7.09.2019

UFOs are Real and Everyone Needs to Get Used to the Idea

What? They're no longer relegated to the land of Big Foot? No! Says the Washington Post.


Not a tabloid, but a respectable news organization reported on the reality of UFOs. Although many may be explained by perfectly rational means we have yet to discover, the fact of extraterrestrial activity can not be ruled out.

The US government itself is beginning to actually admit that UFOs exist. Jokes of the current occupants of our institutions aside, this is mind blowing stuff.

Remember that weird obect in space? Oumuamua?



Credible astrophysicists theorized it could be an artificial construction with a solar sail.

We've always wondered whether we're alone, and the answer seems to be no. Is that Ancient Astronauts dude actually right about some stuff? It seems he just might be.

Although I always believed there was other life in the galaxy, this growing evidence gives me chills. If they are aliens, what do they want with us? Why do they find us so interesting? Or, are we a lesson on what not to be? We can't get along with each other, how can we get along with other beings from other worlds?

Are we a roadside attraction for galactic travelers? Are we a science experiment? Do they protect us from other aliens? Have some people actually met them?

Obviously, I have a thousand questions. If you'd like to read the full article from the Washington Post, you can read it HERE.

*****

If any of you visit my site, I have the comments turned off at the moment. This will continue for the next few months. Besides working full time, I'm taking classes to get certified to do medical coding. So, yeah, work and school and everything else. I don't have much free time these days. I squeeze in some writing when I can.

In the meantime, I have a few sales to tell you about:

In honor of the summer solstice and the season of monsters, The Rifters Box Collection: Books 1-3 is on sale for 99c all this month.







It's the summer Smashwords sale! Get your read on!

Until July 31st, get these great discounts!




6.18.2019

A Review of Binti by Nnedi Okorafor #sciencefiction #HugoAward #NebulaAward

Her name is Binti, and she is the first of the Himba people ever to be offered a place at Oomza University, the finest institution of higher learning in the galaxy. But to accept the offer will mean giving up her place in her family to travel between the stars among strangers who do not share her ways or respect her customs.

Knowledge comes at a cost, one that Binti is willing to pay, but her journey will not be easy. The world she seeks to enter has long warred with the Meduse, an alien race that has become the stuff of nightmares. Oomza University has wronged the Meduse, and Binti's stellar travel will bring her within their deadly reach.

If Binti hopes to survive the legacy of a war not of her making, she will need both the gifts of her people and the wisdom enshrined within the University, itself - but first she has to make it there, alive.

My Review: Binti leaves everything she knows for a place at Oomza University, but it's what she learned from home that will help her survive in Nnedi Okorafor's Binti.

I related to Binti right away. We all find a point where we leave what we know and go off into the big world. Binti is nervous yet hopeful that she'll find a way to fit in at Oomza University, an institution in another part of the galaxy. I loved learning more about the culture of the Himba people of Africa. The strength of this novella is Binti, her culture, and her gift of mathematics. Her treeing in math is almost a chant--almost magical. The Meduse she comes across are terrifying, yet not without the ability to reason with them.

The only thing I wished while reading the story was for it to be longer. I would have loved to see Binti with her family or new friends before the Meduse changed everything as it would have upped the stakes, but there is good news. Binti by Nnedi Okorafor is just book one. We have sequels to delve into Okorafor's fantastic unique world.

6.04.2019

I Love Waving at Self-Imposed Deadlines as They Pass Me By...

At the start of the year, when all the UR members had to book dates for posts on this lovely blog, I picked this date with the idea that I would be in the midst of my newest book release. I had this beautiful idea that if I could chip away at my book a little bit every day, six months would be more than enough time to whip it into shape.

Then again, I've never edited a book so long that I had to split it into five sections for one of my critique partners... with each single section being novel-length.

Needless to say, editing is kicking my butt in a big way. So I'm pushing my publishing date out to the end of the year in the hope that I'll be done by then.

It still left me with this post, though. So I thought about writing about deadlines and the pressure we put on ourselves sometimes.

