Speculative Fiction #Genres, According to one Jaded #Feminist

Speculative Fiction #Genres, According to one Jaded #Feminist (and two other, actual experts…)

Here are two great sources of info about the overall genre of Speculative Fiction (Spec Fic) and all its subgenres, (also the two main sources of the images, below):
About Speculative Fiction, from blogger/author, Sherry D. Ramsey at http://www.sherrydramsey.com/?page_id=1005; and,
The Difference between Speculative Fiction and Science-Fiction, from SPi Global, at http://www.spi-global.com/blog/cs-blog/the-difference-between-speculative-fiction-and-science-fiction/

from http://www.sherrydramsey.com/?page_id=1005

So, you don’t have to go by my jaded, biased, perhaps not entirely fair or accurate descriptions, below.

Also, check out many of the Spec Fic online and hard-copy ‘zines and subscription magazines that publish short stories, plays, graphic novels or excerpts, art, poetry, novellas and announcements, such as: Heliotrope: Online Speculative Fiction Magazine, http://www.heliotropemag.com/


  • Science-Fiction (also known as sci-fi):
    ◙ Stories about what could be or might have been that feature science, tech, weaponry that does not exist (yet); mostly written by men and somewhat invisible women; mostly about men and almost invisible women; if in graphic novel form, the females are scantily clad for no apparent reason, while men are wearing body armor; mostly about men, with one or no female main characters, except to support or be loved by males.
    ◙ If part of a series, “good guys” do not prevail for the long-term but do win in skirmishes, until the end, which can be dystopian (no HEA–Happily Ever After) or partly HEA (at least, for the romantic component).
    ◙ If politically and/or social commentary-oriented, can illustrate the ways our current cultures are harsh (but accurate) regarding racist, species-ist, misogynistic practices and attitudes.
    ◙ Main characters can die, but usually not in the first parts of a series.

    from http://www.sherrydramsey.com/?page_id=1005

  • “Hard” Science-Fiction:
    ◙ Futuristic stories mostly about the male “heroes” (and steroid/testosterone-ridden women, cyborgs and robots) fighting alone or in groups against whom/whatever, using lots of weaponry and spaceships; see above, for costuming; mostly about men, with one or no central female main characters, except to support or be loved by males or inhabit computers.
    ◙ If part of a series, “good guys” do not prevail for the long-term but do win in skirmishes, until the end, which can be dystopian (no HEA–Happily Ever After) or partly HEA (at least, for the romantic component).
    ◙ If dystopian (typically), often includes destruction of one or more planet, victors’ having slaves, horrible classism and race/species discrimination and other awful plot points and outcomes.
    ◙ Main characters can die, but can be reborn into tech creatures. Often, a “space opera” that spans many years/centuries and vast expanses.

    from http://www.spi-global.com/blog/cs-blog/the-difference-between-speculative-fiction-and-science-fiction/

  • Steam-Punk Fantasy/Science-Fiction:
    ◙ Stories about what might have been or could be, written by both men and women; depicts women in low bodices, wearing corsets, and carrying fans; men have pocket watches, vests, and private (“public” in England) educations or tutors; everything is run by steam engines; characters are mostly Anglo and espouse or resist British/American Anglo upper- and middle-class Victorian values (e.g., either virginal or whorish women, class distinctions, elitist “manners,” rigidly gender-ized clothing); stories are mostly about men, with one or no central female main characters, except to support or be loved by males.
    ◙ If there are GLBT characters, they are usually depicted as deranged/homicidal, stereotypes, and/or objects of ridicule or pity. Rarely has human characters who are not Anglo (so I deliberately included a drawing that has males of color, here).
    ◙ Can include murders and other crimes in which females are the victims or need to be rescued.
    ◙ May not be clear who the “bad” guys are, at first (think, prostitute or crime lord with the “heart of gold”).
    ◙ Main characters cannot die unless already replaced by a successor.

    from https://writingcareer.com/black-power-the-superhero-anthology-is-seeking/

    This anthology, whose prototype cover is above, Black Power: Superheroes of Color, was released last month, February, 2017: https://thenerdsofcolor.org/2017/02/27/black-power-the-superhero-anthology/
    edited by Balogun Ojetade, with a great line-up of authors within it.

