In 1999, on the eve of the release of THE PHANTOM MENACE, I consented to an interview with my hometown newspaper, the Tampa Tribune. A few weeks ago, I was tracked down by a stringer for my former paper about doing a follow-up to the previous article. It was a where are they now kind of thing. So again, on the eve of the release of THE FORCE AWAKENS, my hometown paper wanted to know about my relationship with the STAR WARS universe, and whether or not our love had stood the test of time. You can find the full article on TBO.Com. I really recommend you not miss the sixteen year-old pic of me surrounded by my STAR WARS stuff.
Tucked between the shadows and the night, standing in a darkened corner of the room, Maxx Fragg watched the young couple huddled on the couch. They had no idea what he had in store for them. He almost felt sorry. Almost. He watched as Travis stroked Debbie’s hand and whispered something in her ear. Maxx locked eyes with her as he moved across the apartment. He saw the desperation mixed with fear in her eyes and he grinned. He liked it that way. Pulling a pair of gloves from his belt, Maxx cinched them tight around his wrists. The rush of adrenaline rose up from his chest. This was far from his first job but he still got a thrill each time. He clicked off the lamp and the room went black.
Debbie gasped. “Can’t we leave a few lights on?”
“I prefer to work in the dark. It helps me concentrate,” Maxx said. It really didn’t matter but he felt it intensified the experience.
“I think I’d rather see what’s coming.” Travis pulled a cushion on his lap, clutching the fabric.
“Why? You expecting a pillow fight?” Maxx dropped the equipment bag slung over his shoulder.
Debbie jumped. “What are you going to do with that?”
“What I’m being paid to do. My job.” Maxx nodded across the room to his partner, who shook his head in disapproval. Bending next to the couch, Maxx slowly unzipped the bag. He was close enough to see the goose bumps on Debbie’s arm rise with each click.
“I don’t care what it takes. Just get that thing out of my house,” Travis said.
“Don’t worry. You’ll be ghost free in no time.” Maxx knew his clients needed to believe he could make it better, take away their fears. If only it was that simple. Everyone wanted to name the night, put a label on their personal horrors. He wished someone could shut the door to the monsters in his own closet.
Genre: Young Adult / Sci-fi / Paranormal
Publisher Ink Smith Publishing
Cover Designer: Macy Stom
When Maxx lost his brother in a car accident, his world fell apart. It didn’t help he was driving the car when it happened. Finding an escape inside the virtual world of Other Syde, Maxx runs the Maxx Fragg Virtual Paranormal Investigative Agency with his best friend, Tane. But in a world where dreams become reality, can nightmares be far behind?When a real ghost attacks Maxx inside the program, he’s saved by the last person he ever expected to see again, his brother. Risking everything for a chance to say he’s sorry, Maxx, Tane, and Maxx’s almost-girlfriend Emi, need to figure out why real ghosts are haunting a virtual world while on the run from a murderous cyber-geist, high-tech security guards, a corrupt corporation with their own plans for the technology, the recluse genius who created the program, and Maxx’s own demons.
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The more I get to know my fellow SF writers, the more I realize we have in common. Like me, a goodly number of them also enjoy needle craft, be it sewing, knitting, crochet, cross-stitch, quilting or fancy work. It’s hard to sew and write at the same time, and when I’m deep in the throes of book construction, my needlework suffers. I was delighted to follow my friend Pippa Jay’s progress in making her own Jedi tunic as she shared photos and agonized over the process. If I couldn’t spare the energy to sew my own projects, I could vicariously enjoy hers.
In honor of National Sewing Month, I asked Pippa if she’d share her project here. She graciously agreed.
From Jay to Jedi – Making the tunic
After seeing Star Wars: A New Hope on TV at the age of eight (and developing a huge crush on Luke Skywalker too), I wanted to be a Jedi. I mean really, really wanted to be one. I would stare at things in my bedroom trying to persuade them to move, and be bitterly disappointed when they didn’t. And the whole ‘Do or do not, there is no try’ from The Empire Strikes Back convinced me it was never going to happen.
Thirty something years on, and I’m trying to be a Jedi again. Oh, not the making-things-move-with-my-mind stuff, but with the outfit. I’m off to Worldcon next year (LonCon 3, yahooo!). I *could* go as one of my characters, but since Quin would pretty much wear what I would (or should that be I would wear anything that she would?!), and no one is going to know who that is anyway, I thought no. This time I’m going to be a Jedi like my…no, wait, I’m just going to be the Jedi I wanted to be. Since I’m not going as a specific character but just aiming for the general look, I’m not going for 100% accuracy on the details so please don’t Force choke me for it!
