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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween

It was always my favorite holiday as a child and continues to be as an adult.  Nothing makes me happier than to give tons of candy to a cute little witch or spiderman.  I always dress up.  I’m the witch lady.  I’m a nice witch, I take off my witches hat for the little ones.  It scares them..

And it’s the little ones that I love to see.  The big teenagers, unless they are my neighbors and unless they are escorting  their smaller siblings, can take a hike.  I wish I could say to them.  “Go home you’re too old for Halloween trick or treating” but if I did, I’d end up with my house teepee’d.  So not worth the headache.

How old were you when you quit trick or treating?  I was fifteen and then only the houses that we knew were waiting for us.  We had some neighbors, who always waited for us with homemade caramel apples or caramel corn.  The year I turned 16 we told her that we wouldn’t be coming by that year.  She was sad.  I guess she really looked forward to us coming by.

Tell me your Halloween traditions or your favorite Halloween as a child.  Do you love Halloween or hate it?
Monday, October 29, 2012

ANYONE WATCHING ARROW? by Vijaya Schartz



Stephen Amell - Yum

 I found myself entranced this fall by the new TV show on CW6, ARROW.  Although not exactly sci-fi, it touches upon the modern superhero genre.

Besides, you have to love Stephen Amell, who looks just as good in his gruff workout clothes as in the most expensive Armani suit.

You've got to love these muscles


But here is what the premise is about:

The young hero, spoiled son of a captain of industry (zillionaire)  was lost at sea for five years when his father's yatch sank. Then he is found, sole survivor, and returned to society. He is not the spoiled brat anymore, but a man with a mission to find and kill the cabale of greedy exploiters his father denounced before he killed himself in the life boat, thinking they were lost at sea.

When the hero returns things have changed. His mother married his dead father's associate, his girlfriend is now dating his best friend. His younger sister is into drugs and decadence (the life he used to live before).

Doesn't his family estate remind you of Batman's Mansion?

The hero now leads a double life, zillionaire by day and a superhero by night. He has horrific scars on his body (but he is still gorgeous, of course). Some call the new vigilante in town Robin Hood, because of his hood and his favorite weapon, the bow and arrow. A very sophisticated bow and high tech arrows, not your run of the mill long bow.

The theme reminds me of a cross between Batman and the Count of MonteCristo. He seems highly motivated by revenge, not sure where that motivation comes from yet, but it has to do with his father's suicide.

Each episode adds to the motivation through flashbacks of the hero's life on his small island. He was not alone there and had to learn to fight just to survive. He had a teacher who saved his life. Many mysteries are alluded to. Like some paramilitary presence on the island, savage hunter tribes, and much more to discover in the coming episodes. I'm hooked.

If you like modern superheroes, you might like ARROW on CW6 on Wednesdays. Feel free to share your thoughts on that TV series.

Vijaya Schartz
Blasters, Swords, Romance with a Kick
Friday, October 26, 2012

When Sci-Fi Stories Collide




I was one of the millions of The Hunger Games readers sucked into Katniss' world, eagerly awaiting each new release. Seldom have I been on a literary ride than what I experienced with Suzanne Collins writing.

I will admit up front that the third book disappointed me bitterly--because I had so much invested in it, and as I searched for sympathy online, I found a group of nerds grumbling about the story line being ripped straight from a Japanese film called Battle Royale


There are components of The Hunger Games that seem to come directly from Battle Royale--the fight to the death between children, the televised aspect, the site-wide announcement of each child who dies...but there was also a major difference. Where THG focused on a culture obsessed with being entertained (think Katniss crossed with the arena fights in Roman coliseums), Battle Royale focuses on a culture disgusted with its youth to the point where they are rounded up and forced to fight to the death. Think The Hunger Games meets Lord of the Flies




Despite the similarities, the stories are very different in tone and subtext, and for me, Battle Royale was harder to watch. Because when the society of grown ups give up, kids will probably turn on each other whether or not there's an arena full of weapons.

Battle Royale is not for the faint of heart, but like The Hunger Games, it has a lot to say about our modern culture. 

And therein lies the power of science-fiction.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Is there enough time?


Time is a commodity we can not control. I'm teaching my middle schooler at home this year.  And I've lost all kinds of time. Between spending my days helping him and late afternoons with my 3rd grader, who is having issues, I've not written anything since August.  The words are stacking up and I hope they make sense when I can spew them onto the page again.
This week in Literature, my son is reading "Rip Van Winkle." While I'm busier than I'd like to be, I wouldn't want to sleep 20 years away. I'd like time to slow down, not pass me by. Or maybe I'll move to another planet with six more hours in the day...use an hour or two of extra sleep and more time to cross things off the todo list.

How about you, do you want longer days or a few years timeout? 