    Real cover:

  • Fantasy:
    ◙ Usually set in some pseudo-medieval or -Renaissance, Earth-like setting or Earth’s own possible past or present, but with talking animals, mythical creatures, imaginary creatures (e.g., fairies, gnomes, dwarves, trolls, dragons, giants, ogres, witches, warlocks, wizards); usually includes some kind of magic or pseudo-science mixed with magic; if there are non-human creatures, they are almost always male or overly glamorized females (large breasts, small waists, heavy make-up); could have human shape-shifters who usually become large predators (wolves, bears, lions, panthers, etc.); can have vampires, whose subplots usually include some kind of incapacitation and then sexual assault accompanying the blood-sucking, usually of women by both males and females.
    ◙ Always has “good guys” and “bad guys,” with the “good guys” prevailing in the end.
    ◙ Main characters cannot die unless already replaced by a successor.

    from http://www.sherrydramsey.com/?page_id=1005

  • High Fantasy:
    ◙ Similar to Fantasy, but with more court-like/royal characters and class conflicts/settings; usually some star-crossed royalty romance for the teen or young adult main characters that ends HEA (Happily Ever After); usually has dragons or other mythical creatures centrally featured; for specious reasons, characters often speak in upper-class British accents/styles and/or insert French- or Spanish-sounding words randomly; often heavily laced with sword fights, quests, riddles and other “tests” for the main characters (usually male), which they have to lose at least twice before becoming victorious (“getting the girl” is usually part of their “prize”).
    ◙ Duels are common.
    ◙ Usually HEA (Happily Ever After).
    ◙ Main characters cannot die unless they’re old or can become mythologized and/or unless already replaced by a successor.

    from the cover of Issue 5 of http://www.heliotropemag.com/

  • Urban Fantasy:
    ◙ Similar to Fantasy, but set in decaying cities; usually dystopian/post-apocalyptic; can blend magic with tech, though not as originally or interestingly as the author believes; not enough female characters and frequent fighting among the males; duels are common; cyborgs, androids, political and social tyrants, crime and criminals abound.
    ◙ Only HEA (Happily Ever After) for about 3 “beats,” then more fighting.
    ◙ “Good Guys” can be ethically challenged and compromised frequently.
    ◙ Main characters can die.

    from http://www.spi-global.com/blog/cs-blog/the-difference-between-speculative-fiction-and-science-fiction/

  • Dark Fantasy:
    ◙ Exactly like one or both of the above Fantasy genres, but with more sex (sometimes BDSM or hard-core porn, here); lots of blood, gore, fighting, elements of Horror, etc.; has conflicts that maim, kill off or otherwise harm the female characters severely, who then need to be rescued (when possible); hauntings, ghosts, evil from other dimensions and realms, summonings gone wrong and other horror-like elements can occur frequently, usually showing the main characters to be idiots; features ominous castles and fortresses a lot.
    ◙ Does not usually go with HEA (Happily Ever After) because the main characters get to be “happy” (have amazing sex and lie around together afterwards) for about 3 “beats” before someone tries to kill one or both of them.
    ◙ Main characters can be cursed, ensorceled and/or die.

    from http://wallpaper-gallery.net/wallpapers/dark-fantasy-wallpapers.html

  • Horror:
    ◙ Similar to Dark Fantasy or Dystopian Sci-Fi, but with more gore, blood, death, suspense, killing, maiming, scaring, scarring, psychological and physical trauma of all kinds as both the causes/ motivations and outcomes for the characters AND the readers (can you tell I do not read Horror?); often has demons, demonic forces, battles between “good” and “evil” embodied in various physical and spirit bodies.
    ◙ Doesn’t even think about including “Happy” endings, except as punctuation marks between disasters and/or parodies.
    ◙ Main characters can and do die, usually horrifically (pun intended).

    from http://www.spi-global.com/blog/cs-blog/the-difference-between-speculative-fiction-and-science-fiction/

  • Young Adult Speculative Fiction (usually known as YA Spec Fic):
    ◙ Usually dystopian, futuristic Sci-fi or Fantasy; features an abundance of orphans or single-parent-raised main characters; usually has one female for every two male main characters; often includes a plot/characterization that starts with the MC as an undistinguished, low-living, bullied, betrayed, enslaved or harried young person who then experiences the uncovering of special powers or previously unknown importance revealed in the first few chapters.
    ◙ Big on “destiny,” “fate,” “saving the world” and such…really, the MCs are attempting to help only a small number of beings within or a local geographic section of their/”our” world.
    ◙ Can be leaning more toward Fantasy or Sci-fi or blend both.
    ◙ Main characters can die, but usually only within an extended series; most do not.
    NOTE: YA Spec Fic is probably the best source among all Spec Fic subgenres for finding stories that feature people of color, those with disabilities or who are neuro-atypical, queer and other non-mainstream main characters and sidekicks.

