Here's one for the fans!

There's got to be said for fandom of genre television. The saying "Although they may kill our shows, they may never kill our spirit" comes to mind. Someone probably said that somewhere, but honestly it just came off the top of my head. Yet it fits fandom so well. The joke goes that no other fans have been beating down as much as sci-fi fans. We've had a bunch of shows dangled in our faces like a piece of yarn in front of a hungry cat itching for some attention. Then, just as we're getting ready to dive in, they yank it back into the land of cancellation. Dvds are released named as the complete series...and we all know good and well that the complete series wasn't even close to what the show's potential presented.

Yet we still buy and think of what-if.

Well, that was then. Before the land of the internet. And this is now the world of podcasts, forums and much fan interaction still exchanging ideas and sharing a love for their favorite shows.

So here's to you fans.

A heads-up for fans of Blood Ties.

I spotted a podcast coming soon called Bite Back: The Blood Ties Podcast which should be coming soon to: http://bloodtiespodcast.org

Also premiering is the Charlie Jade podcast over at http://www.charliejade.net/. Episode commentary will be provided by series creator Robert Wertheimer, and head writer Alex Epstein, and maybe contributions from a couple other series writers as well according to the CJ Podcast forum posts. If you're looking for a little something different in your sci-fi, definitely check out Charlie Jade because this is one show that definitely deserves to be up with the classics. I'm going to dive into the commentary and catch up as they're on Episode 4 already.

Keep up the fight for great shows that are gone but definitely not forgotten!

Silenced by Nicole Givens Kurtz - Another for the keeper shelf



For the past few months or so I've been waiting for this book and a new sci-fi series to sink my teeth into. Silenced certainly delivered. The story revolves around Cybil Lewis, a private investigator in the year 2146 during a time with the United States has broken up into smaller territories. In the running for the governor position is Mayor Annabelle Christensen, a picture perfect poised woman always decked out in designer wear. Mayor Christensen comes to Cybil for help with finding her daughter Amanda who went missing. Cybil eventually takes her up on the offer and soon dives into a conspiracy where everyone wears masks and the truth is hidden between a neatly threaded web of lies.

I really enjoyed Silenced for so many reasons. Cybil for one weaves this tale with such a unique voice as she speaks to the audience throughout the book. There were so many one liners and quips that kept me chuckling to myself at her smart alecky comebacks The real beauty of the book lies within the descriptions. Kurtz has a gift for describing visuals and feelings so much that you can feel the atmosphere of futuristic D.C. and Memphis, taste the food (Cybil has an affinity for the peppered sweetness of jalapeno jelly on toast with her coffee) and see the cool gadgets of the age. I have to admit the gadgets were probably some of my favorite additions to the story. From the hovering automobiles called wautos to the foghog which attaches to the end of cigarettes to inhale second hand smoke to the dangerous drugs of the day from ackback to Zenith, I felt like I had fallen into a different world and I loved meeting the different inhabitants. The variations of culture with the characters make the closeness to reality a special treat because you don't see much diversity in most sci-fi books of today.

Silenced has the feel of a film noir mixed with science fiction; two of my favorite genres mixed together like the awesome and classical Blade Runner. Readers may liken the series to the current popular J.D. Robb's In Death series (the first book I couldn't get into and didn't finish) and although there may be some similarities (Captain Hansen reminded me of Roarke for some reason and I really hope to see him and Cybil start something in the future!) this book was infinitely better.

The story takes it's time to start up while it introduces you to the background of Cybil and her surroundings, but once it gets going you'll have to hold onto your seat. Although the mystery is tied up in the end, including some characters that were introduced really early in the book, there were still a question or two brought up later in the book that still are left unanswered. I imagine with the series we'll learn more about these items as we dive into more mysteries and get more information on the factions that inhabit this world.

The Cybil Lewis series is definitely an auto-buy with Silenced going on my keeper shelf. If you enjoy a futuristic mystery noir series with a fiesty, tough PI heroine you may want to pick it up and give it a read.

Nicole is this month's featured author on A Writer's Dream. To read more about her check out her spotlight interview here.

Settling back in at home



Whew! Finally back home again yet still recovering. That's the weird thing about traveling, you don't feel the lethargy until the next day (after sleeping in your own bed again yay!!). While touring the old stomping grounds I got to go back to one of my fam's fave used bookstores: Acres of Books. After being shocked after how much downtown had changed, we received another shock: Acres of Books was possibly moving...IF they can get another location (after all, they really do need acres because of how many books is stored in that warehouse). We bought some tees and totes to help support one of our fave indie bookstores but I couldn't help being bummed at seeing it go. We lost Crown Books in the early 00's. B. Dalton and Waldenbooks left us as they merged with Barnes and Noble & Borders respectively. Now one of our locals was going down as well.