(And since it's October we also read "The Headless Horseman")
Wednesday, October 17, 2012

SNEAK PEEK of STAR CRASH

Today I'm being a bit lazy and instead of writing a post I thought I'd give you a peek inside my sci-fi romance STAR CRASH. This excerpt comes from a bit past the mid-way point, after Cora and Alexander have escaped from the alien zoo. Only now they're being held captive by another group. I hope you enjoy.

BLURB:
 When Planet of the Apes meets Star Trek what's a girl to do?

After recon pilot Cora Daniels crash lands on an alien planet she finds herself a prisoner of the Flock: a race of birdlike humanoids. Trapped in their zoo she discovers they intend her to mate. To breed. To be part of their human herd.

She's placed in a cage with a man - a powerful, virile man, but not just any man - Alexander. Was he her lost love, who'd disappeared so long ago? Here he was: naked, glistening, a warrior trained by the Flock to fight for their amusement. How could the brilliant man, the tender lover she remember have become this animal born to dominate and destroy? Was he a pawn of the Flock or would their flight to freedom be a long-sought reunion?





STAR CRASH
CHAPTER SEVENTEEN
Excerpt

Oblivious to the warm fire burning in the hearth, the tantalizing aroma of roasting meat and fresh-baked bread, Cora paced the comfortable single women's quarters in short angry strides.

"Stupid. Stubborn. Wrong-headed. Men." Her words kept time with her steps. With each pass, as if she were some exotic wild beast thrust into their presence, the girls flinched away in prudent caution.

A hand touched her shoulder. Startled out of her tirade, Cora swung her arm at the offender. At the last moment she reached out and kept the girl from falling.

"Analyn. I'm sorry. You caught me off guard. Are you all right? Did I hurt you?"

"I'm fine. You did me no harm," Analyn assured her.

"What are you doing here? I thought this was the single women's quarters."

"It is. We came to speak with you." She pointed to another woman. Cora recognized Nala, the woman who'd been with the little girl, Lana. "Sit with us, please." Analyn patted the seat beside her. "I and my sisters wish to know what's happening."

Nodding in agreement, their fear of Cora forgotten, the girls crowded near. Cora looked at the dozen or so girls ranging in age from early teens to the oldest of twenty. Here in the single women's quarters they had shed their robes and veils, revealing the real, vibrant young women beneath. "You're all sisters?"

Analyn laughed. "Only in the sisterhood of all women."

Women? Hah! They were girls, mere babies. Kept in a gilded cage by their fathers and brothers as they waited to be sold to the highest bidder as brood mares. In their treatment of women, the Erathians were little better than the Flock.

Analyn leaned toward Cora. "Is it true you and the warrior came from the sky in that silver transport? That on your world women are equal to men?"

"Yes, tell us," another girl prompted. "The men tell us little or nothing. We only know what we glean through gossip and eavesdropping."

"They think us too simpleminded and weak to understand," a third added.

"They make decisions that affect our lives without consulting us." Tears wetted Nala's cheeks. "The council ruled against my husband's petition for Lana and gave her to another clan. They claimed our clan already has its quota of female children from the raids, but the truth is that the other man offered more in trade. It's not fair."

Cora smelled a rebellion brewing. Apparently Erathian women were not as meek and biddable as their men believed. She grinned as a plan grew in her mind. Alex wasn't the only one who could make treaties and forge alliances.

"Ladies, ladies." She held up her hand. "One at a time. I'll answer all your questions."

She quickly explained the situation to the women, who caught on quickly. Then she used everything she'd ever learned from Alex about handling people to sway the women to side with her against their men. Awestruck, they listened as she spun them tales of Earth and the freedom women had there.

It didn't take much convincing. In a short while she had them agreeing to help her, and she laid out her hastily conceived plan.

"Are you sure you understand how dangerous what we're going to do is?" she asked Analyn one last time. Despite her young age, the girl was the obvious leader of the others, maybe because of her position as wife to the head of the council, but more likely due to her strong personality. Doubts about her plan churned in Cora's gut. Did she have the right to ask them to take this risk? She gave one last warning. "A lot can go wrong. If we're caught, your men will be angry. You'll face punishment from them. You could lose what little freedom you have now."

"It isn't true freedom if someone gives it to you. Freedom must be taken," Analyn said.

Cora wondered how the girl had gained such wisdom at so early an age. "And if my plan succeeds the stakes are even higher--death or a life as a Flock breeder."

The girl smiled grimly. "I may be young, but I'm not stupid. Though Ro'am's a good man and I love him now, I didn't come to him by my choice. My father arranged the match. As did or will the fathers or brothers of all of us here. We wish more from life for our daughters." Determination rang in her young voice.

"Okay then." Cora glanced at the women, for despite their tender years she revised her previous opinion. These were women, not girls. "Everyone know what they need to do?"