image from a guest post by Julia Ember (no relation) on Jamie Kramer’s Books and Ladders blog, http://booksandladders.blogspot.com/2016/06/guestpost-unicorn-tracks-by-julia-ember.html

I told you I was jaded. I am not the only one, by any means. The following quote and analysis (please read entire article; link below) sums up my major complaints perfectly:

[Spec Fic is] not just about shiny, phallic rocket ships populated by deep-in-the-closet Aryan brethren conquering the Final Frontier, people. It’s about different futures, alternate realities, dangerous fantasies. You’d think such places, where dragons dwell, would be heavily populated with equally unusual people, but nope. Looks like everybody important there is white, male, anglophone and straight. Not to mention perfectly healthy physically and mentally.

—penned by Paula R. Stiles, “Diversity in Speculative Fiction,” on http://www.fantasy-magazine.com/non-fiction/articles/diversity-in-speculative-fiction/, from the Dec., 2016 (Issue 60) – People of Colo(u)r Destroy Fantasy! Special Issue [NOTE: “Fantasy Magazine has merged with its sister publication, Lightspeed, so this site will no longer be updated with new content. However, the fiction and interviews you would have found here at Fantasy will now be part of Lightspeed, so please sign up for our newsletter (sent out once or twice a month) to receive updates about the release of new issues of Lightspeed Magazine, news about the magazine, and more.”]
——-Lightspeed Magazine also published, starting in 2014, Queers Destroy… each of the subgenres (Fantasy, Horror, Fantasy), starting with Science-Fiction Special Issues, which you can find out about here: http://www.destroysf.com/queers/
And, on that same page, they have links to their POC [People of Color] Destroy… series of Special Issues for each subgenre (Fantasy, Horror, Fantasy)

2015’s Queers Destroy Science-Fiction cover

—Women are at the forefront of these critiques and do them so well, I have so many to choose from. Here is another, from an interview conducted by Alexandra Alter with N. K. Jemisin [Jemisin was the the first African-American writer and the first woman of color to win a Hugo Award for “best novel” (others have won for short fiction)], “N. K. Jemisin on Diversity in Science-Fiction and Inspiration From Dreams,” published by the New York Times (!?) on https://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/25/books/n-k-jemisin-on-diversity-in-science-fiction-and-inspiration-from-dreams.html?_r=0
Jemisin says she “decided to focus on an oppressive society at the macro scale and what that society does to individuals” in her spec fic novels. Why? Because “a woman of color from an impoverished culture, being brought up among wealthy, privileged white people and having to cope and perform in ways that she has not been raised to do… was obviously drawn from some personal experiences. I do that in everything — explorations of power, identity and belonging.”

—Another great article, “Genrequeer,” by Theodore McCombs at http://www.fictionunbound.com/blog/2016/4/6/genrequeer, offers this excellent insight: “To make space for black achievement and transcendence, speculative fiction lets us change all the rules that should never have been rules in the first place.”

So, there is a lot of hope for increasing diversity, better representation of women and girls, more interesting stories and compelling ways to resolve conflicts than wars and violence in the Spec Fic genre and all its subgenres, with dozens of websites, groups and other resources to help us find them.

Here are some:
—The Black Science Fiction Society: http://www.blacksciencefictionsociety.com

Logo from Black Science Fiction Society website, 2017

—The Speculative Literature Foundation offers “Diverse Writers and Diverse Worlds Grants …The two $500 awards support any purpose that writer recipients may choose to benefit their work.”
FMI: http://speculativeliterature.org/ and a resource list of orgs for writers of Spec Fic: http://speculativeliterature.org/writers-resources-2/writers/writers-organizations-2/

African-American Sci-Fi: http://www.africanamericansciencefiction.com/

Latino Spec Fic: http://www.latinospeculativefiction.com/, which published Latin@ Rising: An Anthology of Latin@ Science Fiction and Fantasy, which “is the first anthology to bring together U.S. Latinos/as who are working in science fiction, fantasy, and other speculative genres”; edited by Matthew David Goodwin.