It made me realize how much I miss shopping at Indie bookstores.

Now, I'm an avid e-shopper, especially of books and ebooks. Love em to death, but I'd have to agree with Marta, who recently lost her fave indie bookstore, Cody's, the net can't replace that feeling when you're wandering among an indie bookstore. Yesterday I got to walk through my old neighborhood Borders store (I remember that store first came around and we were so excited...the layout hadn't changed a bit!). Lots of new releases and current authors filled the stacks and I remembered a lot of authors I have come in contact with online. Wild feeling.

Later on I dove into Acres of Books and I was literally like a kid again looking at authors I may have never come across. I didn't have the feeling that whatever was hot at the moment was on the shelves. Instead it was a feeling of so many good stories that I had yet to indulge in was waiting to entertain me like it had many other souls before. It was an awesome feeling that made me realize how indie bookstores are still needed for that comfort. Now I did end up buying a newish book. Strangely enough a recent release from Juno books (one of which I already have the bookmark for) but I did gather some old HQN Intrigues in the process. I wish I would've made a list of authors to look for as my brain went dead from the drain of the day, but I hope Acres of Books finds a new home so that it's history can continue on.

After all, Ray Bradbury (an avid customer of the store back in the day who also has an article posted on the front door) walked through those same doors with his love of reading and writing and many more generations of authors and book lovers have yet to continue in his footsteps.

Please support the Indie bookstores.

Booksense will soon become Indieboung.org A one stop destination for support and information about the independent book world.

indiebound

Some thoughts on self-publishing

I'm currently on the road for a day or two trip and had a lot to think about on my travels. Before I left and while I was packing I saw a late night Book TV special. Usually I have the show on in the background while I work (because they feature the most snooze worthy non fiction while ignoring some great reads out there) but this particular panel made me sit up and turn up the volume. It featured a panel of speculative authors at the Virginia Festival of the Book in March and, get this, the panel was on self-publishing. BookTV.org has the entire stream available for viewing here in case you missed it. (Just click the little 'watch' button in the corner)

Now throughout my reading of everything I can get my hands on within the publishing industry, including blogs and industry manuals, there has been some dire words spoken about self published books. Everything from complaints about editing to dark forboding consquences to be bestowed on the poor author, I've heard. Even from authors themselves! Sure self-publishing is not something to go lightly into if you want to make lots of money writing. But let's face it. Even if you go the traditional route unless your first name is Stephen or Nora you're likely to be one of the few best sellers out there.

It's hard out there these days for publishers including NY. Everyone's suffering from the troubled economy and are scrambling to figure out out to get more readers to buy books. During a listen on author Mike Stackpole's Secrets podcast (and I suggest ALL readers check his podcasts out because he speaks some TRUTH) he mentioned being told that only 5% of a publisher's catalog gets published. Can you imagine that? So basically their success is riding on the bestsellers so they can afford to publish the "risky" stuff that may not sell. And let's face it, if you aren't writing anything that fits into the idea of a bestseller (which was probably already released and sold prior to your work) it's not going to get a looksie no matter how polished your query or synopsis is.

Thankfully technology is changing and allowing storytellers to get their work to readers. I'm having a ball of a time discovering so many authors that may not have been given a chance at a publishing house for some reason or another. Many authors of color I know are turned down at the gate for having "too risky" or "too black" stories to tell. Pish, I say. If anything, readers are jonesing for something different than the cookie cutter book. Not to say there aren't some big authors out there telling some great stories other than the usual suspects. But it appears that smaller pubs are willing to take some risk to get a good story in the hands of readers.

Unfortunately this elitist attitude is displayed all too often within author circles. The hierarchy and caste system between NY pub author, epub author, small press author and self pub author is just a waste of energy and time.

WHO. CARES.

A story is a story and it doesn't matter how it got to the end point. Just enjoy it.

Sure awards are great to get like recognition from a "prestigious group" and all but it's all gotten out of hand with the way certain authors, who have worked pretty darn hard for their stories to be shown to the light of day, are treated by others who feel they are better based on some organization's say so. If such an organization or author acts and feels superior to others who haven't reached that status then the message of storytelling has been lost.

It's a shame that the publishing industry is like this, but like any other industry out there...it has its pitfalls and obstacles.

