Monday, February 28, 2011

Ultimate Duty by Marva Dasef.

Today, I'm promoting Ultimate Duty by Marva Dasef. We did a promo exchange and I messed up and forgot to do it in December like I promised. Doesn't make the book any less worthy of checking out, though!


Remy Belieux, a woman born into a life of servitude on a repressive factory planet, is desperate for a different life. When she's accepted into the Space Service Academy, run by the organization that enslaves her planet, she discovers the truth behind generations of rebellion. Now, she must decide what to believe, where her ultimate duty lies, and fight for more than her life against impossible odds.

Marva;s website:
Publisher Eternal Press

Amazon ebook:

Amazon Print:


How long have you been writing?

I lot of writers answer "my whole life." I doubt that. At least, I didn't come out of the womb with pen and paper in hand. Would have been interesting if I did.

What's your writing schedule like?

Being retired, I write when I feel like it. When I am working on something new, I treat it like a job with comfortable working hours and long lunches. In other words, I write every day for some number of hours, but I don't set a daily goal of any kind. The only time I did that was in a Nanowrimo a few years ago. That 50K ended up as a 38K kid's adventure, which I self-pubbed.

Do you plot out your stories before you write or do you just work it out as you go along?

I have been known to write fairly long outlined summaries. Most often, I stray from the outline and become a pantser instead of a plotter.

When did you first know you wanted to become a writer?

I didn't write fiction except as assignments through school. A Creative Writing course in college got me to thinking. But those thoughts were put aside as I focused on technical writing, which made me plenty of money over the years. I did write a couple of short stories, but never pursued publication. When I retired I dragged out the few stories I had written to see if they were worth salvaging. One of those stories was "Pressure Drill." I rewrote a bit and sent it out. It was published not once, but twice. I liked the character and wrote another story about her. This also sold. Eventually I added enough to make it a novella titled "First Duty." It was published by Sam's Dot Publishing in 2008. When the contract expired, I decided to not renew it (it's still being sold at The Genre Mall) because I was thinking of a lot of good stuff to add including a few steamy love scenes. That made it adult reading. I then sold it to Eternal Press, and here we are now with the new and improved "Ultimate Duty."

Were you a science fiction lover from way back or was this a genre you only recently turned your talents to?

SF is my first choice in reading, although I enjoy fantasy and paranormal as well. When I was 15 or so, a friend of my brother's gave me a copy of "Stranger in a Strange Land." I was hooked, lined, and sinkered.

What other genre/genres would you love to write/dabble in, given the choice?

I've written just about every genre already. I found some genres I won't write, like women's literature. To be honest, I have no idea what "women" want to read as far as contemporary non-genre books. They bore me, so I couldn't write one if I tried. I'm dallying with the idea of steampunk, but I'd have to read a lot more before I'd feel confident.

So, what's up next?

A mystery/suspense novella titled "Missing, Assumed Dead" is scheduled for July 2011 from MuseItUp. MuseItUp also bought the first book in a middle-grade fantasy series about a witch who can't spell right. It's titled "Bad Spelling" (get it?) and is scheduled for October 2011. They also have books 2 and 3 and I'm hoping they'll take the entire series.

I have some ideas another book in the Witch series. My beta readers have clamored for a follow up starring the witch girl's brother, a half-vamp, half-warlock smartass with huge magical talent. You can guess the sibling rivalry there.


Remy and Garrett arrived at the outer wall path that led to the dock ports. Remy hoped at least one shuttle was still attached to the station. She dropped to the floor and peered down the slope of the passageway. Two guards stood at the entrance to bay 5. Luckily, they faced the opposite direction. Remy slid back and pointed silently, then held up two fingers. Garrett nodded and pointed left and then at himself. Remy nodded.

With no way to get any closer unseen, they must use speed instead. Both stepped back a couple of paces so they’d hit the corner at full tilt. A nod from Garrett and they sprinted through the twenty meters separating them from the guards. One guard turned to look only when Remy and Garrett were close enough to attack. The guard yelled, “Halt!” as he raised the barrel of his blaster. The second guard turned with a confused expression and didn’t manage to raise his own weapon before Remy reached him.

