Tuesday, May 28, 2013

10 Questions with Legendary Science Fiction Writer David Drake

This Author Spotlight features master
of the Science Fiction genre
David Drake

The Army took David Drake from Duke Law School and sent him on a motorized tour of Viet Nam and Cambodia with the 11th Cav, the Blackhorse. He learned new skills, saw interesting sights, and met exotic people who hadn’t run fast enough to get away.

Dave returned to become Chapel Hill’s Assistant Town Attorney and to try to put his life back together through fiction making sense of his Army experiences.

Dave describes war from where he saw it: the loader’s hatch of a tank in Cambodia.

His military experience, combined with his formal education in history and Latin, has made him one of the foremost writers of realistic action SF and fantasy.

His bestselling Hammer's Slammers series is credited with creating the genre of modern Military SF. 

He often wishes he had a less interesting background.

Dave lives with his family in rural North Carolina.

1.How did you get into writing and why do you write?

I got into writing because I've always loved to tell stories. My 11th grade American Lit teacher was a professional writer on the side (and since then has become a full-time freelance writer under the name Brad Steiger). That showed me that ordinary kids from Iowa could write professionally.

Why I became a fulltime writer, however, is that writing provided therapy for me when I got back to the World after service with the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment in Viet Nam (and a couple months in Cambodia).

2.What do you like best (or least) about writing?

My prose is the only thing in life that I can fully control. Everything else comes with strings or rules. With the prose, I don't have to let go of it until it's what I want it to be.

One side effect of my focus is that I don't complain about covers or promotion or any of the other things that many writers worry about. So long as the publisher doesn't screw with my prose, I'm fine.

By the same token, I go way over the top when a copyeditor, say, regularizes the use of pronouns when I've varied them according to the background and education of the viewpoint character in a given section. Stuff that's trivial (although stupid) can really light my fuse.

3.What is your writing process? IE do you outline? Do you stick to a daily word or page count, write 7 days a week, etc?

I write a complete scene-by-scene breakdown, usually running about 7,500-15K words per book. Then I write the book, chunking away at it every day until it's complete. I shoot for 1,000-1,500 words per day (of rough). Then I edit the hardcopy, key in the changes (usually 10-20% of the original wordage), and run off another copy which I edit further for polish. I key in those changes and send it off to my editor.

4.Who are some other writers you read and admire, regardless of whether they are commercially “successful?”

Oh, gosh. Kuttner and Clark Ashton Smith. Kipling. Tacitus. Ovid (and I know, he wrote verse; but almost anybody can learn things about line-by-line writing from reading Ovid in the original). Many others.

5.Should the question mark in the above question be inside or outside the quotes?

Outside, but I don't really care.

6.What’s your stance on the Oxford Comma?

It slows the reader down. I don't use it. Grammarians get bent outa shape about that sort of thing (and consistency generally), but a writer ought to be more concerned about telling a story.

7.What is your book Redliners about and how did it come to fruition?

I picked Redliners because it's the one thing I've written that is more than just a book. I finished it and immediately felt that somebody'd lifted off the twenty-ton weight I'd had on my shoulders for the 25 years since Nam.

But I hadn't intended anything major. I was writing an action/adventure book with a strong military component. I wound up putting a lot more of myself and what I felt about military service into the book than I was aware of doing until I'd finished it.

Redliners wasn't a great sales success initially, though it's continued to bring in royalties each period. It's a very tough book, and it isn't generally for civilians.

It's the one that people who've been in hard places write me about, however. It's helped a lot of them; but it helped me more than it did anyone else, because I'd been in some hard places too.

8.What’s your current writing project?

I'm in the home stretch of the next Republic of Cinnabar Navy space opera, The Sea without a Shore. These (AKA the Leary/Mundy series) aren't pablum, but they're far less harsh than much of what I was writing before I did Redliners and made peace with myself.

9.What book(s) are you currently reading?

Idylls of the King by Tennyson; The Last Galley by Doyle; and An Amiable Charlatan by Oppenheim. (I'm travelling in Italy at the moment, which affects the time I have to read and the selection.)

