The Light Side of the Moon
Holly M. Campbell
The Duchess Inheritance
Jordinia: Book II, C.K. Brooke
Their Rigid Rules
The Chemical Attraction Series: Prequel, Christina Thompson
Holly M. Campbell
New York Dolls
Catherine L. Hensley
The Duchess Quest
Jordinia: Book I, C.K. Brooke
Fire of the Sea
From the Embers
The Born in Flames Trilogy: Book III, Candace Knoebel
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The Light Side of the Moon,
by Elizabeth Guizzetti
…Encouraged by the conquest of Kipos, idealistic dreamers look beyond Earth to build a utopia from the abandoned Lunar Colony Serenitatis… Amid corruption and nobility, tragedy and victory, the fate of the colony hangs precariously in the balance… READ MORE!
Meet the Characters
Brimming with hope despite intense uncertainty and physical hardship, the impoverished Ella Sethdottier follows rumors of plentiful jobs on the moon. MEET ELLIE! Doctor Ian Whitlach champions equality and seeks to build a utopia on Lunar Colony Serenitatis. MEET IAN!
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Why all the politics in The Light Side of the Moon? Because we can’t escape ourselves.
The Light Side of the Moon deals with serious issues that the world must decide is right or wrong. Many of the events that happen in the novel actually occurred before when Europe sent prisoners to Australia and the Americas. One might think that these events still don’t occur, but sadly they do. I feel as a species, we are on a precipice of change as our electronic creations become sentient. We can choose to evolve our morals with technology or not. I look at The Light Side of the Moon as a cautionary tale if humanity chooses not to evolve. If we continue to allow adolescent greed rule how we interact with people. Some say the adult content in the book is the sex and vulgar language, but in my opinion, the true adult content is that the world in the novel allows children to starve, refuses to pay workers a living wage, and humans still have atrocities such as child betrothal and marriage, economic slavery, and an unjust correctional system. We can go to colonize the moon, we can go to other planets, but until we face the problems we have now, they will always be with us. That being said, even in the darkest places, there is hope for humanity, because good people exist. In my opinion, that is the story I wrote in The Light Side of the Moon.
The Light Side of the Moon Book Club Discussion Questions
Book Club Discussion Questions SPOILER ALERT: DO NOT READ QUESTIONS IF YOU WANT SOME OF THE EVENTS IN THE BOOK TO BE A SURPRISE! THESE QUESTIONS ARE TO HELP BOOK CLUBS AND READING GROUPS WITH DISCUSSIONS. How is The Light Side of the Moon atypical of science fiction? Where was the author successful (or not successful) with genre tropes? How does The Light Side of the Moon mix utopian ideas with dystopian ideas? How can it be a dystopian vision if racism and sexism has disappeared? Right now we have public school, do you believe in a future where no public school exists? How do you think that will change a technological society? What do you think about how the book explored marriage? How did you feel about the appearance of a third gender and the openness of sexuality in a monogamous society? How did you feel about the way the author choose to show devout characters and the changes in religions? How do you feel the novel explores classism? How did you feel about how The Light Side of the Moon deals with murder and capital punishment? Do you believe that murder is always wrong? What do you think of the way androids such as Rosalind, Gaston and Vasili are portrayed as “people” with all the rights as humans, but “lesser” bots, such as the medi-bot, are considered tools though they have some intelligence in their programming? During the course of The Light Side of the Moon, Ellie changes in many ways. What do you see as the most significant change she undergoes, and what kind of person do you think she will be two years after the story ends? Why do you think a “good” character, such as Ian, has so many little problems through out the story? Do you believe he and his father are good doctors though they sterilize patients and killed a terminally-ill man? Compare and contrast the decisions that Ian, Ivonne and Ellie make through the novel to ensure the colony’s success. Do you believe space colonization is a viable option for humanity?
Rose’s Will: Book Club Discussion Questions
Hello Bookaholics! Just dropping by to remind you to pick up a few copies of Rose’s Will for your book club. The novel has so many interesting and controversial themes, you might have to take two club sessions to discuss them all. Just sayin’. And to pique your interest, here are the book club questions from the back of the book: BOOK CLUB QUESTIONS: 1. A reviewer noted that any of the three main characters could be the hero. Do you agree? Why or why not? 2. Eli tells us that he loves Rose because he sees a simple goodness inside of her that expresses a desire to do little things for him. Does Eli’s love actually make Rose a better person, or does his love for her cloud his vision? 3. Which character did you most relate to? 4. Which character made you change your mind about something? 5. Rose tells Glory to keep her life to herself. Glory believes that kind of love is an illusion without authenticity. Is there a middle ground? Suppose your parents wanted nothing to do with your mate because of race, religion or sexual preference? What if it were your child? 6. Why do you suppose the author chose third person for Ricky’s sections, while Glory and Eli spoke in the first person? 7. Both Eli and Glory are secular characters and rely on reason rather than religion. But Eli embraces certain cultural traditions of Judaism, like feeding the grieving family and appointing the living to stay with the dead body around the clock until the burial. Do you think that most people hang on to religion for fear of losing community and culture? 8. How does the lack of a father figure affect Ricky’s relationship with Rose? 9. Do Ricky’s children, Alexander and Ashley, enhance or detract from the story? Why? 10. Ricky’s and Glory’s perception of “The Aunts” couldn’t be more different. How do you account for that? 11. Aunt Lucy is the only one who adequately acknowledges the abuse that Glory suffered at the hands of her mother. How do the other characters minimize Glory’s experience? 12. Each of the characters have to find their own personal and moral ground in relation to Rose. How did you feel about the ending? Could you have made the same decision?