Remy felt her mind and body slip into fighting mode. Time slowed for her and she noted every detail of the guard’s stance. She leaped high in the air, her legs coiled like springs. The second guard finally lifted his rifle but never had the chance to fire. Remy drove both feet into his abdomen, slamming him against the wall with the force of her strike. In the low gravity, she landed easily on her feet crouched and ready. She crossed her arms against her torso, grabbing the guard’s belt with her left hand and prepared to strike with her right. The man’s eyes widened when Remy’s backhand arced toward him. The force of the blow across his jaw sent him tumbling to the floor.

She glanced over at Garrett and saw he had already disabled the other guard, now curled on the floor moaning. Garrett kicked him in the head with an almost gentle tap. The connection of his shod foot on the guard’s temple did the job, knocking the man unconscious.

Garrett walked over to Remy’s guard and bent down. He pressed two fingers against the side of the man’s neck. “Good. He’ll live.”

“If I wanted him dead, he’d be dead,” Remy snarled. Her stomach twisted in disgust at herself. How could she even think it, never mind say it out loud. She’d never killed anybody and the thought of it made her sick. Before now she had regretted not killing Jens on Starbird. She shook her head. No, she did not regret letting him live. Everything had changed. Now she was truly a rebel, wanted dead or alive. The idea startled her. She wondered when she had made the decision to change roles from infiltrator to freedom fighter.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

My Novel's Journey: Mind Over Matter edits

I love my Critique buddies!

I got back a few comments on Mind Over Mind last week--not a lot, but very helpful.

Everyone agreed the first chapter was too confusing--the POV was from a minor character so it set up the wrong expectation, the transition to the second chapter was jarring, and no one really understood the information I was trying to get across. After re-writing the entire chapter twice, I decided it was simply not going to work. Instead, I split what I needed into a different chapter and a scene, told it from a major character's POV and wove them in later. Then I had to make sure the rest of the manuscript matched up, but it's a lot better.

One critiquer didn't like the final conflict, and I realized I needed to do more foreshadowing. That wasn't too hard. She also thought it was too long, but going over it, I didn't agree and didn't know where to cut, so I am leaving it for the second-round critiquers.

I have done the read-aloud test, this time alone for time sake and because some of the topic is not really suited for a 10-year-old boy, but I really enjoyed it. Next job, the backward-by-sentence check for grammar, wording and typos.

Monday, February 21, 2011

A Birth of New Freedom by Robert G. Pielke

I was asked to tour this book by one of my publishers. I read part of it. If you are a civil war history buff, you will get a kick out of it. However, I personally had a hard time getting caught up in the story; I felt it moved too slowly.

YouTube video book trailer embed html code:


When a stranger carrying a shiny, metalic valise steps aboard a train carrying Abraham Lincoln home from a 2 year stint in Congress, everyone stares, wondering about the stranger’s odd clothing and strange footwear with the word Nike emblazoned on them.

When the strange man shows up in Lincoln’s office at the White house 14 years later, still wearing the same clothes, carrying the same valise and looking not a day older, the president and his staff know something is odd.

But when Edwin Blair opens his valise and projects a 3d image of the Earth on Lincoln’s wall, then proceeds to tell a fanciful tale about time traveling aliens preparing to land at Gettysburg on July 3rd, they are sure they’ve met a lunatic.
Unfortunately for them, they’re wrong.

A New Birth of Freedom: The Visitor, is the first science fiction time travel book in a new alternate history series that follows the adventures of Edwin Blair and the aliens known as Pests as they chase each other through all the centuries of Earth’s past, present and future.

Blog Tour web site:

Robert G. Pielke's web site:

Robert G. Pielke's Bio:
Robert G. Pielke, a native of Baltimore, Maryland, now lives in Claremont, California. He earned a B.A. in History at the University of Maryland, an M. Div. in Systematic Theology at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg, and a Ph.D. in Social Ethics from the Claremont Graduate School.

He taught on ground and online for countless years at George Mason University in Virginia, El Camino College in California and online for the University of Phoenix. Now happily retired from “the job,” he is doing what he always wanted to do since he wrote his first novel at ten in elementary school. It was one paragraph, three pages long and, although he didn’t know it at the time, it was alternate history.

