Contest Giveaway: Guess the Actress

Since no one guessed this, I’m going to call time on it.

This actress is Barbara Luna, who starred as the captain’s woman in the Star Trek fan favorite (and mine!), “Mirror, Mirror!”  I had to crop the photo to not give it away–there’s a picture of her and the mirror Spock sitting on the table.

Photo of actress at her table at a con

I’m doing a contest!  First person to guess who this actress is gets a coupon code for the 2018 Military SF Bundle!

Hint: She was on Star Trek.


Check out the Bundle:

12 book covers in the military SF bundle


Writing Phrase I Hate

There’s a phrase I keep seeing over and over again, and it’s one I really hate because of the implied put down.

Worse, I don’t think writers realize it is a put down.

The phrase is…

“Aspiring author.”

It means longs for, desires to be, aims for.

Yet, if you write, you’re already a writer.  So this is somehow managing to say that even if you write you’re not really a writer.  I just saw it on an article about a writer who wrote two books and was called aspiring.

Just walking away and trying not to cringe.  As Bob Meyer said to me, there are so many people ready to put you down.  There’s no need to do it to yourself.

Cave Rescue

The boys in Thailand are starting to come out of the underwater cave.  I remember watching the adventures of Sea Hunt with Mike Nelson, and this is nothing like it.  But it’s riveting to see how the rescuers are working it out.

The rescuers have decided to scuba dive the boys out.  The boys have no experience whatsoever with diving, and the cave is so dangerous experienced divers are having problems.  But they came up with an interesting idea using tethers to bring out the boys.  Click on this link and look for the fourth image down to see what the rescuers are doing.

Reading as a Reader, Not a Writer

Baby penguin in a life vest and holding a life preserver
Just because I liked the image.

I just finished a Harry Bosch book.  I really like most of his books, and especially how he describes Los Angeles.

And there’s a probably a writer out there reading it, but not enjoying the book….instead  searching for faults.

When I first got online, I was influenced by all the writers around me.  We all read books to see what NOT to do.  Particularly, we all read each sentence and picked at them.  That writer did too much showing and not enough telling.  This writer made a grammatical mistake.  That kind of stuff.

One day, I felt discouraged as a reader because all the books I was getting were terrible!

It was so bad I thought writing had gone downhill from when I was growing up.

So was out wandering around at work and someone had left a few copies of Mack Bolan or Nick Carter books.  These were men’s fiction, with a lot of action.  I’d read a number of them (yeah, I had a weird childhood.  Other girls read romances, and I read science fiction and action fiction).

I snatched those books up, looking forward to proving my point that writing had gone downhill.

Instead, I could see how the writing of books had evolved over time.  The problem wasn’t the books.

It was how I was reading them.

I made a decision then and there to read the next book without picking apart.  Just try to enjoy it.

That book was The Di Vinci Code.  That’s one of the books the writers on message boards really hate.  It was a runaway success and sold millions and millions of copies.  So the writers read it, pick at the sentences, and wonder how a book with so many “flaws” can be a best seller.

Also implying that the readers are stupid because they don’t see the flaws.

The readers don’t care.  As long as the story gives them whatever they’re looking for, that’s enough.  Doesn’t have to be perfect.  Perfect is boring anyway, and a book isn’t an English assignment, waiting to be graded.

Letting go of Army Things

I’m still in the process of tackling the black hole of my closet.  I pulled out nearly everything in the closet:

Boxes stacked on the floor, along with presskits, photos, and fanzines.

This is most of it, though there’s a separate pile of books, and a small pile of movie posters in tubes.  The two piles in the back are donations, and electronic discard.

As part of all this clean-up, I decided to give away two items that came from Desert Storm.

The first was a prayer rug that I purchased at the airport while I was waiting to go home on emergency leave.