The Duchess Inheritance: Book Club Discussion Questions
1. The Duchess Inheritance launches into new twists, adventures, and characters from the opening chapters. How did you perceive the pacing of this novel, in comparison to The Duchess Quest? Did you notice any differences or improvements in the writing style or story-telling? 2. How have the revelations about Mac’s character changed the dynamics between him, Jon and Dainy? In what ways did Bos and Mac “swap” roles in Part 1 of this book? Did you find their behavior to be understandable, or out-of-character? 3. Jon Cosmith continues to be a morally complex character, especially as the sequel reveals new – and worse – transgressions from his past. Yet, these are presented alongside his heightened repentance and transformation. Did you find Jon to be an increasingly or decreasingly sympathetic character? 4. Jon isn’t the only character to transform, as The Duchess Inheritance also sees a maturing of Mac, particularly after his return in Part 2. What were the most significant changes you noticed? (For instance, you might compare his approach with Eponina in the second book with his approach to Dainy in the first.) At what point did you begin to see the writing on the wall, with regards to his leadership potential? 5. Discuss the role of the New Republic as the story’s villains. What parallels did you see to the French Revolution and the Reign of Terror? Do you feel the book carried an anti-Communist message, or rather, simply that of anti-corruption? 6. Dainy’s desires for her own destiny differ vastly from what the men in her life are pushing her into. Do you interpret her humble ambitions and eventual sacrifice as anti-feminism? Or, to the contrary, do you think her decision in the end aligned with a feminist message in that, regardless of what others wanted for her, the woman chose for herself what she wanted? 7. Do you feel Jon got what he deserved, or was his punishment too severe? Would you agree it was necessary that he lose his vanity, in order for his transformation to be complete? Had he not underwent what he had, would it have been possible for him to be in a significant leadership position without becoming drunk on power and resorting back to his old ways? 8. Discuss Marlena’s story. Did you hold her at fault, or could you sympathize with her plight? Did you feel she redeemed herself? 9. Were you satisfied with the epilogue? What feelings did it leave you with? Did anything surprise you? 10. Do you wish there was more to read in the world of Jordinia? (If so, write the author at email@example.com!)
The Duchess Quest: Book Club Discussion Questions
The following are ten questions for book clubs discussing The Duchess Quest. 1. The Russian Revolution – in particular, the execution of the Romanovs – inspired the opening prologue and setting of this fantasy tale. What other historical eras or events did you detect in the subtext of the novel? 2. We are introduced to Dainy as a spunky, humble and warmhearted young woman. Do you think her character would have been quite different, had she been brought up as royalty? In what ways? 3. What were your initial thoughts on each of the Duchess’s suitors? For whom were you rooting? Did your preferences change as you read? 4. Jon Cosmith is easily the story’s most flawed character. How did you feel about him in the first half of the book, versus in the second half? Although he’s a womanizer and selfish jerk during most of the novel, why do you think he tends to be most readers’ favorite character? 5. The Halveas are a patriarchal society, wherein women are generally permitted little say. What was your reaction to this aspect of setting? Did you find it only natural for a mock-historical piece, or did it bother you? 6. Dainy and Selu are both single women operating in the same patriarchal society, as mentioned above, yet with rather different approaches and personalities. In what ways are they similar in asserting themselves among the men, and in what ways do they differ? If you are female, which of the two women did you relate to most? 7. Bos, Mac and Jon clashed terribly at the start of the book. However, once Dainy was thrown into the mix, the four grew to develop a degree of chemistry together. Although she was the object of their competition, why and how do you think Dainy changed the atmosphere of the search party? At what point did you begin to feel the main characters were no longer a squad of bickering rivals, but unlikely friends? 8. How do you think the tone, message and spirit of the story would’ve changed, had Dainy romantically ended up with a different character? Do you find Dainy’s forgiving nature and her choice to love unconditionally a display of weakness and naivety, or of strength and faith? 9. Which element of the third act surprised you the most? Which twists had you been expecting? 10. If you had to choose just one genre, would you describe The Duchess Quest as: an adventure, a fantasy, or a romance? Why? Stay tuned for more discussion questions about the sequel, The Duchess Inheritance!
Other Systems Book Club Discussion Questions
Book Club Discussion Questions SPOILER ALERT: DO NOT READ QUESTIONS IF YOU WANT SOME OF THE EVENTS IN THE BOOK TO BE A SURPRISE! THESE QUESTIONS ARE TO HELP BOOK CLUBS AND READING GROUPS WITH DISCUSSIONS. Discuss the meaning of the novel’s title. If you were Abby, would you have left Earth? Would you have believed the Fleet promises? Why in history have people left home to immigrate to another country. What do you think of the author’s decision to have intermissions between acts of the book? Did you like getting a peek into the Fleet? Did anything surprise you? Compare life on Earth to the promised life of Kipos to the life Abby found in the fleet? The hardest part for the author to write was Abby’s rape and 42 weeks of confinement: why do you think the author made the decision to show these atrocities? How do you feel about Abby though she left her child? Does it make you like her more or less? What is your opinion of Harden? Did it change after you read his story of the accident? From Cole’s chapters and after Abby’s escape, what about the life in the Fleet sound most appealing. What about fleet life do you find most difficult to understand or accept? Whose story did you enjoy the most? Was there any character you wanted more insight into? Compare the Alekos’s siblings relationship with each other and the rest of the crew. What do you imagine for Abby’s future in five years? Ten years?
