Thursday, October 30, 2008

All In the Family & The Siderial Year Marches On

In my last astronomy post, I told you how to find the Great Square of Pegasus, the winged horse upon which the ancient Greeks said Perseus rode to the rescue of the Princess Andromeda. Well, the Earth has moved along its yearly path and Pegasus is no longer in the eastern sky during the early evening. It’s now directly overhead, or as astronomers say, at zenith. About 9 PM, or 2100, for those of you on 24 hr time, step outside on a clear evening and look straight up. There Pegasus is, right over your head. This is the perfect time to pull out those old binoculars and take a look at the Andromeda Galaxy, two million light years distant. (Note: For your convenience, in the picture above, I have exaggerated the main stellar objects mentioned in this post.)

There are numerous other constellations which you can find by referencing Pegasus. As I told you, I think of the Andromeda constellation as the hind legs of Pegasus. Pegasus is immediately south of the Milky Way. Look just to the north of Andromeda, past the Andromeda Galaxy, and the next prominent grouping of stars which you will see is the Cassiopeia constellation. It’s obvious because it’s shaped like a “W”. She is usually depicted as sitting back on her throne admiring herself in a mirror. For some reason in the illustration below, she is holding a palm branch. Go figure. In any case, lovely lady she was to get her daughter into such trouble because of her vanity!

Cassiopeia sits right in the middle of the path of the Milky Way. This time of the year, the Milky Way stretches across the sky from the East to the West. If you look directly west from the “W” of Cassiopeia, the next bright star that you will see is Deneb, the tail feather of (Cygnus). Cygnus, the Swan, is flying down the Milky Way to meet Aquila, the Eagle, soon to set in the West. That bright star to the north of Cygnus and Aquila is Vega of the Lyra constellation. Remember the
Summer Triangle? It too is soon to set, and won’t be visible for many of us for the next six months.

Let’s get back to Cassiopeia and Andromeda. Cassiopeia mouthed off about how beautiful she was, and the gods took it out on Andromeda, declaring that she must be sacrificed to the sea monster. Now we can’t leave the fair maiden to a sea monster. He wouldn’t know what to do with a fair maiden anyway, would he? This is where Perseus comes into the picture... quite literally. Look to the northeast of Pegasus’s hind legs, or, if you will, Andromeda’s feet (the proper place for any man), and you will see a bright, crooked, curving “V” of stars. This is the mighty hero Perseus. Perseus was the son of the head guy of the Greek gods, Zeus, and of Danaë, a human princess. Perseus killed the snake haired monster, Medusa, and rode Pegasus to the rescue of Andromeda. They married and lived happily ever after.

An interesting little bit of trivia about Perseus: The tale of Perseus is the only story in all Greek mythology in which nothing negative is said about the hero. He is brave. He is handsome. And he is honorable. It is also the only Greek myth which gives its hero and heroine a happy ending... except, I’m still wondering about that mother-in-law.

If you have access to old movies, I think that you’ll find 1981’s CLASH OF THE TITANS, which covers this myth, to be lots of fun.

Happy viewing,

Writing Science Fiction Romance
Real Love in a Real Future

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Blogs That I Love...

I was given this award by Jace of Jace Scribbles.. Jace you surprised the dickens out of me! *G* Thank you. You’ve been a terrific help and encouragement to me. I am thrilled to award this honor to you in return, making it official.

Jace is a Science Fiction Romance fan, disgustingly multi-talented (she helped me with this blog), and has a brother who is a true artist with a camera. Go to her blog for excellent posts on books, and while you are there, click on her brother’s link for some breathtakingly beautiful pictures.

The rules for this Award are that you need to:
1) Add the logo of the award to your blog
2) Add a link to the person who awarded it to you
3) Nominate at least 7 other blogs
4) Add links to those blogs on your blog
5) Leave a message for your nominees on their blogs!

Because I write Science Fiction Romance, these are the other bloggers I wish to honor for their consistent promotion of the genre and relevant posts for aspiring SFR writers:

Heather at The Galaxy Express . Heather has the latest news of what is going on within the Science Fiction Romance community, and is always looking for new talent to help them. Heather, I know that you have already won this award, but twice won’t hurt you. :-)

Laurie at Spacefreighter's Lounge.. Laurie always has interesting scientific information and a helpful word for an aspiring writer.