Cover of Latino@ Rising: An Anthology of Latin@ Science Fiction and Fantasy

—Two other not-so-recent anthologies: Dark Matter: Reading the Bones (2005), edited by Sheree R. Thomas, and Cosmos Latinos: An Anthology of Science Fiction from Latin America and Spain (2003), edited by Andrea L. Bell and Yolanda Molina-Gavilán, which “showcase African-American and (mostly) Spanish-speaking spec-fic writers, respectively.”

—Check out writers in the sub-category of Afrofuturism, which is defined in Wikipedia: “Afrofuturism addresses themes and concerns of the African diaspora through a technoculture and science-fiction lens, encompassing a range of media and artists with a shared interest in envisioning black futures that stem from Afrodiasporic experiences.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Afrofuturism

Tracy Mumford, about a year ago, wrote, in: “‘We want to hear new voices’: Diversity in sci-fi and fantasy” for https://www.mprnews.org/story/2016/04/05/books-diversity-in-sci-fi-and-fantasy [as part of The Thread newsletter, which I recommend you sign up for right now (on that page)], some great commentary about those topics.
This article also has a great recommended reading list, curated during and prior to 2015, mostly, of diverse writers’ work in spec fic.

—Queer Sci-Fi has so much to offer, now, and via so many sites. Here is one website that may list the majority of them and offers more resources, besides: https://queerscifi.com/

Weigh in, please. I’d love to have great discussions, here, about other elements of Spec Fic and intersectionality (the places that social identities overlap and in which we analyze privilege, oppression and efforts to effect change). What have I left out, got wrong, etc.?

I’d love to hear from you. I also welcome Guest Bloggers (see my site for Guidelines): http://www.sallyember.com/

Look who’s included in “Sci-Fi Women Interviews: The 2016 Collection,” by Natacha Guyot!

Look who’s included in “Sci-Fi Women Interviews: The 2016 Collection,” by Natacha Guyot!

Thanks, again, Natacha, for including me in your roster of #women #scifi #authors for 2016 and now, in this compendium of your interviews as a #free #ebook on #Smashwords (which has all ebook formats available for download).

Download your copy today! https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/710894

The 2016’s women science-fiction authors Natacha interviewed and put into this book:

December 2016: Kate M. Colby

November 2016: Tonya R. Moore

October 2016: Alison Berrios

September 2016: Tracy Gardner

August 2016: Marie Bilodeau

July 2016: D. Wallace Peach

June 2016: Philippa Ballantine

May 2016: Amanda Ward

April 2016: Diana Gordon

March 2016: Sally Ember

February 2016: Jennifer A. Miller

January 2016: Robin Rivera and Heather Jackson

Visit Natacha’s website and read more of her work and blog: http://natachaguyot.org
She also has another compilation ebook and an ebook of some of her #feminist blog posts in another compilation on Smashwords, plus, the individual archives of her 2015’s interviews and the beginning two months’ worth of 2017’s interviews on her website.

“Natacha Guyot is a French researcher, author and public speaker. She holds two Master’s degrees: Film and Media Studies (Paris III Sorbonne Nouvelle) and Digital Culture and Technology (King’s College London). Her main fields of interest are Science-fiction, Gender Studies, Children’s Media and Fan Studies. Besides her nonfiction work, she also writes Science-Fiction and Fantasy stories.”

What I got from The Schrödinger Sessions II: Physics for Science -Fiction Writers, First Installment

What I got from The Schrödinger Sessions II: Physics for Science-Fiction Writers, First Installment
JULY 28, 2016 to JULY 30, 2016


I have over thirty pages of notes and comments. Not going to put them all in one post, so here is the first installment.

For any terms or concepts I don’t define or which I define poorly, please refer to: http://www.physicsoftheuniverse.com/glossary.html

I don’t have any more than what I’m posting, here. Physicists: please add, comment, correct, elaborate, explain! Thanks!

NOTE: the superscripted and subscripted numbers and letters won’t copy/paste correctly here; sorry.

Session I, Professor Steve Rolston, Ph.D.

