Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Coming Up in Scientific American, April 2012

I finished reading the newest issue of Scientific American early this morning. Here are a few stories that might be of particular interest to science fiction fans:

If you've read Flatland, you know 2-D space works differently from our everyday 3-D one. (Yes, I'm ignoring the dimension of time here.) Scientists are modeling how gravity works in 2-D space as a way to try to reconcile gravity with quantum mechanics.

Neuroscientists explain why stress can make your mind into mush (something I'm all too familiar with these days).

Private companies and college students are racing to build the next rover that will land on the moon. The winner could get $20 million.

Among other notes, biomarkers are helping neuroscientists fight Alzheimer's, gene therapy has been successfully used to treat a certain type of blindness, and science textbooks may soon become e-books.

As for me personally, I've been very busy with work, family, and writing. I'm close to finishing the first draft of Scattered Seasons, I'm figuring out how to revise Twinned Universes, and I'm preparing the paper version of Lyon's Legacy. At least I wasn't too busy to notice that the lilacs are starting to bloom. It's too soon for spring to spring upon us like this; all my favorite flowers will be gone before I have a chance to appreciate them.

If you're experiencing an early spring, are you enjoying it, or is it freaking you out a bit?

Monday, March 26, 2012

BRoP Interview with Darke Conteur

If it's Monday, it must be time for another interview. Today's interview is with Darke Conteur, author of The Watchtower and Under The Cover of Wicca, and she's going to discuss her writing life with us.

You can find part one of the interview here. Dean, Terri, and Theresa will host the final three parts tomorrow, Wednesday, and Thursday, respectively.

What is your writing process?

Right now I have two project that I'm actively working on. Of Covens and Packs, the third novel in my paranormal series, and Call of the Siren, book for [stet] of the same series.

Do you follow a regular routine?

I try to, but some weeks are better than others.

Do you use pen and paper or computer?

Computer. When I write freehand I can't read what I've written.

Work at home or at the library/Starbucks, etc.

Home, always.

How do you balance writing with other aspects of your life?

I put myself on a schedule. I only work from 9-10 am to around 4pm. I can't write when everyone's home anyway. Too much noise.

When do you write?

Usually in the morning. I've been pushing myself to write in the afternoon as well. Some days I can, some day's [stet] the game console beckons.

How much time per day do you spend on your writing?

Between four to six hours a day, depending on my motivation and the scenes I'm working on.

What has been the most surprising reaction to something you’ve written?

That people like it. That still floors me.

What is the strongest criticism you’ve ever received as an author? The best compliment?

I was a part of an online workshop and the first piece I subbed to them was torn apart. The reviewer took it apart line by line and I sat there with my mouth open, shocked because I thought it was great as it was. That was also the day I realized that learning to write was going to take some time and dedication.

Other than your family, what has been your greatest source of support?

My husband and my mother. When my husband calls during the day, he tells me to get back to that best seller I'm writing. I think he just wants to quit his day job and live off me. :P

How do you deal with rejection and/or negative reviews?

With a very deep breath. I know there will be people who read my work and won't like it, that's fine, but it still hurts when they say something negative about it.

Please let us know where can your readers stalk you:



Facebook Author Page:!/pages/Darke-Conteur-Author-Storyteller/192111757487551





Is your book in print, ebook or both?

Right now, both are only available as ebooks, but I am planning on doing print versions in the future.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A Facebook Fast

It seems like my daily life is getting busier and busier, making it harder to find the time I want to write. In an effort to free up more time to write, last week I decided to go on a "Facebook fast." Most of what I do on Facebook is play games, so that's what I gave up. I did go on occasionally to check the news feed, but that was it. I made it for almost a week before I gave in; however, I've only picked up two games instead of the half-dozen I was previously playing. I'm debating whether I want to give up some of those games for good, though I feel bad about the ones where I'm playing as part of a group. I'm holding off on deciding anything on those games for now. Of course, if I go long enough without playing them, then it gets harder to catch up--assuming I even have the motivation to go back to them.

Have you given up anything for writing? How do you cope with the timesuck that is Facebook (if you're on it, that is)?

