Google+ Followers

Saturday, December 9, 2017

The Science In Sci Fi and . . . Fantasy?

Two alien bat men with three spaceships silhouetted in the background sky.

I apologise for posting so late again. The Thanksgiving holiday was extra busy for me and last weekend had too many things that needed catching up on. I also was a little ill some of the week but am much better now. I hope all of you had a great Thanksgiving, though. It seems like the holiday was just yesterday and we’re already hurtling toward Christmas!

About a week ago, I came across a really neat article on the website Earther entitled “Rare Manuscript Exhibit Explores How Climate Disasters CreateMonsters”. Well, if climate disaster isn’t doing that, some other natural or technological disaster is. The article shows how climate change has influenced not only science fiction but even certain types of fantasy fiction too, especially horror. The author of this article, Maddie Stone, uses examples from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and, believe it or not, Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

A lot of science fiction, needless to say, has been influenced by natural and technological disasters. But fewer people are aware that fantasy and supernatural horror have also been influenced by these things. But what’s interesting about Stone’s article is that it reports on an exhibit that is going on at the Rosenbach Library in Pennsylvania called Gothic Monster, Modern Science. The exhibit features manuscripts of classic horror authors such as Shelly and Stoker and the scientific events of their times that helped shaped their stories. One of these, Stone explains, was an 1815 volcanic eruption that had climate changing effects: a year-round “winter” for much of the Western world and disease outbreaks.

Needless to say, climate change is a big issue today and has been influencing much contemporary science fiction. It’s also needless to say that climate change isn’t the only scientific disaster that has influenced sci fi. However, fewer people would think science has influenced supernatural fiction. Even the fantasy epic Game of Thrones book and television series reflect today’s issue of global warming by setting the story in a world where a winter or summer can last several years. But other scientific phenomena and the anxiety it raises in people have also influenced these stories. Some of these phenomena have been artificial intelligence, robotics and genetic engineering, in which these three have provoked the same basic concern that Frankenstein has: artificially creating or recreating life. This concern has been suggested in novels such as Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, its movie adaptation Blade Runner and the movie’s recent sequel, Blade Runner 2049.

As far as epidemics go, the vampire curse in Dracula is approached in part as a virus rather than so much as a curse and so the characters attempt to cure it as such. This element has continued to be used in horror fiction since then, including other vampire tales such as Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend and its movie adaptations, werewolf films and today’s zombie fiction. 

But Stone’s article focuses on the subject of climate change and the Gothic horror fiction of the past. It discusses how the subject is reflected in the authors’ notes and manuscripts on display at the Rosenbach and how natural disasters lead to the creation of monsters in these stories. For what is a monster in fiction but a metaphor for an overwhelming force that seems to be unstoppable in real life, such as climate change and unbeatable computer viruses that infect what are supposed to be the most secure of databases such as Equifax’s? The monster in much horror, whether it be supernatural or science fiction horror, represents these catastrophic forces and society’s fear of them. I strongly suggest you take a look at Stone’s article for the details.

Speculative fiction is a way to help us deal with the present time’s catastrophic problems and how to put something into perspective that’s otherwise so overwhelming or chaotic. It’s an escape from the problems of our own reality as reflected in the news while also a way to deal with those problems through imaginary means. We hope it will help us come up with real solutions to the problems, like science fiction has done in many instances such as in medical science and education both of which advancements in computer technology has contributed to.

I’ll try to discuss where I’m at with my writing projects, have some writing tips and maybe even another link to a fantastic find here next time.

Until then . . .

Saturday, November 18, 2017

On Writing: Revisions and Motivations

I apologise for not having posted since the special Halloween post. I wasn’t feeling my best one week and then the following week I was really busy with both my day job and writing. In relation to writing, I didn’t make that Halloween deadline for the short horror story I’ve been working on. I’m almost done revising it, so I will have it ready for my critique group soon. Which is the upside of missing that submission deadline: I have a chance to have it critiqued. I wouldn’t have had time for that otherwise.