The Light Side of the Moon: the new ten commandments
Yes, I did rewrite the 10 commandments. If that offends you, don’t read any further. The new commandments were not put into the book as there was no place for them, but these are the rules that the devout live by. Humans and their intelligent creations once stretched towards the stars. By the late twenty-second century, they colonized Luna, Mars, Europa and Ganymede and Triton. They explored deeper into the cosmos with interstellar colonist ships. However, when humans realized they’d squandered Earth’s resources, it became too expensive to send people into space. Fossil fuels ran out, icecaps melted, and oceans became cemeteries of dead organisms. In the twenty-fourth century, the colonies of Triton, Europa, and Ganymede collapsed as people flooded back to the inner solar system, fearing they would be without regular supply ships. Mars perished when the borosilicate domes failed. People abandoned Luna when the titanium ran dry. In the twenty-seventh century, human level androids were marooned with humans on Earth when the Evolved AI whose minds stretched beyond understanding—refused to remain on the overcrowded Earth with such limited creatures. Humanity sought sanctuary and answers in the old religions. Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, and The Children of Isaac and Ishmael delighted in this groundswell of interest and declared it a time of renewal. The religions were not about to make the same mistakes that made them almost extinct. In a world of seventeen billion people, they elevated cleanliness to a virtue, and rewrote the sanitation laws. They changed unpopular social doctrine to fit the new world where all three genders were equal, and people weren’t defined by the composition of their skin—whether born of flesh or manufactured from silicone. They served sixty percent of the population well. The Ten Commandments for a New Age From the Testament of Pope Jon Francis, 2645 Canonized by The United Church in 2793 1. Love your God, above all others. 2. Remember your Sabbath and keep it holy. 3. Live with respect to your neighbor’s beliefs. I am infinite; they only worship another face of Me. 4. Show charity to your neighbor whether they be biological or silicone, man, pangender, or woman. All are equal in the eyes of God. 5. Keep a clean body and home to prevent the spread of disease. 6. Respect your parents, show kindness to your siblings and children. 7. Do not waste the resources I have given you, these are finite. 8. Do not let your thoughts be violent, lest they cause slander, strife, or murder. 9. Do not covet your neighbor’s life, your spouse and children were given to you to be your joy. 10. Do not mingle with those who sully themselves, lest they be your downfall.
Book Club Ideas and Troubleshooting
The first rule of book club is we don’t talk about book club. No wait. That’s fight club. Never mind. Talk all you want about book club. So how do you start a book club? Determine your needs Why do you want to join a book club? Whether it is for the enjoyment of books, intellectual conversation, or just to get out of the house for a few hours, there is a book club for you. To find them check out Bookstores Libraries Meetup Groups Talk to friends and coworkers Or Hosting your own book club How big of a group do you want to host? How much space do you have? If you live in a small home, consider public spaces nearby which would fulfill your needs better. Many libraries and bookstores host bookclubs – but expect that strangers will pop in and out and don’t expect that you can bring wine. What type of books you are interested? Some bookclubs are open to any type, some focus on a particular genre. What type of party are you interested in? Rotating hosts, Potluck, Themed Menus, and will there be alcohol? Invite your friends and ask your friends to invite their friends, family members. Choose a book. Giving everyone enough time to read it — a month seems to be preferable, but some bookclubs meet bi-weekly or even weekly. Book Club Trouble Shooting Tips Bookclub devolving into just a social party? Make a schedule for a two and a half hour event, the schedule might look like: 30 minutes for small talk and to allow latecomers to get there. 60 minutes to talk about the book 60 minutes to socialize Stuck about what to talk about? Toss only one question at a time to the group. Make sure everyone had the chance to speak before you move on. Choose a primary character or just your favorite character and ask members to comment on him or her. Pick out a specific passage from the book—a description, an idea, a line of dialogue—and ask members to comment on it. In discussion if someone asks for clarification, a page number or to read a passage, don’t say, “But that’s not how we do it here.” Trust me, that person will never come back. So&So always picks the worst books! Don’t be dismissive to the person who chose the book or those who liked it. We all come to a book from our own experience. Calling something stupid shuts people down. Saying that a passage or a character’s actions made you uncomfortable –even if you can’t explain exactly why keeps the conversation open. What happens if I am the only one who read the book? Feel superior in your literary knowledge, and this is the most important part: eat a cookie before you ACT superior. While not everyone is going to finish every book, every month. If months go by and this continues to be a problem. Disband (or leave if you aren’t the host) and start again!
Introducing the Characters of The Light Side of the Moon: Ian
In Other Systems: On June 11, 3062: decedents from an Earth colony, land on Earth seeking healthy, intelligent, young people willing to immigrate to their utopian colony. Ian was one of the chosen, but his parents convinced him to stay behind. Character dossier of Ian Whitlatch Portrait of Ian at his graduation by me, Elizabeth Guizzetti Ian Marcus Weaver Whitlatch is the only child of a doctor and the manager of a charity soup kitchen in Salisbury. Dad helps everyone whether they can pay or not. Mum doesn’t take a salary for her work instead donates her time to feed the impoverished.At the beginning of the novel, his parents employ two domestics: Ian’s tutor Mr. McKay and Ms. Blacksmith the housekeeper and cook. Note: For the Other System’s Universe, they are upper middle class, however, their lifestyle for the average family in today’s world, they would be lower-middle class. For example: like most people on Earth at this time, they don’t own a car. Since Dad’s clinic and Mum’s Soup Kitchen is across the back garden, they also generally have no need of one. Parents: Grace Alice Teague. Weaver, Royce Xavier Langly Whitlatch No Siblings. Education: Home Tutor until age fifteen, then Oxford undergraduate studies and Oxford Medical School Personality: The Good: Respects every person, doesn’t believe in violence, hard worker, kind-hearted The Good that hurts him: Unfaltering idealism which presents as pretentiousness The Bad: Judges by outer beauty, doesn’t always get along with his parents, can be self-absorbed Other: Shy Description Excerpt Age 13 Ian yanked off his apron and washed his hands. The cut was deep, but not bad enough to show Dad. Pressing a handkerchief to the wound, he scrutinized himself in the mirror and tucked in his shirt. An angry pimple had formed between his nostril and cheek creating a splotchy mess of reddened freckled ivory. Ugh. Even when his skin was clear, his nose was too big. Mum always said he had Dad’s handsome looks. That was unfortunate for them both. He hated himself even more when he greeted the guest. As with all Kiposians he’d seen, the woman had perfect brown skin, dark hair, and deep liquid sable eyes. Her full brown lips surrounded her pristine white teeth. Mesmerizing smells of honeysuckle emanated from her. “Hello, my name is Willow Tyrell, executive officer of the Evimero. You must be Ian,” she said with a strange, but not unappealing, lilt. She put out her hand. Ian remembered they still shook hands on Kipos, so he clasped it. Then bowed. “Uh, yes.” He motioned to the parlor door behind him. “Please come in.” Due to overpopulation, lack of natural resources, no public education, and a surplus of political bickering, Earth is a cesspool and our solar system’s colonies have failed. Nevertheless, outside our solar system, exploration has thrived. Encouraged by the conquest of Kipos, idealistic dreamers look beyond Earth to build a utopia from the abandoned Lunar Colony Serenitatis. Industrialists reconstruct the colony, but struggle to turn a profit while encouraging scientific discovery. Brimming with hope despite intense uncertainty and physical hardship, the impoverished Ella Sethdottier follows rumors of plentiful jobs on the moon. On roads fraught with danger, she discovers Earth is a bigger place than she ever imagined, but Serenitatis is little more than a prison colony. Ella forges unlikely friendships with corrupted androids and the quixotic prison doctor, Ian Whitlatch, who champions equality and rights for inmates. Amid corruption and nobility, tragedy and victory, the fate of the colony hangs precariously in the balance. Coming soon in paperback and ebook for Kindle, Nook, Kobo, and IBooks.