Dawn, Laurie, Arlene, & Flick at Take it to the Stars.. These girls have a sharp site and you never know what they’ll be discussing.

Kimber An at Enduring Romance.
Young Adult Science Fiction..
And, she still takes care of a family. She’s a SuperWoman!

Last of all, I would like to honor the Ladies of Alien Romances.. These wonderful writers of Science Fiction Romance give generously of their time and knowledge to those of us who would like to write as well as they do.
There’s no obligation for the proprietors to respond in kind. Enjoy visiting these fine sites and add them to your list of destinations.

Happy Reading and Writing

Writing Science Fiction Romance
Real Love in a Real Future

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Review: SHADES OF DARK by Linnea Sinclair

Publisher: Bantam (July 29, 2008)
ISBN-10: 0553589652
ISBN-13: 978-0553589658

Shades of Dark is the sequel to Gabriel’s Ghost, the winner of the 2006 RITA Award for best Paranormal Romance. If you haven’t read GG first, please read it before proceeding. It will greatly increase your enjoyment of SD. Linnea feels very strongly about this. Need I say more? Since SD is a recent release, I’ll try to stay out of spoiler territory. I know, it’s hard, but I’ll try. I’ll just say that it is Sully’s BIG secret from GG which determines the course of SD. It’s all one story.

Shades of Dark picks up Chasidah (Chaz) Bergren’s and Gabriel (Sully) Sullivan’s story three months after they destroy the first jukor lab on Marker Shipyards, only to find that there is yet another jukor lab. They’re hunting this lab as their relationship deepens and Sully’s abilities increase... much to the horror of his uber-ethical self. Another problem is that the bad guys know they exist; and Chaz and Sully are now being hunted as terrorists. Added to that, someone is betraying them. When the betrayers are revealed, the reader will be furious. Personally, I thought that Sully was ‘way’ too nice to them. But then, I never claimed to be nice.
Meanwhile, back in the galaxy, politics has gotten a lot nastier. The Empire is unraveling, and vultures are gathering. Chaz’s brother Thad has been arrested, and is being used as bait to catch Chaz and Sully. Throw in Chaz’s ex-husband, who only wants what’s best for her, and a Stolorth Prince, who... only God knows what he wants!

Jukors are still being born; and women are still dying, and lions, and tigers, and... oh my! Loyalties are being tested, and spies are everywhere. Chaz and Sully have no one to trust but each other. However, when Sully is involved in something beyond his control, he shuts Chaz out. When a final betrayal and a tragic misunderstanding of natures and cultures lead to death, Chaz and Sully’s trust is tested to the limit, a limit which only love and forgiveness are able overcome.

Shades of Dark is a much darker story than Gabriel’s Ghost. This is entirely appropriate, considering the circumstances. There is a lot of ambiguity here. It has non-stop action and seamless Science Fiction world building. Above all it is an emotional story of profound love and respect growing through, and overcoming terrible trials. The tension level is not for the faint of heart, but the rewards are worth it. The ending leaves plenty of room for more to come for Phillip Guthrie, in Hope’s Folly, coming in spring 2009. Yippee! And if Bantam is smart, much, much more for Chaz and Sully in another book. My fertile imagination sees all sorts of possibilities for more adventures for Chaz and Sully. Oh wow! After all, there is still a galactic Alliance to save, and Sully’s inheritance, and Sully’s abilities, and... Write to Bantam, and tell them we want the rest of Chaz and Sully’s story! The URL is

Happy reading,


Writing Science Fiction Romance
Real Love in a Real Future

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Review: GABRIEL'S GHOST by Linnea Sinclair

Publisher: Bantam (October 25, 2005)
ISBN-10: 0553587978
ISBN-13: 978-0553587975

I make no secret that Linnea Sinclair is one of my favorite authors, both as a Science Fiction Romance writer and as a person. I think that she is an excellent writer; and she is unfailingly generous with her time in mentoring of aspiring authors. Therefore, since she expressed her strong preference that Shades of Dark, the sequel to Gabriel’s Ghost, not be reviewed without the reviewer having first read GG, I went back and reread GG. It has been almost four years since I first read it, and I have to say that the 2006 RITA Award winning book was even better the second time around. I am reviewing GG first, and will soon review SD.