Writing for a Publication’s Deadline as Motivation

I may either use this story for another magazine accepting submissions or my next short fiction collection that I have taken a hiatus on since last year but plan to resume it in the upcoming one. But I think I got much more done on the story than I would have if I hadn’t been writing for a submission deadline and was doing it for self-publication instead. So if you are a self-publishing author like myself, maybe that can be a great motivator for any writing project: aim to write it for a publication that has a deadline and then as that deadline nears decide whether you want to continue submitting it to the publication or if you want to self-publish it.

Limited Time and Space as Writing Motivators

I will be forced to get motivated with my writing even more this upcoming week. As with last Thanksgiving, I will have family coming to visit for a week and so will be limited not only on my time to write but on space to write in. I live in a small apartment, yet believe family should stay with family when they come to visit for several days, especially when they’re closer relatives. But that is no excuse for a writer to stop working on projects. Steven King worked in a near closet-size wash room typing his stories on a kid’s desk when he and his family lived in a small mobile home. So, if need be, I can work sitting on my bed in my room with my laptop in front of me. Laptops were made for that reason, weren’t they? Or I can go to a local cafe or fast food joint.

Revising My Novella: A Follow-Up to Last Year’s NaNoWriMo

I’m not doing NaNoWriMo this year, but have been taking advantage of the time with an alternative to it: revising my novella from last year. I finally pulled it out of the filing cabinet at the beginning of the month, after it had been stashed away there for nearly six months, and started doing surface level revisions and making marginal notes where changes in content are needed. The story is coming across as really cheesy but then it is a first draft, my first full draft of a novel of any sort to be exact. I printed out four of the 100 pages to first see how it reads and determine if it’s intriguing enough to even bother continuing with it. That’s what writing the first draft is all about: getting a story written out completely to see if you want to bother going on revising it or to trash it. It’s an experimental stage that helps you decide if your idea is worth writing about and seeking a publishing route for it (traditional or self-publishing).

So, how do you motivate yourself to write to completion? Do you accommodate for your writing time and space when family and friends come to visit during the holidays? Are you participating in NaNoWriMo or are you doing an alternative to it? Feel free to leave your answers in the box below.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving, and until next time!

Silhouette of a woman raising a meat-carving knife
Mother's ready to carve the turkey!

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Special Halloween Post: Vampire Hunters, Decorating and Free Books

A jack-o-lantern with a skull's face carved on it.

I'm still trying to finish revising the story I was telling you about last time, the one that I said was due on Halloween. I had said I'm trying to avoid having to submit it on that day but it looks like that won't happen. But as long as I have it revised by Monday then I should be okay. It shouldn't take that long to submit it for the anthology that it's for. I probably would have had a great deal more of it done but I "had" to go to that Halloween Comics Fest sale at Comics & Collectibles in Sacramento. Maybe it's a good thing I did because, besides getting free comics like Hellboy and other horror-types, I came across a new one: Captain Kronos Vampire Hunter.

Vampire Hunters

Captain Kronos is based on a 1974 Hammer horror flick of the same name. I missed issue number one, so I had to settle for purchasing and joining in on number two. However, aesthetically-speaking, I prefer issue number two over number one simply because of its cover. Issue number one's cover consists of a shot from the film itself whereas number two's is made by artist Tom Mandrake who did a super job on it as well as the inside art. Although the comic is based on a movie, I prefer the hand-produced cover illustrations of comic book adaptations of movies over ones that use photos from the the films; hand-produced art is the nature of comic books. To tell you the truth, I haven't seen the Captain Kronos movie but they show it for free on Hammer Studios' YouTube channel.

Regarding vampire hunters, I was never a Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan but lately I've been willing to give the TV series a try whenever I can get a hold of a DVD of it or get it streamed. I have a couple Blade comics, although I like him in Marvel's Tomb of Dracula of the '70s better. But I thought I'd give the '90s' Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie a try on Halloween night which is what the TV series is based on. I try to watch the original movie before watching the TV series or reading the comic book that are based on it. But I don't think I'll be able to get a hold of a copy of Buffy the movie this close to Halloween. So it looks like I will just have to settle for the vampire slayer who started them all-- after Van Helsing of Bram Stoker's Dracula--Captain Kronos Vampire Hunter. If you're not familiar with Captain Kronos, movie or comic, then here's a neat trailer for the flick.