Introducing the Characters of The Light Side of the Moon: Ellie
On June 11, 3062: decedents from an Earth colony, land on Earth with the message “We come in hope and in peace, we have found our way home.” Other Systems is the story of the young healthy immigrants to the planet Kipos, while the second novel, The Light Side of the Moon is about those who were left behind. Though Ellie was too young to go to Kipos, the Kiposians changed the trajectory of her life forever. Character dossier of Ellie Sethdottier Ellie at age 11, Digital painting by me, Elizabeth Guizzetti. Ella (Ellie) Settdottier was four-years-old when the Kiposians came. While she and her brothers were too young to immigrate to Kipos and witnessed a violent argument between her parents, which ended with her mother battered. She never saw her father again. She does not know if he abandoned them for opportunities on Kipos or was possibly killed at the gates. She doesn’t want to know. Age in novel: 4 – 18 Parents: Jia Rao and Seth Keithson Brothers: Daniel (+4 years) and James (+3 years) Personality: The Good: Though her life has been hard, she was protected from the worst of their poverty by her older brothers, thus she is strong-willed and hopeful things will get better. (Her brothers have long given up on life.) She loves to read and collect knowledge. The Bad: She has grown up so fast, she does not listen to reason. She is slow to trust. A rather helpful bad: She is a risk taker, but she is terrified of “getting in trouble” in some nebulous unforgivable way. She doesn’t really understand what is unforgivable. The fear rules her interactions with others. Description excerpts Age 4 More harshly than was wise, Alexander snapped, “She’s four and lost her father. Who said, ‘Suffer the little children…’ ” With the hope Ella would settle down and Sister Diego might witness the vision of an innocent in pain, he pulled her onto his lap. After all, a four-year-old has no designs except to be loved, fed, safe, and warm. When she wasn’t screaming, Ella was as sweet looking as Jia had been at four: large round brown eyes, soft lengths of black hair escaping from two messy braids. Sister Diego could see her in her brothers’ hand-me-down green sweater and old patched trousers. No sign of sinful disease. Both for his own comfort and hers, Alexander rocked her. Ella calmed as she snuggled into his shoulder, but Sister Diego’s face remained without compassion. * Age 11 [Alexander] considered as the afternoon sun bounced off Ella’s black hair how much she resembled Jia at that age, but her normally bronzed skin, looked grayish. Daniel and Jamie looked worse, covered in flour. The girl was on some invisible tether, bouncing with childish energy, but matching her brothers’ sluggish pace. Neither boy should be broken in adolescence. Due to overpopulation, lack of natural resources, no public education, and a surplus of political bickering, Earth is a cesspool and our solar system’s colonies have failed. Nevertheless, outside our solar system, exploration has thrived. Encouraged by the conquest of Kipos, idealistic dreamers look beyond Earth to build a utopia from the abandoned Lunar Colony Serenitatis. Industrialists reconstruct the colony, but struggle to turn a profit while encouraging scientific discovery. Brimming with hope despite intense uncertainty and physical hardship, the impoverished Ella Sethdottier follows rumors of plentiful jobs on the moon. On roads fraught with danger, she discovers Earth is a bigger place than she ever imagined, but Serenitatis is little more than a prison colony. Ella forges unlikely friendships with corrupted androids and the quixotic prison doctor, Ian Whitlatch, who champions equality and rights for inmates. Amid corruption and nobility, tragedy and victory, the fate of the colony hangs precariously in the balance. Coming soon in paperback and ebook for Kindle, Nook, Kobo, and IBooks.
