Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Reverse Shelfie

I've had a rough week.

It's hard to talk about, but gosh...sigh. I want to try.

I took picture, a sort of twisted sad reverse shelfie, so you can see what I mean:




Those are all books. Moreover, those are all books that I voluntarily got rid of.

I know what you're thinking: WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU?

I KNOW! I can't believe I did it, either. It was like a fit of madness came over me or something. One minute I'm a normal hoarder book-lover with lovely teetering stacks of books on all my shelves, and the next, I'm some kind of crazed clean-freak with an unreasoning vendetta against biblio-clutter, and a bloodthirsty drive for organization. 

In all seriousness - wait, who am I kidding? I can't be serious; I'm too busy waxing melodramatic over the fate of my books. 

Alas. It sort of did have to be done. We don't have a large space, and our shelves were so overcrowded something really terrible happened: we didn't have room for any new books.

I will admit, though, that it's possible I didn't deal so well with the culling process. I may or may not have cried a little. I also may or may not have had a last-minute panic attack and started grabbing books indiscriminately from the bags in an attempt to 'rescue' them. 

In the end, though, the vast majority made it out of the house and into the donation piles of some local charities, so at least I can hope they're going to good, loving homes. 

And now...we have room for new books

I knew there was a silver lining in there, somewhere,

Do you ever clean out your book piles? Or do you keep every book forever? Have you taken a shelfie?

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Bookish Thoughts, And Nicki Elson's Vibrizzio!

Hey everyone, I had this great idea for a post today, about books. SHOCKING, right? Me, write about books? I know, but I think it's important to stretch ourselves sometimes, and really step outside of our comfort zones. Be brave. And write about books.

Well, I will write about books (I'm not sure why I feel the need to continue emphasizing that) but not til next week, because this week I am FINALLY getting my butt in gear and featuring my blogging buddy Nicki Elson. I say 'finally,' because her new book has been out for weeks and I missed the official blog tour and I am a lame, lame friend. 

SO, without further ado (although I do like an ado), here's Nicki!

Wait, wait, just kidding. First let me say that you really need to read the excerpt she has here, but please do so without sipping or eating anything while you read. Because you will blow it out of your nose when you start laughing. I am not joking - there may have been a coffee/nose incident when Nicki sent this to me. Maybe. I'm just saying, be careful.

NOW, here's Nicki!


If you read this blog, then I know you've had practice at following trains of thought, yes? Liz is great about letting us know where her brain waves have taken her—which is just one reason I love stopping by. So would you like to know how I arrived at the excerpt I’m going to share with you today?

Well, Liz lives in Boston (her tidbits about living in the city are another thing I enjoy here), and though VIBRIZZIO is set in Chicago, there’s travel involved, including a trip to Boston. So I started thinking about that city … which naturally led me to tea—y’know because of that pah-tee in the haa-bah—and instead of landing in Boston, I plopped right back in Chicago at the Drake Hotel for high tea.

I write love stories, and I know many in the world of romance want 100% of the focus on the heroine and hero, but I write what I want to read, and I like to see how the main character interacts with a variety of people—family, friends, coworkers. Then reviewers make comments like the one below and I know I’m not alone:

“The other characters really bring life to the story. They’re not just background. It becomes clear how Lyssa’s friends and family have shaped and continue to shape her.”

Maybe what I really write is women’s fiction. I love my heroes, but the story I’m really telling is the girl’s.  To truly know her, we need to meet the important people in her life. Today, I introduce you to Lyssa Bates’ mum, Penny, in an excerpt from VIBRIZZIO.


* * *

"Keith and I broke up.”

It was good Penny had already set down her teacup; otherwise, stained water would’ve gone flying with the dramatic rush of her hand to her chest as she gasped loudly enough that the diners in the immediate vicinity glanced in her direction.

“It’s just a breakup, Mom. Calm down.”

“Well, do you think you’ll be getting back together?”

“I … I don’t know. I don’t think so. Look, I know you really liked him, but it became clear that he and I didn’t understand each other, so it seemed best to split.” Penny nodded and her hand slowly made its way down to the table, where she absently ran her fingertips along the rim of her saucer.