10.Who or what inspires your writing?

As long as I'm working, I don't have to think about the nature and future of mankind. I'm better off not thinking about that sort thing. I think I've known the answers ever since Nam; but if I don't dwell on the subject, I'm okay.

There's no other 'who'. It's just me and the keyboard.

Finally, is there anything you’d care to add? Please also include where people can read your published stories, buy your book, etc.

My publishers are Baen Books and Tor Books. My work can be bought wherever books are sold, and electronically from the publishers.

Thank you, Mr. Drake, for visiting and sharing your work with us. It's been and honor featuring you here and learning more about your work and your life.

Be sure to visit David-Drake.com to see more of Mr. Drake's work.

Purchase your copy of Redliners now:


Monday, May 27, 2013

Fun, Futuristic, Sexy, Smart Sci-Fi Novel in Need of Immediate Reviews

Hi, gang.

My new novel Eye Candy is in need of immediate reviews on Amazon.

95% of consumers report that they value peer-recommendations when shopping online.

To build up the number of reviews for Eye Candy, I am offering a complimentary ebook (Kindle/mobi or Epub) copy for whomever wants to read it and post an immediate review.

Please visit the Contact page on this site and enter your information, including your email address so that I know where to send your complimentary ebook copy of Eye Candy.

That's all there is to it.

Note that Eye Candy is intended for mature readers. The movie version will probably be Rated R.

One caveat: if you would like to discuss the plot, please say SPOILERS AHEAD, etc. We want new readers to have the same experience you had.

Thank you for your time.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

The Next Big Thing Blog Meme - EYE CANDY by Ryan Schneider

Thriller writer and writer friend Rob Guthrie tagged me recently to participate in The Next Big Thing Blog Meme.

It's a blog chain in which writers tag fellow writer friends to answer a list of standard questions about their current or forthcoming novel.  Thanks, Rob. (Visit Rob at rsguthrie.com and read his books. Seriously.)

So here we go.

1. What is the title of your book?

Eye Candy.

2. Where did the idea come from for the book?

I can't answer that without revealing a spoiler. So let's see if I can dance around it while still providing some semblance of an answer.

I had an idea for what I thought was a powerful scene, and which had a powerful concept behind it. I wanted to write to arrive at that scene. So I began at the beginning, and finally got there about 60% of the way into the story.

3. What genre does your book fall under?

Science fiction. Though at its heart it is a love story. Boy meets girl, boy gets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets all his friends together to kick some serious ass and gets girl again.

4. What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

Tough question.

I've been asking myself this for some time, particularly when my cover designer Rahzzah and I discussed how the two main characters, Danny and Candy, should appear on the cover.

For Danny, my criteria were that he be handsome, something along the lines of George Clooney or Hugh Jackman.

For the scene showcased in the cover art, Danny needed to look strung out (read the book to see why!).

I found this image of Hugh Jackman which was perfect. A long way from Wolverine.

But actors love to showcase their range.

For Candy, the criteria were tall and blond, but also classy and elegant.

Not overly glamorous; attractive, but the kind of woman who is generally liked by other women.

I pictured her with great hair, too. I think Rahzzah nailed it.

Claire Danes is one possibility.

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

In a near-future Los Angeles, roboticist Danny Olivaw finds himself on a blind date with a beautiful robopsychologist named Candy, and the next day, strange things begin to happen; little do they know what fate has in store for them.

6. Who is publishing your book?

All my books are self published. Back in 2008-2009, I spent a year querying agents regarding my novel The Go-Kids, an epic science fiction thriller starring five lovable teens tasked with using high technology in a battle of spiritual warfare.

The more I re-wrote my query letter and re-submitted it, I confronted the reality of selling one's novel. To do so would truly mean selling it. Akin to selling your car. It's gone. Bye bye. No longer yours. The new owner gets to do whatever they want with it, and they are not interested in and do not care if the wheel shimmies slightly at 71 miles per hour, or that the car tends to leak coolant so check it regularly, or that you've driven it and loved it every day for 13 years and aren't even sure why you're selling it.