I'm terrible about self-care. Seriously. I'm good at setting goals and chasing them down with Javert-like dogged determination. (John Malkovich Javert is my favorite, in case that was a burning question in the back of your mind.) Except... when the goal is to just have fun, or to take care of myself.

Which is not to say that I'm a stick in the mud. I love enjoying myself as much as the next person. But there's a flip-side to the "doing what you love" gig. "Do what you love," they say, "and you will never work for a day of your life."

Well... Lately I've come to realize that another, less-known adage has made it into my mind: "Do what you love and even your relaxation becomes work."

Writing? Work. Reading? Work. Watching TV? Work. Going to the movies? Work. Don't get me wrong. I love it. But I have found it harder to turn off for the day because the very things I used to do to relax are now the things I do to make a living.

Add to that deadlines (self-imposed or not) and/or the knowledge that you've got a few thousand people waiting for your next book to come out, and you've got yourself a pressure cooker. This gets even worse when we keep the deadlines short because conventional wisdom says we have to rush to get our books published... like yesterday.

But coming to this past weekend, when I had pictured I'd be celebrating my newest book being out, I just realized it's not necessarily the best thing to put that level of pressure on ourselves. Especially when you share in my good fortune of being able to write full-time. There needs to be a point where it's okay to miss a deadline, or to slack off and just have fun. To do something just for the hell of it instead of to reach some end-goal you have in mind. Otherwise, what would be the point of doing any of it in the first place?


5.21.2019

#BookReview Maggie For Hire #SpeculativeFiction #paranormal #vampires

Maggie for Hire
by 
Kate Danley

When monsters appear on Earth, Maggie MacKay is on the job. No one is better at hauling the creepy crawlies back where they belong. No one, that is, except Maggie's dad, who vanished in the middle of an assignment.Now, an elf named Killian has shown up with a gig. Seems Maggie's uncle teamed up with the forces of dark to turn Earth into a vampire convenience store, serving bottomless refills on humans. Ah, family...

The only hope for survival lies in tracking down two magical artifacts and a secret that disappeared with Maggie's dad.

WARNING: This book contains cussing, brawling, and unladylike behavior. Proceed with caution.


Cathrina's Review:

I was hooked in the first chapter. Read that warning. It holds true. Maggie cracked me up. Sarcasm and snark spews from her mouth and thoughts throughout the story. 


At the onset I was enamored with Killian, whom I thought would become something more. But he was basically just there, and I didn't quite understand his role. 


This is the first book in a whole line of Maggie for Hire's. Fast-paced, unique, and had me chuckling a couple of times. If you don't like cussing and snarky talk, then this book isn't for you. 


As I ventured toward the end of the story, I have to admit the cliches and sarcasm were somewhat over the top, and I felt like I was drowning in them. But, all in all, a fun read. 

5.10.2019

Writers, Stop Killing Pets

I recently finished the second of a six-volume epic fantasy series. I'm not going to tell you the name of the series in case you haven't read it. And no, it's not about games and thrones. One of the protagonists of the series is a young mystic whose companion is a wolf. The two are inseparable. I like the wolf. It's my favorite character. As I read toward the climax of the first volume, I had the sense the writer was setting up the story for the wolf's death. I considered putting the book away if the wolf died. But, surprise, surprise, the wolf survives.

After finishing volume one, I wrote to the author on Goodreads to tell him how much I enjoyed the story. The wolf is my favorite character, I wrote, and I was impressed that he avoided the temptation to kill it. The author thought it was interesting I experienced such a strong connection to the wolf's character. He asked me to write again after finishing volume two. I should have seen what was coming.

In volume two, the wolf dies. Twice! Yes, twice the loyal, faithful wolf with its fighting and sniffing skills is sacrificed. In the first instance, the party is trapped deep in the bowels of a mountain and under attack from a demon. The mystic might be able to defeat it but needs a massive surge of power. The mystic's mentor offers herself as a sacrifice to create the power. The mentor at this point is three-quarters dead already. The idea is the mystic has to kill someone close and dear to her. The mystic decides she cannot kill her mentor, so she kills her wolf instead and transforms the wolf's spirit into a sort of dragon which battles the demon until they figure out how to dispatch it.