“When you say you didn’t understand each other, do you mean sexually?”

Pressing her lips together with pressure so fierce it could form diamonds, Lyssa gave a curt shake of her head. “It was a lot of things, Mom.”

“Oh.” It was one those ohs that came packed with layers of meaning—none of which merely meant oh.

Let it go, Lyssa told herself. Talk about the tea or talk about the weather. Maybe encourage her to go on for an hour about Jessica’s homemaking prowess, but do not give in to her bait. It was a battle Lyssa rarely won. “Why did you automatically assume that sex was the problem?”

Penny’s eyes went wide with feigned innocence. “It was only a question. No need to get shrill.”

Was she shrill? Lyssa looked down and saw her fingers bent like talons, holding her balled-up napkin in a death grip. Willing herself to relax, she released the napkin and spread it across her lap. “I’m sorry, but … why did you immediately go there?”

“No reason.” Penny lifted her porcelain cup to her lips. Before taking a long sip, she murmured, “It’s just that you’ve always been a bit of a prude.”

Lyssa's fingers choked the napkin again. Had any other woman in the entire history of everything ever been accused of being a prude by her own mother? She decided to meet blunt with blunter. “So you’re still disappointed I wouldn’t go with Jess and the other seniors to the suck-off-the-football-team parties?” For effect, she lifted her wrinkled napkin and dabbed at the corners of her mouth.

“That is not what was going on, and maybe if you’d been more social, you would’ve been asked to a prom.”

“You wanted me to social myself out for a date to prom?”

Penny tilted her head in the way that said she’d have none of her daughter’s nonsense. “What I want to express is that I understand what it’s like to be uptight in the bedroom. Your father and I … ”

Oh dear God.

“ … but once I loosened up and agreed to some of the things he’d been asking me to try … ”

Oh God, no! These weren’t random words popping into Lyssa’s mind—she was actually praying. Please, make it stop.

It wasn’t stopping, and Lyssa did her best to block her mother’s words and focus on something—anything—else in the vast room. Her eyes darted about, failing to find purchase anywhere, and the distinct syllables that formed the word “testicles” in her mother’s nasally voice cut through her rising panic. Her eyes stopped on the gleaming flatware resting conveniently on the white linen tablecloth. She momentarily considered stabbing forks into her eardrums, but that’d only stop the noise; she’d still be able to read those lips that didn’t stop moving.

“ … and there’s something very gratifying about causing a man to lose control like that … ”

Lyssa instantly decided on the ultimate superpower Keith had always wanted her to choose. She’d pick telekinesis, and she’d use it to snap off one of the harp strings and levitate it over. Then she’d wrap it around her mother’s throat and squeeze. Squeeze until Mommy turned blue. Squeeze until that larynx could never again spew its torturous revelations.


* * *


I, uh, might have a bit of a latent violent streak that leaks into my writing every once in a while, ehe.

Thank you so much, Liz, for having me over and letting me share a piece of the Vibster w/ your followers. I hope you enjoyed it. Have a fabulous Humpday, everyone!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Milo James Fowler's Captain Quasar

I am DELIGHTED to feature author Milo James Fowler on my blog today! His novel, Captain Quasar and the Space-Time Conundrum, is now available - in serialized form. Which means you can subscribe, and read a little bit at a time, whenever you have time. How perfect is that? If you haven't read any of Milo's Quasar stories yet, you're in for a treat. And now, on to the novel and the author!


Every Day Novels is proud to announce the release of Milo James Fowler's first serialized novel: 


Captain Bartholomew Quasar and the Space-Time Displacement Conundrum

16 weeks of serial chapters every weekday – that's 80 exciting episodes of adventure aboard the Effervescent Magnitude for only $5 USD (includes an eBook edition following serialization). Don't delay – Subscribe today!

Captain Quasar is out of time.

Pursued by vengeful Goobalob toll collectors, savage Arachnoid bounty hunters, and formidable Amazonians, Captain Bartholomew Quasar must do whatever he can to keep the crew of the Effervescent Magnitude out of harm's way. All in a day's work—except time is not on his side.

Torn from the present to relive his past, he vows to keep mistakes from occurring the second time around. But is he doomed to repeat history? Or can he erase his regrets?