Monday, March 19, 2012

BRoP Interview with Sue Burke

Happy Monday, everyone! (If there is such a thing.) Today as part of the Blog Ring of Power, I have part of a progressive interview with Sue Burke. She's a member of Broad Universe, and she recently translated a book called Amadis of Gaul Book 1. This book was originally published in 1508, about a century before Don Quixote. (Don Quixote was actually written to satirize the earlier book.)

You can find the other parts of the interview through these links:

About You
The Writing Life
The Creative Process
About Your Current Work and the Business Aspects (coming tomorrow)

The Technical Aspects

1. How is this story different in English than the original language?

The original text makes good use of the ability in Spanish to create long, beautiful sentences. In fact, it was written to sound elegant and elevated when spoken -- this novel was made to be read out loud to an audience, which was how books were enjoyed in medieval times. English prose today has more strength than elevation, which makes it good for fight scenes, but a little weak for meditative passages.

Although it's easy to write a hundred-word sentence in Spanish even today, I generally have to use shorter sentences than the original. I always try to capture the word play, although again, English vocabulary has different strengths and weaknesses. But sometimes I succeed in capturing the charm of the original, as in this passage about Amadis's brother, Galaor, and a damsel he has just rescued:

"At this point the two damsels went to search through the castle with other women to find them something to eat, leaving Sir Galaor and the damsel, who was named Brandueta, alone, conversing as ye have heard, and as she was very beautiful and he was eager for such sustenance, before the meal was brought and the table set, together they unmade a bed that was in the hall where they were and made the damsel a woman, which she had not been before, satisfying their desires, which had grown great during the brief time they had spent gazing at one another in the flourishing beauty of youth."

2. What kind of research did you have to do?

One thing I had to learn was the names for the parts of a suit of armor: what does manopla mean, and what's the word for that in English? (Gauntlet.) I got some helpful reference materials from the Armory at the Royal Palace here in Madrid. I also had to master the names of the parts of a castle.

3. What tools are must-haves for writers and/or translators?

Good dictionaries. For Spanish, I recommend the Oxford English-Spanish Dictionary, the Diccionario de la Real Academia Española, and, if you can afford it, the Diccionario de María Moliner. These will run you about $550 altogether -- you're only as good as your tools, remember. (They're a little cheaper on this side of the Big Pond, thank heavens.)

You'll also need Internet access for the questions that all that money still hasn't answered. And English-language dictionaries and references. And of course a computer. You can also get specific translating software, which can be great time-savers, especially for non-literary translations -- technical manuals or legal contracts, for example.

4. Do you have any advice for other writers?

I think it's hard to appreciate how different people and cultures were in the past and the present. For example, in the Middle Ages in Spain, few people slept alone. Usually their servants were in the same room, sometimes in the same bed. Men who were friends held hands, and they wept freely when they were sad. Men also freely declared their love for each other -- non-sexual, of course.

Women rarely sat on chairs, but rather on pillows or low stools on a platform reserved for women in the best corner of the household. In households that could afford it, food was very spicy and meat was plentiful and fresh because knights and kings spent their free time hunting. Everyone at one point in their life, perhaps their whole life, had been a servant and considered it an honor. Everyone believed in what we would call magic today, although a different kind of magic than we're used to. And bawdy jokes were always appreciated.

5. Is there anything else you'd like to share?

I'll have an article in the February 2012 issue of Broadsheet, Broad Universe's magazine, about contemporary fantasy writers in Spain. The challenges they face might not be what you expect.

I'll also have a science fiction novel, tentatively titled Transplants, published by EDGE later this year.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Science of the Week, 3/16/12

I don't know about you, but it's been a hard day's week for me. At least we've had some nice weather the last couple of days. Of course, rain is predicted for the weekend.

Anyway, here are some of the science articles I found interesting this week:

Researchers send instant message using elusive particles

Hubble spots quasars acting as gravitational lenses

Crowdfunded science projects site launches (Kickstarter for sicence--doesn't that sound cool?)

Silk fibers that kill anthrax

Scientists tap the genius of babies and youngsters to make computers smarter

Ultra-high-resolution 3D printer breaks resolution record

Prolonged space travel causes brain and eye abnormalities in astronauts

That's it for this week. Enjoy your St. Patrick's day, and I'll see you Monday!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

My Goodreads Ad Campaign

If you're an author on Goodreads, you can set up ad campaigns for your books. I recently completed a campaign for Lyon's Legacy, so I thought it might be useful to share what I learned from it.