The Last Chapter
It feels great to be working on Beyond All Else, the final book in the Beyond Trilogy. It’s a bit daunting to realize that the effectiveness of this book will largely determine what readers think of the overall series, but that’s a good problem to have. http://www.thejustbeyond.com
Sign Up Giveaway
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I was raised in the disease of poverty. Imagine, beginning at the bottom of a big, dark hole. Desolate, except for the light at the top, and the champions standing too high to reach. They claim that with the slightest bit of effort anyone can climb up. Ropes are thrown down and they cheer encouraging words, frustrated that no one is willing to meet them halfway, but another dynamic plays out below that only the people living it really understand. To climb not only abandons a way of life, but also a way of thinking. It’s an uphill battle of tremendous weight that doesn’t end when you reach the top. Twenty years ago, I personally took this journey, and everything I am today is molded through a shattered lens of two perceptions. Poverty is a part of me, reflected in the eyes of the loved ones who remain in shadow, neither capable nor willing to reach the light. I feel a sense of guilt, and relief when I consider how easily I could’ve remained there too. This knowledge is stained glass remnants from which I forge the window of my work. I see the world in a stark contrast of pain and joy. I’m colored with remorse for those I have lost, and shaded in fear that I may still fall back into the depths. There are days when I wonder how I ever managed to climb in the first place, but then I look back at all my effort, and understand. My origins do not define me, no more than anyone else. We are all slaves to our own thoughts. Inadequacies are the same in every walk of life, and this knowledge paints me with the slightest glimmer of hope and redemption. Looking through the pieces I can see all angles, and understand that black and white isn’t always as cut and dried as they appear to be. I like to think this unique perspective makes me a better writer. My novel, Copper Reign, the first book of the Heartstone Collection is releasing through 48Fourteen. To give the story depth, I studied an array of belief systems. Many different faiths speak of the path of the soul: To understand the light one must first know darkness, and then choose which aspect to augment… I like to think this means the worst facets of humanity can be explored, and with compassion, eventually be overcome. This idea took on a life of its own, creating a beautiful coming of age story between Nina and Nate, highlighting the power of unconditional love. There’s also demons, and angels, and a Native American god disguised as a devastatingly beautiful rock star. Each set of characters are dealing with their own baggage, and have challenges to face. Oh! And an old dude who could possibly be the mighty creator also makes a cameo appearance. Like anyone climbing out of darkness, their mindset determines their outcome. I was raised in a disease, but my origins do not define me. I can take my shattered pieces and forge a beautiful stained glass window to view the world in many lights. I am now a champion staring down, and shouting encouraging words. Meet me halfway, and I’ll hold the rope.
The Importance of Giving Up (and Moving On!)
Sometimes, it’s wiser to admit defeat: I can’t always finish everything I start. That’s what today’s post is about – the importance of giving up. Which author said a writer must finish every story he starts? Was it Neil Gaiman? Well, whoever said it, I beg to differ. I can’t force-feed myself a project, nor would I recommend it. I have to be absolutely on-fire to finish something. Once in a blue moon, it’s oddly comforting to scroll through my folder of “Abandoned Projects” and remember all the stories I got maybe 4 chapters into writing before deciding that I totally. Don’t. Care. Tales of heartbroken mermaids and odd young debutantes who mingle with fairies, and a woman who really sees ghosts but is forced to reckon with a sexy, Victorian-style spiritist (a.k.a. charlatan) are left hanging by thin threads, locked in corners that I’ve written them into. And really, I couldn’t care less. When the passion’s gone, there’s no use continuing, regardless of how “good” I thought the concept was, or how far I got. The neat thing, however, is that if I open these files, I’ll often recognize names, or possibly character traits or places that I ended up using in my now-published (or contracted…or soon-to-be contracted…) works. And that’s when it hits me: these aren’t “failed” or “abandoned” projects. They were practice, exercises. Not everything I write is going to turn into a novel – why should it? But neither is the experience useless if it doesn’t. Looking back at some attempted beginnings, I realize they served their purposes. They inspired me in a different direction. They taught me what works and what doesn’t, what I don’t like to write versus what I do. And sometimes, they bring an important character into my life, if not for that project, then for another. After completing my fifth novel, I had a mini-crisis over what to write next. I wasn’t ready to leave my latest universe, so I enthusiastically started outlining a sequel. It lost steam, however, as I realized I had nothing else original to say; I was only trying to prolong my time with the characters whom I dearly loved, yet whose story was perfectly sufficient by the end of the last MS. So, I had to first admit that. And then I dragged and dropped the sequel plans into “Abandoned.” Though that defeat left a sour taste in my mouth, I attempted to rewrite another sequel that had been previously rejected as it stood. I loved the new 10+ pages I stayed up ’til 3 AM producing, was proud of the writing, and had a clear view of the characters. But that, also, quickly faded from my interest. I have too many new, more marketable ideas to pursue. What to do? Should I stick with these sequels in the name of loyalty, completion and finishing whatever I start? …Nah. *Drag & drop.* Get ’em outta my way. I’ve got fresher fruit to harvest, bigger fish to fry. Since allowing myself to let the old stuff go, I’ve been bombarded with new inspiration: new characters, new loves, new journeys and adventures. I’ve finally begun penning another outline – a viable one, this time – and won’t stop until the pages of my little pink notebook are full. So today, I am thankful I gave up on what wasn’t working, so that I can now move on to what is!
Cover Reveal: The Light Side of the Moon
Coming Soon in paperback and e-book! I am pleased to show the cover for The Light Side of the Moon! This stand-alone book focuses on what happened on Earth after the Kiposians came. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to do the cover illustration, while Lyndsay Johnson did the wonderful lettering design. Summary: Due to overpopulation, lack of natural resources, no public education, and a surplus of political bickering, Earth is a cesspool and our solar system’s colonies have failed. Nevertheless, outside our solar system, exploration has thrived. Encouraged by the conquest of Kipos, idealistic dreamers look beyond Earth to build a utopia from the abandoned Lunar Colony Serenitatis. Industrialists reconstruct the colony, but struggle to turn a profit while encouraging scientific discovery. Brimming with hope despite intense uncertainty and physical hardship, the impoverished Ella Sethdottier follows rumors of plentiful jobs on the moon. On roads fraught with danger, she discovers Earth is a bigger place than she ever imagined, but Serenitatis is little more than a prison colony. Ella forges unlikely friendships with corrupted androids and the quixotic prison doctor, Ian Whitlatch, who champions equality and rights for inmates. Amid corruption and nobility, tragedy and victory, the fate of the colony hangs precariously in the balance.
Why I believe in diversity in science fiction: an answer to the counter-arguments.
