When I was eight, which was years before the first moon landing *cough*, I announced my intention to move to the space station when I grew up.

You know, the wheeled city in space with 50,000 people on it?

Well. I’m still waiting for them to build it, as well as still waiting to grow up, apparently – but that’s another story.

These days my dreams are more earth-bound, but no less ambitious. I want to travel to every continent, Lonely Planet-style. Vagabonding, backpacking, trekking, hostels – whatever I have to do – I’m going.

Following your dreams is what life’s all about, isn’t it? As Mark Twain once said, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” 

Where will your dreams take you? Share your yearnings in the comments, and then make them happen!


Twists on the themes of temptation & the corrupting nature of power in spec fiction

Mephistopheles, Lucifer, or is it Beelzebub?
When I first got hired to teach lit at an art college, and specifically Christopher Marlow's Doctor Faustus, I alternately balked and thrilled at the challenge. The story is about a brilliant college prof. who, after earning what is now equivalent to a PhD, is bored and asks the medieval version of "Is this all there is?" He has noble ideas: he wants to enrich public education, find cures for dreadful diseases--even raise the dead. Hey, rewind, please ... you need superpowers for that, right?!

You sure do. Thus, he falls into temptation when he calls up Mephistopheles to grant him these superhuman powers. Dr. Faust thinks he has nothing to worry about. He doesn't believe in the devil, or hell. He's a modern man, a man of science. Damnation, piffle! He makes a vow with the devil's messenger and signs it in blood.

But Faustus soon learns that power corrupts, and there's no taking back his damnable vow. Hey, Mephistopheles warned him. What devil does that? A modern, enlightened devil, that's who!
At any rate, the good, or I should say bad doctor gets his comeuppance.

I was fretting about teaching this book because I don't believe in heaven or hell or the devil or any of that ... well, yeah, piffle. Because I'm a modern agnostic. I just couldn't find a way into this novel. Then, I ran into a prof. who teaches Doctor Faustus at Boston University--one of those weird coincidences that seems ordained by higher spirits--haha. And this cool, witty man totally turned my head around. He chuckled heartily at my whining and replied that one doesn't have to be religious to get into Faust. That it's really about the nature of temptation--on any level--and how we handle that, when no one is watching. It's also about the corrupting nature of power. And how, what people are secretly attracted to can be the same things they condemn! I've been teaching this novel now for eight years. And I love it so much I wrote an homage to it. A twist for the Internet generation, called Dorianna. More on Dorr in a sec. First:

Here are some of the many homages, over time, on the original German Faust myths:
In the time of the Faust myths it was a literal fear of the devil
In Goethe's version, one could actually be redeemed of dreadful sin through love
In Marlow's time the sin was intelligence and arrogance over God.
In Wilde's day the sin was pride of beauty and sexual promiscuity.
In Will Self's day (Dorian, 2002) it was the terror of contracting AIDS
In Dorianna's day (2014/15) it's our obsession with Likes and Internet followers

My YA horror, Dorianna will launch on October 24 with Evernight Teen. It's a twist on the Faust story for the Internet generation. To get details of the launch, FB party and tour, subscribe to my newsletter. Here's a short summary:

Internet followers, beauty, power. It all sounded good. 
Until it transformed into a terrifying reality Dorianna couldn’t stop

Dorianna is a dark twist for the Internet generation on A Picture of Dorian Gray. When her father is jailed, her mother ships lonely, plain Dorianna to her aunt’s. There, Dorianna yearns to build a new identity, but the popular Lacey bullies her—mostly for getting attention from her ex, Ander.
Ander takes Dorianna to Coney Island where Wilson, a videographer, creates a stunning compilation of her. She dreams of being an online sensation, as she’s never even had a birthday party, and vows she’d give anything to go viral. Wilson claims he’s the Prince of Darkness and warns her the pledge has downsides. Dorianna thinks he’s joking. She has no idea of the dire consequences.
She’s thrust into the spotlight, and an incomprehensible nightmare. Not only is she prettier, she’s gaining harmful powers of manipulation. When her powers grow beyond anything she can control, she’s desperate but clueless as to how to stop it.

If you were to do a fresh twist on a classic tale, 
what might it be and why?


Happenings in the Realm: Huzzizzle August 2014 #SpecFic #SciFi #Fantasy #Horror

Coming Fall 2014!

Nine twisted stories from nine twisted worlds.

Contributing authors:

Angela Brown
River Fairchild
Gwen Gardner
M. Gerrick
Graeme Ing
M. Pax
Christine Rains
Cherie Reich
Catherine Stine

Twisted Earths is a collection of tales from Untethered Realms, a group of speculative fiction authors. The stories are as varied and rich as the types of soil on this and other planets—sandy loam, clay, knotted with roots and vines, dreaded paths through unexplored planets, and in enchanted forests, lit by candlelight and two moons.