1. It's fairly easy to set up a campaign from the author dashboard, but you do need to have an IBSN associated with your book so you can display the cover with your ad.

2. One of the nice things about ads on Goodreads is that you can target not just genre readers, but people who read e-books as well.

3. Figuring out the cost of the campaign is a bit backwards: instead of specifying how much you want to spend, you have to state how much you want to spend per click (the more you spend, the more often your ad is shown), how much you want to spend per day, and how long you want the ad to run. From those numbers, you then get a cost of the campaign. You do have to pay all of the money up front, but then it's credited to your account. Money is taken out of your account only when someone clicks on your ad, so it's possible to have 1,000 views of your ad but no clicks. It's also possible to set a short time for your campaign but then have it run much longer if you don't reach the capped number of clicks every day.

4. You can run multiple ads in the same campaign. I had one ad linked to Amazon and the other linked to Goodreads (so people can add the book to their shelves). Each ad can have different copy.

5. For me, I found the most effective ads (the ones that got clicks) quoted parts of reviews in my ads. I did vary the wording and headline from time to time to keep the ad fresh.

6. It's possible to pause the campaign if you wish. I stopped the ads for the month of December, when I put my book on sale, because it didn't make sense to spend $0.50 per click when I would make less than that per book.

7. Was it worth it? I can't trace any sales back to the ads, but the ads had over half a million views over the course of the campaign, so at least it raised awareness of the book. I think they may have encouraged a few people to add the book to their shelves. I'd like to try a Goodreads giveaway when I have paper books and see if that's more effective.

If you have any questions about ad campaigns on Goodreads, please post them, and I'll do my best to answer.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Guest Post: T.W. Fendley

The Blog Ring of Power is off this week, but I have a guest post by one of the BRoP members, T.W. Fendley. She's here to discuss the science behind her book ZERO TIME, and she's also hosting a party for her virtual book tour. Details are at the end of the post. Take it away, Teresa!

Looking back, it’s hard to remember which came first—my fascination with the science that provides the underpinning of ZERO TIME, or puzzling out how to resolve a problem and keep the story moving.

For instance, I already knew I wanted to write about the ancient American cultures when I ran across a description of the sex-chromosome drive (SRY) in Matt Ridley’s book, GENOME. I thought, What if people had this SRY disorder that causes 97 percent of the offspring to be female? Suddenly my characters became travelers from the Pleiades whose motivation for traveling to Earth was to save their race from extinction.

To improve their chances of success, the 16 travelers separated into small groups who left their planet Omeyocan on the same day but arrived in the geographical areas we now know as Peru and Mesoamerica at times separated by 6,000 years. In my fictional world, they helped establish ancient cultures--the Olmec, Inca, Maya and Aztec.

By now, some of you are undoubtedly moaning, "Oh no, not time travel!" The concept seems to polarize people. China actually banned time travel stories last year, as my friend Pauline Baird Jones noted in her blog about Why Time Travel is a Bad Idea. But is it possible? Even Einstein said, "The distinction between past, present, and future is only an illusion, however persistent." As Columbia University theoretical physicist Brian Greene said recently on his NOVA series, "There's nothing in the laws of physics that says events have to unfold through the familiar sequence we call "forward in time." He gave some simple explanations of theories that indicate time travel may be possible. “Just as we think of all of space as being "out there," we should think of all of time as being "out there" too. Everything that has ever happened or will happen, it all exists."

But how did my travelers get to Earth from the Pleiades? That is part history, part fantasy and part science. I imagined a race of Great Serpents, styled after the ancient cultures’ depictions of feathered serpents and rattlesnakes. My Serpents, who bond with humans like the dragons of Pern in the late Anne McCaffrey’s books, manipulated spacetime to create the Serpent Ropes.

That’s where science again came into play. I envisioned the Serpent Ropes as a type of wormhole--tunnels through spacetime that link not only one place with another, but also one moment with another. The colors observed in the Serpent Ropes are a tip-of-the-hat to the colors Danish physicist Niels Bohr observed during “quantum leaps," when agitated electrons leap from higher fixed orbits to lower ones.