All that matters is how you, the author, wants to tell your story. Do what feels best for you, learn somethings along the way and apply it to next time. No matter what, keep writing, keep reading and keep being true to yourself.

RIP Stan Winston

A great loss to the visual effects community, great movies and moviegoers everywhere. Winston worked on some classic sci-fi films that still kick butt to this day.

Stan Winston, dead at 62; Oscar-winning visual effects artist suffered from multiple myeloma
11:57 AM PT, Jun 16 2008
Stan Winston with his animatronic

Stan Winston, an Oscar-winning visual effects artist, has died at age 62.

Winston died at his Malibu home Sunday evening after a seven-year struggle with multiple myeloma, according to a rep from Stan Winston Studio.

"Stan died peacefully at home surrounded by family," a spokeswoman said.

Winston won four visual effects Oscars and earned multiple nominations. His first Oscar was for James Cameron's "Aliens" (1986). Winston later won two Oscars for "Terminator 2: Judgment Day" (1992) (visual effects and makeup) and 1993's "Jurassic Park." (See Stan Winston's Creature Features, by LAT's Patrick Kevin Day.)

Phil Tippett, who shared a visual effects Oscar with Winston on "Jurassic Park," noted that Winston was one of the best in the business.

"Stan contributed to some of the greatest -- fantastic movie characters in motion picture history," Tippett said. "His loss is a great one and he will be missed."

Producer Gale Ann Hurd, whose latest blockbuster "The Incredible Hulk" opened this weekend, wrote in an email to the Los Angeles Times:

I was first introduced to Stan in the early 1980s by his mentor, the great make-up artist, Dick Smith. Jim Cameron and I had initially approached Dick to create the Terminator. Dick wanted us to meet Stan Winston, his protégé, and convinced us that he was doing us a favor by turning us down. Dick was right. Stan’s unique ability was to bring unique, non-human characters to life, so that the audience accepted them as living, breathing beings. Stan was also, simply put, the nicest man in the business. Not only was he a legend, redefining character make-up and armatures, but Stan’s joie de vivre made collaborating with him an absolute pleasure. I will miss him more than I can say. My heartfelt sympathy to his loving family, Karen, Matt and Debbie.

In lieu of flowers, Winston's family is requesting that donations be made to his charities of choice.

After the jump, see the official statement from Stan Winston Studio, and a list of charities.

-- Sheigh Crabtree

Photo: Courtesy Stan Winston Studio.


Read the full article here @ LA Times.com

July is going to be one busy month!

Two days ago I sent in my order for invitations for my virtual book signing and yesterday I got them in. Wow! The creator made a big sign of my Before Dawn Breaks cover with a table, chair and a stack of books with one open book on top of them that says "best wishes" in script. So it looks like an actual book signing! I'm going to use it for the July 1st discussion but I was just so taken aback by the wonderful attention to detail she added to the work. That's one of the reasons I love SL, there's so much creativity running around in the virtual world and many of the people I've come to know are amazing builders.

With the big book community and it's creativity running wild there, I've decided to hold a discussion about ebooks in-world followed by a virtual book signing for Before Dawn Breaks. It's all apart of my online book tour for July! I'll add a full list of my goings-on for next month, but in the mean time here's a posted list.

July 1st - Before Dawn Breaks is released
July 7th - Author Day at Savannah Chase's Yahoo Group - 5pm/8pm EST
July12th - Ebook Discussion and Virtual Book signing in SL - 3pm/6pm EST
July 14th - RAH Author Day Chat - 5pm/8pm EST

Paranormal Romance or Urban Fantasy?

I think I blogged about this some time ago but much is still discussed about the difference between these two genres. I was at a book discussion in SL last Thursday and the genre of the day was Paranormal Romance. Many urban fantasy books were brought up and the goal was still met to share some good book titles to add to everyone's already ginormous TBR piles. But as we all left, I can tell the definition was still muddled in everyone's mind.

To bad I didn't come across Ciara Stewart's blog earlier. (Thanks to a link at Marta's Vamp Wire blog) I came across Ciara's post link to author Keri Arthur's definition of both subgenres in a pretty straight forward fashion. (The full article is pretty informative also).

Paranormal Romance:

Usually written in the 3rd person. Main characters are Hero and Heroine and they MUST have a happily ever after together. This couple is exclusive. Love shall overcome is the theme. Each book in the series has a new hero/heroine pair, and these characters often show up as secondary characters in the other books in the series.