Villains will be vanquished. Lives will be lost. Bonds will be betrayed. Heroes will be heroic.

Join the crew of the Effervescent Magnitude for a hilarious time-travel space adventure the likes of which you've never seen!

Now Available from Every Day Novels

Add Captain Quasar to your Goodreads bookshelf



Prologue:

Jaw muscle twitching at untimed intervals, Captain Bartholomew Quasar gripped the armrests of his deluxe-model captain's chair and narrowed his heroic gaze. The main viewscreen on the bridge of the Effervescent Magnitude radiated with white-hot streaks blurring in elongated trajectories as his star cruiser plunged into the depths of space at something near the speed of light.

Quasar could feel the tension in the air. It was palpable and tasted like sweat—mostly his own. The members of his bridge crew remained silent, standing at their stations and staring at the viewscreen. Many forgot to blink as their insides trembled, recoiling with a nameless fear.

They had never moved so fast in their lives.

This was the Magnitude's maiden voyage into deep space utilizing the recently installed cold fusion near-lightspeed reactor—an experimental propulsion system they'd picked up on the planet Carpethria. One thing was readily apparent: it worked. But how long could the ship could maintain this incredible velocity without compromising hull integrity?

Already, the ship was creaking and groaning in protest, and the helmsman—a very hairy, four-armed Carpethrian who resembled something between a sloth and an overweight orangutan—had begun to grumble that the reactor really should have been tested before this full-speed leap into the black.

But there had been no other choice. Their options at the time were either flight (and survival) or fight (and undoubtedly be destroyed). Vicious Arachnoid bounty hunters were on their tail, and Arachnoids tended to be a very hungry lot—often foregoing payment for their illicit services in favor of a fresh kill.

The Magnitude's first officer, Commander Selene Wan, wasn't keen on the idea of allowing a Carpethrian to man the helm of their freshly minted star cruiser. But no one else on board knew how to navigate at near-lightspeed, and it took all four of the alien's hands to do the job—something two humans would have had to coordinate in tandem. And that could have gotten awkward.

"Steady as she goes." Quasar smoothed down his close-cropped blond hair and cringed as the ship released a moan that didn't sound good at all—something akin to a whale giving birth. "How are we doing, Hank?"

"Haven't run into anything yet," grunted the very hairy helmsman, hands flying across the controls.

"Status report?" Quasar half-turned to regard his first officer with a confidently raised eyebrow.

Commander Wan, a tall, slim Eurasian with impeccable posture, kept her attention riveted on her console. "Proximity scanners are offline." She swayed on her feet with the rocking movements of the ship, her sleek black hair swinging across her shoulders. "Artificial gravity is holding. Life support remains functional." A sudden frown creased her usually furrow-free forehead. "But the reactor, sir… We may have a serious problem."

"Elaborate."

"It's overheating, Captain. If we don't decelerate, it may—" She swallowed. "Explode."

That wouldn't be good at all. The folks back home were depending on Captain Quasar and company to bring back loads of quartz necessary for virtually every form of technology and transportation on Earth, not to mention haute vintage time pieces. The Magnitude could not possibly be allowed to blow up.

"Hank?" Quasar faced the shaggy helmsman. "Could we possibly slow down a bit?"

The Carpethrian grunted something intelligible, followed by, "Commencing deceleration sequence."

"Very good." The captain nodded, glancing over his shoulder at his first officer. Everything was under control. "Status?"

She shook her head without a word. Quasar checked the console on his armrest. The Arachnoid ship was nowhere in sight, and the Magnitude had begun to slow down, but only by an infinitesimal fraction of its near-lightspeed velocity.

"Uh-Hank? About that deceleration sequence…" Quasar cleared his throat.

"It will take thirty minutes, Captain. Any sudden downshift in speed would tear the ship apart."

Quasar maintained a brave fa├žade for the sake of his crew. Such was expected from starship captains, after all. Clenching his jaw, he leaned toward Wan and whispered, "Do we have thirty minutes?"
She met his gaze, and he didn't like what he saw in her eyes—something she hadn't shown before when they'd dealt with the horrible Goobalobs or the savage Arachnoids:

Terror.



