Thursday, January 19, 2017

Marscon 2017--Five Reasons to Go to Cons

My husband and I went to Marscon last weekend and had a fantastic time. Why go to cons, you ask? What's in it for me?

Here's a list of the 5 funnest things about cons,not in any particular order.

1. Cosplay. Con people take their characters and costumes very seriously, and there are always some fantastic displays. Most Cosplayers make the costumes themselves.
Check out that mask.
Chariot Man

Steampunk Teapot Racer

My husband's the one not in costume, but I still think he's pretty cute.

2. Entertainment. Danny Birt, the Blibbering Humdingers, and Mikey Mason were all there singing geeky songs.

This isn't live at Marscon, but it's one of my favorite Mikey Mason's songs.

And there's one from Danny Birt.

They're even better in concert where you have the energy of the crowd.

3. Other Geeks. You're around others even geekier than you are. It's coming home to your people.

Geeks, including my husband, at the Doctor Who Tea Party.

4. Panels.  I was on several panels. The funnest panel was one I was on with Todd McCaffrey, Mark Wandrey, Kim Headlee, Monica Marier, and Charity Ayers. For this panel, the audience provided a person, a place, and a thing. Todd started a story and then dumped it to the next person on the panel who added to it, and then dumped it to the next. Repeat. I've never done anything quite like this, but it was hilarious. We ended up with a story about a great white shark named Bongo who loves the music of bongo drums and the taste of monkeys. I also did panels on romance in fantasy, the making of a good adventure, and the use of religion in fantasy and science-fiction. In addition, I helped Allen Wold with his writing workshop about getting a story started. Fun times. 

5. Games--role playing games, video games, dice games, card games, table top games, board games. You like to game they have it.

Seriously, if you haven't been to a con, you need to check it out. If you have, what's your favorite con, or your favorite thing to do at a con?

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The Last Hero Book Tour & Giveaway

The Last Hero
By Nathaniel Danes
Genre: Scifi Adventure, Fantasy

Contact with a race of pacifists convinces mankind to lay down its weapons and keep the peace. The last Medal of Honor recipient, Trent Maxwell, trades glory for the comforts of a family after the U.S. Army disbands. All that ends when an alien menace attacks the New Earth colony, which forces a crash mobilization. Trent finds himself reactivated and traveling through space to distant worlds, in order to stop this new enemy. During the century long journey of death, love, and loss, he also deals with the law of relativity that wreaks havoc with his daughter.

**Free on Amazon from Dec 19th- 23rd!!**

Trent knelt down where Anna could throw her arms around his neck. She pulled against him tight and started crying again. Tears rolled down his face as he whispered, “I love you more than you can understand. I’m sorry.”
Her cries downed out his soft words.
After a minute, Trent summoned all of his strength to break free of her hold. Standing, he shared a look with Madison. She wrapped him in a loving, warm hug.
This time she did the whispering, “Remember what I told you. Make them pay.”
He pulled away, nodding as he placed his hand on Anna’s sobbing head.
I’ll see you both again someday. I promise.” The words bound him to a promise he wasn’t sure he could keep.

Nathaniel Danes is a self-diagnosed sci-fi junkie and, according to his wife, has an over active imagination. Mostly blind, he writes to create universes where he has no limitations. He lives with his wife and daughter in the Washington, DC area.


Tuesday, January 17, 2017

MLK Day in Charlotte, North Carolina

Gantt Center
Normally, I only cover things related to Fantasy or other types of Speculative Fiction on my blog, but in honor of Martin Luther King Day yesterday and because the art was amazing, I've decided to cover the visit of my husband and me to Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Art and Culture in Charlotte, North Carolina.

We were on our way home from Marscon (which I'll tell you more about on Thursday), and we stopped in Charlotte on Sunday night. For those of you who don't know my husband, he loves art museums, so he wanted to go to the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art on Monday morning. We were both far less than impressive. The museum is quite small, and the art work didn't really do anything for either of us. We pretty much breezed through it, so we had more time available before we had to head home. We learned about the Gantt museum across the street, which was having a special event for MLK day.

This museum was speculator in comparison to the Bechtler. We loved everything we saw, but the most impressive was the work of Nellie Ashford. In her paintings, Ashford uses actual fabric rather than paint for the clothing of her subjects. She also adds rope and other material. The effect is stunning, as you can see below. I loved every one of her pieces.

It's hard to tell for the photo, but all the clothing is made of fabric.

The jump rope here is twine. Notice how it leaps from the painting.

The may pole ribbons are made out of thread.

As a special treat, the artist was present at the exhibit, and we were able to get our picture taken with her.

Me, my husband Tim, and artist Nellie Ashford
She was an extremely sweet woman, and she gave me a hug after I told her how much I liked her artwork and the effect of making the figures' clothing out of actual fabric. She is in her 80s, and we learned from the gift shop attendant that she only started painting in her 70s. Wow! What could she have accomplished if she had started younger. Sadly, there were no books or even magnets of her art work (we collect magnets of all the places we visit; our refrigerator is covered with them). The shop did have some of her actual paintings on sale for quite a reasonable price for original art ($600-1000), but still more than I can afford.