Captain Kronos and Buffy Crossover?

Speaking of vampire hunters in media entertainment, don't be surprised if a Captain Kronos/Buffy crossover shows up on a shelf in your local comic book store soon. With crossovers being one of the biggest trends in comics, especially ones based on TV and movies, it's likely to happen since they've had a Buffy comic book series out for several years and if Captain Kronos does good enough, you'll probably see a storyline involving both characters. I'm not one for comic franchise crossovers due to their apparent commercial competitive ambition. However, it would be interesting in the cases of the two above characters since they are so similar. In order for there to be a plausible storyline, time travel or an alternative timeline would have to be involved--the two characters' time settings are more than two centuries apart.

Halloween Decorating

Well, I'm almost done with my Halloween decorating. I only have the cob webs with their plastic arachnid occupants to hang up. But go to my Facebook page between tomorrow and Halloween and you may see some pics of my decorating, that is if you've outworn your admiration of your neighbours' orange "Christmas" lights and inflated cartoon ghosts and pumpkins!

Trick-Or-Treat Book Blog Hop

A "Trick-or-Treat Book Blog Hop" banner

Definitely go to my Facebook page  on Halloween night, about 5:30 or 6 o'clock Pacific Time if you want a free book! There I will have the link to free copies of one of my books as part of the Trick-or-Treat Book Blog Hop, hosted by author Patricia Lynne. This Halloween blog hop offers free books in leiu of candy for cyber trick-or-treaters. Bare in mind, this event is may not be a kids' blog hop, since the maturity of the content of books will vary between authors. Be forewarned, my books contain adult content, so I suggest you keep the kids "outside" when you claim your free book from my page. Still, keep an eye on your kids, you don't know how near the boo-gy man or evil old witch may be!

So I hope to see you at my Facebook page on Halloween night, for the Trick-or-Treat Book Blog Hop. Please do leave comments there if you'd like. Also, let me know in the box here below what you think of  Captain Kronos Vampire Hunter if you see the movie, read the comic, or better yet, both!

Until next time . . . 

Two cosplayer women dressed as Beetle Juice and Lydia.
I took this photo of these two cosplay women at Sinister Creature Con in Sacramento earlier this month. Their costume were groovy!

Monday, October 23, 2017

Trick-or-Treat Book Blog Hop Coming!

I'm sorry I'm running late again with the post for the week. I was busy with the Halloween decorating and still haven't finished. I've also been trying to revise a short story for an anthology submission that's due on Halloween night and have another that I have yet to start that needs to be done for a party I'm attending this week! So I'm going to keep this post short.

Although most of my Halloween outings won't fall on October 31st, I'm trying to avoid having to submit the story for the anthology on that night. Part of the reason is that I will be staying in to participate in the Trick-or-Treat Book Blog Hop!

For the Trick-or-Treat Book Blog Hop I will be giving away one of my books instead of candy! Talk about eye-candy! Consider it candy you can read which, as much as I love confections--especially chocolate--I'll take books over candy anytime if given a choice.

A black bird perches on a branch while holding an eyeball in its beak.

I will post a link to my book on my Facebook page the day of the event. In the meantime, visit author Patricia Lynne's website for more details in participating in the Trick-or-Treat  Book Blog Hop!

That's it for now. Until next time . . .

Banner for Trick-or-Treat Book Blog Hop.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

My Table at Sac Con: The Power of Selling Your Book In Person

A vendor table at a comic book convention with two stacks of books, a fake skull and a Jack 'O Lantern candy bucket.
Credit: The Blogger

I would have been happy if people stopped to simply flip through my books at my vendor table at Sac Comic-Con last Sunday. Since that was my first vendor table at a convention, I really didn’t expect to sell anything. I sold five copies of my books!