A. Measuring diameter by diffraction
the smaller the diameter of the hair, the greater the distance from the hair to each point of diffraction, and therefore, light is a wave

B. electrons eject from light and become collectible as charged particles when light bounces off a hard (metallic) surface, becoming photoelectric or photovoltaic

light color shows the frequency, so “yes” = blue”; “no” = red

materials also cause variations in the number of electrons emitted, so light is particles/ photons (corpuscles, in old language)

C. frequency = the inverse of wavelength

Planck’s constant is usually written as “h,” but if the reference/formula already includes h/2π, then the “h” represents that and gets a diagonal bar across its stem, “ħ” and is called “h bar

FORMULA: 6.626 * 10-34 m2 kg/s = h
(VERY SMALL number)

this refers to frequency at varying temperatures

E. a micron = 1 millionth of a meter; a human hair is about 30 – 80 microns in width

F. Lasers are usually emitting a single color of light at 10K watts, brightly focused
an incandescent light bulb is emitting about 100 watts and many colors, so this is called incoherent light

G. photons could be interacting but physicists can’t measure, observe or predict any of their interactions (yet), so physicists say that photons “do not interact”

Session II, Professor Chad Orzel, Ph.D.

A. http://dogphysics.com = his website
he handed out diffraction slides (grading)

B. Energy per photon depends on frequency

FORMULA: E*photon = hv

C. Particles have wave nature (atoms, molecules, photons, electrons, neutrons, positrons)

D. Excited gases are heated or electrified to move more quickly

E. every element emits and absorbs light uniquely, which is one way to identify them, even when they are isotopes (missing one or more electrons, and therefore “charged ions”)

F. there is a simple mathematical pattern to all light on the known spectrum (each color makes discrete “lines”)

G. Rutherford effect: scattering/deflecting pattern, “back-scattering,” occurs when using “alpha” particles, e.g., heavy atomic particles
light atomic particles, e.g., nucleus of Helium, do not have this

H. Use the Planck constant to explain energy differences between frequencies of light

FORMULA: hf = E1 – E2

I. mass (m) * velocity (v) = linear momentum

J. angular momentum = spinning or orbiting

FORMULA: MeVeR = n * h/2π

R = orbit; n = an integer; M = mass

K. electrons emit X-rays

L. wavelength, from de Broglie, λ = an object and this formula shows how to calculate its angular momentum

FORMULA: λ = h/p

M. Electron waves = the way electrons wrap around the atom’s orbital pattern

N. Standing waves = peaks and valleys of or a bit that is repeated and fixed, from start = finish
if number of peaks are high enough, then these can create a pattern

O. stringed instruments’ pitch is created by the frequency of standing waves, and are adjusted by changing the start or finish point (loosening or tightening one end of the string’s attachment pin)

P. electrons as particles behave as waves when there are high enough numbers create a pattern

Q. random numbers can be generated/derived from background radiation, which are the decay patterns of the atomic isotopes

R. molecules behave like waves, as do all other particles, even those without mass
electrons, protons and neutrons have mass
photons have no mass and always move at the speed of light (c)

S. Stanford University has an interferomoter

T. bigger objects have smaller wavelengths (a dog running has wavelengths to its running pattern of about 10-35

U. wavelength graphs become blobs because peaks of waves are touching on the paper/surface we use to show them

V. everything physical vibrates/oscillates

W. even when separated by ½ a meter , very large atoms resume wave behavior when reunited (there is no permanent divorce possible within an atom’s parts)

See below for more information about The Schrödinger Sessions.

Who was in charge?
Chad Orzel, Union College
Emily Edwards, JQI
Steve Rolston, JQI

Organizing Institutions
Joint Quantum Institute (JQI)
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

Sponsoring Institutions
This workshop was made possible by a Public Outreach and Informing the Public grant from the American Physical Society (APS) and support from the National Science Foundation (NSF)

Joint Quantum Institute
2136 Physical Sciences Complex
University of Maryland
College Park, MD 20742

How did I get to go?
I applied in March and was accepted in April!

The Schrödinger Sessions II was the second of two (first was 2015) three-day (2.5 days, really) sets of seminars, Physics for Science-Fiction Writers, offering a “crash course” in modern physics for non-scientists who utilize physics and other sciences in our work and wish to do it better. It was held at the Joint Quantum Institute (JQI), one of the world’s leading research centers for the study of quantum mechanics. [The organizers kept their promises to] introduce participants to phenomena like superposition, entanglement, and quantum information through a series of lectures by JQI and NIST scientists and tours of JQI laboratories. [They most certainly DID] inform and inspire new stories [and sharing information, like this] in print, on screen, and in electronic media, that will in turn inspire a broad audience to learn more about the weird and fascinating science of quantum physics and the transformative technologies it enables.