So, I started with a bought pattern (Simplicity 5840) and a bundle of cheap fabric from my local charity shop (a pale sandy colour and a more mid brown/tan). The pattern came from ebay, and there are still some available on there if you want to get yourself one.
Now, I’m no expert at sewing or at following patterns – I’m self taught and don’t know what a lot of the technical terms mean. I can usually figure things out though. The pattern for the tunic (image bottom right of the pattern) comes in unisex and multiple sizes – Extra Small to Extra Large. So I dutifully measured my chest/bust size and came out in the gap between Medium to Large.
Knowing how these patterns tend to be on the generous size (BTW, because this is a multiple size pattern, there’s no hem allowance included unless stated, and I didn’t find that out until AFTER I cut it. Luckily for me, the sizing is VERY generous and missing the hem allowance didn’t do any harm overall) I went for Medium. The pattern suggested lightweight linens or silky type fabrics, so I went for the lighter of the two I had – it looks and feels like chamois leather on the outside, but is kind of satiny on the inner side, and light with a slight bit of stretch to it. No idea what the fabric actually is. Then the wonderful job of pinning on the pattern and cutting it out.
Then stitching the sides and shoulders of the main body, and attaching the sleeves.
I then found that the pattern has a definite bias toward a male figure ie considerably more broad-shouldered than me. The pattern has tips for shortening and adjusting it, so I took up the shoulders and added a more tailored curve to the sides of the tunic so that it fitted better – otherwise it was hanging too far off my shoulders and the ends of the sleeves were swamping my hands. On reflection I might have been better aiming for the Small. That’s what I get for being 5ft 3. 😛
Next was sewing up all the seams, including leaving small slits up the sides and generally tidying up the ends. After that comes the edging for the collar and cross-over opening of the tunic. This required four long strips of material wrapped around heavyweight interfacing (I didn’t know what that was until hubs went into a craft shop and asked – it’s stiff fabric that does things like make collars stand up straight or gives a more solid structure to your fabric). The brown fabric had to be stitched around this and then attached to the edges of the tunic to give the band that goes around the neck and along the cross-over flaps.
Finally, the pattern has a belt with it. Again, this requires stitching fabric around a broad piece of interfacing and adding ties.
I think the belt is a bit too wide for me (the short factor again) so I may make a thinner one than the pattern suggested. I’m also looking at a replica Anakin belt, simply because I want something to hang my lightsaber from, and I’m not quite sure how to attach one to this fabric version. However, I’d wear this version under the leather belt anyway, since a lot of the costumes from the film do so. But this is the complete tunic for now.
As I’ll be wearing this in August, I’m currently thinking that with the length of this on me I can probably wear tights or leggings with the knee high boots I have simply to keep cool, but I’ll be working on the Jedi robe to go over the top next. Oh, you thought I’d model this for you? Nah. When I have the whole outfit ready to go, THEN I’ll subject you to the full body shot. 😛
In the meantime, in the spirit of National Sewing Month, I have a little contest for you. It’s been suggested that I should have a Jedi name to go with my outfit. So, I’m including a poll for you to vote on with some Jedi names (using a random name generator) and a few suggested names from Twitter, but you can also add your own suggestions. And I’m going to do a giveaway. I’ll send one Jedi patch (see picture) to the person who either makes the suggestion I like the best, or tells me which name they voted on in the comments with a clever reason why I should use it. Have fun!
A stay-at-home mum of three who spent twelve years working as an Analytical Chemist in a Metals and Minerals laboratory, Pippa Jay bases her stories on a lifetime addiction to science-fiction books and films. Somewhere along the line a touch of romance crept into her work and refused to leave. In between torturing her plethora of characters, she spends the odd free moments trying to learn guitar, indulging in freestyle street dance and drinking high-caffeine coffee. Although happily settled in historical Colchester in the UK with her husband of 20 years, she continues to roam the rest of the Universe in her head.
Pippa Jay is a dedicated member of the SFR Brigade, a community of science fiction romance authors and publishing professionals committed to writing and promoting the very best in the genre.
Website – http://www.pippajay.co.uk
Twitter – https://twitter.com/pippajaygreen
SFR Brigade – http://www.sfrcontests.blogspot.co.uk/
Last fall, I took part in a discussion about how to raise the visibility of The Science Fiction Romance Brigade. The answer seemed obvious to me – a short story anthology, offered for free, featuring the best that the group had to offer. I tossed out the suggestion to the group. The members thought it was a fine idea. I was busily working on HERO’S END and I knew that whoever they found to head up this antho would have their work cut out for them. Little did I realize that I was going to be tapped to be the Editor-In-Chief of said project.