While wormholes were predicted by Einstein’s equations, the ability to traverse spacetime is also supported by quantum mechanics and zero point energy theory (but I'll save ZPE for another day!). Through quantum entanglement, measuring one thing can, in fact, instantly affect its distant partner, as if the space between them didn't even exist. And teleportation? Austrian quantum physicist Anton Zeilinger is currently experimenting with using quantum entanglement to teleport photons, tiny particles of light.

Here are a few more of the facts underlying the fantasy of ZERO TIME:

POLE SHIFT: Paleomagnetic records show that the north and south poles have swapped places many times in the past because the solid inner core spins out of sync with the rest of the planet, according to Gary A. Glatzmaier, a geophysicist at Los Alamos (N.M.) National Laboratory. Such reversals, recorded in the magnetism of ancient rocks, come at irregular intervals averaging about 300,000 years; the last one was 780,000 years ago, as reported on NASA's website.

ASTRONOMY:The sky in Peru doesn't look like it does in Missouri. Fortunately, on, you can change your viewing location and the dates—from the future to the past! I was able to check eclipse dates 3,000 years ago, as well as future equinox and new moon dates, using the online Star Dome and Star Atlas.

CRYSTALS: Because they can hold electrical energy and oscillate at a constant and precise frequency, crystals are used today in a mind-boggling variety of devices--radios, microchips, video cameras, radiation detectors, digital watches, high-power semiconductors, and atomic clocks, to name a few. The holographic data storage capability of certain crystals is also being explored.

DNA: Current research points to a "light" component of DNA (biophotons) and DNA replication at a distance. When I envisioned the creation of a double helix that spun light out of darkness to create a Serpent Rope, it was pure imagination, not science. Or so I thought. It turns out there’s a double helix nebula near the center of the Milky Way. "We see two intertwining strands wrapped around each other as in a DNA molecule," said Mark Morris, a UCLA professor of physics and astronomy. "Nobody has ever seen anything like that before in the cosmic realm. Most nebulae are either spiral galaxies full of stars or formless amorphous conglomerations of dust and gas — space weather. What we see indicates a high degree of order."

T.W. Fendley writes historical fantasy and science fiction with a Mesoamerican twist for adults and young adults. Her debut historical fantasy novel, ZERO TIME, was voted Best Science Fiction/Fantasy Novel in the 2011 P&E Readers Poll. Her short stories took second place in the 2011 Writers' Digest Horror Competition and won the 9th NASFiC 2007 contest. Teresa belongs to the St. Louis Writer's Guild, the Missouri Writers' Guild, SCBWI and Broad Universe.

As Zero Time nears, only Keihla Benton can save two worlds from the powers of Darkness. But first she must unlock the secrets of Machu Picchu and her own past.

When Philadelphia science writer Keihla Benton joins an archeological team at Machu Picchu, she learns the Andean prophesies about 2012 have special meaning for her. Only she can end the cycle of Darkness that endangers Earth at the end of the Mayan calendar. As she uncovers secrets from the past, which threaten her life and those she loves, Keihla struggles to keep the powerful Great Crystal from the Lord of Darkness and his consort.

Xmucane leads an expedition to Earth to overcome a genetic flaw that threatens the people of Omeyocan with extinction, but she soon finds herself involved in a very personal battle that pits mother against daughter and sister against sister. With the help of the time-traveling Great Serpent Quetzalcoatl, she leaves the Southern Temples to arrive in present-day Machu Picchu as the expedition’s time-window closes.

Xmucane and Keihla work together as Earth and Omeyocan near alignment with the galaxy’s dark heart for the first time in 26,000 years. They must seize the last chance to restore the cycle of Light to Earth and return to the Pleiades with a cure, no matter what the cost to their hearts.


Ebook $4.99

Paperback $16.95

The ZERO TIME 2012 Virtual Book Tour Party is here!

To celebrate, T.W. Fendley is giving away a Maya-Aztec astrology report, a Mayan Winds CD, ZERO TIME tote bag and fun buttons. Check out the prizes and other posts on the Party Page.

