22 January 2019

The Best of What We Might be Rather Than the Worst of What We Are by Russ Colson


After the publication of my science fiction adventure, The Arasmith Certainty Principle, I blogged an answer to the question "Why do I write?" To answer the more specific question "What kind of stories do I want to write," I have to start by thinking about what good science fiction does.

Good science fiction exposes human foibles!

Some science fiction writers have the ability to explore the problems and challenges in our present society, defusing our inherent tendency to take ideological sides by placing the story in a galaxy far, far away, or perhaps in another time or situation. For example, right now I’m reading the book The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal, a science fiction book that explores issues of racism, sexism, and religious prejudices within the context of a global catastrophe taking place in a revisioned past. I am finding the insights into our present social challenges to be sensitive to the complexity of real-life.

Good science fiction offers hope that we can escape our foibles!

What I like best about The Calculating Stars is not simply the portrayal of human foibles—the worst of what we are—but rather its promise that we can overcome those foibles and become the best that we can be. Through the actions of the protagonist and others, the world of The Calculating Stars changes to become more open to the contributions of all people, regardless of sex, race, or religion. They come closer to becoming the best that they can be. That’s what I want to give away with my own writing—my hopes for the best of what we might be. I like for my stories to show, in the end, an optimistic belief that people can choose to do good even when they are afraid of what they might lose.

Although, not everyone escapes their foibles…

I ran the idea about my optimistic intentions in writing past my brother recently who immediately responded: “But the Senator (the bad guy in The Arasmith Certainty Principle) doesn’t show the best of what people might be!”

“But, he’s wanting to do good,” I protested.

“That’s what makes him so scary,” my brother said.

Yeah, I can’t quite portray a pathway toward the best of what we can be with without some excursion into the worst of what we are. Even in The Calculating Stars, not everyone ‘gets it’ by the end of the story.

But, good science fiction shows the way

Seeing our foibles portrayed in fiction, such as in my own writing or in The Calculating Stars, is an essential step toward finding a way to act better. The antagonists who don’t ‘get it’ are a necessary element to help us see the flaws in ourselves and to motivate us to try to be better. We don't live in a Polyanna world, and such a world might not make for a very compelling story anyway, but we don’t need to live in a Polyanna world to believe in the Polyanna possibility that we can do better, be better. The key takeaway from the Senator in TACP is not his terrible capacity for evil, but rather his core wish to do good, and the choices he makes that either help or hinder that goal. Likewise, when my protagonist, Jen, struggles to overcome her own fears and prejudices and find friendship and love, the key takeaway is not the frightening uncertainty in our relationships, but rather the belief that in finding courage to pursue those relationships, as Jen does, we find in ourselves the best of what we might be.

I hope that there is a least a little bit of the courage to pursue the best of what we might be in The Arasmith Certainty Principle. Feel free to check it out and see what you think!

About Arasmith Certainty Principle (Purchase your copy here). 

Jen Hewitt, a quiet geology graduate student, doesn't actually believe in time travel. Were it possible, rocks from the age of dinosaurs should already be cluttered with artifacts from future time-tourists. Nevertheless, she proves with fellow geologist Jonathan Renner that a human skeleton encased in Pleistocene rock came from their own time. Their work, coupled with fundamental research by physicist Susan Arasmith, reveals an unexpected character to the universe that carries them from the safe world of science into a struggle with powers and possibilities they hadn't imagined. The three friends, along with Kar-Tur, a frightening mystic from the ancient past, learn that discovery is sometimes as much about faith as knowledge, and that friendship and love are often found where least expected.

About Russ Colson

Russ Colson is a scientist, teacher, author, and gardener living in northwest Minnesota, far enough from city lights to see the Milky Way and the Aurora Borealis. During the dark northern winters, he teaches planetary science, meteorology, and geology at Minnesota State University Moorhead. In summers, he writes, gardens, and collaborates with undergraduate students on research projects in experimental planetary geochemistry. In 2010, he was selected by the Carnegie Foundation and CASE as US Professor of the Year. Before coming to Minnesota, he worked at the Johnson Space Center in Texas and at Washington University in St. Louis where, among other things, he studied how a lunar colony might mine oxygen from the local rock. In addition to science fiction books and books on Earth Science and gardening, he has published a variety of technical papers, science fiction short stories, and essays on earth science education.