A number of people in the science fiction community are screaming about diversity in books and films. Either they want to bring back the good ole days, or they want to see characters that look how the world looks now. It saddens me that this argument has gotten very nasty. The 2015 Hugo Award Nominations are just the visual tip of the anger iceberg. Anyone who follows my blog knows how much I love StarTrek. I’m going to explain why I think diversity is important for the sci-fi community, but how there is room for all of our visions. I was a young teen with TNG and in highschool, early college with DS9. I loved those show’s wide open universe with all those planets and races. The meme is getting popular now, but I remember the first time I heard Whoopie Goldberg’s story about how she and Gene Rodenberry spoke about how before the original StarTrek there were no black people in sci-fi and how Lt. Uhura, played by Nichelle Nichols during 1966 to 1969, was a trailblazing role for African-Americans. When I heard the story, it reminded me of being a kid and watching GI Joe, Thunder Cats, or almost every other show and wanting there to be more than one token girl or woman character. That’s when I realized “the girl” was a type, just like “the black guy” or whoever. And I didn’t want to write “types,” I wanted to write characters. I want to tell their stories. I still do. StarTrek and Ms. Goldberg’s story encouraged me to always look at my “cast” and make sure that there was a fairly even split of men and women–and if there wasn’t, it needed to make sense why. That if there were “colors” of skin in my book’s universe that they are shown–and not just in the background. That sexual diversity was shown. The cry for diversity rings loudly. Readers want characters that look like them, that they can relate to, but I don’t think anyone is really saying, “Every protagonist needs to look like me!” Though a few vocal white, cis-gender, heterosexual males are certainly coming close to that. I believe in listening to people, which means I also believe it is also important to answer the (sometimes-bitter) counter arguments with kindness and generosity of spirit. Counter Argument #1: So you are saying that I shouldn’t write all white or all male books? Maybe that’s my vision! People should write what they want to write. Just don’t be surprised when the market makes the final call. I would also add no matter what type of characters you write, you may find you end up with a different market than expected. An example of a terrific all male cast is John Carpenter’s 1982 version of The Thing. They are twelve guys in a small science station in Antarctica so they are cut off from the world. Sexual diversity is not mentioned. However, there is some racial diversity in the cast with Keith David as Childs and T.K. Carter as Nauls. All in all the cast did a great job. So if for whatever reason, if a non-diverse cast works, go with it. I think your collection of work shows your heart more than a single work. Counter Argument #2 Authors are just adding this stuff so they can be edgy. Really, you think authors care about being edgy? I don’t speak for every author, but I care about writing characters that make readers care and I care about finding readers. That’s it. Counter Argument #3: White people shouldn’t write/explore other cultures because either white people can’t understand it or it is cultural appropriation. For me this one is insidious, because I want to be an ally to others. To listen and tell stories. How do I get around this? First of all, I admit I’m a white American, cisgender, and heterosexual. I’m mixed European ancestry, a large chunk of that being Italian. This means I grew up with white privilege. This means there are things that happen I will simply not understand, I own up to that. Then I figure out what I do know. While I never feared the police would racial profile me, I know what if feels like to be afraid. While I don’t know what it is like for a homosexual young man to want to kiss a boy when all your life you are told you can only kiss girls, but I can imagine what that first kiss is like. Love, pain and isolation are part of the human condition. By admitting my ignorance of certain aspects of culture and then using my own experiences, I can research with an open mind. We all have the Internet at our disposal and we can take the time to do interviews. So, authors, no matter what your background, don’t fear writing about other cultures, but its important to research and write from a place of respect. Don’t rush the details, don’t force teachable moments, just do the work. Counter Argument #4: What’s the point of writing diversely, the cover artist is just going to make them white? So far, I’ve always done my own covers, so this hasn’t been a problem for me, but authors have agents and lawyers for a reason. Authors, make sure you have some authority in your cover. And if you don’t. Guess what we all have blogs. Use them, show your character sketch. Be proactive. Tell them what you want. Fans, if you want diverse covers: write, tweet, email publishers. Don’t just complain about it after the fact. And the Counter-Counter Sad Puppy Argument to #4. Why can’t a book with a spaceship on the cover just be about space adventure? Why does it always have to be out race or feminism or…? Science fiction authors have a long history about putting “second stories” into their worlds. George Orwell and Margret Atwood outwardly wrote/writes social science fiction, but Ray Bradbury, Robert Heinlein, Frank Herbert, and Joe Halderman also delved into issues with their stories. So I don’t know when these readers thought science fiction only focused on escapism. That being said, there are escapist stories. Just look for them. I’m sure a google search of “escapist science fiction” will give you somewhere to look. In the bookstore, ask the bookseller, don’t just look at the pretty picture on the cover, flip the book over and read the blurb. Open the book and glance at the first chapter. Online, Check out the reviews. Look at the sub genres. Authors create worlds. Sometimes the author will delve deep into the political or sociological issues of that universe, other times, not so much. I personally love to delve into issues with my writing, but not all my writing is about how I view the world. In closing, I think there is room for all types of science fiction and all types of science fiction fans. I don’t need to like every single book to be a fan, nor do you. We can have conviction and still be respectful. Please remember, that we’re are a community and behind every avatar is a person wanting their voice to be heard. (This post was originally published on my ZB’s Blog of Awesomeness.)