The reason I’m donating it to the thrift shop is that so much changed since then.  We had September 11, and I was in DC when the Pentagon was hit.  I experienced all of that and was terrified and in shock for two weeks.  Plus the political climate here is just poisonous…it’s just not something I want contaminating me.  And the rug was sitting rolled up in the closet and that’s all it was going to do.

The second thing was a small ceramic Siamese cat.  It was given to me by my best friend going into Desert Storm.  I believe she gave it to me after the war ended.

The war and an event that happened during the war destroyed her.  I watched this bright cheerful friend dip into depression and great anger.  A lot of us–the lower enlisted–tried to help her (leadership appeared disconnected to the problem from our level), but she was stuck.  She was smoking three packs a day and not taking care of herself.  A relationship with a married man finally ended, and she decided to married to a guy she’d known for two weeks–for the reason, “I need a man in my life, and it might as well be him.”  This man gave even the male soldiers the creeps.  Two weeks after she got married, she was divorced.  It was so hard for me to watch, and I found she was dragging me down.  I had to quietly separate myself from her.  She eventually failed the physical training test multiple times by intent and got kicked out.  I have no idea what happened to her.

While I liked the ceramic cat, it also reminded me not of the good times I had with her, but all the bad things when she went downhill.

Sometimes some memories are best left without any reminders.

Photo: Michael Ansara of Star Trek

Michael Ansara on stage with his wife


One of my favorite characters of all time on Star Trek was Kang, played by Michael Ansara.  He brought nobility and pride to the Klingons, which clearly influenced later development of the aliens.  So when he was on the guest list for Farpoint in 1997, I jumped at the chance.

The photo is of him and his wife.  This was the first appearance he ever made at a con, and I believe he only did two.  (Sorry the photo is blurry.  The lighting was really bad, and these were the best I was able to get).

He was astounded at the crowds, at the number of people who came to see him.  If we hadn’t run out of time, we would have kept him on stage with questions!

But there was one that I still remember….

George Takei and James Doohan were both blasting William Shatner at the time.  So, naturally, “What was it like to work with William Shatner?” came up.  I imagine some expected him to dish up dirt.

And Michael Ansara stayed professional.  He said William Shatner was great to work with.

Contrast that to another guest at the same con, Mark Goddard.  He worked on Lost in Space for producer Irwin Allen.  Because he was in a TV series, he was horribly typecast and landed in soaps so he could work.  But then, soaps were the thing you took because you couldn’t get work and looked down on.  So he was very bitter and ranted on stage about Irwin Allen, though it wasn’t the producer’s fault.  Mark Goddard had accepted the role, and the culture that comes with popular series is that it can be hard to get roles afterwards.

I was shocked when I heard Mark Goddard, because that is going to turn some fans off.  Some come from a long ways to see actors.  That’s what they’re getting?

Anyway, after Michael Ansara got off stage, he went out to the lobby to sign autographs.  I got in line, which was quite long.  I was looking forward to actually meeting him.  But the crowds had worn him out, and the con shut down the line before I got there.

Sometimes the stories are best about photos!


Socks, Socks, My Kingdom for a Sock

When I was growing up, we had what we called “The Orphan Pile” in the laundry room.  It was a bunch of my father’s socks.  He always bought black socks, same brand, all looked alike.

Then they got washed.

And some would get eaten by the dryer or the washer.  Or maybe the cats or dogs.

So they would go into the orphan pile with the hope of eventually find the missing sock.  Somehow, despite all starting out in the same color and same brand, they emerged from the washer mutated and none of them would ever have mates again.

What the heck does the dryer do with them?

Robotech Reboot?

I’m going to pay someone to do the cover for book 3 my GALCOM series, Cursed Planet, so I can finally start doing paper books.  One of the tasks in preparation is to research book covers that I like (maybe I’ll post the list for your viewing pleasure).  When I went to the Tor site, I ran across this article on the time being right for a reboot for the Robotech series.

For the most part, I don’t like the reboots.  The studios often see the original series as a moneymaker because of the name…and take no time to understand why it’s still popular.