Fortunately, Author Paula Diane Dooley came on board to work with authors as the Development Editor, and author Laurie A. Green served as our Editor-At-Large, securing our cover art and keeping the members and authors informed of everything every step of the way.
We worked out our guidelines, and put out the submission call to our members. We had so many wonderful stories to choose from that it was hard settling on these few that finally made up the anthology.
We couldn’t have done this without our wonderful volunteer copy editors, Laurel C. Kriegler (Chief Copy Editor,) Patty Hammond, Cary Caffrey, and Danielle Cassels (my cousin – yeah, I’m guilty of nepotism.)
In the end, this labor of love turned out to be an absolute blast!
Now, it’s available in limited release on Smashwords. You can pick it up for FREE!!
• A space captain discovers the cyborg she loves just might be her greatest enemy.
• A mind-wiped prostitute risks all when she recruits a dangerous stranger to help her escape a terrible fate.
• A prisoner-of-war confronts the comrade who loved her, then left her for dead.
• A space-obsessed physics teacher is kidnapped by a far-too-charming alien.
• An apocalypse survivor battles the biomech-enhanced hunter who seeks to capture her.
• A young artist must choose between her comfortable life on Earth or a war-torn space colony with her beloved.
• A daring thief is on the run from the alien law man who is determined to bring her to justice.
• A widowed rebel leader tries to save the last remnants of humanity, one stranger at a time.
From Earth to the furthest reaches of the galaxy, explore the worlds of Science Fiction Romance with stories from Linnea Sinclair, Marcella Burnard, Erica Hayes, Liana Brooks, Pippa Jay, Berinn Rae, Amy Laurens, and Kyndra Hatch.
Download ‘Tales from the SFR Brigade’ for free today.
My apologies to Patrick Stutzman. I was supposed to post this a few days ago.
ALONE IN THE CROWD by PATRICK STUTZMAN
Available on 15 June 2013 on Amazon
Cover Art by Tomomi Ink
Alone No More?
Earth has finally sent a colony to the moon where Anna has been stranded, bringing with it hope of rescue. Although some are not quick to trust her, others welcome her with open arms, and she finds an unlikely friendship in a young colonist named Jason.
As Anna teaches the settlers to survive, the looming threat of the aliens’ return casts a dark, foreboding shadow over the colony. Can she earn the colonists’ trust and prepare them in time for first contact?
Visit the author’s website at The Worlds of Patrick Stutzman
See what other works are available from the author at Amazon’s Patrick Stutzman page
Visit the cover artist’s website at Tomomi Ink
I don’t make it a practice to hawk new releases without a review, but I can’t wait to finish writing the review before I tell you the exciting news about TK Toppin’s latest release TO CATCH A MARLIN that hit the stands today.
I was fortunate enough to beta read this book for the author, and even in its rough drafts it captured my imagination in a way that…well, let’s just say I have been counting the minutes until I could order this completed, polished novel for my very own! I really believe this is the author’s best work yet!
It’s a lighthearted adventure with parts that will make you laugh out loud and other parts will keep you turning the pages well into the wee hours of the night. I just bought my copy for my Kindle. I’ll be purchasing the paperback as well. This is one book I want for my permanent library. Keep an eye on this page for the review, hopefully next week. I can guarantee 5 Stars.
Congratulations to TK Toppin on her newest release and best of luck.
In the tail end of the 24th Century, Special Inspector Michael Pedroni pursues a beautiful and elusive vigilante, Jax Marlin, in a wild cat and mouse chase that will take him from Earth to the Bacchus Dome and beyond.
Jax Marlin is not your average criminal; she seeks out evil-doers and law-breakers, doling out justice in whatever way she sees fit. But lately, she finds she’s been gift-wrapping criminals specially for her favorite copper.
Four of the world’s leading criminals are determined to form an alliance. Jax is determined to stop them. Hot on her heels, Inspector Pedroni finds himself questioning the difference, if any, between her justice and his. More than that, he wonders why, when he’d had her in his grasp, he was unable to slap on the restraints and bring her in.
Both want the same thing–to stop criminals. But the growing attraction each has toward the other becomes a dangerous hindrance.
Pick up your copy of TO CATCH A MARLIN here
Much thanks to Stephen Ormsby for such a great interview! The same week as Ben Bova! I’m in good company!
