that, only it had real people moving their mouths, but that's about it. To distract from the wretchedness of the movie, they put in girls with big boobs. I think that's what a lot of sci-fi/fantasy movie directors and producers think the audience wants.

Off to watch a quality science fiction movie--Serenity. What are some of the worst movies you've ever seen?

When I'm not shuddering in horror at bad movies, I'm blogging at Have Novel, Will Edit, hanging out on Facebook, Twitter and G+.
Wednesday, August 15, 2012

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO FLUFFY AND FIDO IN FICTION?




According to the ASPCA 62% of US households have pets, 78.2 million dogs and 86.4 million cats, so my question is: What's happened to Fluffy and Fido in books, TV and movies?

Companion animals are a big part of life for most people in the United States, so why are they generally missing from our fiction? TV shows, movies and books that do show a character with a pet are few and far between. Granted, it might be difficult for the screen writers to figure out how to weave a pet into a movie like Batman or Spiderman. Then again, wouldn't it increase the audience's empathy for Bruce Wayne or Peter Parker if they had a pet? Dr. Evil in Austin Powers had a cat. Why can't our heroes and heroines have one?


I'm not sure when I noticed the lack of pets in fiction, but once I did I started looking at my own writing and discovered that I'm as guilty of this serious crime as everyone else. As a result of this eye-opening revelation I've vowed to include more four-legged, fur-bearing varmints in my books.


Hubby and I watch a lot (probably way too much) TV and movies and in most of them none of the characters have pets. In fact, thinking back to the current shows we watch I can't name one other than Warehouse 13, which has a dog. But most of the time the dog is just set dressing. Not a true companion to any of the show's characters. I guess the writers of the shows don't want the characters to have to worry about getting home to let the dog out like people in real life do. But it would certainly add a touch of realism to the shows.


Hubby and I love the shows Modern Family, The Middle and Hot In Cleveland, but here again not one of the characters has a pet. Not even a hamster or a canary. Why not? Even the older sit-com Home Improvement, which was about a typical Michigan family with three boys, didn't have any pets. Now, I raised two boys, and during that time I think we had just about every variety of pet available - dogs, cats, birds, mice, gerbils, hamsters, rats - I drew the line at insects and reptiles. So I find it difficult to accept that not one of the boys in the Taylor household ever lobbied for a dog, a cat or some other creepy crawly pet.


That's not to say there aren't many, many TV shows, movies and books "about" animals, but unless the storyline revolves around an animal or animals, pets as companions to the main characters seem to be missing from both the big and little screens, as well from the pages of books. Of all the books (romance, sci-fi, mainstream) I've read since the beginning of the year I can only think of a few where the main characters owned a pet of any sort.

So my question is why are Fluffy and Fido missing? And what can we as authors do to bring them back?  Or have I just been watching the "wrong" TV shows and movies and reading the "wrong" books?


Friday, August 10, 2012

Who's Your Captain?

I love all the Star Trek Series and movies. But I have to admit there is only one captain, who is my favorite: Jean-Luc Piccard. So here, in no particular order, are my top ten reasons why he's my favorite.

Bald can be beautiful. Well at least it was on him.
He was an excellent leader.
He had a wicked sense of humor.
He didn't always have to be the hero. My favorite episode is when he is captured and tortured and his captor is trying to tell him the number of lights hanging over him.
Not every episode was about what was in his uniform pants.
He encouraged his crew to innovative be but could keep a firm hand on them.
He believed in right and wrong, and was smart enough to do right in spite of the regulations.
He knew when not to lead.
He took responsibility for the actions of his crew, even when they weren't following his orders. His punishments were fair and just.
He knew when he needed a break from action--such as when he was captured and when he'd become a Borg.

I think we could use a few leaders like Jean-Luc Piccard.
Wednesday, August 8, 2012

It's on everyone's mind

It's on everyone's mind, on their tongues, on their TV's.  The Olympics.

I have to admit there are a few of the games that get my heart pumping.  The swimming and of course, the gymnastics.  I remember being in the 8th grade and doing the floor exercise.  I was not prepared for it nor adept at it.  I felt like the elephant in the pink tutu in Fantasia.  I was dressed for the part but that was all.

That;s why I love watching the girls gymnastics competition.  Those young women make it look so very easy but I know first hand it's not easy.  Not to look graceful and athletic at the same time.  They've put in long hours of practice.  Worked endless hours honing their craft.

We as writers also spend long hours working on our craft.  We make it look easy.  It's not.   Creating our worlds takes time and effort.  Perhaps we don't put in the physical effort that the gymnasts do, but the mental effort is the same and just as important.

We make it look easy.  So much so that I hear all the time, "Oh, anybody can write a book."  Or perhaps, "I'm taking next weekend off to write my book, that should be enough time."  Well guess what.  They can't.  Not everyone can write a book, just as not everyone can be a gymnast.  It doesn't take long to decide if you are a writer or not.  There are many who believe that no matter what they do and how they write, that they are a writer.