Your book is precious like that.

At least, mine was to me.

So when I heard about self publishing, it was really a no brainer. I would handle everything myself. Whatever happened, I would be fully responsible. And I haven't regretted it for a second.

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

About a year. A bit too long, in my opinion. But it is 460 pages.

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Readers will notice references to and inspiration from Isaac Asimov's robot novels Robots and Murder: The Caves of Steel/ The Naked Sun/ Robots of Dawn, as well as some of his short fiction such as I, Robot.

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?

This relates to the scene I mentioned in Question 2. The title was also an inspiration.

Also, as I read (and often re-read) Asimov's work, I took copious notes whenever something in one of his stories inspired a new invention or a new take on technology which I could employ in my book. I filled most of an entire notebook. Those notes informed the story outline immensely, and proved invaluable during the process of getting to know Candy and Danny, and in bringing their characters to life. I believe character is paramount and solid characters we know and love are a must.

10. What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?

Reviews for Eye Candy are beginning to accumulate, and thus far the response has been very positive; 4- and 5-star reviews.

Here are a few excerpts from reviewers:

"This is a book that delivers on everything promised in the title and on the cover. And a whole lot more. ...this is a professionally written book, properly edited, and a pleasure to read. I recommend it to all SF readers..." 4 STARS ~Gordon A. Long (Delta, British Columbia) (via Amazon.ca)

The writing is often humorous and flows, making it a pleasure to read. I enjoyed this book and didn't want it to end." 5 STARS ~Digidude700 (Amazon UK)

"If you love your robot novels, you want to read Mr. Schneider's EYE CANDY. You will fall in love with the robots in this book. They are naive, cocky, flamboyant, sexy, serious, curious! They learn, they feel, they try hard to live by the laws even when the laws are what didn't let them live. If you had never read a book about robots, you HAVE to READ Mr. Schneider's EYE CANDY." 5 STARS ~valruspines (via Amazon.com)

I'll make a deal with you: if you promise to post a review on Amazon (and it can be brief), I'm happy to provide a complimentary review copy. Contact me HERE via my Contact page and we'll arrange the details. I have both Kindle and Epub available.

The book also has a slew of Easter eggs in it. For anyone not familiar, Easter eggs are little treats or surprises hidden in a text or very often a video game. So I invite you to read the story and see if you can find the Easter eggs.

So that's Eye Candy.

I invite you to click the link and give it a read. I had an absolute ball while writing it. You'll have fun reading it.

Finally, allow me to introduce the two writers I've tagged on The Next Big Thing Blog Meme:

First, James A. West.

James states that he "will write for chips & salsa", but his fiction is worth a great deal more.

James is a talented writer of fantasy novels.

His latest work is Shadow and Steel (Heirs of the Fallen Book 3).

And it's FREE this weekend at Amazon, so click the link above.

I've read James' work and enjoyed it a great deal.

I read Reaper of Sorrows (Songs of the Scorpion - Volume I). It was quite good. Great fantasy, with a strong hero reminiscent of Maximus from the film "Gladiator", great action, and some pretty effed-up dark magic.

James' Next Big Thing Blog Meme is Friday, June 14, 2013. So be sure to visit his blog to see what he's cooking up.

When deciding which authors to tap, Chris Jackson came immediately to mind.

Chris is an award-winning author of fantasy and science fiction, including the novel Weapon of Flesh.

His latest novel is Pathfinder Tales: Pirate's Honor.

Chris's Next Big Thing Blog Meme is Tuesday, June 25, 2013.

Visit his website at http://jaxbooks.com/ to see what he's up to.

Thank you.

I hope you've enjoyed The Next Big Thing Blog Meme and you will grab a review copy of Eye Candy right now!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

10 Questions with Science Fiction Novelist Peter Laurent (@petes117)

This Author Spotlight features
Science Fiction novelist
Peter Laurent
author of

Author Peter Laurent was born and raised in Auckland, New Zealand. He studied 3D animation in Auckland, then worked full-time in Mount Maunganui.