In additional to Ashford's work, there was an exhibit of quilts and one of wood working. While neither of these impressed me quite as much as Ashford, they were very good. Going through the quilt exhibit reminded me of my grandmother Ottosen, who I miss so much. There was rarely a time we visited her that she did not have a quilt in progress in her living room. While my grandmother's quilts weren't as speculator as those in the museum, they were very beautiful. These were some of my favorite quilts by the artist Adrienne Cruz.

I'm afraid my picture doesn't do justice to this amazing quilt combining images of Africa.

It's green. My son would be so unsurprised that I liked this quilt so much. If you didn't know, green is my favorite color. Green is warmth and life and growth. Green makes me happy, as did this quilt.

In addition to the quilts, there was this amazing dress.

The wood work was also beautiful, but it isn't as much my thing.

I'd love to hear what you think of the art, and if you live anywhere close to Charlotte, I urge you to check this museum out. 

Monday, January 16, 2017

My struggles with Samantha

I'm having a hard time getting moving on my next novel. Robrek is going to be absent for most of the novel, and it will focus on Samantha. Samantha has always been harder for me to write than Robrek. Partially because the fairy tales was about Robbie with Samantha as an unnamed prize, so I had to make her story up from scratch. Partially because I struggle with the desire to present women as flawless feminist icons. Women have been portrayed in literature too often as weak bimbos, and I feel a desire to make up for this slander of my gender. However, flaws are what makes a character interesting, and an icon isn't a character and isn't interesting. And I think partially because of my love for the tortured soul. Robrek is a tortured soul. Samantha is not. There may be other factors in play as well, but I have not to do a lot more rewriting on Samantha than I ever have on Robrek.

I had an idea for the novel, but I found my idea had a fatal flaw. It bored me. Being bored with your own work is a sign of tremendous trouble. If it doesn't interest you, it certainly isn't going to interest anyone else. So I've had to go back to the drawing board. I hope to have better news in coming weeks, but for now, enjoy Samantha's first scene in the as yet unnamed novel.

The Queen Samantha looked down from the palace battlements into the garden below, her right hand resting on her swollen belly. She’d give birth any day now.
Six months ago when Robbie had been brought back alive, she was certain that everything would be fine. She hadn’t care that he was disfigured, and it didn’t matter to her when the other healers said they could no longer feel his power, that it seemed to have been burned out of him. Even without his exotic good looks and his magic, he was the man she loved. All that mattered was that they would still be together. But when he’d regained consciousness, he failed to acknowledge her, acknowledge anyone or anything. It was almost as if his soul had died although his body still breathed and his heart beat. Having him here but not recognizing her was almost worse than not having him at all. The healers had tried to bring him back, but they said there was nothing inside they could hang onto, nothing within him that responded to their magic.
The door opened, and Slathek, Robbie’s uncle, stepped out onto the battlement. She nodded to her guards to allow him to approach, then quickly looked away. His eyes were black instead of green, but otherwise, he looked like a slightly older version of the man she loved. It hurt to see him healthy and well when her beloved was gone.
Slathek bowed. “Your Majesty.”
“Uncle.” The title brought a surge of pain. The last one she’d called “uncle” had betrayed her, and she’d been forced to have him beheaded. This uncle wanted to take Robbie from her.
“Still no change?” he asked.
“None.” She blinked back tears.
“Let me take him home with me,” he asked, not for the first time. “In Mahngbhayo magic is stronger. Perhaps the healers there can find a way to heal him.”
She shook her head. “When Brianna is born, everything will be fine. He can’t fail to acknowledge his newborn daughter. She will bring him back.” All her hopes rested on this slim hope. The healers all said Brianna had powerful magic. It was different than theirs, they said, and they didn’t understand its shape, but as the daughter of an aurora and a healer, her magic would be strong. That power combined with the natural love between parent and child would draw Robbie back from wherever he’d gone, would make him truly alive again.
“If Brianna fails to bring him back, if she can’t, will you let him go with me?”
“She won’t fail.” Samantha turned and stalked off. She couldn’t have this hope questioned. It was the one thread she’d been grasping since the day Robbie woke up and failed to say her name.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

The Goddess's Choice audio, Chapter 13

Samantha and Robrek celebrate Solstice separately in this chapter. Please comment below.

If you can't wait for the next chapter, you can always buy it on Amazon.

Friday, January 13, 2017

5 Ways of Presenting Character: Authorial Interpretation

Today, in the last in my series on ways of presenting character, we will talk about authorial interpretation or simply, as an author, telling your readers what the character is like. The old writing adage is "Show, Don't Tell," and the vast majority of the time, I absolutely agree with this adage. When you tell your readers what a character is like, you prevent the reader from experiencing the character. If I simply tell the readers a character is short, they don't experience that shortness and it doesn't have much effect on them. It is almost always better to say something like, "Susan had to stand on her tiptoes to see over the counter." With this second statement, we understand just how short Susan is and experience some of her frustration with it. Neither of which happens with the statement, "Susan is short."