But Robotech…

Maybe.  Because of the reasons it’s still a fan favorite is the characterization and the story.  That’s more universal and can be done well.

I saw it when it was aired in the U.S. in 1985.  I was hooked on the characters, especially in the first part of the trilogy, the Macross Saga.  I do think it the remaining two parts read like the producers didn’t realize how popular the series would be and threw together two more parts.  They don’t quite fit together, and the characterization is the best on the first one.

If you haven’t seen it, the series is available on Netflix.  But if you’re military, you’re going to cringe, plain and simple.  The writers threw rank randomly in the story like it was meaningless jargon and there’s serious disrespect for superior officers.  If there’s a reboot, it wouldn’t be a hard fix.

Crying Planet Sample Chapter

The first book in my GALCOM Universe series is featured in the 2018 Military SF StoryBundle.  I’m one of 3 veterans in the book.  Here’s a sample of the first chapter (psst.  I ‘ve been told Siri can read it like an audio book).

Chapter 1

The S.C. Kangjun’s recycled air smelled like artificial eucalyptus. Ordinarily that would have bothered Hope Delgado, because artificial anything got into her nose and made it all itchy.

What it didn’t smell like was ghost. No moldy, itchy, crawling-up-between-the-walls ghost smell.

It was the first time in her life Hope hadn’t been bothered by ghosts.

The conference room the crewman had shown her to had to be the wrong place. She’d expected a bland room with chairs and a table, but this looked like a suite in a five-star hotel. She glanced down at her threadbare dress and stretched-out pullover sweater, and then at the plush blue carpet and velvet curtains.

The contrast had invisible red fingernails clawing to get out of her stomach. The crewman was gone, and she was alone, and at any moment, someone would eye her clothes and chase her out.

The outer room had a dining area and a seating alcove for meetings. Doors off the main dining room led to a small office, a kitchenette, and a bathroom—head; they called it a head on a ship. Glass cases displayed books carefully arranged by size. Her circuit of the room took her past a suit of armor that stared at her through a slit. She stopped in front of it, expecting ghostly vibrations, but it was lifeless.

It stood guard next to the large picture window that revealed the outside world: an array of stars scattered like glittery jewels. Hope had never seen so many before! She could have stood there forever, but the door behind her whooshed open.

An officer entered. She knew he was an officer because the first captain had already told her, “Follow the eagle. That’s the man in charge.” And this man had a silver eagle on the points of his collar. He wore the camo tech uniform, or CTU, that all the people on the ship wore—the pants and shirt changed to match their surroundings. He was in his late forties, hair growing gray, and ghosts behind his eyes.

Hope didn’t know too much about military officers, but he had the regal bearing of a man who expected to be obeyed.

Like the man who proposed to her, then expected her to call up ghosts for profit.

She pushed that thought out of her head. It had been nearly twenty years since that disaster, and she’d been naïve then.

The officer stopped and gave her a long, assessing look.

Hope stared back at him steadily.

She knew she looked like a dying butterfly, as a neighbor who’d thought he was being helpful had once called her: too thin and aging too fast. But there wasn’t normal anything when it came to the family curse. Her father’s hair had gone gray at thirty and cold white three years later; Hope’s hair sprouted gray like weeds.

Finally, the officer flapped his hand at the seating area by the window. She sat on the edge of the sofa’s cushion. This probably wouldn’t take long. Everyone was afraid they would catch what she had.

He sat carefully far away from her, tossing a hard-backed green book and pen onto the table.

“Ms. Delgado, I’m Colonel Graul, commanding officer of the S.C. Kangjun and sector commander.”

He stared at Hope again. “How did you convince GALCOM to get you out here?” he asked.

The subtext of the question was clear as the stars outside, and it left a bad taste her mouth. “I didn’t. I wanted nothing to do with no alien ghosts. GALCOM approached me and asked for my help.”