M. Pax, author of the series, The Backworlds and The Rifters spins a tale called Patchworker 2.0. Specialists with digital interfaces are the only ones who can distinguish between biological energy and mechanical pulses, and “patch” AIs, which hold the world together. Patchworker Evalyn Shore meets up with an AI with deadly intent.

Cherie Reich, known for her epic fantasy series The Fate Challenges and The Foxwick Chronicles, presents Lady Death. Umbria, a beautiful and powerful swordsmith, is given an impossible task by her brother Leon when he asks, “You are the assassin. Are you scared to destroy Death when you are up to your elbows in it?”

Angela Brown is the author of the paranormal Shadow Jumpers and NEO Chronicles series. In her story, In The Know, Jacob, a loyal family man is struggling to stay out of debt when he’s hired to report on big plans for a future Detroit. He’s given a mysterious manila envelope with instructions to “open it alone” or pay the price. With switchback twists you won’t see coming, a debt of a much steeper cost is what he just might end up paying for his involvement.

Catherine Stine, author of the futuristic thrillers, Fireseed One and Ruby’s Fire, offers The Day of The Flying Dogs, a sinister tale of brilliant, troubled NYC high-school student, Theo. He experiences a day at Coney Island that includes drugs, delusions, a lonely capybara, Nathan’s hotdogs and a mind-bending lesson in our very twisted universe.

Christine Rains, known best for her paranormal series The Thirteenth Floor, gives us The Ole Saint, a story at once sweet, horrific and heartrending. Ezra longs to fit in and have boys stop calling him witch and freak, yet his unique supernatural skill sets him apart, and the last gift from The Ole Saint cinches the deal.

Graeme Ing, known for his young adult fantasy, Ocean of Dust presents The Malachite Mine, a gripping, scream-inducing ride. Whatever was Mary thinking when she accepted her husband’s gift of a most terrifying twenty-first birthday celebration in an abandoned Russian mine?

River Fairchild, author of her Jewels of Chandra series, presents A Grand Purpose. Rosaya and her cousin, Drianna are soon to be married off, but Rosaya is unhappy with her assigned match. She’s much more intoxicated by the older Firrandor, a wizard she hardly knows. When Rosaya is accused of killing an oracle boy, all bets are off, not only for her love, but her freedom.

Gwen Gardner, who pens the cozy paranormal mystery series, Indigo Eady, adds to her collection with Ghostly Guardian. Indigo and her rib-tickling ghost-busters must travel to a dangerous pirate-laden past in order to unearth a curmudgeonly eighteenth century spirit that is plaguing the Blind Badger Pub.

Misha Gerrick, whose War of Six Crowns series is forthcoming, gives us a story called Red Earth and White Light. Emily, a young ghost bride has long haunted a house. She longs to cross over into the afterlife, but she’s trapped in memories of lilies and betrayal.


Untethered Realms Now Has a Newsletter!
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The Rifters is Coming!

The official launch date is September 8th. I'm recruiting help. If you'd like to help and/or help spread the word, I'd be mighty appreciative. You can help with just a straight shoutout of cover, blurb, buy links, or you can add a little something-something. What is it? A little story about your trip to Settler, Oregon.

"But Mary," you say, "I've never been to Settler, OR." I say, "No one has. I made it up." There's info HERE about Settler to help and there's photos HERE to help inspire you, taken from all over Oregon. There's a FB page HERE which tells of the daily goings on in the town.

I'll be giving out prizes to those who help with a story on Settler. Two $25 gift cards to Amazon or B&N, signed paperbacks and handcrafted steampunk bookmarks by Dire Steampunk (aka Husband Unit), ebooks of the second book in the series The Initiate, and an ebook awarded to someone who comments on your post about Settler. All as a thank you for your awesome help. More about the giveaways and events surrounding The Rifters launch can be found HERE.

A story can be 100 words or less. It can be longer. Anyway, I'd be obliged. You can sign up HERE. Stories can be posted to FB or blogs. Either or both. Posts can be anytime in September through October 31st.

DORIANNA by Catherine Stine launches this October 24 
from Evernight Teen!

Internet followers, beauty, power. It all sounded good. 
Until it transformed into a terrifying reality Dorianna couldn’t stop

Dorianna is a YA paranormal twist for the Internet generation on Wilde's A Picture of Dorian Gray. When her father is jailed, her mother ships lonely, plain Dorianna to her aunt’s. There, Dorianna yearns to build a new identity, but the popular Lacey bullies her—mostly for getting attention from her ex, Ander.
Ander takes Dorianna to Coney Island where Wilson, a videographer, creates a stunning compilation of her. She dreams of being an online sensation, as she’s never even had a birthday party, and vows she’d give anything to go viral. Wilson claims he’s the Prince of Darkness and warns her the pledge has downsides. Dorianna thinks he’s joking. She has no idea of the dire consequences.