Get to know the man behind the book:

1. When did you start seriously pursuing writing as a career?

I've been writing since I was 12, but I started submitting my work for publication in the summer of 2009. I'd always thought I would pursue publication at some point—probably after I retired from teaching or turned 40. My first story was published in January 2010, and I've had over a hundred others accepted for publication since then. I won't turn 40 for another year, and I'm still teaching full-time. Doesn't look like I'll be retiring anytime soon!

2. How did you create the character Bartholomew Quasar?

When I came up with Captain Bartholomew Quasar back in the spring of 2010, I was going for a mash-up between William Shatner's James T. Kirk and Dudley Do-Right from the Rocky and Bullwinkle Show (but in Quasar's case, things seldom ever go right). He's one of those classic pulp heroes with a heart of gold whose narcissistic tendencies often land him in hot water. I hope readers can laugh at Bartholomew Quasar and root for him at the same time. He's ridiculous, but there's something about his fallible nature that most of us can relate to on some level.

3. Are you working on more Captain Quasar stories?

I've written over 20 Captain Quasar tales so far, many of which are out on the submission circuit, looking for good homes. "Captain Quasar and the Ghosts of Space Command" will be published in the next issue of Perihelion Science Fiction. "Captain Quasar and the Carpethrian Call of the Wild" will be included in the B is for Broken anthology, and "Captain Quasar and the Devious Powers of Persuasion" will be in the Geminid Press space opera anthology. I'm in the middle of edits on a novella-length adventure I plan to submit for publication soon. My collection of 15 Quasar tales Starfaring Adentures…in SPACE is available everywhere eBooks are sold—and free for the taking, last time I checked.   



About Milo:

Milo James Fowler is a teacher by day, speculative fictioneer by night, and an active SFWA member. When he's not grading papers, he's imagining what the world might be like in a dozen alternate realities. In the past 5 years, his short fiction has appeared in more than 100 publications, including AE SciFi, Cosmos, Daily Science Fiction, Nature, Shimmer, and the Wastelands 2 anthology.

Visit www.milojamesfowler.com and join The Crew for updates about new releases.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Insecure Writers: More TIME, Please!

It's the first Wednesday of the month, so it's time for The Insecure Writers! The IWSG is an online group created by Alex J. Cavanaugh for writers. You, too, can join us anytime!

I have to give a huge CONGRATULATIONS to all of you who completed the A-Z Challenge this year. It's a huge accomplishment, and I'm sorry I missed a couple of weeks of it! Give yourselves a huge round of applause, and then go sleep for a week.

In fact, I think that's what I did last year. I also shut down my computer, because I couldn't bear to look at the screen for one damn second longer than necessary.

Yes, you can begin to see why I didn't participate this year...

Anyway, I took a slightly longer hiatus there than I planned to. Oops. Sorry about that. Vacation is wonderful but work has this annoying habit of continuing even when you stop for a break, so that you come back from your refreshing travels only to find a mountain of work waiting for you. Isn't that ridiculous? Clearly, everything else should stop when I do. I mean, obviously.

I'm still catching up - I also happen to be taking another writing class right now, which is adding to the mountain of work - so I will attempt to be brief.

I make no promises about my success, but I will attempt.

Most of my insecurity this month is coming from time - as in not having enough of it. Normally, when I take a writing class, I like to really dig in and give as much to it as I possibly can. But life has been extra specially nuts these past few weeks, vacation notwithstanding, so I find myself in a sweating panic the day before my class meets, desperately trying to cram in some writing and finish a piece in time for class. It doesn't help that all of my classmates are really, truly gifted writers, and I keep feeling like I'm not doing my best work and not impressing anyone and need to work harder or better or more originally or with more humor and should perhaps just give up and curl into a ball and disappear.

Whew, that was a whole giant truck-load of insecurity, wasn't it? Sounds a little high-pressure there, doesn't it? Hmm. Maybe I should cut myself a break, shouldn't I?

I should, I think. And so, I think, should all of the other insecure writers out there. We give ourselves a very hard time sometimes.

What are you feeling all IWSG-ish about this month? Are you recovering from the A-Z Challenge?