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May Releases & Cover Refreshes


The New Books!

A ghostly woman with glowing red eyes stands by a barren tree

 

Ghostly Tales I

Three chilling fantasy tales of ghosts…
CURSE OF THE CAT

THE AUGUST GHOST

STAIN OF GHOST

(This is an abbreviated blurb because all of the individual stories are below)

Available from your favorite booksellers.  Is this an awesome cover?  I liked this image so much I’m getting a second by the same artist.

 

Woman walking through tunnel

Stain of Ghost

Stone mage Margaret Day thought the faces of the automatons gave her nightmares.

But what the Know-Nothings did to the construction of the Washington Monument makes the nightmares seem tame.

A haunted stone, deep within the monument, tainted with evil.  Can she fight the evil?

A page-turning story of dark secrets.

Available from your favorite booksellers. (This is still publishing and may take a day or so.)

Cover Refreshes

Woman in 1800s dress burning a paper next to a window

Curse of the Cat

The nightmares never stop.  Not since Edward Wight purchased the painting haunted by the artist.

It watches.  It intrudes on his dreams.  It tells him to die.

His only chance?  Maz, a sculpturer with crazy inventions.  Can she help him before time runs out?

A twisted tale of dark secrets and growing evil.

Available from your favorite booksellers.

 

Woman standing next to a ghost

The August Ghost

Sometimes ghosts can be too helpful.  But Private Investigator Tibby Clarke just wants respect from her grandfather ghost.

A routine case takes Tibby into the Washington DC suburbs…a strange place for a ghost partner with nineteenth century sensibilities.

But when the case turns deadly, her ghostly grandfather may be the only person standing between her and life and death.

A twisted fantasy tale with a terrifying secret.

Available from your favorite booksellers.

Flying saucer hover over tree covered mountain

Alien Traps

On the journey to adulthood, Lily Chun left herself behind. Does the child who set out boxes to trap aliens exist anymore?

A dream of aliens draws Lily Chu to the California desert. Hoping to see a UFO.

Plain silliness, her family says. So she must take a leap of faith.

Then another woman arrives. Like her. Looking for aliens.

A heartwarming science fiction short story.

Available from your favorite booksellers.

What I learned About Writing from Space 1999


Comet TV has been running the 1970s science fiction show, Space 1999.  They had a New Year’s Eve marathon, so I tuned in on and off during the day.

The History of the Show

It ran two seasons and starred Martin Landau and Barbara Bain.  They manned a base on the moon that was used to store nuclear waste.  The nuclear waste then exploded with enough force that it knocked the moon out of orbit.

According to my Google Fu, the producers were puzzled at the negative comments they got at the time.  They didn’t understand why viewers didn’t give the show the suspension of disbelief that Star Trek got (yup, there’s a reason).  The show was cancelled after the first season, but the producers were able to negotiate to bring it back.  Fred Freilberger was at the helm (Star Trek), and he made it more action-focused.  But it didn’t fix the overall issue, and it was cancelled a second time.

Writer’s Hat On

The suspension of disbelief issues started with the a message in the story.  The producers wanted to show that nuclear waste was bad.  They got on a soapbox and wrapped the whole series around the moon being blown out of orbit.

And then?

The characters simply react to the next thing the moon drifts near, and then the moon drifts away.  The entire setup of the show kept them from having any kind of control over their own fate.  In one episode, they drifted near an alien planet.  Aliens did not want them on the planet, but inexplicably send rockets to the moon to give it atmosphere for a little while, then pulled back the rockets.  The moon drifted away.  And?

The characters couldn’t get rescued.

They couldn’t settle on a planet.

Above all, they couldn’t even protag.

 

Let it Snow Star Trek Style


Robin Bangerter from my Fort Lewis days sent along this fun video.  Thanks, Robin!

 


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Guest Panelist at ChessieCon


Over Thanksgiving, I was a guest panelist at ChessieCon–first time as a panelist for me.

This is a picture from my first panel.  I’m in the teal on the end.  My book Cursed Planet is standing up by my name plate.

Me and the other four panelists

The con hotel had changed hands again.  The hotel is located near the Maryland State Fair site, so it gets a lot of interest from the bigger brands.  But the hotel is old and the cost to bring it up to brand standards is expensive, so it changes hands about once a year.

So the result was that when I checked in, the hotel was being remodeled.  The heat was completely out in the part of the building where the panels were.

It was thirty outside.

My panels included Military Life Vs. Real Life; What not to do when trying to get published; book covers; and time management for writers.  I had eight panels altogether.

I was thinking that I would be able to attend some other panels, but I was surprised at how draining it was.  I only managed two.  I’m an introvert, and I had to be on for the duration of the panel.  So I vanished up to the hotel room between panels to recharge (staying in the hotel when you’re a panelist is a must).  I did a little writing towards the tail end, but I was pretty fried.

Highlights:

Know your genre – from the What Not to Do panel.  In the Gold Rush days of indie publishing, I ran across a writer who had 8,000 Twitter followers. I was jealous!  I naively thought that translated into a lot of sales of books.  How could I get in on that?  One day, he asked me to review is book, calling it an action-adventure thriller.  I looked at the book.  It was a fantasy detective book, and definitely nothing thrillery like I would see in a James Rollins book.  He got upset when I turned down the review and said it had lots of action, because there was a big action scene at the end.  Sorry, that’s not a thriller.

Time Management: Hands down, health.  Do too much sitting and not enough exercising, or eating right, and the writing itself will suffer.  In terms of my priorities, it’s above writing.