She watched in satisfaction as the women nodded in agreement. She pulled the hood of her robe up to cover her pale hair, and for the first time since arriving among these people secured a veil across her face. "Let's go."

STAR CRASH is the first book in my Star Chronicle series.
STAR RAIDERS is also available.




Sunday, October 14, 2012

Crop Circles - Things That Make Me Go Hmmm...


A crop circle or formation is a large pattern created by the flattening of a crop such as wheat, barley, rye, maize, or rapeseed. Documented cases of them have skyrocketed over the last several decades. 90 percent of them seem to 'crop' up (LOL) in England. Why, the jury is still out on that one.  One reason may very well be they've become just a great tourist attraction, actually to the point that hundreds of Americans flock to the UK every year on "crop circle tours".

I don't know about you, but when I think of crop circles I immediate think of UFO's and aliens, AND also Signs with Mel Gibson (I just love that movie).

There has been much debate over whether or not they are created by another life form or they're just a hoax, costing thousands of dollars in damage every year. Many who believe that alien life forms are the cause, quickly point out the lack of tracks and footprints at such sites.

Interesting enough, crop circles have changed over time. In the beginning, many looked very primitive with simple circles and little else while now the designs have grown to become complicated designs.

Either an aliens's technology to create such intrinsic designs has grown substantially or humans with a little help from computers have managed to create some beautiful aerial  patterns.

Interesting, if nothing else...

Friday, October 12, 2012

Creatures of Habit

One of the first things I do when getting to know my characters is to find out their habits. It sounds kinda of silly, but humans and many other animals on our blue planet rely on habits. Habits make us feel safe. Habits help us conserve energy.
And some habits provide insights to our past and our future.
Take, for example, a woman who obsessively checks her windows and doors to make sure they're locked. What does this say about her? That someone had broken into her house, that she was a victim of some crime or knew someone that was, or that there's a serial killer/rapist on the loose. Her behavior tells us something about her without the author telling us her backstory.
It also foreshadows the event that is about to happen to her. Someone is going to breach her defenses and strike where she is most vulnerable, where she feels safe.
Powerful stuff for both the reader and the writer.
But not all of our habits are about events to come. Take Sherlock Holmes. The name is practically synonymous  with deductive reasoning, logic and left-brained analytics. Yet, the man plays a violin--a decidedly right-brained, artsy hobby. And he plays it badly. This hobby says so much about the man--he thinks he can solve anything with logic and reason, he's tenacious, and he's wrong. This perfectly sets up his on-going fight with Moriarity, and his failure to lock him up.
So, the next time you start your world building look at your character's hobbies. They may be telling you something you never expected.
Wednesday, October 10, 2012

My Process by Cynthia Woolf


I haven’t a clue what to write about today.  I’m finding it harder and harder to concentrate and write between genres.  My next series is going back to the westerns and that is all I can think of at this moment.  So, I’m having a terrible time editing the last book in my The Swords of Gregara series, Honora.  She took it out of me and is the best of the series I think.

I've been asked how do you come up with ideas and what is the process of writing the book?  Well first the ideas.  They are all around us.  From the news, television shows, books I’m reading, movies I’ve seen.  One author I know got her whole book from one scene in the move Beauty and the Beast.  That’s right.  The cartoon.  That scene, the one of them dancing in the moonlight, made her ask what if.  That’s what we all do.  What if?  What if there was a planet that was medieval about most things but still had access to the latest in technology?  What if you were a princess from another planet, what would you do?

My next step after I get it edited is the cover.  I've got a picture picked out but haven’t been able to talk to my cover artist.  She is one of my critique partners and doesn't do cover art for anyone but those in the critique group.  I think my covers are fantastic, but it requires time for her and I to be able to sit down and talk about our visions of what it should be..

Once the book is written and edited and the cover is done then it’s a matter of uploading it to all the distributors like Amazon and Barnes and Noble.  Each one has a slightly different format.  Most people get their books formatted into the different types.  I’m the cheap type and still do it myself.

Now I’m done.  I wait anywhere from 24 to 48 hours for my book to go live and then I promo the heck out of it.  Promo is what takes up most of my day.  There’s Twitter and Facebook and my loops.  All of which require time to answer and post and repeat.

So there you have it in a very short nutshell.  My process from idea to website.  I’ve done this for nine books in the last fifteen months and have started on the tenth.  Will I always be able to produce at this rate?  I don’t know.  I’m lucky in that I can devote 16-18 hours a day to my writing.  Most people can’t do that.  Whether I can keep up that pace without burning out is something we have to wait and see.
Monday, October 8, 2012

HOT GIRLS WITH BLASTERS - by Vijaya Schartz

You have to love them. Girls with blasters, guns, even swords. They don't take any crap from anyone, and when they make a decision, it's all or nothing. Maybe I like them because I once fancied myself as one of them. Now I like them on the big or the small screen, and I feature them in my novels and novellas. They are fierce, but when they meet the right man, he can melt their heart and they turn on the sexy charm.


i like to find out what makes them tick, what they eat for breakfast, and what's their beauty regimen. They are not just strong girls, they are also hot, and I want to know how they do it. They keep fit, that's for sure, but it's not enough to look gorgeous.