A utopian vision from a dystopian author
This post was originally published on my ZB Blog of Awesomeness. So I was getting stuck with new blog ideas. Since Other Systems and the upcoming The Light Side of the Moon are dystopian hard science fiction, a friend of mine challenged me to explain my vision of a utopia. Well, I accept that challenge, Sir. He thought it would be hard. I told him it’d be easy. I know what I believe and I take everything too seriously. I will describe my ideas honestly, however, I understand that not everyone will agree with me. You don’t have to. There are things I believe that I know my family disagrees with. Below are my opinions which were formed because I was born in a certain place and time, I was raised a certain way, and I love StarTrek. While many of the ideas I’m describing are in my work, this society I am describing is not in any of my books. *** Individual Rights: As an individual, you have the right to your person. No one owns anyone else. No matter who or how you are born, you have the right to choose your life in pursuit of your own happiness as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else. Whether you were born man, woman, pangender, or agender, all were born equal and able to pursue your own happiness. Whether your skin is peach, tan, chocolate brown, or blue, no one is born better or worse. As a species: humans will consider living as one’s authentic self, building something that matters, and helping our fellow humans the most important goals of life. But we share Earth with other species. We will live beside computers, androids, and other intellegent technologies, we will look toward the future. We will allow wild animals the freedom to roam in rich forests and green spaces. As we have domesticated animals for thousands of years, animals might still be kept as pets and livestock, but their lives would be treated with respect. Pets would be cared for with respect and dignity. Farm animals would live pleasant lives until they are harvested. Working animals (police and service dogs) will be treated well and have places of honor upon their retirement. Let’s look at some specifics. Education: From age 5, all children get to go a fully funded public school. Since this is my utopia, I am maxing class size at 10 students per 1 teacher. They will learn reading and writing in their home language, arithmetic, at least two foreign languages, art, music, science and technology. Somewhere in adolescence the focus will shift from general knowledge towards career knowledge. All adults will have the opportunity to find gainful employment in a chosen field of study. This means “Hey, I want to be an electrician?” There is a FREE school for that with a workstudy program that’s paid with a LIVING WAGE. Once finished, the school puts the student in touch with their local union and the union delegates job is to put me to work at a JOURNEY PERSON’s WAGE. They also make sure as technology changes there are opportunities to learn new tech. And as they advance in their careers they can make more money. Wait! Free Education! Does this mean that somebody can cheat the system and go from educational track to educational track without ever finding a real job? Yes. But I don’t think that would be the norm, because they could not succeed in any field if they didn’t take the next step to go on to journey person level. What happens when a child is born? In my utopia, each family will have 5 year of PAID Leave for childcare until child begins school. What if someone is passionate about their work or just isn’t sure they’d be good at childcare? Choose to take it as a credit to pay a nanny or pay Grandma. This can be for Moms or Dads. Or they can mix it up. Maybe, mom stays home for the first year, then dad stays home for the next, then they use the credit to pay for the nanny. It’s up to the family to decide. What about technology changes during the time off? Since education is free, parents are able to get the education they need to catch up! What if someone is taken ill or otherwise has a health problem that doesn’t allow them to work? In my utopia, medical care if free and they will be surrounded by members of their multigenerational home. If more care is needed, there is nursing establishments etc. Safety Net for Families: Baby won’t stop crying? Is your toddler bullying another kid at the playground? Are you just at your wits end with sibling rivalry? Is Grandpa is giving you advice that feels wrong? And you’ve read dozens of parenting blogs and everyone is saying something different? In my utopia anyone can just call CPS. Don’t worry, CPS isn’t punitive; a social worker will set you up with a family counselor, help you locate a capable babysitter, local pediatrician, or whatever you need to be a better, more productive parent. One thing the reader of this post will notice that I find a lot of wisdom in the old saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” If we can solve problems early, we can cut crime and delinquency. Family Structure: Most families, whether by blood, marriage, or friendship, will live in multigenerational homes. Marriage: as long both people are consenting adults, in my utopia, nobody cares who marries who. However all marriages will start with a trip to the premarital counseling which includes the family members the couple are living with and leaving. Families will also discuss with mediators the distribution of wealth, children from prior marriages, other issues. If marriages need a tune up, marriage counseling is also available from CPS and other healthcare establishments. Wait… whose in charge then? No one. Or it is decided within the family. Personally, I have never met a married couple with an unequal relationship where at least one person did not resent the other. We are capable of love and respect and it is especially important in marriage. Divorce is hurtful to all involved. In my utopia, divorces will become rare, because of mutual respect and the work done in advance. Wait…Are you saying homosexuals get to raise children! Gasp! Yes. As long as they raise that child with love, tenderness, and care. Elder Care: The elderly will work as long as they can, perhaps changing jobs to something easier, then be given a living wage until death. Hopefully, their living wage will be supplemented with extras from family or friends in their multi-generational home, but if not, nursing homes with a caring and well-educated staff will also be available. Hospice care will fill everyone’s final days. Health Care: EVERYONE from birth to death gets universal free healthcare including nonjudgmental information on birth control and family planning. What about Vaccinations? In my utopia, they are required except for medical reasons. Abortions? In my utopia, they will be completely legal. (However my hope is with everyone having nonjudgmental family planning, they won’t be needed except in the most dire circumstances.) How are doctors paid? Handsomely by their medical establishment as their education and specialties dictate. Anything else? Yes, there will world-wide standardized forms in every language, so the average person can understand them and fill them out and medical records are easily transferable between hospitals. What, standardized forms! You can’t do that! Yes, I can. It’s my utopia, if you don’t like this you might want to skip the rest of this blog post. Assuming you are still reading, here we go: Exploration: We are a curious species. In order for us to continue to evolve, humans need to map every centimeter of Earth and we need space travel. In order to be able to afford it, we need a world-wide government (or at least a world wide coalition) Government: The overall government will be broken up by regional districts so everyone feels represented. The government will serve the people. All adults vote and their votes matter. To solve the problems we see in our current government, NO LOBBYEST GIFTS would be allowed. No free dinners. No free boats. Every campaign will be run on an itemized budget. It’s the age of computers! The IRS’s