Peter then formed his own company, Indiana Games Limited, and has been freelancing art and animation back in Auckland ever since.

The Covert Academy (Volume 1) is his first novel, borne of a passion for creative storytelling.

1.How did you get into writing and why do you write?

My introduction to writing came out of the blue. I literally said to myself, “I’m going to write a book.” So I did! I have had no formal training in writing, though English was my best subject in school. I have always been a visually creative person, which led me to study and work in 3D animation for ten years before attempting a novel. I think the experience from those years of being an artist strengthens my writing. Anyway, I had some downtime during my animation work when I struggled to find a new contract, so I began writing to fill my time.

I write because I have all these stories and characters in my head that need to get out. I bet every author says that!

2.What do you like best (or least) about writing?

Research is what I like the best and the least. It’s a double-edged sword. It can be fun to discover interesting facts and slip them into your writing or have it lead to new ideas, but it takes a lot of time and patience.

Other than that, seeing your characters come to life on the page is a huge thrill.

3.What is your writing process? IE do you outline? Do you stick to a daily word or page count, write 7 days a week, etc?

I write around ten pages of notes before I jump into writing the book itself. I outline character bios, locations, props, backstory and a brief plot summary. They’re more guidelines than rules, just to get me going. Getting started is the hardest part of any job, especially writing!

On my first book I averaged around 1500 words a day, 4-5 days a week. I’m going slower on my current project. I’d take quality over quantity any day. As long as I’m consistent, I’m happy with my process.

4.Who are some other writers you read and admire, regardless of whether they are commercially “successful?”

My all-time favourites are J.R.R. Tolkien, Isaac Asimov, and Bernard Cornwell.

But the author I admire most is Hugh Howey, author of the Wool series. He is paving the way for independent authors everywhere, and he writes a great story, too.

5.Should the question mark in the above question be inside or outside the quotes?

Outside. But it still looks awkward on the page even outside the quotes, doesn’t it? I avoid those situations by re-wording the sentence if I can.

6.What’s your stance on the Oxford Comma?

We have to pick sides? I use it when I need to depending on the context, so I guess that means I’m pro Oxford Comma!

7.What is your book The Covert Academy (Volume 1) about and how did it come to fruition?

My debut novel The Covert Academy (Volume 1) is about a young street urchin who discovers a powerful device that could shift the balance of power among the world leaders. He becomes swept up in an on-going struggle between those who seek it, the omnipotent authorities and an underground resistance.
It came into being from the simple concept of a ninja school. I wanted to put a unique spin on it by incorporating elements from the science fiction and young adult genres. The story grew from there!

8.What’s your current writing project?

I’m writing the sequel to The Covert Academy (Volume 1), which I aim to complete around August-October 2013. I’ve learned a lot from my debut novel, so it’s bigger and better from here on out.

9.What book(s) are you currently reading?

I’m re-reading The Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn as inspiration for parts of my sequel. I actually find it difficult to read anyone else’s work while I’m writing my own. My head becomes lost in the world I’m creating and another story would be distracting. I churn through books at any other time!

The last book I read was CyberStorm by Matthew Mather, an excellent indie author.

10.Who or what inspires your writing?

Living in New Zealand I am lucky enough to have stunning scenes of nature outside my window. Taking a walk through the bush clears my head. Besides that, I take inspiration from all sorts of places. I grew up reading the adventures from Uncle Scrooge comics and watching Ducktales and Batman.

I love the uniquely creative stories of Tim Schafer and Ron Gilbert’s video games such as Day of the Tentacle, Monkey Island and Grim Fandango.

Last but not least, there is also a special lady in my life who inspires me every day.

Finally, is there anything you’d care to add? Please also include where people can read your published stories, buy your book, etc.

I’m amazed at the generosity and kindness within the indie author community. It’s humbling and gratifying. I’d like to thank anyone who took the time to read my book, post a review or contact me with feedback. I hope the sequel will be worth the wait!