GG takes place at a time in the future when the galaxy is heavily populated by at least three sentient species: Humans, Takas, and Stolorths. And, the Humans... even if they do control the Galactic Empire, are the newcomers to the neighborhood! Commerce and greed are alive throughout the galaxy. Religion, both tolerant and bigoted, thrives. Family squabbles are the same as it ever - nasty. And politics is - down and dirty!

Captain Chasidah (Chaz) Bergren, has just been court-martialed and sentenced to an ‘inescapable’ prison planet for life... and she has no idea why. She kills a guard who’s trying to rape her, meets an old flame who is supposed to be dead (Sully), helps Sully eliminate a jukor (read - hideous, evil, vicious, killing monster), and initiates her escape. And, that’s all before page twenty! To say that this book’s action is fast-moving is an understatement. It is out of the frying pan into the fire, all the way.

As much as I like the action, it is the characters who really win my heart. Chasidah is smart, principled, and her mother wore combat boots. There’s not a single time that I thought TSTL. She’s utterly professional, yet also all woman. Gabriel (Sully) Sullivan, is charming, smart, ethical to a fault, and loves Chaz with ‘all that he is.’ But, boy, does he have a BIG secret! And the rest of Sully’s crew? You’d want to take most of them home to Mamma, even if they are blue, gilled and ripped... or, tall and a little fuzzy.

Chaz, Sully, and the crew set off to rid the Empire of the lab breeding said ‘hideous, evil, vicious, killing monsters,’ and to find out who is behind it all. In the process, Chaz finds true love, and also why she has been a pawn of galactic politics. Also Sully begins to find the acceptance and love for which he has searched his whole life... because of said BIG secret. This book engages from page one, on multiple levels, and never lets the reader go.

Trust is a major theme in GG, and Chaz and Sully learn a lot about love and trust through the course of their trials. GG is the first in a series; therefore, the ending, although extremely satisfying as a courtship Romance, is left open ended, as is all real life. They find and destroy the jukor breeding lab, only to discover that there is another. Uh-oh!

Also, Chaz and Sully have more to discover about themselves and their relationship. Linnea has left room for more battles against evil, and more room to explore a maturing love in SD. I am so glad to see this, because I think that a maturing relationship is much more interesting than a courtship, and is too often neglected. Thank you, Linnea.

Happy reading,


Writing Science Fiction Romance
Real Love in a Real Future

Saturday, October 11, 2008

I'm looking for suggestions...

Well, I finally heard back from the computer shop about my dinosaur computer. It is officially DEAD! The hard drive gave up the ghost and nothing was able to be saved. Eight years worth of e-mails from family, friends, and class lectures.!

I had backed up everything except the stuff in Outlook (I don't know how to back it up), until a few months ago. I'm still trying to figure out what to do about my e-mail for the future. I'm afraid to download from my ISP to Outlook without knowing how to back them up on my external hard drive.

After having the old hard drive turn into slag, and losing all of my e-mail and addys, I need to figure out an alternative to Outlook if I can't learn how to back it up. I like it because I can have sub-files within files. I can't do that at Yahoo. G-Mail is a little better. If anyone has any smart ideas, I am open to suggestions for online storage of e-mail. HELP!

The moral to this tale of woe... learn how to back EVERYTHING up!

Happy computing,


Writing Science Fiction Romance
Real Love in a Real Future

Monday, October 6, 2008

Has Frances Been Writing?

When one has access to the Net, one is online blogging, researching, or answering e-mails etc. Before you know it, the day is gone and you have not written a single thing in your WIP. Bummer!

Ah, but having been forcibly Netless for the last three weeks, how did use my time? Well, I read, and I wrote, and I judged a contest. I'm leaving out those pesky little items like laundry, and cleaning house, that you're really not interested in.

First: I reread Linnea Sinclair's Gabriel's Ghost, and then read Shades of Dark. I also reread Lois McMaster Bujold's Cordelia's Honor. All of these were worthy reads and I will be posting my reviews of them over the next several weeks. Just in case you wonder, I will only be reviewing books that I like. Books don't have to be perfect, but I refuse to open a can of worms by saying what I really think about something that I DON'T like! I may be crazy, but I don't think that I am a total fool. Those of you who know differently... just be quiet!

Second: I worked on my Science Fiction Romance WIP, The Husband. I have been spending entirely too little time on this. The forced time away from the Net made me realize this, and it will be corrected. I also began writing an Adult/Children's book about the Supreme Poodle Pasha Zackery. I did receive his permission (this is authorized after all), but only so long as I also included his harem girl, MaxieCat in it. He also insists upon royalties... but, Mygosh! I haven't even finished it, much less gotten an agent yet. Ah, the perils of educating children!