Examples: JR Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood (perhaps not now), Nalini Singh’s Psy/Changelings series, Kresley Cole’s Immortals After Dark series, Marjorie M. Liu’s Dirk & Steele series, Meljean Brooks’ Guardian series, Lori Handeland’s Nightcreature series , Lara Adrian’s Midnight Breeds series, Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark Hunter series, Alexis Morgan’s Paladins of Darkness series,


Urban Fantasy:

Usually written in the first person. Theme is horror, not love. A single protagonist often narrates the entire series. (Kelly Armstrong’s Women of the Otherworld is a notable exception). The protagonist is often a cynical, fiercely independent, tough chick with commitment and trust issues. lol. (Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden is a notable exception.) There may be a love interest, but it is subtle and may build over the course of the series. Or maybe the more the merrier, a la Anita Blake.

Examples: Laurell K Hamilton’s Antia Blake series, Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniels’s series, Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson series, Kelly Armstrong’s Women of the Otherworld series, Kim Harrison’s Rachel Morgan series, Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden series, Marjorie M. Liu’s Maxine Kiss series, Keri Arthur’s Riley Jensen series, Karen Chance’s Cassandra Palmer series, Jeanine Frost’s Night Huntress series



And there we go. :-)

Study of Popular Romance - New Journal and organization

I'm a little late in posting this but, if you haven't already heard, there's a new journal & organization geared to academic study of popular romance literature. The romance community is really jazzed about this focus on the genre. Romance usually gets dismissed as fluff (science fiction fans also know this treatment as well) and with this organization the genre could be taken more seriously. The cool thing is the focus on romantic literature as it pertains to our society. Not surprising romantic relationships show up in other "serious" genres for exploring the human condition so it's high time that we get down to the nitty gritty itself with studying stories that are driven by love and romance in itself.

Science fiction is usually an outlet for authors to explore what it means to be human. Romance is usually seen as escapist fare when a single boy meets girl story leads to a satisfying happy ending. But what does the journey say about what it means to be human, to love and need another for companionship? Why has the resurgence in alpha males thrived in paranormal romance literature? What does it say about our current society's expectations for men's roles in relationships?

There's a bevy of wonderful topics to explore within the growing amount of subgenres explored with new book releases. I'm looking forward to seeing this organization grow.

IASPR and JPRS: Call for PEOPLE


This is a Call For People, rather than a Call For Papers. It is time for an academic society for the study of popular romance fiction, with all the rights and privileges appertaining thereunto, like a journal and conferences. So we have decided to start one! "We" being myself, Eric Selinger, and a few other people who are already interested in being involved.

The society will be called The International Association for the Study of Popular Romance (IASPR) and the journal will be an online, open-source journal called The Journal of Popular Romance Studies (JPRS).

So, we're looking for people who might be interested in helping us build these institutions. Do you want to get in on the ground floor? Do you already have experience in the hierarchy of an academic organization or with an academic journal that you'd love to share with us, even if you don't want to be involved in the day-to-day aspects of running either? Please let us know! For minimum involvement, for example, we're going to need people to act as peer reviewers for the journal, so please let us know your specific area of interest in romance novels (paranormals? inspirationals? Regencies? heroes? romances published in the 1950s?). For maximum involvement, we're going to need journal editors and IASPR board members. We especially need the input of people who might have done any of this before, so you can at least tell us what to avoid! :)

Read more

Raven Happy Hour's Mandy and Michelle's New Releases!

How can you not love a group named the Raven Vampire Nightclub? And the ladies who host the happy hour are just as awesome. Michelle Pillow and Mandy M. Roth have some new releases coming out this month. If you're looking for some more hot summer reads, you've come to the right place! ;-)

Recipe for Disaster by Michelle M. Pillow

Coming in Trade Paperback, June 10, 2008!

Aspiring chef, Zoe Matthews has lost her job and all hopes of a satisfying future. If that wasn’t bad enough, she’s just publicly shot down her one and only chance at culinary redemption. Restaurant mogul, Jackson Levy is determined to teach the rude city-slicker a lesson in manners. What she thinks will be a head chef position at one of his fancy restaurants turns out to be a small town diner. Can this city girl and a country boy find common ground? Or is this just a recipe for disaster?

Available at -

http://www.amazon.com


To learn more about Michelle's books visit...

Website - www.michellepillow.com

Blog - www.michellepillow.com/blog

Myspace - http://www.myspace.com/michellepillow

Daughter of Darkness: Bella Mia by Mandy M. Roth

Coming June 2008

This is the third book in the Daughter of Darkness series. Get caught up with the first two books in the series: Daughter of Darkness & The Entchantress.

Available at: http://www.newconceptspublishing.com/mandymroth.htm




To learn more about Mandy's books visit...