19 January 2019

3 Suggestions on a Saturday Night Featuring Author Cameron J. Quinn


Hey folks! Happy Saturday Night! And today's post is featuring guest Cameron J. Quinn, author of the book How to Get Arrested. Make sure you check out this book and others by visiting her website

First, here's a bit about her book: 

There's only one person protecting them from The Things That Go Bump in the Night... And she just arrested him
Detective Jennifer Morgan is new to Starsboro. When multiple murders drop in her lap she thinks they’re fast-tracked to the courts. After all, she has all the evidence she needs to put Zurik D'Vordi away so she can focus on the serial kidnapping of women that's plaguing the town.
That is, until her evidence is tampered with. Morgan can't leave Zurik to kill again—despite her captain’s orders to let it go. Going rogue to protect her new home might change her life—if she doesn’t lose it.
Join Morgan and Zurik on the first installment of this paranormal serial! Action-packed and full of laughs, award-winning author, Cameron J Quinn, starts this series off with a bang!

The rest of this post will be featuring the Saturday night suggestions from author Cameron J. Quinn. Read on! 

------- Guest post by Cameron J. Quinn

Your Saturday Night Movie Suggestion: The Crow. I love old movies and The Crow just turned 25. Can you believe it? I watched it for the first time a few years ago and loved the gritty story and style of the film. I’m a big fan of revenge stories, there’s something satisfying about karma riding in on the one who was wronged, don’t you think? 

For those of you who haven’t seen or heard of this 1994 flick, it’s about a man who is brutally murdered with his fiance and he’s brought back to life by a crow to get justice (revenge). He’s given otherworldly powers along with his second chance and a crow that keeps tabs on him throughout the film. The story is told by a young neighbor and her views give this dark tale an interesting perspective. I’d love to know if people new to this film still find it as relevant 25 years later. Also, this is Bandon Lee’s first and only film as he died in an accident on set. That fact kept me from watching the movie for a long time. Until I watched a documentary about Bruce Lee and realized that though it’s tragic he passed shooting this film, it’s literally his life’s work and that should be enjoyed for years to come.

Your Saturday Night Book Suggestion: Pointe Patrol by Earik Beann. This is not my usual read or anything like what I write. This memoir is about 9 people who made their way back into the mandatory evacuation zone in Santa Rose during the fires of 2017 to protect their neighborhood form fire and looters. Earik can get off on seemingly random tangents during his tale but it’s easy enough to get back into the story and most of the tangents are entertaining if not relevant to the story at hand. The reason I’m recommending this though is because Earik is donating his profits to victims of the california wildfires as well as the families of fallen and injured first responders. The story is incredible and for those of us who just hear about California being on fire all the time, it’s a much needed reality check.

Your Saturday Night Recipe Suggestion: When I’m not reading, writing, or binge-watching, I’m taking care of three hungry hungry babies. And by babies I mean an 8, 6, and nearly 2 year old. Since it’s freezing here in New England I’ll be sharing some comfort food. At least it comforts me. This is enough for a family for four ( my two year old doesn’t eat much she just likes to pick all day)

Beef Stew

Time: 2 hrs 45 mins (it’s worth it)

Ingredients:

Potatoes

1-2 lbs stew beef (or a cheap steak you can cut up)

Large Carrots

Onion

Green bell pepper

Bay leaves

Celery

Kale

Milk

1 Tbs butter

1 Tbs Flour

Rosemary

Thyme

Salt

Pepper

Worcestershire Sauce

Browning sauce

Garlic (optional)

Directions:

Put beef (chopped into bite sized pieces) in you stew pot/dutch oven with diced onions and green pepper and brown the meat.

Add 6 cups of water, salt and pepper to taste, one bay leaf a pinch of rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper and garlic.

Bring to a boil then let simmer for two hours with the top on. Keep an eye on it so it doesn’t run out of water or boil over.

While it’s boiling chop up carrots and potatoes (until you have 3-4 cups).

Taste stew, add spices as necessary.

Once the two hours is up, add carrots and potatoes to the stew. Boil until they’re soft. About 30 minutes.

Put butter in microwave safe container (I use a mason jar) melt butter. Add flour mix with a fork. Add milk slowly. It works better if the milk it warm. Mix together and put in the pot while it’s boiling. Flour may clump but the boiling water will mix it in for you.

Add browning sauce and worcestershire sauce to make it the right color and taste for you.

Put rolls in the oven. I just use Pillsbury most of the time. Kudos to anyone who makes their own rolls.

Tear up the kale leaves and throw in pot while rolls are in the oven.

Serve hot with a roll and enjoy!

--------


Thank you Cameron! 