Thank you Ryan for inviting me to do this interview, it was a lot of fun!

My book can be found on Amazon in eBook and Paperback format:

The Covert Academy (Volume 1)
Kindle                          Paperback

It will also be published through these stores in May:

More information on my upcoming project can be found on my Goodreads blog:
Or Twitter:

Thank you!

Thanks, Peter. The Covert Academy (Volume 1) looks great. I recently saw it at #6 on the Amazon Top 100 in SciFi list. Well done!

Be sure to check out The Covert Academy (Volume 1)  and visit Peter's Goodreads blog, and follow him on Twitter. And grab your copy of The Covert Academy (Volume 1) now!

The Covert Academy (Volume 1)
Kindle                          Paperback

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Kerouac, Vonnegut, Ellis, Mailer, and You. Or, Why You Write.

Jack Kerouac said, "What a [writer] most wishes to hide, revise, & un-say, is precisely what Literature is waiting & bleeding for."

Kurt Vonnegut said, "We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down."

A writer friend and I have been discussing writing and publishing. He's not sure which way to go, traditional publishing or indie publishing.

In an email I sent, I said the following:

Treat your writing as a business. It's something serious. You put time into it every day, either by pecking the keys or by thinking about what you're going to say when you sit down to peck the keys.

Create a formal writing practice and practice a set number of days per week. Then, take the # of hours allocated per day to writing and divide it into 4.

Say it's 4 hours per day.

Spend 3 hours writing (75%), and 1 hour marketing and building your brand (25%). This can be anything from creating a website & blog & Twitter & Facebook & Goodreads account, to researching the publishers & agents who work with [authors who write books similar to yours].

Indie pubbing is the new slush pile. That's the new reality of the publishing world.

Set small goals for that 25% of your time.

Otherwise it can become overwhelming. If you do sometimes feel overwhelmed and discouraged, it's okay to simply take a step back from all the marketing and brand-building and go back to writing. Forget about all that stuff and focus on the creativity.

Because as Brett Easton Ellis says, 'Write for yourself. Work out between you and your pen the things which most intrigue you.'

Norman Mailer said, 'Writer's block is nothing more than failure of the ego.'

He's right.

Because you are occasionally going to get one- and two-star reviews. But you will also get four- and five-star reviews. But a mere 1% of readers take the time to write and post a review. Most readers say nothing. It's therefore impossible to know how they felt and what they thought of your book.

You may find this unsettling. Discouraging. To the point where you wonder can you even do this? Are you ever going to make any real money? Are your books any good? Will you be able to support your family this way? What else can you do? How can you make money? Now you have to go and write/edit your Work In Progress and you have all those thoughts in your head.

But then you go back and read your five-star reviews your four-star reviews and you feel better and you go back to writing/editing. You get out of your head, get out of your own way, and get back to work.

Being a professional, regardless of profession, means leaving your emotions out of the equation. It applies equally to writing. It's tough because writing is deeply personal. But when a firefighter pulls a person out of a smashed car and does CPR and the person dies before their eyes, that is also deeply personal.

They still get up and go to work the next day.

Because that is what they do.

Just like writing is what you do. You get up every day and you do the work.

Because there are days when the writing flows and the words come and the story happens and the characters speak and its pure magic happening before your eyes and you wonder where it's all coming from, how can you be doing this? It must not be you, because 99% of the time you feel like you have no idea what you're doing.

Yet it all works out in the end. The story reaches its inevitable conclusion which hopefully also feels like a surprise to the reader.

Then the day comes when the story goes out into the world and must stand on its own because you did the best you could with it, and whatever stars it gets on Amazon are beyond your control. Some people will connect with the work, will love it, will give it five stars and will gush and rave. Others will give four stars and will be more subdued. But they still liked the book. Others will give one or two 2 stars. There may be something to glean from those reviews. That you will have to decide for yourself.

And then tomorrow you get up and go back to work.

You sit down in front of your computer and try to figure out how you can share your books with the world, how you can make your books better, how you can make yourself better.