Website - www.mandyroth.com

Blog - www.mandyroth.com/blog

Myspace - http://www.myspace.com/mandyroth


Check out more about the Raven Happy Hour on the web!



Website - www.ravenhappyhour.com

Radio Show - http://www.blogtalkradio.com/ravenradio

June Spotlight on Author Nicole Givens Kurtz



This month we have a special guest here at A Writer's Dream. One of my fellow authors and Writers of Color Blog Tour members Nicole Givens Kurtz is celebrating the release of her futuristic PI novel Silenced, the first in the Cybil Lewis series. I started reading Silenced and I couldn't think of a better way to kick off the summer with such a fantastic, strong heroine who doesn't back down until she gets what she wants. More on that later on in the month. But for now, here's a chance to get to know more about the author herself.

Q: How would you describe the genre in which you do most of your writing?

A: The genre I decided to write in (science fiction/mystery) is one I enjoy reading. It is a genre that works for me and one I absolutely choose to read when reading for pleasure. That’s the reason I write science fiction/mystery hybrid.

Q: Who would you say has influenced you the most?

A: The author who influenced me the most has to be Octavia Butler and Philip Dick. I am a cyberpunk girl at heart, however Butler and Dick’s ability to craft rich, flawed characters pulls me into the story.


Q: How many books have you written so far? (Please include titles, publisher, date of publication and a brief description of the book/books.)

A: Thus far I have written five novels at Nicole Givens Kurtz, and numerous novellas and novels as RaeLynn Blue. I write science fiction novels as Nicole Kurtz. Here is a list for those who are interested:

SILENCED: A CYBIL LEWIS novel—Parker Publishing June 2008

Cybil Lewis is a private inspector in the future. Her jobs take her to the heart of the divided states and into the far reaches of political turmoil.

ZEPHYR UNFOLDING—Double Dragon Ebooks—August 2004—Second in the Candidate series, Zephyr Unfolding follows the Resistance and specially Ren and Angel as they try to outmaneuver the United World Council. There’s a traitor in the mix and Ren’s loyalty to the Resistance is tested.

BROWNE CANDIDATE—Crystal Dreams Publishing—February 2002-- Aurora Browne begins her latest assignment with the Williamses as she has with every other assignment since she was sold into slavery at the age of eight by her mother. She performs her duties as a candidate, women who produce children for wealthy women who can not. When Browne meets Bain, the Williamses' butler, she learns of a world beneath New England Tre. It is a place of freedom. As her love grows for Bain, will she risk her life for freedom?

THE SOUL CAGESCrystal Dreams Publishing—November 2002-- As children, Sarah and her sister, Amana, along with hundreds of others were abducted and taken to Solis, and placed in the soul cages. After many years, Sarah is rescued from the cages, reincarnated into flesh, and taken to Veloris, the ice planet. Marion, her rescuer tells of the Antiqk Oracle's prophesy of a savior for not only Solis, but the entire Pixlis galaxy. Will Sarah fulfill the Oracle's call for a savior?

Or will she be forever lost in the Soul Cages?


Q: Do you write everyday? How much time do you spend on your writing?

A: I try to write everyday. I don’t write all the time, but it tends to be more in the summer when I’m not teaching. Though admittedly during the academic school year I write whenever I have time and in little pockets of free time I discover in places. Now, I carry around notebook to write instead of using napkins, backs of receipts, and flyers.


Q: What will your next book be about?

A: My next book is a sequel to SILENCED. It’s called COZENED. Cybil is called to a violent areocycle crash in the wee hours of the morning. When she arrives at the scene, she discovers the victim is a person she remembers, a person she thought she had buried and forgotten about--until seeing his body, his once lovely body--torn up like minced meat. Perhaps if the areocycle had killed him, she would've been able to grieve easier.

As it was, her former flame was killed before he decided to play chicken with a cargo craft.

As Cybil wrestles with her grief, the former First Lady of the D.C. Quadrant, Cassandra Irving stops by to ask for Cybil's services. However, she isn't alone. As if to sweeten the deal, Trey escorts her and recommends Cybil. She wants Cybil to locate a missing heirloom--one that if not recovered, could topple the political power players across all the divided territories, the results of which could be pure anarchy.

I'll definitely be along for the ride! -R

To learn more about Nicole and her works, check her out on the web at these links!

Nicole’s Niche—http://www.mochamemoirs.com/NGivens.htm

Nicole’s Blog- http://www.mochamemoirs.com/nic/blog




Silenced: A Cybil Lewis novel is available from Parker Publishing, Amazon and wherever books are sold.