About the Author

Cameron J Quinn is the award winning author of The Starsboro ChroniclesCameron loves writing as both an escape from reality and just a good time. She likes to add humor to tough situations and put her otherwise fantastical characters into real world situations.  You can grab a free copy of her book How to Get Kicked Out of School when you sign up for her mailing list. She’s the co-founder of Amphibian Press and runs AmphibianAuthors.com as well as organizing book reviews and a podcast of author interviews.







Authors, want to be featured on a Saturday Night post? Send me an email at npyles86[at]gmail[dot]com to learn more. 

15 January 2019

Interview with Dino Sic, Author of "The Lies that Kill You"


Today I am chatting with Dino Sic, author of the book The Lies that Kill You. Before you read the interview, here's a bit about the book (courtesy of the author):


Sunset.

Beach.

A man and a woman.

He's lying on the sand, bleeding. She's holding a gun, trembling.

30 DAYS EARLIER

After her mother dies from Alzheimer's, Emma moves with her husband to Montauk to build a new life. She's immediately intrigued by the manor next door and its mysterious owner, Mr. Gold. Nobody has ever seen him. Nobody even knows his first name. But he knows them.

The next day, Emma finds an invitation at her doorstep for the 4th of July party hosted by Mr. and Mrs. Gold. Her husband doesn't want to go, but she can't resist the temptation. It's the biggest mistake of her life because after she sees something at that party, she'll get herself involved in a mystery that could destroy her and her family for good.

The day after, Gold's wife has disappeared, and he's a potential suspect. Emma believes he's innocent and wants to help him, and he trusts only her. In spite of her husband's jealous protest, she agrees to cover his case on her blog and uncover the truth. She'll find out that his wife isn't just another gone girl and that there's a dark and sick scheme in play. What she doesn't know is that someone is watching her every move, that someone has broken into her house while she was sleeping, and that someone is pulling her strings behind the curtains. Soon, she will, and it will lead to …

… that night on the beach. With a gun in her hand, she has two options: she can either pull the trigger and save her family or do the right thing and lose everything she cares about. What is she going to do?

This book is available for purchase or add this to your Goodreads reading list today.

Me: First, thank you for taking the time to chat with me! Tell us about your book, The Lies That Kill You.

Dino: It's about a woman who wants to save her marriage and start anew after her mother dies from Alzheimer's, but gets involved in the disappearance of her neighbor's wife, which will force her to become a killer to save her family.

It questions whether we can escape our past and build a new life or our mistakes will continue to define our future. It also questions what consequences our lies have on the ones we love.


 Me: I think that's an incredible premise. What inspired you to write this book?

Dino: I don't actually remember anymore. It was a few years ago, and the plot and some of the characters were different then. But as the time passed, it changed and evolved quite a lot. I wasn't even sure about the genre back then, yet everything fell into place when I realized it's going to be a psychological thriller.

The title was also different then. The novel was meant to be called When the Sun Comes Down, but after I gave it a little though, I realized that wasn't the right option because it didn't quite convey the genre. That's why I changed it to The Lies That Kill You. My other option was The Lies We Kill Each Other With, which was kinda my favorite, but it was just too long and wouldn't look good on the cover.

Me: I love hearing how a story evolved! Did you do any research for this book? If so, was there anything that you learned that surprised you?

Dino: No, I didn't. The plot didn't require it, so I focused on my life experience, people that I know, the novels that I've read, and the movies and TV shows that I've watched.

Me: I like that! So, what was your writing process for this novel?

Dino: As I'm a plotter, not a pantser, I wrote a very detailed outline of the novel before I started the actual writing. The outline included all the chapters in the chronological order, pieces of dialogue, cliffhangers and stuff like that. This way, it was easier for me to write because I knew beforehand everything I needed to include in the particular chapter when I started writing it. And it was really important that I knew all of that because this novel has a very complex plot, so with the outline as my guide, I wasn't worried that I might drop something out that's crucial for the plot.

Me: That is probably so helpful that you outlined. What advice do you have for any writers hoping to publish in 2019?

Dino: Just keep writing, practicing and honing your craft. Eventually, someone's going to spot your talent. Or you can always self-publish as I did.

Me: Definitely good advice to me! What writers influence you and your writing?

Dino: Although I tend to read a lot, I don't really have role models, so to speak. I always strive to stay original and truthful to myself.

Me: I can understand that. What are you currently working on? What is next for you?

I have a few ideas that I'm working on right now, but I'm not still sure which one I'm going to pick. Yet whichever I choose in the end, it's surely going to be another psychological thriller.

Me: I can't wait to see what you have coming up next! Thank you for taking the time to chat. 