3 ways to enter (multiple entries are great!)

1) Leave a comment here or on any of the other PARTY POSTS listed on the Party Page.

2) Tweet about the Virtual Party or any of the PARTY POSTS (with tag #ZEROTIME2012)

Example: Join the Virtual Party for historical #fantasy novel ZERO TIME by @twfendley for a chance to win prizes! #ZEROTIME2012

3) Facebook (tag @T.W. Fendley) about the Virtual Party. (NOTE: tag must have periods to work)

Example: Join the Virtual Party for historical fantasy novel ZERO TIME by @T.W. Fendley for a chance to win prizes!

Friday, March 09, 2012

Science of the Week, 3/9/12

Hi, everyone. I have a couple of announcements before I get into the science links for the week.

First, in order to free up more time for writing, I plan to drop down to three posts a week. Monday will be devoted to author interviews, Wednesday will be open topic, and Friday will be the science links as usual. I'll be dropping Ten-Word Tuesday, but those were random posts anyway.

Second, if you haven't stopped by Smashwords yet for their sale, you should before it ends tomorrow night. My short story "The Book of Beasts" is free with code RE100, and Lyon's Legacy is now 75% off with code REW75.

Now, time for science!

Building invisibility cloaks starts small

Neutrino insight could help explain missing anti-matter

Scientists revolutionize electron microscope

Nanotrees harvest the sun, make hydrogen fuel

Europeans boast of meat supplement breakthrough

New hope for natural-feeling neuroprosthetics

That's all for this week. Enjoy your weekend, and see you Monday!

Monday, March 05, 2012

BRoP Interview with Rebecca Hamilton

If it's Monday, it must be time for another "progressive interview" with the Blog Ring of Power, or BRoP. Today's guest is Rebecca Hamilton, and she's going to share her writing life with us.

What is your writing process? Do you follow a regular routine? Do you use pen and paper or computer? Work at home or at the library/Starbucks, etc.

I work at home. I write at night and edit during the day. I am not always writing, but only because I don’t have the time, otherwise I would write every night.

How do you balance writing with other aspects of your life?

I actually have a schedule, which I suck at keeping because I’m not the schedule type (though I’m the type to wish I was!). But without a schedule, I’d never get almost everything done. (I will never get everything done.)

What has been the most surprising reaction to something you’ve written?

When people compare me to famous authors, tell me my book is their favorite, and most especially when people say that they love the romance in my book. I wonder if they read the same book I wrote or are just trying to be nice, even if they are sometimes complete strangers.

What is the strongest criticism you’ve ever received as an author? The best compliment?

This is hard to say. Everything is just opinion, so I take it all as that. I don’t agree with most compliments and I find that most criticism comes from a difference in tastes. I definitely get more criticism from other writers than readers themselves, and I know I’m guilty of the same. I have a theory about that….

Other than your family, what has been your greatest source of support?


How do you deal with rejection and/or negative reviews?

Depends on what the review says. If it says something useful, I learn from it. If I don’t think it’s useful, I get a second opinion (in private) from someone I trust to be honest with me. I might be missing something that I SHOULD pay attention to. Or I might be worrying about something that I don’t need to. I think in the end we have to accept that our books won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. And that sometimes people will read and review our books when out books really weren’t there cup of tea to begin with. It’d be like me reviewing sci-fi. I have my right to an opinion, but likely my review wouldn’t be fair to the author or to potential readers because I’m nearly BOUND to NOT like the book. Which is why I just don’t pick those books up. :) But I know not everyone is me and sometimes someone is going to pick up my book also bound not to like it. So you accept that, take what you can from the review, and move on. Also, I’ve watched some other books on Amazon and noticed that when you move up the charts, you simply get detractors. You have to realize that while not all negative reviews are from jealous writers, some are, and that’s part of the game.

Sorry for the long reply, but I think this is one of those things us authors think a lot about … probably more than we should.

To learn more about Rebecca Hamilton and her latest work, The Forever Girl, check out these sites:


Facebook page:

Goodreads author page:

Twitter: @InkMuse

Amazon US:

Amazon UK:




Amazon Print:

Is your book in print, ebook or both? Both.

For the other parts of her interview, follow these links:

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