Because that's all you have control over. You can't control reader feedback or the number of stars. So you must do your best not to obsess over them. You must be like Tom Cruise in TOP GUN. Cocky and arrogant and sexy and confident that you can do ANYTHING. You can make the words do what you want them to do, make the characters run and play, stumble and fall, laugh and cry, live and sometimes die. You must do your best not to be like Maverick after Goose was killed during the flat spin that wrecked their airplane, confidence shot, self esteem in the toilet, ready to quit. You're not going to be happy unless you're going Mach 2 with your hair on fire, your fingers flying across the keys as the magic happens and the story pours out of you and onto the virtual page.

Because this is what you do.

You didn't choose this; it chose you.

That's what a calling is. It means you keep writing no matter what. You do not deny, belittle, or ignore your gifts. You cherish them and use them to the glory of God or whatever your personal concept of Source/Life may be. You get up and you go to work. You're a writer. You write. That's what you do.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

10 Questions with Gutsy Writer Sonia Marsh (@GutsyLiving)

This week's Author Spotlight features Sonia Marsh, author of the travel memoir Freeways to Flip-Flops: A Family's Year of Gutsy Living on a Tropical Island.

Sonia Marsh is a “Gutsy” woman who can pack her carry-on and move to another country in one day. She’s a motivational speaker who inspires her audiences to get out of their comfort zone and take a risk. She says everyone has a “My Gutsy Story®”; some just need a little help to uncover theirs. Her story, told in her travel memoir Freeways to Flip-Flops: A Family's Year of Gutsy Living on a Tropical Island, is about chucking it all and uprooting her family—with teenagers—to reconnect on an island in Belize.

Her memoir has received 3 awards at the 2013 London Book Festival, the 2013 Los Angeles Book Festival and the 2013 Great South West Book Festival.

Sonia has lived in many countries – Denmark, Nigeria, France, England, the U.S. and Belize – andconsiders herself a citizen of the world. She holds a degree in environmental science from the University of East Anglia, U.K., and now lives in Southern California with her husband, Duke, and their rat terrier Cookie.

1. How did you get into writing?
I always wanted to become a journalist as I’m curious, and love to interview people from different parts of the world. After my family’s year of living in a hut in Belize, I knew I had a real story to tell that was unique and would spark people’s interest. When we returned to the U.S., I decided to take classes, attend writing conferences, and hire editors, to mold my journal into a commercial travel memoir.

2. What do you like best (or least) about writing?
I like “connecting” with people and expressing my inner thoughts and honest feelings. I do not write fiction (yet) so I enjoy sharing part of myself and covering issues that I believe can either motivate or help people question and think about things in a different way. I do this through my blog posts at www.SoniaMarsh.com.

What I like least is the “fear” of not coming up with a second book that can match the adventure and uniqueness of my first memoir. I always approach my writing in terms of, “how does this differ from all the other books out there?” I guess I look at things from a marketing perspective from the start. This comes from years of studying the publishing business, and listening to editors and agents at conferences.

3. What is your writing process? IE do you outline? Do you stick to a daily word or page count, write 7 days a week, etc?
Since I published my memoir in August 2012, I spend most of my time promoting and booking events, rather than writing my next book. I started my own publishing company: Gutsy Publications, and am working on publishing an anthology of the “My Gutsy Story®” series I started on my blog in October 2011. As far as my preferred way of writing, it would be keeping a journal, and transforming it into a memoir.

4. Who are some other writers you read and admire, regardless of whether they are commercially “successful?”
Augusten Burroughs for being so “raw” and “honest.” I also enjoy Nigel Marsh, (no we’re not related) for writing  Fat, Forty and Fired, about quitting his job and staying home with his 4 young kids. I am reading Key West, an indie-published book right now, and I love a mixture of humor, travel and getting to really know the narrator.

5. Should the question mark in the above question be inside or outside the quotes?

6. What’s your stance on the Oxford Comma?
I believe in using it.

7. What is your book Freeways to Flip-Flops: A Family's Year of Gutsy Living on a Tropical Island about and how did it come to fruition?