Her hair's not red, but you get the picture.
However, like all rules, there are times to break the "Show, Don't Tell" rule. Telling allows you to convey a lot of information in a short amount of time. This can be helpful in introducing a character's appearance, such as when Brigitta is introduced in The Ghost in Exile. I tell the reader: "Her red hair confirmed her nationality. She wore a low-cut, red bodice trimmed with black lace and an extremely short red skirt." It isn't complicated. The reader simply learns what she looks like. The reader doesn't care about Brigitta at this point, and I don't need them to. It is The Ghost's emotions the reader needs to feel, not Brigitta's. Later, I do more showing with Brigitta, and the reader comes to care about her, but making the reader care about Brigitta at this point would detract from the scene. The reader's emotions need to be focused on The Ghost, not her.

This type of telling is especially useful for minor characters, who are needed for the plot, but who the reader never really gets to know. Later in the novel, Brigitta defends a tavern server from an overly aggressive customer. I tell the reader: "Halle was a marginal fighter, and he was slightly the worse for drink. He also spent too much energy trying to taunt his opponent." This isn't going to make the reader connect with Halle, but I don't need them to. It isn't even desirable. Halle is only present in the novel for this one short scene and simply plays the role of Brigitta's opponent. 

While simply telling can be useful, you need to be careful about relying on it too often. When you tell the reader something, it doesn't make them feel anything. They don't make a connection to the character, and it doesn't make them care about the character. 

Writing rules are useful, but don't be slaves to them. Understand the rule, and you will understand when it is better to break it than follow it.

Post your favorite example of telling in the comments. 

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Between Two Evils Book Tour & Giveaway

Crossing In Time
Between Two Evils Book 1
by D. L. Orton
Genre: An Edgy Sci-Fi Love Story

If someone took everything you live for, how far would you go to get it back?
When offered a one-way trip to the past, Iz sacrifices everything for a chance to change her dystopian future—and see her murdered lover one last time.
After a perilous journey through a black hole, she wakes up on a tropical beach, buck naked and mortally wounded—but twenty years younger! With only hours to live, she must convince an enraptured but skeptical twenty-something guy to fix their future relationship and thereby save the planet (no one is quite sure why.)
But it's easier said than done, as success means losing him to a brainy, smart-mouthed bombshell (her younger self), and that's a heartbreaker, save the world or not.
Across the infinite expanse of space and time, love endures...
(Unfortunately, it’s not going to be enough.)

FALL INTO THIS EDGY, action-packed, darkly comedic, dystopian love story, and be prepared to encounter a finicky time machine, a mysterious seashell, and a very clever dog (some sex, some swearing, some violence, but no vampires and absolutely no ditzes.)

Read the prologue online HERE!

Watch the book trailer on Youtube HERE!

Lost Time
Between Two Evils Book 2

If someone took everything you live for, how far would you go to get it back?
When a faulty time machine deposits Diego in a towering evergreen, he knows he's in the wrong place—but has no idea he's in the wrong time. Naked and shivering in the chilly mountain air, he attempts to climb down, but slips, whacks his head on a branch, and falls into oblivion.
He wakes up inside a darkened room, crippled and disheartened, and must come to grips with the realization that he is marooned in a bleak alternate future. In this universe, what remains of the human race is trapped inside a handful of aging biodomes. With his mission failed, his world destroyed, and the one woman he loves, dead, he can find no reason to go on living.
But Lani, the emotionally scarred doctor who finds him, refuses to let him die, and as Diego heals, their relationship becomes... complicated. He struggles to let go of the past but is unable to get Isabel out of his head—or his heart. Just when it seems he may be able to find some measure of happiness in a world teetering on the edge of extinction...
Another note arrives from the future: Isabel is alive—but not for long…

Dead Time
Between Two Evils Book 3

If someone took everything you live for, how far would you go to get it back?
From award-winning author D. L. ORTON comes book three in the Between Two Evils series...
Shannon fights to stay alive inside a rogue biodome and discovers something totally unexpected... Peter. Lani is forced into the role of the reluctant heroine but rediscovers her street-kid mojo and sets out to find everything she's lost. Diego receives another dirty sock (and a note) from the poorly aimed fireball express: "The window between universes is closing." If Diego has any hope of getting back to Iz, he must get to the Magic Kingdom and power up the time machine before it's too late.
What could possibly go wrong?
**Releasing March 16th, 2017!**

AMAZON #1 BEST-SELLING AUTHOR D. L. ORTON lives in the Rocky Mountains where she and her husband are raising three boys, a golden retriever, two Siberian cats, and an extremely long-lived Triops. In her spare time, she's building a time machine so that someone can go back and do the laundry.
Ms. Orton is a graduate of Stanford University's Writers Workshop and a past editor of "Top of the Western Staircase," a literary publication of CU, Boulder. The author has a number of short stories published in online literary magazines, including Literotica, Melusine, Cosmoetica, The Ranfurly Review, and Catalyst Press.