Maybe I'm one of those.  My goal is not to write the next great american novel, but to entertain my audience.  For a few short hours my books take you away from your "normal" life.  Away to the old west or to another planet.  Away from your worries, your job, your housework.  They are only entertainment.

So when I see someone who calls my books trash because they are romances, I know they've never read a romance and they've never had romance in their life.  Maybe they've never been truly in love.  Willing to stand by your mate through thick and thin.  Will to sacrifice all for that person even to the detriment of yourself.  They've never known a love so great as that.  They've not gotten their happily ever after and belittle those who have and like to read about them.

I've got my happily ever after to my own romantic hero.  A hero who brings me flowers when I'm having a down day.  Who holds me and lets me cry for no apparent reason.  Who loves me above all else.  Who can sit with me and watch me holler at the screen during the Olympics when my countries athletes are on the screen.

 My own romance hero.  Do you have yours?

Leave me a comment and be entered into a drawing for a paperback copy of my Centauri Series:  The Complete Collection.
Monday, August 6, 2012

SUMMER SERIES ON TV: FALLING SKIES by Vijaya Schartz



I’m really enjoying this post apocalyptic series, full of drama, action, twists and, of course, romance. The world is invaded by hostile aliens, most of the humans are dead, the few who survive are organizing themselves military style. A story wouldn’t be complete without what makes the world go round, so there is romance as well. Very well acted, wonderful special effects for television. You can’t go wrong with Spielberg when it comes to drama.

But I’m starting to wonder where this story is going. We are on the second season, and have been acquainted with all kinds of alien creatures, the alien harness used on human children to make them compliant, some giant armed robots bent on destroying humans but only when they get in the way, the crawlies, and now a revolt of the skitters, six-legged creatures from another world, previously enslaved by the alien overlords and now working for them.

I’m still waiting to see some depth to the story and the plot. The overlords say they are acting for the greater good but use ruthless methods. It seems the aliens are all bad and the humans, except for a few bad apples and turncoats, mostly good. I have a problem with that. We don’t even know yet, towards the end of season two, why the alien overlords came to Earth. What I gathered from what I saw is that they seem to be recycling metal, but you don’t need our planet for that. For space travelers, the universe if full of raw metal.

As for romance, it flourishes in the most unexpected places. The young among the human resistance have raging hormones, of course, but the responsible adults also experience love despite the dire circumstances. Love has become a symbol of hope.

It’s Sunday nights on TNT. I’ll keep watching.

Vijaya Schartz
Blasters, Swords, Romance with a Kick
Find my sci-fi romances in paperback and eBooks.
Friday, August 3, 2012

Sci-Fi Films--Are There Original Stories Left?

Total Recall


Science-fiction used to be where boundaries were pushed and new horizons explored. Yet Hollywood seems to be in the business of regurgitation. The majority of summer films this year were/will be sequels or reboots. If a movie is really good, I don't care all that much whether it's been done before. But a redo seems to be a contrary theme when sci-fi is all about new ideas.

It's been fun watching gadgets and technologies plied on board the Enterprise (original and NextGen) come to be something we use on a daily basis--communicators (cell phones) video glasses, phasers (the military uses them)...I'm still waiting for the food replicator to be invented (and I won't be ordering tea, Earl Gray, hot).

Dredd
 So with all this forward thinking and invention sci-fi offers, why are ideas being recycled?

Spiderman, Total Recall, Batman, The Hobbit, Dredd, GI Joe...may all be great movies, but why the dearth of original ideas?? With the advents of indie publishing, Hollywood should be awash in fresh ideas in sci-fi and sci-fi romance. Maybe in this tight economy, no one--including film studios--wants to take the risk. A retread or sequel already has built-in marketing, built-in recognition. A brand-spankin' new idea must start from scratch.

But if sci-fi is not about risk, what is?

Apocalypse Babes--time-travel, frenemies, pink velour.

I encourage sci-fi fans to give indie authors a chance--especially those listed on this blog. Wild ideas, far-fetched scenarios, mind-bendy world-building, and heart-melting romance await those who are willing to take a risk.

Because pushing the boundaries with fresh ideas is what sci-fi is all about.


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

What sports would you include in the Space Olympics?

I'm one of those people NBC dreams of because I've been watching the Olympics day and night.  In the morning, I'm watching Tennis, Equestrian and Water Polo.  In the afternoon, there is Vollyball, both indoor and beach, Swimming heats and Rowing.  And at night there's Diving, Swimming, and Gymnastics.


It's difficult to pick a favorite. I enjoy seeing events that you don't generally get to watch. Competitive Skeet Shooting doesn't exactly make primetime entertainment on ESPN. But I can't help but think what kind of events you'd have in Outer Space.  


You could race rockets around the solar system maybe dodge astroids. The long and high jumps could reach new heights in the lower gravity of the moon.  Although I'm afraid all the water events would have to be left on Earth. But imagine the dance and tumbling moves you could perform. 


What games would you like to see in the Outer Space Olympics?

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