"A suburban family discovers that trading materialism for a simple life on a tropical island helps them reconnect in unexpected ways."

What do you do when life in sunny Southern California starts to seem plastic, materialistic and just plain hellish?

For Sonia and Duke Marsh, the answer was to sell their worldly goods and move to an unspoiled, simpler life with their three sons in Belize, Central America, a third-world country without all the comforts and distractions of life in the developed world.

Sonia hopes the move will bring her shattered family back together. She feels her sons slipping away from her, and her overworked husband never has time for her or the boys.

This is the story of one family’s search for paradise. In this memoir, Sonia chronicles a year of defeats, fears and setbacks – and also the ultimate triumph of seeing once-frayed family ties grow back stronger from shared challenges and misfortunes. For Sonia, paradise turned out not to be a place, but an appreciation of life’s simple pleasures – a close-knit family and three well-adjusted sons with a global outlook on life.

My friends encouraged me to keep a journal in 2004 when we left for Belize. I started my journal a year before our move. I knew this would be the best way to keep my story authentic. I wanted to capture every important moment, emotion, and keep the dialogue real between my three sons, and everyone we encountered. 

8. What’s your current writing project?
Publishing an anthology of the “My Gutsy Story®” series. I trademarked this and you can read the first 3 online versions here. A print version will come out in September, 2013.

9. What book(s) are you currently reading?
Key West, by Jon Breakfield

10. Who or what inspires your writing?

Experiencing adventure through travel, and always planning a new way to move abroad for awhile. I like to read and write about a new experience, a different culture, and a new lifestyle.

Finally, is there anything you’d care to add? Please also include where people can read your published stories, buy your book, etc.

I welcome new friends, bloggers, writers and readers at Soniamarsh.com.
Contact me at: sonia@soniamarsh.comFacebook, or Twitter @GutsyLiving

My memoir is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle, at
Barnes & Noble in paperback and Nook, and at Indie Bookstores.

Do you have a “My Gutsy Story®” to share?
If any of you are writers or published authors, and wish to share something "Gutsy" you've done that either:
·        Changed you
·        Changed the way you think about something
·        Made your life take a different direction

Submission Guidelines:

·        Written, no more than 1,000 words
·        Check out guidelines and prizes. http://soniamarsh.com/my-gutsy-story-contest

Kindle                    Paperback

My Review of STARLINER by David Drake

I just finished reading Starliner by David Drake.

I was browsing the Amazon Science Fiction Top 100 one day and stumbled across Starliner quite by accident.

(As a brief aside, the first three books in my sci-fi series The Go-Kids (PG-13), beginning with A Shadow Passed Over the Son (The Go-Kids Book 1) are also in the Amazon Top 100. Please grab your free copies if you've not done so already, so we can coax those babies up to the Top 10!)

The cool cover for Starliner was arresting: the image of a massive space-faring luxury vessel floating in space.

Plus it was free, so I grabbed it.

I'm glad I did because it turned out to be a heck of a lot of fun. It's got 73 reviews on Amazon and a 3.5-star average.

The story follows the adventures of the Empress of Earth (the name of the ship) and its new 3rd Officer Ran Colville as passengers are ferried through vast interstellar space and between outlying worlds. War between two rival planets is imminent and threatens Ran's maiden voyage.

I won't say more than that because I loathe spoilers, but suffice it to say that hyjinks ensue.

The story felt like an episode of The Love Boat in space. We meet the prominent crew members of The Empress of Earth, as well as some of the passengers, and the story alternates between several separate but interwoven story lines.

I have two criticisms of Starliner:

First, the presentation. The book was originally published by Baen Books in 1992. The conversion to ebook format was obviously done via character recognition software, because it did a very poor job. There are typos, comma splices, and missing periods on nearly every page. At  first I thought David Drake and/or the editors/proofreaders/gofers at Baen were effing stupid. Then I realized the scanning of the printed manuscript is what caused the problems. Nevertheless, they are rampant and the book needs to be converted all over again. It's still readable. Just a bit of a nuisance.

