Month: March 2017

March 2017 Science Fiction and Fantasy Faire


Thanks to the 80 authors and artists who shared their time with us during the week of Monday, March 13th through Saturday, March 18th. I enjoyed myself. I want to give a big shout out to Maria Olaitan Akande. Without the help of my co-host, this event would not have been possible.

Attached to this post will are links to highlights from each day.

Monday Highlights:

Tuesday Highlights:

Wednesday Highlights:

Thursday Highlights:

Friday Highlights:

Saturday Highlights:

Here is a link to SFF Faire presenters’ book and story links:

Stay tuned for news of future plans…


The Heroine in True Grit


In 1967 Charles Portis published True Grit: A Novel. The story is told from the POV of Mattie Ross, a 14 year-old girl. The novel is considered by many to be one of the great works of American fiction. The book was converted into a movie with John Wayne in 1969. The story was retold in other movies and by the Coen brothers in 2010.

There have been many questions about how should a male writer portray a female character or vice-versa? How should writers of one ethnicity write characters of different ethnicity? I think we can talk about Mattie Ross to spark a conversation about these topics. The author wrote Mattie as a headstrong youngster seeking justice for the murder of her father. She has found out that the murderer, Tom Chaney, has joined with a band of violent brigands and retreated into lawless lands. She knows she needs the help of a strong violent man. She finds Rooster Cogburn, and with the help of Texas lawman LaBoeuf they take off into the wilderness in pursuit of the killers.

Mattie is not shown as a superhuman fighter. She does use her father’s handgun on occasion to defend herself, but is not shown as expert or unstoppable in the use of force. This, I think, is a telling way to show characters. They have weaknesses, and are good at some things, and less good at others. Rooster Cogburn is shown as a drunk and incompetent at times. No character is perfect, but each character is driven to achieve their goals.

One major aspect of Portis’ portrayal of Mattie is to show her in old age as a bitter, penny-pinching spinster. I don’t have a critique of this character arc, but I wanted to mention it. I still believe the character of Mattie makes a valuable model for building characters. They are not superhuman. They have strengths and they have flaws. Mattie Ross is a memorable character because she was an ordinary person who had to perform extraordinary deeds to achieve her goals.


The Overlooked Charm of Endbooks

Nicholas C. Rossis

Endbook example | From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's books Marbled endpaper from an 1875 copy of Die Nachfolge Christi by Thomas von Kempis. PUBLIC DOMAIN. Image via Atlas Obscura

In the endless eBook vs. print debate, one aspect is rarely mentioned: the art of endbooks. And yet, as Sarah Laskow—my favorite Atlas Obscura blogger—points out, these can deliver a small jolt of wonder that perfectly complements a lovely book. An over-eager reader can breeze by even the most striking endbooks, yet they’re an art form with a history all their own.

An ENDuring Hostory

For centuries, designers have taken the formal necessity of joining a book’s pages to its cover and turned it into an opportunity for creativity. When a book is made, one side of an endpaper (sometimes also called an endpage or endleaf) is pasted into the inside of the book’s cover; the other side is the first page of the book. Originally, they were…

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Mind Control in The Host


In 2010 Stephenie Myer published The Host. This story is an alien invasion story, with some similarities to Invasion of the Body Snatchers, or The Puppet Masters. Aliens arrive with the ability to take over the body of a human, while destroying the mind to replace it with an alien mind.

The twist in this story is one human mind resists the take over and continually fights to regain control of its body and it’s friendship with unconverted humans.   I found this tale enjoyable, and somewhat believable. Likely, because I was interested in the character questions. What does it mean for someone to lose their body? Can an alien invader have compassion for another species? Can a somewhat peaceful resolution be constructed in a war like this?

What I think works is the mind control aspect of the story. The alien species is portrayed as a mult-dentric like creature with maybe thousands of connecting waving parts. It is small enough to fit into a human brain. We witness a partially-surgical insertion of the parasite. I like the idea that the alien traces and connects to multiple nerves in the brain to take control. Also, it’s a great idea that the host consciousness is not immediately destroyed. Seems reasonable that the previous occupant holds on and exists in some form in the brain that has been taken over. In the story, the alien takes complete control of the body. That could be possible if the alien established blocks between the archipallium structures of the brain, and the host consciousness.