It's kind of neat that the wolf has upgraded to a wolf-dragon who is still intensely loyal to the mystic. And yes, I understand the need for the sacrifice. But, the wolf's character lives on in a new form and won't it be neat for the mystic to have a wolf-dragon as a companion? Think of the damage a wolf-dragon could do to a horde of enemies? As they are leaving the bowels of the mountain, the mystic is abducted by a nasty creature. The other members of the party are powerless to save her until the wolf-dragon shows up and puts an end to the creature.

At this point the wolf-dragon has prevented the demon from killing all of them and single-handedly saved the mystic. The mentor is now comatose and nine-tenths dead. None of the humans in the party have died. Due to some restrictions in the spell used to create the wolf-dragon, it cannot leave the mountain. Bummer! But, it could still live on as a friendly force for good inside the mountain. There are still many nasty creatures living down there. The mystic refuses to leave the wolf-dragon. The pair settle on the floor together like she and her wolf used to do.

Meanwhile, the party of humans struggle to negotiate an exit from the city. The ungrateful mayor won't allow them to leave even though the demon has been destroyed. What does the leader of the party do? Yes, you guessed it. She offers to kill the wolf-dragon in exchange for free passage home. Really? This is how you reward loyal service? The poor mystic must again kill her friend to save the party's sorry butts. There appears to be no coming back this time, which is probably a good thing. They would just kill it again.

Seriously, can't writers think of something better to do than killing off pets? We've all seen Old Yeller. We've been there, done that.

Image Attribution: Detail from an image by Stéfan [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

4.23.2019

Speculative Fiction Worth Reading - The Circuit by Rhett C. Bruno #review #scifi

Looking for your next great space adventure?


Earth is a dying planet. To survive, humanity founds the Circuit, a string of colonies across the solar system, dedicated to mining resources vital to preserving what remains of mankind. Here there are no heroes or villains, only those willing to do what's necessary to survive.

The New Earth Tribunal, a powerful religious faction, has risen to rule the Circuit. They believe a Spirit within the Earth will one day appear and welcome humanity back home. Following a string of seemingly random attacks, the Tribunal suspects its mortal enemy, the Ceresians, have again rallied to challenge their absolute rule. But a new, sinister threat has arisen--and it plans to bring down the Tribunal once and for all.

Join an unlikely band of would-be saviors--the Tribunal's best spy, a roguish Ceresian mercenary, a subservient android and a disgraced general--as they are drawn into a conspiracy destined to change the Circuit forever.


Rhett C. Bruno made me a fan with his first novel, Titanborn. He has a way of creating complex, flawed characters who I always end up rooting for. That's a great talent. I enjoy every adventure he takes me on, and The Circuit was no exception. 

Like all good science fiction, this story makes one think about oneself and humanity in general. I always hope I'd rise to the challenge as the characters do to overcome obstacles and make our humanity better. That's what I love about space opera, the discovery inside and out.

You can get the series here: http://rhettbruno.com/the-complete-circuit-trilogy/  Also find out more about Rhett and his other books.

Have you read anything good lately?


4.09.2019

Franny's Mashup of Victorian and Modern Vernacular

One of the fun things about writing my characters is that they say the darndest things. I almost wrote that I can make them say anything I want, but that’s not strictly true. The story-line must fit their character, or they’d never let me get away with putting words in their mouths. They really do have minds of their own, especially my secondary character Franny!

First, a little about Franny. The sleuthing sidekick of reluctant ghost-whisperer, Indigo Eady, Franny Bishop also happens to be the ghost of a former Victorian madam of some repute. Walking with a foot in both worlds, she’s still “living” the high life in modern day Sabrina Shores. The old English market town is a haven for the dearly departed, and Franny leads quite the active afterlife. Indigo is not far off when she says that Franny exists in the modern world better than she does.

Existing as she does, Franny has become quite the unintentional logophile—a lover of words. And except for a few instances which you’ll see further down, she’s quite the colorful speaker.