Second, Drake's writing. On his website, he states that he wrote Starliner for himself, which is great. And most of the time the writing is great as well. But occasionally I had difficulty following who was doing what, who was speaking, or who had spoken, and I had to re-read a few sentences.

All in all Starliner is great space opera in the classic tradition. David Drake is a well-known and beloved science fiction author who's been writing for a long time. I will likely investigate his other titles.

I recommend Starliner and give it a solid 4 stars.

If the formatting had been clean, I probably would have given 4.5 or 5.

To purchase Starliner on Amazon, follow one of the links below. As of this writing it is still FREE on Kindle.
Kindle                   Paperback


Friday, May 3, 2013

My Review of Iron Man 3 (and why I hate spoilers)

My wife Taliya and I enjoyed a screening of Iron Man 3. It was an interesting and tiny bit frustrating experience, so I thought I'd share it.

First, know that I will not discuss the story in-depth because I hate spoilers. You know M. Knight Shamalawnmower's movie The Village? Somebody blabbed the ending of that movie and ruined it for me. So the whole time I was watching, I was waiting for the end I knew was coming. Totally ruined it.

And one night a couple years ago, I was listening to Coast to Coast A.M. and some dingleberry guest blabbed the premise/conclusion/twist on Eagle Eye, that thriller with Shia Labuffalo. Oh, I was pissed.

If you've seen a movie (or read a book!) and others haven't but intend to, keep your trap shut! Why is that so difficult?

Are people SO miserable that their only means of making themselves feel better is by ruining an experience for someone else?

Get a life. Seriously.

Anyway, I'm supposed to be talking about Iron Man Trois.

We get a complimentary 1+1 free movie ticket from our credit card company every month. We went online and booked a 9 p.m. show for Iron Man 3 (in 2D). When we got there, it was one of those newer choose-your-seat type of theaters, and the only seats were in the first three rows. No, thank you.

So we chose the 10 pm show, which was in 3D for about $5 more. Cool.

Now, the caveat: when Avatar came out, we saw it in 2D first. I don't remember why, but we did. Liked it a lot. Then, we went and saw it in 3D. We were able to enjoy it on a new level, already knowing the story and therefore being able to really enjoy the visuals.

So that is why we didn't purchase tickets for Iron Man 3 in 3D in the first place.

At 10:00 pm, the movie began. We were enjoying it. But the picture was rather dark. Several times I lifted up my 3D glasses in order to compare the brightness. Without the glasses, it looked like a regular movie, albeit a bit blurry, especially during an action sequence. With the glasses, it was dark. Like watching a movie with your sunglasses on. And it became annoying. I lifted my glasses up 10-15 times because of it. During one particular action sequence, I was trying to figure out who was flying where and bouncing off of what.

It had something to do with the 3D glasses.

The ones we had didn't look like any of these. Here's an article about them from BusinessInsider.com about Disney's marketing stratgey.

So, the presentation of the film left something to be desired. The 3D was cool, but the dimness of the screen was not. I would have preferred that we saw it in 2D.

Something I found particularly interesting, and which I did not know, is that Iron Man 3 was directed by Shane Black. He rose to prominence in the late 80s for having written Lethal Weapon, and was also part of the trio of writers who penned Iron Man 3.

All in all, I would recommend the film. Particularly to fans of the series.

One thing I would advise is that you see The Avengers before seeing Iron Man 3. These films all come from the Marvel universe, as anyone who has seen the first two Iron Man movies knows, as well as The Hulk or Thor, etc. So there are references to The Avengers in Iron Man 3. I've been trying to watch The Avengers for a few months and can't seem to make the time. But I shall make the time for certain now that it was referenced in Iron Man 3.

As for the 2D vs. 3D, that's up to you. But I wish we'd seen it in 2D. It would've been a more enjoyable experience overall.

Oh, one final thing. Make sure you sit through the entire credits. Again, if you're a fan of the series and of other Marvel projects, you know why.