What seems least likely for the mind control aspect of the story. Like most alien mind control tales, there should be a vast gulf of foreignness between the invader and the host mind. I would expect an alien mind controller from another planet to have a great deal of trouble operating the machine that is a human brain and body. While the consciousness of the invader could be conceived as residing in the small alien body, controlling and interfacing with the memories of the host, and utilizing the body of the host in a meaningful way seem enormous challenges. No difficulty is shown when Wanderer, the alien to take over Melanie’s body, is implanted. Wanderer, it is explained, was last in some type of ocean dwelling alien on another planet. Yet, in a day she is in total control of the host, Melanie’s, body, and accesses many memories of the human. This aspect of the story is hard to assimilate, so I’ll just grant the author’s privilege, for the sake of the story.

As I stated, I find this to be one of the more interesting alien mind control stories. It was made into a movie in 2013: In an ironic twist, Saoirse Ronan was nominated for a Teen Choice Award for her performance in The Host, under the category “Choice Movie Actress: Sci-fi/Fantasy”, but lost to Kristen Stewart for her performance in The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2.

Don’t Read My Book!



Reposting this article from last year. Several authors have used reverse psychology in humorous approaches to marketing their books.


Stephanie Barr made a meme for Beast Within, The Bete Book 1, that highlights aspects of the book that some people might possibly find irritating.

Reverse psychology involves advocating ideas or behaviors that are in opposition to one’s desired goals according to Wikipedia. Above is a reverse mention of my book, Asante’s Gullah Journey.

Some authors have taken the humorous approach of producing meme posters about why you, a potential reader, should not pick up and read their books. The reasons can include potential shortcomings in their books, or critiques of reading generally, or the particular genre, or perhaps larger criticisms of the world in general.  Usually, the desired outcome derives from the hope of the author that you will be so intrigued that you will rush out and buy the book.


In K. M. Herkes’ example above for her book, Controlled Descent, we see negatives and tongue in cheek comments.

The hoped for psychological outcome seems similar to me to that in Goodreads reviews where controversy around a book results in more sales. When readers have contentious disagreements about the content, style, or meaning of a book, new readers can become curious to try for themselves. They want to see what side of the controversy they will land after giving the book a try.

dontread_470511166462959_1441979994374461108_oM. A. Ray, in the example above, disses aspects of her book, Hard Luck.

Reverse psychology is a time honored mind control approach. We use it with our friends, enemies, and family members to gain compliance. We hope that if we seem to offer a position that is opposite of our true position we will find common ground with the other person, or get those others to lower their barriers and let in our message.

One approach to marketing is to offer benefit for the customer. Writers who employ reverse psychology memes are hoping to secretly show how their book will offer value to the reader. The self-criticism of the book may be intended to be false, or may be intended to warn the reader what to be careful of.


For Crimson Fire, Mirren Hogan lists possible off-putting facts about her book.

Don’t be afraid of reading a book, just because the author tells you scary things. Likely an author puts the energy into critiquing their book because they hold their own works in high regard. Give them a try. Judge for yourself whether there is validity in the reverse-hype!

Author links:

K. M. Herkes: and

M. A. Ray: and

Mirren Hogan at: and

S. A. Gibson: and

Stephanie Barr: and





Nightmares Rise – Interview


Introducing a soon to be released book: Nightmares Rise. Burning Willow Press will be releasing Nightmares Rise, Book 1 of the Dark Shores trilogy – co-authored by Mirren Hogan and Erin Yoshikawa – on April 8

Here is a character interview with Flynn Cole, from Nightmares Rise.

Today I sat down with my good friend and character Flynn Cole.

Me: Hi Flynn.

Flynn: Hello.

Me: Nice Australian accent you have there.

Flynn: Thanks, I like yours.

Me: You do sound a bit like me.

Flynn: So, you had questions?

Me: Yes. I understand you went to Hawaii on holiday?

Flynn: Not so much a holiday. It was more a working holiday.

Me: So– a holiday?

Flynn: (laughs). The point was to take some photos and then sell them. I’m a photographer. Okay, budding photographer.

Me: Why Hawaii?

Flynn: It’s about as far from my family as I could get. Don’t get me wrong, I love them, but a guy needs a break from being asked when he’s getting a real job.

Me: So when are you?

Flynn: …

Me: Okay, okay. So tell me about Makani,

Flynn: (grins like an idiot). She’s amazing. She’s strong, independent, funny, sexy, smart, and likes Angry Birds and Dr Who.

Me: Danger seems to follow her around. Are you okay with that?

Flynn: Well – to be honest I could do with less of that. I mean, it’s nice to have a bit of excitement, but to be followed around by vampires – sorry, manangaal – and other monsters get tiring after a while.

Me: What’s the difference between a vampire and a managaal?