I met JC through Facebook and quickly we found we had similar senses of humour. It became quickly apparent to both of us that we both rather dry. That really means that only she laughwed at my stuff and I laughed at her stuff!
So, on to JC herself. She writes science fiction with a hint of romance in it. So far, they have been very succesful. Currently, she is working on three other books (at once). I have borrowed this from her blog.
he traces her lifelong infatuation with SF/Adventure to growing up in West Central Florida during NASA’s most exciting years, often watching space launches from her back yard.
JC got her start as a stringer for the Tampa Tribune in 1991. Since that time, she has been a member of the RWA, TARA, TWA and PINAWOR, and is currently a member of Pennwriters and the Science Fiction…
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There was so much positive response to a recent post on women and science fiction that when I had the chance to invite a male author who writes strong female leads beautifully, I jumped at it. Here is Patrick Stutzman, author of ALONE ON THE EDGE and his new release ALONE IN PARADISE.
Writing can be a lot of fun, but it can also come with its challenges. Among those challenges can be making your story and/or characters believable, getting the story to flow smoothly and logically, and avoiding the pitfalls into which many authors inadvertently fall. My primary problem involves being a man and writing about a woman.
My series of novels revolves around a woman who finds herself left alone, away from civilization, and must cope with her situation to the best of her abilities. I have received compliments from a number of women that I have somehow managed to pull off the ardent task of hitting the nail on the head as far as accurately portraying female characters. Those that don’t know me figure it is because I am secretly a woman or that I am gay. The last time I checked, I am a male; I have guy parts. And, my wife can assure you that I am not gay.
How do I do it? No, I don’t follow Jack Nicholson’s formula in As Good As It Gets where he says, “I take a man and take away reason and accountability.” It all falls down to observation and error-checking.
As a gamer, I liked to play female characters in my games. I create women player characters in my Dungeons & Dragons and Star Wars roleplaying games, and I have a female character in World of Warcraft and Skyrim. Why? Most of the other players played males. I wanted to have women come along on the adventures, too. With characters like Red Sonja, Wonder Woman, Jean Grey, and Sheena as inspiration, women have just as much capability to kick some major butt as the men.
I live in a house with three other women: my wife and my two daughters. Learning what women are like and how they think, though it is still an exercise, comes a bit easier for me because of that. When I create the women in my books, I take what I know from the three ladies in my life and apply parts of them to the characters.
I cannot honestly say that it’s that easy. After I complete the story, my editor steps in and checks my portrayals for accuracy. It really helps that my editor is a woman, too. If something seems askew, we discuss it and make any necessary changes to finalize the character’s depiction.
I am not the only man that creates female characters, but I am willing to bet that I am one of the few that does not make my women damsels-in-distress or really butch. I have always strived to be as realistic as possible in my stories, and having women properly represented is something I am proud to do.
Please feel free to visit each blog on the appropriate day and comment about the blog post, the book, me, or whatever you choose. One lucky person that comments on the blog stop that day will win a free e-copy of the book. Spread the word to your friends and come read about the continuing adventures of Anna Foster in the exciting sequel, Alone in Paradise.
While I’m off roughing it on top of a mountain in the Sumter National Forest listening for the sound of Dueling Banjos, author Krystal Brookes kindly offered to guest post for me until I can work my way down the river where Deliverance was filmed and find my way safely back to civilization again. So here is Krystal with an interesting perspective on her writing.
Hi, I’m Krystal Brookes and I’d like to thank JC for inviting me to her blog today. At first I was unsure what I was going to write about and I asked my friend on Facebook what she thought. She suggested I write about how I go about world building in my stories. I was slightly stricken. You see, the friend is also my editor and she edited my short story, Bounty, which I will tell you about later. Was now the time to confess that as a pantser I don’t do any world-building. I pretty much make it up as I go along.
Bounty was my first attempt to be published and was accepted. My acceptance email sits proudly on a frame next to my desk. It states that the editor “loved the world building in this short story.” So I confessed that I didn’t know a thing about it, and my editor told me that I am able to world-build even if I don’t think of it as a technical process.
I realized that I usually start with a utopian government. I probably choose that because I first got into science fiction watching Star Trek. And the Federation of Planets is pretty utopian, even if they do have to fight Klingons, Cardassians and the Dominion. The different inhabited planets are usually linked through alliances or confederacies: a peaceful galaxy with a few baddies to spoil it.