His academic writings have been in the area of ethics, including a boring academic treatise called Critiquing Moral Arguments, logic, and popular culture. Included in the latter is an analysis of rock music entitled You Say You Want a Revolution: Rock Music in American Culture. He has also published short stories, feature articles, film and restaurant reviews. His novels include a savagely satirical novel on America and its foibles, proclivities and propensities, Hitler the Cat Goes West, and an alternate history, science fiction novel, The Mission.

Most recently, he has updated and revised his book on rock music, which is being republished by McFarland & Co.

He swims daily, skis occasionally, cooks as an avocation, watches innumerable movies, collects rock and roll concert films, is an avid devotee of Maryland crabs and maintains a rarely visited blog filled with his social and political ravings. His favorite film is the original Hairspray; his favorite song is “A Day in the Life”; his favorite pizza is from the original Ledo Restaurant in College Park, MD; and he is a firm believer in the efficacy of “sex, drugs and rock and roll.” Somehow his family and friends put up with him.

Order from Altered Dimensions Press:

Thursday, February 17, 2011

My Novel's Journey: Brainstorm

This week was spent trying to clear out my to-do box while I waited for critiques (of which I received a crit on the first couple of chapters. Sigh.) Anyway, just because I wasn't writing does not mean the brain wasn't working, and I'm jut dumping the ideas here for grins:

Mind Over Matter: I don't have a good connection between Joshua's music and Deryl's sanity. (Yes, there's a link.) Need to put it in, and I think I can do it in two sentences! I also want to make the rap scene a little more tense, so I'm going to have Joshua blank out at the wrong moment, and Tasmae push him into getting creative--hence, the rap. (Yeah, I know, this doesn't make sense unless you read the story. Just go with it.)

Neeta Lyffe: Gonna add some voodoo. Zombie Exterminator Marcel Chelemas has a thing for Neeta and wants to get Ted out of the way, so he makes a voodoo doll. When Neeta discovers this, she does what any good girlfriend would do--kicks Chelemas where it hurts most, then scrambles for the doll. They'll be in a knock-down-drag-out fight when Neeta get's a 9-1-1 call on a zombie, and the two drop their fight to go after the undead.

Ted is going to show his goofy-genius. I never realized he had a little Inspector Clouseau in him.

Mind Over Spirit: This is the third book in the Mind Over trilogy, and I've been playing with it in my head--mostly trying to figure out how to get Deryl back to earth where he can meet up with Joshua and Sachiko. The terrible winter here has given me some ideas. I may close down the east coast for a couple of days. I also decided that Sachiko is going to have started out interning to be an OB, then want to change to surgery, which will be a source of tension between her and Joshua, because it means more time in school and putting off starting their family, which he's anxious to do. The real question in the plot line for me is whether Deryl meets Perry again (Perry is the kid he almost killed telepathically which led to his getting committed in the first place.) I want them to, because I think it'd be good for Deryl, but I'm not sure the plot is going to bend enough for it. Maybe Deryl need to keep this pain so he can better help his archenemy, Alugiac.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

My Novel's Journey: Neeta Lyffe II: My big, fat, twisted quandry

Location, location, location!

One thing I've enjoyed about Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator is that it takes place a few decades in the future in real cities. I had a lot of fun giving new twists to old locales and businesses (like when I called the state licensing division for some advice on how they would license a zombie exterminator. I'd like to think he still talks about that one.)

Of course, it also means I have some quandries keeping it real while fantastic. For Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator, I spent an entire day on Google Earth looking at a half-block empty lot trying to decide if it worked for my finale. This time, my problem is hotel accommodations.

Neeta and Ted are going to a conference, and Ted's mom, who's hoping to give them a little nudge in the romance arena, changes their hotel reservations to someplace luxurious and swanky. My brother-in-law suggested the W, which is great since Neeta was an arts major, and there are galleries all around it. Then we got to joking that by 2040, they may have changed letters. He suggested the X, but I thought it's be funny for them to stay at the Y. (The YMCA could be going back to its original model of a shelter after finding that just being a cheap family gym isn't working financially.)

Of course, the folks who own the W might not find it so funny.

Thus, my quandry: Do I call the W and see if I can use their hotel in an updated setting? Ted can mix up the letters if they don't want it bought out by the YMCA. Or do I find a nearby location and build a Y? I can burn down the Rochester Big and Tall. (Note to Homeland Security: Just for the book! I swear! We like Big & Tall. Really!) Then the Y could buy it out, put a gym on the ground floor, shelters and cheap accommodations like hostels on several floors, and have the top two floors just for luxury suites that pay for the rest. (Ted's mom is community-minded in her own way.)