Flynn: Have you seen those guys? They don’t sparkle, and they’re not civilised. They’re more like flying gut-sucking dogs.

Me: Woah, they sound like fun. Not.

Flynn: I know, right? But we hold our own against them. Mostly. Kind of…

Me: (laughs sadistically) And then some of your family tracks you down.

Flynn: I told you not to ask about that. (turns in chair). Where’s my manager?

Me: I’m your manager. Now answer the question.

Flynn: (sighs) Fine. Yes they did, my sister, her husband and their kids.

Me: Did they get eaten by monsters?

Flynn: I wish. I mean, you’ll have to read and find out.

Me: I heard there was no Vegemite in this book. Why should I read it?

Flynn: There’s pizza. There’s also beer and bacon. And sandwiches. everyone loves those, right?

Me: I like a good sandwich. I hear Makani likes them too?

Flynn: Oh yes, she loves a sandwich.

Me: What else do we need to know about this book?

Flynn: It’s funny, and urban, and sometimes a little gross, but in all the right ways.

Me: Well there you are folks: funny, urban, has monsters and sandwiches. I guess you better read it for yourself.

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Twitter: @MirrenHogan


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The Scandalous Flap Book History

Nicholas C. Rossis

Mary Natalie reading with mommy | From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's books Mary Natalie reading a story about an insomniac bear who bears (heh heh) an uncanny resemblance to her dad.

Mary Natalie loves her flap books so much that we now have an assortment of them. My personal favorite is probably Spot, although that was before I realized what a scandalous history flap books have, courtesy of Sarah Laskow of Atlas Obscura. To my great surprise, flap books were first conceived not as innocent children’s companions, but as titillating mementos of tourists’ good times in what can only be described as Renaissance Europe’s own Las Vegas: 16th century Venice.

What Happened In Venice…

Sixteenth-century Venice was a cosmopolitan, wealthy city, known for its diversity, romance, and relaxed mores. As a republican port city, it was tolerant of all sorts of people and all sorts of behavior in ways that other European cities were not. All this made the city a popular…

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When Book Covers Get Characters Wrong

Kristen Twardowski

Book cover design is often grand, but sometimes publishers don’t get it quite right. Take for example the case of Nnedi Okorafor.

Nnedi Okorafor is an extraordinary science fiction writer, and she has the Nebula Award to prove it. Before she was quite so lauded, however, she had a strange and terrible interaction with her publisher regarding the cover design for The Shadow Speaker.

The Shadow Speaker is a young adult novel that was originally published in 2007 and received a James Tiptree Jr. Award. The book is set in 2070 in a time after a nuclear war that occurred in the early twenty-first century. It follows the story of Ejii who lives in a Nigerian village and is the 14 year-old daughter of her tribe’s former chief. Ejii is Muslim, and though her family has a complex ethnic background, she is undeniably African.

Which is why it was…

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Time Travel Stories Never Account for This One Thing

Our Great Escapes

Don’t be surprised to see flashing lights behind you and hear a police siren while you read this blog post. And it’s not because that slightly illegal prank you pulled in your youth has finally caught up with you.

You’re speeding.

Yep. Sitting in your chair, sipping your coffee or munching on your favorite snack, you are moving at a pretty ridiculous clip.

We experience day and night because the Earth rotates. Being an inhabitant of the Earth and subject to its gravity, that means we are spinning along with it. Standing at the equator, you would be moving at the rate of just over 1,000 miles per hour. In the middle latitudes, where most of the human population resides, it’s roughly two-thirds of that, or six-t0-seven hundred miles an hour.

And your mom always complained about you being so slow to get ready for school in the morning!

We can’t…

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Not with a bang

Not with a bang

Dawnrigger Publishing

Playing with world-building snippets for my Restoration stories again…

The end of world was a global event, but it wasn’t an end. It wasn’t an event. It was a process, a slow collapse that only looks inevitable in retrospect. It was never seen as apocalypse even when cities burned and missiles flew. Perspective is tricky, and denial is a powerful force. If globalism was the theme of the twentieth century, the lesson of the twenty-first was that connections can transmit chaos as easily as commerce .

During the span of decades comprising the Revision Years, governments toppled and economies disintegrated, businesses failed and took governments with them, social and political institutions crumbled and billions perished. Bastions of political stability were eroded by surrounding conflicts, and alliances proved as deadly as enmity.  No place on the planet went untouched by the upheaval.

Some sciences progress by leaps and bounds in times of conflict, but others cannot be…

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