Third: As I told you in my I have jumped into the pool. post, I volunteered to judge a writing contest for the RWA Futuristic Fantasy and Paranormal Chapter. It was a fabulous (if somewhat difficult) learning experience, and worth of its own post. Just give me time and I'll get them all out there.

Happy writing,


Writing Science Fiction Romance
Real Love in a Real Future

Friday, October 3, 2008

Science Fiction Romance Week...

I sometimes feel like the odd man out in the regular Romance community because; besides the fact that I enjoy historicals, paranormals, and contemporaries, I also like Science Fiction Romance. It's what I write it after all.

I am particularly fond of: Linnea Sinclair, Lois McMaster Bujold, Susan Grant, C.J. Barry, Elizabeth Lowell, Jayne Ann Krentz, and Linda Howard, all of whom have written great SFR. I truly admire the imagination and intellect of all of these authors. There are others such as Catherine Asaro, whom I am only now getting to know. They just write such great plots and characters!

If there are any of you who also like this up-and-coming genre, the Spacefreighter's Lounge is having a Science Fiction Romance Week. I am a little late to the party because of the blasted computer, but it's still going on. Go join the fun, and find out what is happening in the future of Science Fiction Romance. :-)

The Spacefreighters’ Lounge.

Happy reading,


Writing Science Fiction Romance
Real Love in a Real Future

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Catch up...

I am still playing catch-up from my dino-computer being down, and having difficulties getting the laptop connected to the web. The screw-driver shop told me two weeks, and it has now been over three. Ah, keeping up with business.

When I finally got online with my laptop, I had over 900 e-mails to respond to. This was just from three weeks! Admittedly, 70% were spam, but I still had to check through them because... well, you know how accurate spam filters are. Anyway, I've finished with one account, have 60 more legit e-mails to cover in another, and 180 in another. This says nothing to the online communities that I wish to support!

Well, the day is breathtakingly beautiful outside, and I am trapped inside. The Supreme Poodle Pasha Zackery has either burrowed into the front of my robe (does that tell you my current haute couture condition?), or stretched out across my shoulders to hold me down. He knows that I must not be allowed to escape until I have done my assigned work. A Pasha Pet can be such a slave driver to his poor slave Mommy!

May you all have lovely weather to enjoy,


Writing Science Fiction Romance
Real Love in a Real World

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A Flying Horse... Oh My!

One of the really spectacular sights of the fall night sky is now visible in the early evening eastern sky. The constellations of Pegesus and Andromeda are rising above the northeastern horizon immediately after dark. They'll be visible all through the Fall and into Winter, so enjoy.

The body of Pegasus is also one of the more easily recognized asterisms, and is known as the Great Square. You can see why in the picture. After locating the Great Square, look to the southernmost star of the square and you are at the beginning of Pegasus's neck. Just picture a horse's neck and head, and you will see stars on the curve of the neck, the top of the head, and the nose. The northernmost star of the square is shared with the Constellation of Andromeda. I can't help but think that Andromeda looks more like the hind legs of the horse, but I've always had horses on the brain.

Pegasus was the winged horse ridden by Perseus to rescue the Princess Andromeda from the sea monster after her mother, Cassiopea, mouthed off about being the most beautiful woman in the world. It just goes to show that one should never brag in front of a god or goddess. They just might be paying attention and take offense. Why the Greek gods picked on poor Andromeda, I've never been able to figure out; but, even the ancient Greeks never claimed that their gods were fair.

If you happen to have a good set of binoculars, now is the time to get them out. Look in the pictures above. Follow the stars of Andromeda (the hind legs of Pegasus) and half way to the heels (girl or horse), look just a little upwards toward the zenith. There you will see a blurry spot. That is the Andromeda Galaxy. It is the fartherest object that we can see with the naked human eye. It's two million light years away, and it's coming to get us. *EG* No, it really is coming this way... in several billing years, so you don't have to worry tonight. It's breathtakingly beautiful, and about twice the size of your Milky Way. Just go out and enjoy the view.

Pegasus and Andromeda are two of five constellations related by the same Greek myth. I will be writing in other posts about them, so come back for another visit. You're always welcome.

Happy viewing,


Writing Science Fiction Romance
Real Love in a Real Future