And she has reason!

Sleuthing is tough work. Everyone needs an outlet when frustration strikes, right? Here are some of Franny’s favorite Victorian expletives (the corresponding definitions are mine):

Balderdash = B.S.
Blast a Spaniard = Dang it!
Doolally = Crazy
Numbskull = Dumb@ss
Cockamamie = Ridiculous
Pshaw = Surely you jest

And then there’s the telly. How many ghosties do you know who watch television? Franny does. She is addicted to late-night black and white crime shows, featuring tough-guy private dicks such as Mike Hammer, Sam Spade—and even Charlie Chan.

Franny loves to use the slang she picks up...

Clocked = Assaulted

Rozzer = Policeman

Gam = Sexy leg


“Oh dear,” Franny said. “You’ve done it now. Gone and clocked a rozzer.” 

Rob stood—if you counted stooping at the waist as standing, and I did. Franny lifted her skirts and floated around him tsking at his rumpled condition. 

Rob raised his pant leg to assess the damage and Franny stopped and bent to check out his knee. “A bit of a lump, but all in all, a nice gam, don’t you think, Indigo? Placed higher and you’d have made a clean getaway. You’re out of practice, dear.” She shook her head.


Franny doesn’t always get it right. Sometimes she's a bit confused, like in this scene where she tries a bit of matchmaking... 


“Life is too short, don’t waste it on boredom. You need to follow your dreams. And speaking of dreams, that Badger is a real dream ship. Have you spoken to him yet?” 

“You mean dream boat and Badger is ancient history, Franny. We were kids. Besides, we’ve both moved on. He has a girlfriend.” 

“Pshaw,” she snorted, in a most unladylike manner. 


Or in this scene, where she mixes up the term, "coming out"...

“If an event or anniversary woke him from the ether, he might only now be coming out,” Franny said. 

I snorted. Franny’s interpretation of modern slang tickled my funny bone. We’d recently discussed gay people ‘coming out’ after my break-up with Francois. I never expected to hear the term used in connection to a haunting.  

Franny continued, “You may laugh, but he could be a newborn.”

I laughed again. “You mean newbie.” As in newly departed. 


And what self-respecting ghost isn't concerned with how she looks?...

“...Do I look warm?” She patted her ebony hair. Her teal skirts flared from a waist so tiny that Barbie would be green with envy, and her bright white gossamer blouse hugged her ample bosom in flawless perfection.

As if she ever looked anything less than perfect. “You mean hot. And yes, you’ll do.” 


But seriously, can a ghost be faulted for using "cobblestones" instead of "road"?...

“Good thinking, Indigo,” Franny said, as if she were my conscience sitting on my left shoulder giving her approval. “Plenty of time down the cobblestones to spill the beans.”

“You mean down the road…” I corrected Franny automatically. 


I love Franny’s character. She makes me laugh all the time. I hope you enjoyed learning about her as well.

What do you think?

Is Franny a true logophile?

Or one forgetful ghost?

_______________________________________

If you enjoyed reading about Franny, these snippets are from my upcoming cozy paranormal mystery novella, 
A Scandal in Boohemia.




Indigo Eady can’t live on ramen noodles forever…

She jumps on the first job offered. All she has to do is work undercover at Sabrina Shores Theatre, find a ghost thief, and cross him over. Easy peasy, right? Until an actor is murdered and Indigo’s fingerprints are all over the pistol like ink on a Rorschach test.

Forced to dust off her rusty sleuthing skills to clear herself, Indigo enlists the help of her ghost friend Franny and her hunky ex-boyfriend Badger to help solve the crime. Now, how to keep her investigation from the handsome inspector?

***


Indigo Eady is a reluctant ghost whisperer, but she’s grown quite attached to Franny Bishop, a former Victorian ghost madam of some repute. Franny’s afterlife makes Indigo’s life look like she has one foot in the grave. Much to Indigo’s chagrin, Franny is determined to find her a man. After all, there are plenty of handsome men around ripe for the picking, and Franny’s an expert. In the meantime, Indigo and Franny have murders to solve.