In the Ancient Enemy series, they come from all walks of life. One is a drill sargent, another is an archeologist, and the third is a medical researcher. But given the right conditions, any girl can pick up a bazooka and shoot at alien ships, right? The trick is to find the right motivation.



A few years ago, while looking for a log line, I was staring at my book covers, and some detail struck me. On all my covers of the time, was a gorgeous girl with a lethal weapon. It hit me then. That's what I was writing: Girls with Guns. Now the weapons have expanded to include blasters and swords, whether in futuristic or in historical fantasy settings.

One of the best compliments I received from a reviewer is that although my heroines were tough, they never lost their femininity. Yes, I write strong women, but they are still women htrough and through.

You can now find my sci-fi novels and series in all sorts of eBook format and some of them in print as wekk.

Find them on AMAZON in kindle and paperback:HERE
Find them on B&N HERE
Find the eBooks on ARE HERE
Find the eBooks at SMASHWORDS HERE

Vijaya Schartz
Blasters, Swords, Romance with a Kick
Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Sci-Fi (And A Little Romance) On TV



In addition to reading science-fiction, I also enjoy sci-fi in film and 
television. Is it me or are there more sci-fi TV shows than ever this 
season?

To wit:

Revolution: 15 years after the blackout, power is everything.



I would really like to have JJ Abram's brain. 

I'm including this next one as sci-fi. With a son in the Navy, almost
nothing about this show is real.


But hey, Scott Speedman. 'nuff said.






Do No Harm--a Jekyll and Hyde retelling. Love that pic.





That's all in addition to the current sci-fi series like Supernatural, Dr. Who, Once Upon a Time, and Grimm.

I love that in TV and books, new ideas are being tried and offering great entertainment options. Can't say that so much for the movies theses days!

Happy viewing!
Monday, October 1, 2012

Sci-Fi Romances I Have Loved

My dad was a big sci-fi fan. Loved alien movies and he got me into watching Stargate and Stargate: SG-1. We enjoyed watching Star Trek: First Contact together and I laughed at him when he mispronounced the Syfy channel's original movie Epoch as e-pock. He didn't believe me that it was pronounced epic. Firefly quickly became one of my favorite shows when it debuted in 2002 (it seems impossible that it's been so long ago).

As much as I enjoyed watching sci-fi movies, it never occurred to me as a teen, young adult, or adult to look for sci-fi romance novels. I wasn't a fan of traditional sci-fi novels. Maybe it was the lack of romance and all the technical terms that I couldn't get into. I have trouble visualizing some of the equipment and machinery that the authors are trying to describe. So I simply didn't read sci-fi novels.

In 2009, after a long break from writing, I joined on online critique group to try and get back into the swing of writing. There were a lot of writers with a lot of genres in the group. I read a lot of contemporaries, I was writing a historical at the time, and enjoying the fresh bursts from the paranormal categories. One of the ladies who was critiquing my historical was writing a sci-fi romance. I thought, okay, this is a new one for me, but I'm going to give it a shot.

Photo by Nicholas Raymond
I loved it!

I don't think I got to read the entire thing, she removed it to work on it some more or started a contemporary or something, but what I read of it, which was probably 75%, I adored. I wanted more! Oddly, I wasn't really sure where to start my search for sci-fi romance, so I let it fall by the wayside. In 2010, I attended my local writing group's conference and in my goody bag there was  Sherrilyn Kenyon novel. One of The League novels. I thought, eh, this looks kind of boring (further proof about judging books by their covers). It took me a while to work my way around to it, but within the first few pages I was in love with the characters, although it wasn't the first in the series and I was a bit confused about some of the settings and who all the characters we, I was spellbound.

Imagine my surprise when I found out that poor Ms. Kenyon was turned down repeatedly over The League novels. That they weren't all published by the same publishing house and she couldn't write them as though they were a series! Fortunately in the last few years, she's been able to have the first couple of novels republished by the same house. And she'd even written a couple more and has another one on the way in 2013.

So inspired by the lively characters in Firefly and The League novels, I tried my hand at writing a "space opera". Uh, it didn't work very well. It didn't even get far. But I think I'm going to keep at this, maybe even work on something in the next year after I finish up the Legends & Lovers Series.

Currently scouring the 'verse in search of excellent sci-fi romance novels. 

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