She’s thrust into the spotlight, and an incomprehensible nightmare. Not only is she prettier, she’s gaining harmful powers of manipulation. When her powers grow beyond anything she can control, she’s desperate but clueless as to how to stop it.

***Or in the words of the infamous Simon Cowell (Formerly on the American Idol and X-Factor shows): "The ratings come in, you’re happy for five minutes, then the insecure madness comes in ... Your audience controls you, you cannot control them."  

To get details of the OCT 24 DORIANNA launch and tour, subscribe to my newsletter. And mark your calendars for OCT 27 to attend a Halloweenish Dorianna FB party with lots of prizes, sponsored by Bewitching Books!

Also, Private Internship, my new adult novel (writing as Kitsy Clare), launches Sept. 29. It's not exactly spec so I won't go into deets here, but hey, all love or attempts at it, are pretty much sci-fi in my book! Yours? Sign up for the PI book blitz here.


What's On Your Nightstand?

Besides a bookmark, a flash drive, a bottle of water, a box of Moon Drops (helps relieve occasional sleeplessness by soothing the mind and easing you into a natural sleep) and a cup of coffee, I have a rotating pile of books on my nightstand. It's the overflow from my headboard, which is stuffed with books, as well.

So I thought I'd share what I'm reading right now from the books on my nightstand. Did I mention that I read more than one book at a time? I'm not sure this is normal, but I just go with whatever I'm in the mood for.

  • First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones. It is freaking hilarious! Charley (short for Charlotte) Davidson is a PI and just happens to be the grim reaper. I was hooked when Charley shows up at a murder scene to investigate. The dead guy is scared so his spirit refuses to leave his body. He just peeks out now and then to see what's going on. So Charley kicks the body and says something like, "Dude, get out of there. You're dead." Of course a police officer witnesses her kicking a dead body and then everyone knows how weird Charley is. Okay, you had to be there. But really. It's a fun read.

  • Opening Heaven's Door, Investigating Stories of Life, Death, and What Comes After by Patricia Pearson. Like it sounds, it's the study of what happens to the dying with some pretty cool stories mixed in. I like the one where the terminally ill 80 year old lady says she's been sitting and talking to her son who'd been dead for twenty years. Whether you believe or not, it's some pretty interesting stuff. I have to take it in small doses, though. It's not the sort of book I'd read cover to cover all at once.

  • Break Out! by Joel Osteen. I haven't actually started this one yet, but I've read other books by Osteen (It's Your Time) which I really enjoyed. He's the modern day Norman Vincent Peale (The Power of Positive Thinking). He always has positive things to say and is so encouraging. I like the fact that he has a multimillion dollar mega-church that he doesn't take a penny from. Instead, he makes his income through writing books. It's another sort of book that I take my time with. A few pages at a time to mull and ponder over what he's said.

  • If You Want To Walk On Water You've Got To Get Out Of The Boat by John Ortberg. I'm about halfway through this book. It's basically a metaphor about having faith and stepping outside your comfort zone. It's religious in nature, of course, with the basis in Peter walking across the wind-swept Sea of Galilee toward Jesus. Walking on water takes faith. "It was Peter's willingness to risk failure that helped him to grow." The metaphor is a little overdone at times, but he has some good things to say. This is another book that I take in small doses, a couple of pages at a time. Some things just need pondering.

  • Before The Poison by Peter Robinson. I'm halfway through. I've read tons of Peter Robinson's books. You might know him better by his DCI Alan Banks mystery series on PBS. This isn't part of the series, but I thought I'd give it a try. If you like British murder mysteries, you'll like him. This particular book got a slow start with a lot of description about the house he just bought. You'll realize it's sort of a necessity because he goes on to solve an old murder where the house is sort of the central "character." I met Peter once before I became an author (before I even started writing!). I went to a book signing and took my stack of hardbacks for him to sign (a little sheepishly, I might add, because I didn't know what the protocol was for how many books it was kosher to present for autographs). Here's a little known fact: he doesn't like dogs. Who doesn't like dogs?! I forgive him, though, because he writes good books.

  • The Fault In Our Stars by John Green. A YA about teens with cancer. I wasn't going to read this because it couldn't possibly end well. I do so love my happy endings. I read about murder and death and dying and all that, but I sorta draw the line at kids dying from cancer. I try to stay away from real stuff like that. I live real life everyday so don't really need to read about it. But after several people told me that his writing reminded them of my writing (I'm a tad snarky), I decided to give it a try. It was really good. That's all I can say.
What's on your nightstand?
Do you read more than one book at a time?
Read any good books lately?