“For a lot of money and Demory metal.”

She stared down at the carpet. It was thick enough to bury her feet in. She wasn’t wearing the bracelet here; didn’t need to.

“The Demory metal saved my life, Colonel.” She made a point to use his rank, because the first captain had told her that was proper etiquette, that civilians always got it wrong. “It blocks the ghosts so I can do normal things like go to the bathroom and sleep. Everyone else in my family has killed themselves before the age of forty because the ghosts won’t leave us alone. I’m thirty-nine. My dream is to be an old woman. A very old woman.”

Then she fixed a steely gaze on him. He looked away first.

“And why is it wrong to get money for a skill no one else has?” she said. “I am the only person who can help.”

“I hope you can. We’ll be at the first space port, Eridana, in about two weeks.” He shifted his position, and the shadows in his eyes darkened. “There’s been trouble there. They think from ghosts.”

“They didn’t tell me much. Poltergeist activity?”

“No. It’s in the air. Like a weight, an oppressiveness, constantly pressing against you.”

She leaned forward, going still. Reminded herself to breathe. “Once we had a bus crash. Forty people killed. It was like that for me until the ghosts passed on.”

No one else had felt it but her, and other members of her family.

“We think it’s connected to the Corellians. Things were fine until they put out the Sin Pots. The Corellians say it’s for their ancestors.”

Hope shivered. Her Demory metal bracelet had originated on the Corellian world.

“Sin Pots?” she asked.

“Sorry.” He flushed. “It’s a military nickname. Computer, show us the Sin Pots.”

A three-dimensional hologram appeared above the table. Hope used her hand to pull it lower so she could see it better. The Sin Pot was a crudely made metal barrel that would probably come up to Hope’s waist. A second image from an overhead angle show a red liquid, thick like oil, inside.

She asked, “Do you know what the liquid is?”

Graul picked up the notebook and flipped through the pages, pausing on one. How old-fashioned to still be using paper.

“I can give you a list of the ingredients,” he said. “We don’t know what they do.”

“Are they specific to the Corellian home world?”

Graul added a quick note that looked like it had a question mark at the end. “Most of them are common elements you could get anywhere. Two are unique to the Corellians.”

“I don’t know of any liquid that would have anything to do with ghosts. Could be the Corellians developed it, though I can’t see why. Can’t you remove the Sin Pots?”

“No.” Graul bit his lip. Making up his mind. “It’s not that easy. The Corellians supply GALCOM with minerals we need for our space cruisers. When we tried removing the Sin Pots, they delayed deliveries until we put them back.”

She’d read about that in the news, though the delays had been passed off as caused by a space storm.

“You couldn’t negotiate with them?”

The shadows in his eyes grew darker still. He looked down at the book, not reading it. Closed the cover. “No.”

He set the notebook on the coffee table and straightened it. Laid the pen on top of it.

She waited, but he didn’t say anything further.

She said, “I told the GALCOM representative the same thing: All I can do is look. I don’t know if my ability to see ghosts would allow me to see Corellian ones, or if I would be able to talk them.”

Graul fell silent for a long moment. “We have to try. We can’t let it get worse.”

Photo: John Crawford and Cat

John Crawford sits on sofa and plays with his cat.

Another blast from the past.  This was taken in the 1980s.  This is John Crawford, who was in both Star Trek and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.

This photo was taken at his house in Studio City, California.  Some fans of “The Big Four” (all four of Irwin Allen’s TV shows) came to L.A. and were visiting the actors.  They were getting interviews for fan magazines about their rules.

We all sat down to chat in his living room.  This was the first time I had been in an actor’s house (and actually the only time), so I was terrified I was going to screw up and say something stupid.  The cat jumped up on the sofa and climbed all over him.  Clearly a case of “Pay attention to me!  These other humans aren’t important!”).

No veteran experience that I could find online, but he was at the right age to be a World War II vet.  He passed away in 2010.