Distance in stories:  Not one of I was on, but Jo Walton made an comment about the culture of distance.  We think nothing of driving somewhere if it’s about a day away.  In fact, commuting in the Washington DC area is at least a two hour drive for many people because we have such a housing shortage.  But in Great Britain, which is only about 600 miles long, twenty miles is considered a long ways to go.  They think of the distance as this giant chasm to get across.

Military Life: Know the difference between the officers and enlisted, and what the ranks are.  You’ll go along ways to “feeling right” with those two items.  Yet, I’ve seen a Lieutenant Colonel in a book who was 25 years old (in a modern setting), and in movies, they’ve mixed up officer and enlisted.  Mike McPhail was on this panel with me.

Covers: Blue and gold is trending for science fiction now.  And, of course, I told the story about an indie writer who posted up her cover for a thriller and it was clip art photo of a peaceful snowy scene.  Readers get their first impression from the cover.  Mike was also on this panel with me.

Aside from the bone-chilling cold, the con was a lot of fun!


 

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Star Trek and Space: 1999 Mashup


Comet TV has been showing Space: 1999, a British import that starred Martin Landau and Barbara Bain (he passed away a few years ago; she’s now 87).  In the series, an explosion blows the moon out of orbit, and with it, the people on a base on the surface.  It’s a little like Star Trek Voyager, in they have a never ending supply of shuttles (called Eagles).

I’ve only seen a few episodes, so I’m not sure what to think of it some 40 years later.  Here’s the theme from the first season (which changed drastically for season 2).  It looks like an inside joke or Easter egg for those who know the career of the two leads.  The “This episode” sections mimic what Mission: Impossible did.  I find the opening introducing Martin Landau and Barbara Bain quite striking.

And here’s a mash-up of Star Trek’s “Tomorrow is Yesterday” to the same music.

Godzilla of the Stars


Much of my childhood was spent watching monster movies.  That was in the days when the TV stations aired everything, including anything in black and white.  Within about ten years of that, all the black and white films and shows starting disappearing.  Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea had one season in black and white and three in color, and suddenly it was hard to find the first season.  And the movies that I watched every Saturday that came from the 1950s and 1960s started disappearing.  Even the color movies have largely disappeared now.

There were many films about the fears of what atomic power would do or our push into scientific fields.  Them! had giant ants roaming the sewer systems of Los Angeles (with James Arness of Gunsmoke).  The Creature From the Black Lagoon had an underwater creature stalking people (Ricou Browning did the underwater stunts without diving gear).  The Fly, which starred David Hedison (though he was then using his first name, Al), had a scientist experimenting with transporter technology and ending up part man, part fly.

A few really scared me.  There was one involving rats in a basket being put over someone’s head (no clue what the title is). In another, shockingly for the time, a man’s arm got torn off on camera (I believe that was The Brain That Wouldn’t Die).

And then there was Godzilla, and all the monster movies that came with it like Rodan and Monster Island.  I think I saw the original only once or twice.  It had a very different tone, more suited for the fears of science gone wild, so the local channels may have passed on it in favor of the other movies.  Those were just plain monster-destroys-Tokoyo, and Godzilla even became a good monster with children

In 1977, NASA named the first space shuttle after the starship Enterprise of Star Trek.  Now Godzilla has a constellation named after him.

And if you’ve never seen this, Bambi Meets Godzilla. It’s an early fan produced film that I saw at a con in the 1970s.

Space Cats


Because, well, space and cats.

The Shaky Camera


Woman holding a clapper board
Lights, camera, shake!

Every now and then I run into a show where the director used the “shaky camera” filming technique.  It’s where the camera is hand held or simulates hand held.  The camera might be focused on one actor, and it jiggles and moves around.

It probably originated from The Blair Witch Project.  According to stories at the time, the camera was so shaky that people got ill from motion sickness.

I think some directors use it because it creates a sense of urgency.  You get all this camera jiggling–pay attention!  Pay attention!

It also evokes a sense of realism.  If you film a home movie, it’s going to have the same shaky effect.

For me, I don’t like it, except maybe very sparingly.  I could see it in a big action scene where things are moving fast because it fits there.  One of the things producer Irwin Allen did was what was called The Seaview Rock and Roll.  He banged a metal bucket, the camera would tilt, and the actors would all lurch to the left, or even fall to the deck.  It was a very effective special effect.

The shaky camera works here because it’s only a few minutes, and then goes back to the normal stable camera shots.

As an entire episode or movie?  No.

One of the problems with the shaky camera is that if used in excess, it constantly disrupts the suspension of disbelief and reminds us that is a film.  I know that the new version of Battlestar Galactica is highly praised, and I’ve been able to watch it.  Just a few minutes in of shaky camera and I was paying more attention to the camera movement than the story.

Sometimes less is better.

Cursed Planet


 

Who knew ghosts could exist in heavy gravity?

Hope Delgado, the galaxy’s only alien ghost expert, confronts her toughest challenge on S.C. Kangjun’s latest mission.

The local aliens, 49ers, blame the humans for a ghost. And they hide a deadly secret. A secret they will kill to protect.

Hope must make a desperate last stand against the aliens and the ghosts—if she fails, her friends will die. A science fiction novel of deep space thrills and adventures.

Pick up Book 3 in the GALCOM Universe series on Amazon!

Available on RabbitBundle!

 

Help a Veteran!

An Army “hoo-ah” for all the readers who take the time to leave a review.  I’m grateful for all of you!

Patrick Stewart: Cowboy Singer


Something to bring a smile for Friday. This was sent to me by Robin Bangerter, who is from my Fort Lewis days, and it’s hilarious!