Necromancer - cover reveal

Graeme's latest fantasy novel, Necromancer, launches August 23rd, 2014

A primeval fiend is loose in the ancient metropolis of Malkandrah, intent on burning it to a wasteland. The city's leaders stand idly by and the sorcerers that once protected the people are long gone.

Maldren, a young necromancer, is the only person brave enough to stand against the creature. Instead of help from the Masters of his Guild, he is given a new apprentice. Why now, and why a girl? As they unravel the clues to defeating the fiend, they discover a secret society holding the future of the city in its grip. After betrayals and attempts on his life, Maldren has reason to suspect everyone he thought a friend, even the girl.

His last hope lies in an alliance with a depraved and murderous ghost, but how can he trust it? Its sinister past is intertwined in the lives of everyone he holds dear.

Can only evil defeat evil?


The Stupidest Superpower in Existence - Can You Beat it? #superhero #scifi

A silly little story for your amusement...
by M. Pax
©2014 M. Pax, all rights reserved

Dork Pants

The stupidest superpower in existence is mine, a transparent leg. What the hell is a superhero supposed to do with that? For one, I don’t get a cool name like KickButt Woman. Nope 
The other superheroes laugh at me. A lot. That’d be OK if I could be a regular woman. That can’t happen with a transparent leg. No open-toed shoes for me. No shorts. No little black dress. I tried painting the leg, but haven’t found any paint to stick. Stockings work, but they’re out of fashion and since they’re not completely opaque my legs turn different colors. Tights do a better job. I wear them a lot, despite them being way too warm for any season other than winter. The other three seasons, I look really lame and sweaty. 
How I got my name… In elementary school, I threw a tantrum about rolling up my pants to wade through a massive puddle at the front entrance, resulting in suspension and labeled a troublemaker. My parents wised up and sent in a doctor’s note about how I always had to wear pants. Always. 
The principal made fun of the odd request. Mary Marcy Renner had been in the adjoining nurse’s office, sick, waiting on her mother. Not too sick to hear the whole thing. If you want the world to know your business, make Mary Marcy your best friend. She dubbed me ‘Dork Pants’. 
On my fourteenth birthday, the superhero council moved me to the hero academy. I don’t fit in there either. Lasso Girl decided Dork Pants was the perfect alias for me. Everyone calls me that, including my trainers and teachers. 
I can’t do anything special, nothing better than anyone else. I’m slow. I’m clumsy. I can’t fly or jump. And the one time I tried out a cape, well, Lasso Girl will be out of her leg casts soon. 
While visiting her in the hospital, because I was forced to, I discovered I should embrace my dorkiness. It makes sick people laugh and feel good. I keep working on it. As far as I figure, making people feel good is the best superpower there is.

I dare you to think up a stupider super power than a transparent leg... go ahead, make my day. 


Fantastic Speculative Fiction - This is Worth Reading: Champion in the Darkness

Can't decide what to read next? Untethered Realms is sharing what we loved reading the first Friday of every month.

Champion in the Darkness

Clara's ready to become a master swordswoman. When she goes to meet with longtime mentor Dantor, Clara is told she's destined to become the Champion, a fabled hero who arises in time of need. Confused by this claim, Clara isn't sure she's ready to be a Champion.

Whether Clara is ready or not, the evil Kalidess has wormed her way into Septily's court.

Clara is aided by another mentor, Stelia, whose knowledge of their enemy is both a bane and a blessing. As evil threatens their land, Clara and Stelia must find the strength to overcome the darkness.

My review:
Destined to be the next Champion of Septily, Clara isn't certain she's ready for it. She's young and hasn't received the sword of a master swordswoman yet. The evil Sisterhood has gotten its claws into Septily and is about to render it to pieces. With the help of her mentors and friends, she must find the courage to fight in battle. Clara has to have faith in her Lord and herself even when darkness falls over her world.

A wonderful start to the Christian fantasy series, the Champion Trilogy. The worldbuilding is incredible. I love the peeks at the history and the inner workings of the council. There are lovely details about the land and the people, and creatures that are beautiful and horrific. I'm a fan of the people of Aerland and their griffins. I would love to be chosen by griffin to become its partner!

Clara is an admirable character with her struggles of inadequacy and faith. Though at times she seems wise for her age, she is portrayed realistically as a young woman with a grand destiny thrust upon her. My favorite character other than the griffins is Stelia. I'd love to learn more about her and his past. As for Kalidess, she is a villain you can thoroughly loathe.

I can't wait to read more from Tyrean Martinson.

Buy the book on Amazon!