The first sale was actually early on in the convention—within the first 10 minutes of opening! A father with his three kids stopped to look. I started giving my pitch for each book and, before I could finish, he said he would take one copy of each: The Fool’s Illusion and “CircaSixty Years Dead”. Later in the day, two more people made purchases at different times each. I also traded copies with the fellow author whose table was right next to mine, Jay Norry, for two books from his Zombie Zero series . We suggested doing reviews for each other’s books once we read them. I’ll leave reviews at Amazon for sure but may have fuller ones here. However, I may not be to do anything until the beginning of the new year because, as I told Jay, I’ve been quite behind on my reading. I’ll try to hustle it up a bit, though; I’m always too ready for the next read!

A handmade author sign on a vendor table.
I wasn't able to have a banner made so I made this. Good enough for a first vendor table.
Photo Credit: The Blogger

So I was really delighted when my books sold. However, I keep in mind that displaying your books for sale at live events isn’t so much about selling them than about promoting them and engaging with the community. The goal should be to start conversations with people who show the least bit of interest in your work. Talking to people about not only your own but other authors’ work in a genre you share interest in makes you known both as an author and a fellow reader. As long as you have plenty of swag with you, including business cards, that identify your social media presence then your book promotion can go a long ways. I also think what helped was providing free Halloween candy for the kids (and adults if they wanted). Many of the people who showed interest in what I was selling had their kids with them, who I can’t sell to or allow to look at the books since they contain mature content, but having candy present for them shows a sense of community on the vendor’s part.

A section of a vendor table displaying books, book marks, business cards and skull prop.
Credit: The Blogger

So presenting your work at special events, especially those like Sac Comic-Con where your target audience is at, in my case the sci fi/fantasy crowd, is primarily about two things: 1) Making your author presence known in the community; and 2) Bonding through conversation over similar interests that relate to the subject matter of your books. If the sales don’t come at the event, they will eventually come sometime down the line. The more people who know about your work, the more chance that they’ll tell others about it.

I want to thank all those who purchased books at my table and I hope they enjoy the reads. I also encourage them to leave honest reviews at the books’ Amazon pages since that will help me improve stories for the future. I also want to thank Jay Norry for the great conversations we had about our work and con experiences and for coming up with the idea to trade each others’ books. I hope to see you again at a future con, Jay!

Next time I’ll try to have some Halloween content here.

Until then . . .   

Saturday, October 7, 2017

The Author's Appearance At Sac Comic-Con

I'm not leaving much of a post here this weekend because I've been busy all day preparing for my vendor table for Sac Comic-Con. The convention is tomorrow from 10 AM to 6 PM. You can read more about it at my Facebook page. This will be my first convention that I've had a table at, so don't be surprised if I seem a little rusty. I hope to see you there. My booth number is B25; I'll have a name sign up. If you can't make it, then . . .

Until next time . . .

Cartoon: A one-eyed alien points to an alien wearing a "fish bowl" helmet.

Monday, October 2, 2017

One Last Revision On My Business Card Before Sac Con

Last week was really busy, so I apologise for posting late again. But I wanted to show you a major alteration I made to my business card (besides the contact info I added). Last post I showed the card bearing the name of my imprint which is “Far Out Phantastic Press”. Or at least that was the name. After doing some research, I discovered that to put that name on a business card may require me to register it with my home city or county and that would cost more than what I am willing to spend right now on promoting my work. Here in California, at least, you can use your personal name as for a sole entrepreneurship and not have to register it. So, for the time being at least, I had to replace my imprint name with my personal name on the card. So here is the revised version:

A business card with the image of a skull.
Credit: Steven Rose Jr.

As you can see everything else on my business card has pretty much stayed the same. Now I just have to have prints of it made by the end of the week because I will need them for Sunday which is when I will have my table of books for sale, The Fool’s Illusion and “CircaSixty Years Dead”. So if you happen to be in the Sacramento area and have not bought your copy of one or the other then you can come to Sac Con where I will be on Sunday and purchase your copy (or copies there) and save on the shipping you would have to pay if you ordered it through Amazon. I may even have one of the two books discounted there and maybe even free Halloween candy! If nothing else, then just come and say “hi” and talk about anything—the con, your favourite books (whether mine or other authors), favourite movies or TV shows, favourite comics, etc. So maybe I’ll see you there. If not, then . . .

Until next time . . .