For Bounty, I had to create some kind of criminal and legal system. In space a police force would probably not be practical. I had to think of something else. Paid bounty hunters seem to be a better way to capture criminals. Because it is a utopian society, the criminal justice must be fair—but that’s not to say they never make mistakes.
Then I had to decide what kind of planet to make the prison planet Alcatraz. Coming from freezing cold and wet Scotland, the idea of a desert area is a bit disturbing to me. I’m sure people who come from Arizona don’t see it that way. To me, that would be the height of discomfort and no one wants to see the baddies living in the lap of luxury. So Alcatraz became a hot, sandy, desert planet.
So it seems that I did build a little world of my own, even if I didn’t realize that it was what I was doing. It was great to think up new technology and consider what living in such conditions would do to criminals. Bounty is a short novella so I didn’t have time to explore it in great detail. But I’m currently working on a new project and an entirely different type of planet. I hope you like the excerpt of Bounty.
Bounty – Excerpt
“I see you’re awake,” a gruff male voice stated.
Gemma looked in the direction of the voice. Wherever she was, it was dark and damp smelling. Her mind was struggling to make sense of what had happened. She could tell there had been an accident but the immediate events before the accident were extremely fuzzy.
“It doesn’t matter. You’re safe–for now. How are you feeling?”
“Sore and groggy,” she replied quietly.
She couldn’t quite make out the man in the dim light. She didn’t recognise his voice or where she was. Her memory was still fuzzy but something in the back of her mind scared her. She seemed to be alone with this man and she certainly was not in a hospital.
“Yeah, well, that’s what happens when you crashland your shuttle into a planet Ms. Scott.”
“How do you know my name?”
“Your ID was in your pocket. And your phase gun was in your holster.”
“Where is my gun now?” Gemma asked, trying to stop the fear in her voice.
“It’s safe.” The man moved forward into the thin shaft of light coming from the dim overhead light on the ceiling of the hut they seemed to be in. The man was tall, muscular and tanned, with a shock of medium length brown hair. She recognized him, but couldn’t quite recall from where.
“I’d prefer it if you returned my gun. I need it.”
“I said it’s safe,” he returned.
She sat for a few moments trying to remember what had happened. She knew she had to get her gun back from this man but her head was too befuddled to form a coherent argument for now.
As the details of the accident came back to her, she squinted again at her rescuer, trying to recall how she knew him. She felt her blood drain as she remembered.
“I need to fix my shuttle,” said Gemma, hoping that he hadn’t realized who she was.
“It’s dark outside, you won’t be able to do anything just now.”
She tried to sit up but a shard of intense pain ripped through her shoulder and made her fall back on the pillow.
“You dislocated your shoulder, so I had to put it back in the socket. It’s going to be sore for a while.”
She rubbed her shoulder and grimaced.
“Thanks, I think.”
“If I’d left you in that shuttle, believe me, you would have been murdered or worse.”
“What’s worse than being murdered?”
“On this planet? Not being murdered and being kept alive long enough to be aware of what they’re doing to you.”
When Gemma Scott’s shuttle crash lands on Alcatraz prison planet, she’s sure of one thing. If the impact doesn’t kill her, the inmates will. She wakes up in the hut of a convicted terrorist and wonders how long it will be until the handsome but dangerous man finds she was the one who arrested him two years earlier. As their attraction grows, they work together to help Gemma escape the dangerous planet. But they can’t deny the sparks that fly between them.
Io9 reported this morning that SF pioneer and literary legend Ray Bradbury had passed away at the age of 91. Bradbury is known for his incredible body of work including THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES, and FAHRENHEIT 451, both of which profoundly impacted my adolescent development and fueled my love of science fiction.
Mr. Bradbury was a long-time participant of the Santa Barbara Writers’ Conference. It was a speech he gave at this conference one year that had the most profound impact on me as a writer and as a person. Though I didn’t attend, this speech was included in the book, THE COMPLETE GUIDE TO WRITING FICTION by Barnaby Conrad and the Staff of the Santa Barbara Writers’ Conference. I’d like to share Ray Bradbury’s words that have stayed with me throughout my writing career and my life.
“If you want to write, if you want to create, you must be the most sublime fool that God ever turned out and sent rambling. You must write every single day of your life. You must read dreadful dumb books and glorious books, and let them wrestle in beautiful fights inside your head, vulgar one moment, brilliant the next. You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads. I wish you a wrestling match with your Creative Muse that will last a lifetime. I wish craziness and foolishness and madness upon you. May you live with hysteria, and out of it make fine stories — science fiction or otherwise. Which finally means, may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world.”
― Ray Bradbury