About the Author

Dino Sic was born in Osijek, Croatia in 1994. He earned his master's degree in journalism and public relations from Department of Culturology of Josip Juraj Strossmayer University in Osijek, and is now studying for a Ph.D. He's currently doing everything possible to achieve his life goal and become a full-time author. Dino is the author of The Lies That Kill You and is currently working on his second thriller. Ever since he can remember, he has always liked to make up stories and characters, create different worlds and imagine devious twists and turns. He enjoys exploring the shadowy side of the human nature in his novels and is always trying to find out what makes them tick, what are their deepest and darkest fears and secrets and what's going on in their heads when they're alone. His dream is to one day become a screenwriter and showrunner of his own TV series. He believes anything is possible if you work hard enough and never give up. You just have to follow your dreams, do what you love and love the ones around you.

You can find more about him on his author website and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and on Instagram. And don’t forget to sign up for his newsletter for exclusive giveaways and behind-the-scene peeks.

Authors, want to be featured on my blog, visit this page and find out more information.

01 January 2019

My 10 Favorite Books of 2018


Okay, I'm a tad too late on the reading reflections of 2018 theme I've been seeing on blogs lately but felt inspired after cleaning up my Goodreads want-to-read list. 2018 was a mixed bag for me in terms of reading. I read a lot of books to review while I still managed to fit in books of my choice. A mix of the two ended up on my list. Here are my favorites of the year:

1) The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (Goodreads)


Okay so I know this is totally commercial fiction, but I had been wanting to read this one. In 2018, I read the series. I really enjoyed the first two books in the series but thought the final book fell apart completely. I also admit that I couldn't help but see Jennifer Lawrence in the book all over the place.

2) The Diamond of Darkhold by Jeanne DuPrau (Goodreads)




This is the fourth book in the City of Ember series that I read this year. I LOVED this series (confession - I skipped the prequel book three as I'm not a fan of prequels in the middle of a series). Even though this is elementary-middle grade fiction, I loved it and I am so glad I read it.

3) The Dollhouse Murders by Betty Ren Wright (Goodreads)





This is about a dollhouse coming to life! I read it when I watched a TV movie version of the book and decided I wanted to see what the book was like. I'm glad I did. It was a very fast read and I enjoyed it.

4) The Prize by Geoffrey M. Cooper (Goodreads)



Oh this book was so good! It took me by total surprise and I forgot I had read it until I was going over my Goodreads reading list. It's about scientists battling over a new discovery and basically, this one scientist wants to take credit. It isn't one I thought I would enjoy but I'm glad I found it and glad I read it. It's a science-y thriller that someone non-science-y like me could enjoy.

5) The Girl on Camera by Morgan Dun-Campbell (Goodreads)




I thought this book was so good. It's about a reality show that goes VERY wrong and while I had mixed feelings about the ending, it was still an exciting, thrilling read. I would absolutely recommend it.

6) The Fat Lady's Low Sad song by Brian Kaufman (Goodreads)




Another book that took me by surprise this year. It's about a struggling baseball team and this book just warms the heart (and I'm not even of sports). I was so happy I read it and so glad I enjoyed it. A great indie book I would recommend!

7) Lies by Michael Grant (Goodreads)




This is book three in the series Gone by Michael Grant and actually I read three books in that series this year. I sort of needed a break after book three because book four has similar predicaments. It was a struggle to jump right into book four, so we'll see if I get to book four this year. The first three were good though and VERY different.

8) Lies by T.M. Logan (Goodreads)




I totally forgot I read this! I forgot to put my review up on Goodreads actually (which is why that site isn't always the best showcase of how many books I read each year). Anyways, so this book had a weird plot twist at the end and it was so good. There were a few character issues but overall, I enjoyed it. My review here.

9) The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain (Goodreads)




This book was also another gem I read this year. If you love time travel then you must read this book. It's beautiful, touching, and captivating. Check out my review of it here.

10) The Bishop Burned the Lady by Bill Percy (Goodreads)




Another indie gem I discovered this year. This was a vivid thriller and I loved the characters. It captivated me the entire way. It's a murder mystery with a town hiding big secrets. A definite must-read I promise!

It's amazing that I know I could've added more to the list, but I wanted to restrict it to 10. I signed up for a couple of reading challenges that I hope I stick to in 2019, but overall, I'm looking forward to another year of reading! Happy New Year everyone!


What books did you enjoy the most in 2018? Have you read any on my list? Let me know in the comments!

All Blog Posts Belong to Nicole Pyles. Powered by Blogger.