Got to admit; I'm kind of liking the Y idea. I can have metal detectors as you walk in; a place to check in knives, extra security on the top floors. Neeta will be freaking out until they get to their suite. Then she can freak out for a whole different reason--

--but that would be a spoiler!

Monday, February 07, 2011

Review of Residential Aliens, Issue 5 (SF MAG)

Jungle Statue (c) 2009 Jason Zampol of

Residential Aliens is an e-zine of "spiritually infused" science fiction and fantasy, published by Lyn Perry. It's been building a really good rep among Christian spec-fic writers and readers.

First, a little about the philosophy of the magazine itself, from Lyn:

What does “spiritually infused” mean exactly? Well, it doesn’t necessarily mean that each story is “spiritual” (what some might call, “religious”) or has a certain moral to it. Not that there isn’t a place for specifically religious material. You’ll read what some would term “Christian” fiction within the pages and web pages of ResAliens. But for me, it is a mindset with which I approach almost every song, film, or book. I embrace the arts – and literature in particular – from a spiritual perspective. That is, I come to a story ready to engage the transcendent or eternal message or theme within that work of art.

My small print disclaimer also states: “Opinions expressed within this issue do not necessarily reflect those of the authors or the publisher. Each story is a work of fiction.” For those inclined to get hot and bothered when stories don’t quite capture what they feel is God’s revealed truth on a particular matter, just remember…they’re just that, stories.

Lyn is serious, when he says it's a wide field, and that these are stories and thus meant to be enjoyed as stories. The first story in issue five, "Where the Sun Don't Shine" Jeff Parish did not strike me as especially spiritual--far from it--but it is one of the most original and hilarious stories I've ever read. Disease--or gnomish butt pirates? I laughed out loud.

The other stories were all very well written.

Not Your Kind of Heathen by Erin M. Kinch is about a vampire hunter whose main weapon is faith, but says a lot about those who want to use their faith vs. those who want to talk about it.

The Noble Experiment by Pat R. Steiner has a more literary, Americana kind of feel-not my kind of writing, but nicely done.

Rockets Over √Čireann by Kristen Lee Knapp is creepy, message-driven and could happen today as easily as in the future. Shivers!

A Heroine’s Death by Billy Wong takes an interesting look on defying death, or perhaps noble zombie-ism. Take your pick. Good read!

Azieran: Lokxenthuul by Christopher Heath reads like an ancient legend in pace and approach.

Protein by Gustavo Bondoni: Sick! Interesting story, but again, the kind of creepy I could do without.

I'd recommend this and other issues of Residentail Aliens to anyone who wants some well-written science fiction and fantasy, regardless of your spiritual leanings. A good story is a good story--and you'll find them here.

Purchase print and download) at their storefront:

Thursday, February 03, 2011

My Novel's Journey: Mind Over Matter--what I hope to get from my critiquers

Mind Over Matter is off to my crit crew, which is usually a few trusted readers who are also good writers, plus a couple of folks who volunteer.

There's a difference between a critique and an edit that a lot of folks don't get. Edits are very specific and are usually corrections rather than suggestions. Naturally, finding typos constitutes and edit. Going through a manuscript and picking out all the passive voice, is IMHO, an edit. Edits also are focused on what is wrong in a story.

Critiques are more general and broader reaching--comments on voice, point of view, plot progression and the like. Sometimes, these combine with edits, like if a critiquer points out an instance of head-hopping. (That's changing the point of view from one character to another in the middle of a paragraph or scene.) Critiques also focus on what's right. So a critique might sound like
"I didn't believe Joshua's motivation when he..."
"You mentioned this fact four times. We get it already!"
"This is an intense scene!"
"I love how you..."
"You do really well when you ____ in this scene; I'd like to see you do more of that in _____chapter."
"This flashback threw me out of the story; could you rewrite it in realtime and put it earlier?"

I'm not looking for a line-by-line, because I'm not ready for that, and I also do pretty well with that on my own. However, I'm hoping I can get some good feedback on the book as a whole.