The workshop was held at JQI from Thursday, July 28 through Saturday, July 30, 2016. Participants were housed locally at a university dorm with breakfast offered at a dining commons near the dorm and lunch provided at the workshop, which was at the Physical Sciences building. Evenings were free to allow participants to explore the Washington, D.C. area (but I was much too tired at each day’s end to do any exploring).

Participants were selected on the basis of an application asking about personal background, interest, and publication history. [Organizers worked] work to ensure the greatest possible diversity of race and gender as well as type of media (print, television, etc.) with an eye toward reaching the broadest audience. Applications were accepted online from March 1 through March 20, 2015, and acceptance decisions were made around April 15, 2015.

FYI: Next year, 2017, JQI plans to offer a similar seminar for a different professoinal group, Physics for Journalists, and then, pending funding, re-offer this same session as I attended, Physics for Sci-Fi Writers, in the summer of 2018.

Watch this space for more of my notes, reactions and ideas catalyzed by these great seminars, after 8/8/16! http://www.sallyember.com/blog

Why I #write utopian, #Buddhist-infused, #multiverse #scifi/rom #novels & why you should #read & share them.

Reposted from 10/30/13 and 2/5/15

Writers are often exhorted to write the books we want to read that seem not to exist, yet. I am following that advice with The Spanners Series, especially Volume I, This Changes Everything, which is now PERMAFREE, and also with subsequent volumes (Volume II, This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, released 6/9/14; look for Volumes III and IV in 2015).

I am an avid reader and have probably read hundreds of thousands of books in my 56 years of reading independently and quickly, sometimes devouring ten books a week. If I say books like mine—a series like The Spanners—don’t yet exist, I’m probably correct.

All buy links, reviews, interviews, readings and more: http://www.sallyember.com/Spanners Look right; scroll down.

Why am I writing #science-fiction/#romance, #Buddhist-infused, #multiverse/#multiple timelines #utopian #novels besides the reason already given? And, why should you read them? Because we live in a deteriorating, or degenerating Age, according to #Tibetan Buddhists (and probably many others I’m not bothering to research right now).

When I first hear this claim, I disbelieve it. Aren’t most things “improving” for humanity? Modern medicine, technology, transportation, knowledge of all types: in the 20th and 21st centuries, we are experiencing incontrovertible advances, mind-blowing progress, right? Plus, that POV is just such a downer!

Why would the Buddha’s followers propose and then Buddhist teachers and scholars maintain such a doom-and-gloom perspective on life? It’s not enough that Buddha focused his teachings on suffering and impermanence? Most Buddhists must be depressed: that’s what I thought.

I could understand why Tibetans, having been living under horrible oppression, genocide and cultural destruction under Chinese rule for decades, would be so pessimistic. But, we’re in the good ole’ USA: things are great here, right?

Not so much. I won’t go into the facts we all know now (even more than ever, thanks to Snodwen and Manning) about how screwed up the USA has been and still is, nor how terrible the economy is here and everywhere. I won’t provide the list. We all know too well the horrors of our modern life. Modern tragedies, however, are actually not even relevant to this discussion.

The “degenerating” part of our Age has little to do with actual external conditions. Our deterioration involves humans’ not being able to learn #dharma, not being able to find qualified and worthy Buddhist teachers, not being able to practice meditation well or at all. The Buddha’s teachings and Buddhists practitioners are what are degenerating, in what is called “The Third Age” or “The Latter Day of the Law.”

You can look this up. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Ages_of_Buddhism

My point is, dystopian futures abound. Most sci-fi writers, even those that include romance in their stories, write of increasingly worsening conditions on and around this planet and across the Universe. They pile on the violence, showing increasing discord, more political and social unrest, deaths and destructions even worse than we have now. We already have too much awfulness for me to want to read about even worse futures.

Enough, already: I believe we need some hope, ideas of how else things could go, whether or not I always believe they will take these turns. Since I can’t find this optimism in the daily news or libraries’ and bookstores’ fiction, I decide to create it. I need this in my personal life, for the USA, for the continent, the water, air and land: I am imagining routes for improvement for the planet and the entire universe.