focus will shift from the individual taxpayer to corporate and campaign budgets. Measurements: The world would all be on the metric system (or another standardized system). The United States will stop holding out. Infrastructure: The world would make advancements in clean, renewable fuels from methane collection to solar power. Computer and communication technology will be available to all. Roads will be clear for society’s use. There would be many modes of transportation available. Houses and Buildings would be clustered together with use in mind, with open green space for everyone’s use. Park lands would be consider sacred. As my readers know, I’m pragmatic so let’s move on to Crime: Jail time and fines will be non-existent for misdemeanors—but community service based and focused on rehabilitation. Accidents will be dealt with by mediators and judges. If it is such a big mistake that one must be removed from society (murder, rape, assault with the intent to kill, etc.) the person will serve jail time. Even in jail, the person would be treated with personal dignity to ensure this Correctional Officers would receive proper education and training. Prisoners will see their families as long as the families want to see them. What about the family of a criminal? In my utopia, no one pays for the crime, except the criminal. You and your family will be given the needed care to help rebuild trust. Personal Weaponry: People can have handguns and riffles, BUT must be licensed which includes gun safety courses for the entire household. Also every gun comes with a safety pin or some sort of biometrics reader and a camera on it. (That way only authorized people can fire it and the camera can be used in case of accident or murder.) Civilian Police: The police would only use nonlethal weapons and ALL police must have cameras that would be allowed in court. They would also not fear reprisals for entering therapy and have plenty of personal time. Military: It’s a sad fact that even in StarTrek, Earth always need some kind of defense system. In my utopia, however, we will not need anyone to protect a nation against another nation, because with a world government comes world peace. We can serve the goal of world peace with space travel and education. This military would work hand in hand with private corporations and government agencies in order to train soldiers to develop non-lethal weapons, and the building of infrastructure, and space exploration. Distribution of Wealth: A true progressive tax system would be installed to pay for the social benefits above. With standardized forms and computers to tabulate data, information is cheaper than ever before. The wealthy will pay more than the poor, and all debt forgivable. Business Taxes: Other than cost of business expenses, other tax relief for corporations will be non-existent. Usury laws: While some debt (business debt, mortgages) is a constant, usury laws will be in place to protect the poor. 1 – 5 % would be standard. Religion: All the world’s religions would stop fighting over dogmatic differences and decide to act with respect of individual worship styles. If you believe God has something against pigs, don’t eat pork, but that doesn’t mean you can burn your neighbor’s pig farm. Taxing of Religions: If an individual church, house of worship, mosque, or temple turns a profit, and sits upon the profit then yes they should be taxed as a business. However these entities can forgo taxes by running as Non-Profit Charity and serving the needs of the people surrounding them. Well that’s pretty much everything I thought of. Challenge complete. Achievement unlocked. This started as my dearest, yet pragmatic, dream for humanity, so please everyone be respectful.
Quick Thought: Why So Many People Love Mad Men
“You’ll love the show, Matt,” an old friend once told me after the first few episodes of Mad Men had aired on AMC. “Some of the best story telling on television.” I nodded and smiled, telling my friend, “Sure. I’ll watch it.” But I never did. The show looked like a cliche’d period piece to me, and I had intentionally avoided it. As more episodes mounted up, however, the greater the pull to Mad Men became. My wife started watching reruns, and one morning I stumbled into the kitchen, with the aim of cooking some breakfast, and across the room I found my watch gazing at John Hamm’s Don Draper caring for his pregnant wife by warming up some milk for her. Something about the image of Don doing something so thoughtful and intimate while expressing a great deal of conflict and anguish over this seemingly benign act was undeniably striking. “What is this?” I asked. “Mad Men,” my wife said. “Have you never seen it?” I stepped to the couch. “What’s wrong with him?” “He has a really troubled past.” She went on to describe Don’s troubled and fascinating history. I sat next to her, and I haven’t stopped watching since. Matthew Weiner, Mad Men‘s head writer, show runner, and executive producer, once told the New York Times, and I’m paraphrasing here, that the show’s interpretations are inherently open. That the way he intended it to be read didn’t matter once the show aired since the content no longer belonged to him but to those viewing it. To do this well, Weiner layered his pieces with complex and consistent motifs that built coherent and relevant themes; he developed imperfect, flawed characters who struggled to do right by their loved ones while trying to temper their own selfish desires; he researched the various time periods to ensure not only accuracy but that elements of history would support aspects of the story. In layman’s terms, Weiner has succeeded in creating an original world that is believable and engrossing. It is a narrative dream devoid of structural flaws. In every way, Mad Men is pitch perfect storytelling illustrating one person’s version of beauty and truth, and while I’m truly excited for the premiere of the show’s final season, I’m as equally sad to see it go.
The Dividends of Solid Editing
Edit, edit, edit. Then edit some more. As an editor, I know the value of giving a second, third, or even fourth look to a piece of writing. After my debut novel, New York Dolls, was selected for publication by 48fourteen Publishing, I learned even more how valuable the editorial process is. The book went through more than four rounds of editing and revisions, and even by the third round, errors in continuity were still being spotted. Beyond the typos and grammatical errors and jumbles of syntax, tricky issues like a character wearing a black sweater on one page and a gray one a few pages later kept popping up—things I’d never noticed in the half dozen or so times I’d read, re-read, and proofed the book myself. That sweater situation loomed large deep into the editing rounds of New York Dolls. My main character, Denton Hodges, has a bit of a complicated relationship with her trusty sweater throughout the novel, making it a key component of the plot. Having it suddenly and mysteriously change colors from one chapter to the next would not be good. Where was the editor in me when I was writing those pages? After some creative re-workings of a few critical plot points, I resolved the issue, and Denton’s sweater was saved. Having a few extra pairs of eyes going through the manuscript early on proved to be invaluable. It made me more attuned than ever to checking for consistency in addition to grammar and typos. When you’ve written a book or a screenplay or anything creative, you’re too close to the material to be able to not only judge it impartially but notice what it’s missing or what’s mixed up in it. Whether it’s one or three editors, those extra layers of scrutiny really are needed to make your work shine.
Chemical Attraction’s Springtime Book Tour
Chemical Attraction’s Springtime Book Tour Stop by for a chance to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card. Don’t forget to pick up your copies of the series on SALE for $0.99/each (reg. $4.99/each). Chemical Attraction’s Springtime Tour with Sage
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