When I #meditate, especially during a #retreat phase in which I was #contemplating lives of beings in the “God Realm,” it occured to me repeatedly that we live in opulence amid squalor, all over the planet. Beauty smack dab in the middle of ugliness, every day. #Yin and #yang. We do have to “take the good with the bad,” but do we have to emphasize the “bad”?

I do not.

In my novels, even when things are “bad,” there is more good than bad. Buddha teaches often that we have to discern between “good” and “bad” even as we know these are illusory. Many teachings expound on how there is NO “good” or “bad,” no “birth” and no “death,” no “coming” and no “going.”

While you puzzle over that, I’m going to continue my utopian illusions in The Spanners Series. In my current and future multiverses, beings, including humans, will have love, better conditions and dharma: they/we have it all!

Furthermore, I’m going to HOPE—even though we are instructed to meditate partly in order to relinquish all hope and all fear—that YOU read my books and enjoy them as much as I enjoy writing them.

Please let me know! Write your comments here on this and other posts, on excerpts from my novel, and whatever else occurs to you. Let’s converse!

WRITING AND PROMOTING A SERIES: Series authors, Nicholas C. Rossis and Charles Yallowitz


by series authors, Nicholas C. Rossis, Pearseus series, and

Charles Yallowitz, Legends of Windemere series

Guest bloggers and former guests on CHANGES conversations between authors
(Episodes 7 and 9), http://www.sallyember.com



This joint post was made possible by the invitation of Sally Ember, who has been gracious enough to allow us to speak on her blog. She has done this knowing that Mr. Rossis and Mr. Yallowitz have a history of crazy antics. Indeed, some of these antics occurred on Sally’s very own LIVE video show *CHANGES* conversations between authors, which you can find online. Thank you to Sally Ember and we hope everyone enjoys this post on writing a series.

Check out Nicholas’s newest release, Pearseus: Vigil, by clicking on the above cover art and
prepare for a March/April debut of Charles’s next book, Legends of Windemere: Sleeper of the Wildwood Fugue.

Charles: First, I would like to say that I’m happy to be working with Nicholas again and on a post this time. Our back and forth on our blogs is a lot of fun and he has a very sharp, creative mind that keeps me on my toes. This carries over into his writing, which impressively spans several genres.

Nicholas: Same goes for me. I’m very impressed by Charles, both as an author and as a person. Plus, it’s great to have someone who gets my weird sense of humor!

What is the hardest part about promoting a series?
Charles: It’s really easy at the beginning because you can play around with teasers and you only have one book out. Then you get the second and try to find ways to promote without revealing everything in the first book. Around the third book, if you go higher than a trilogy, you get caught between avoiding big revelations in the earlier books and spoilers for the next one. It’s a really hectic balancing act because you don’t want to say too much. Yet, you have to say enough to keep people interested and lead to them to the rest of the series.

I’ve found that you have to make sacrifices in this, for example, revealing a minor spoiler to promote the next book while keeping the big stuff secret. A teaser helps, too, because it isn’t so much a spoiler, but a hint that something is going to happen or a foreshadowed event is coming to pass. Oddly enough, I found that Twitter is the less nerve-wracking social media site to promote a series on because the 140-character limit means you can’t say much and it’s hard to tiptoe around spoilers like that; you have to stick to catchy blurbs or small quotes from the book.

CLICK FOR AMAZON SITE Cover Art by Jason Pedersen

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen

Nicholas: I agree with Charles that Twitter is a great promotional medium for a series, as my marketing relies on a short quote and a link.

One of the best things about having a series is that you can have a different book on sale each month and it will help the others’ sales as well. However, unlike Charles, I have also made a book bundle available. This contains all the books published so far in Pearseus. Obviously, when this is on sale, no one buys the rest of the books. However, it does attract a lot of attention as it offers great value for money. So, it’s all a bit of a balancing act.

How difficult is it to maintain continuity in a series and what tricks do you use to accomplish this?
Charles: I once switched one of my main character’s eye colors and a minor recurring character lost his hair. So some of the details can be messed up if one isn’t careful. Perhaps the biggest challenge to story continuity is that you can forget some foreshadowing or you do something that alters a previously established rule. Middle books can also have events that change the finale because what you plan in your head might not always be what comes out on paper. It really is a game of memory and concentration or like putting together a 5,000-piece puzzle with no picture to guide you.

There are two tricks that I use. One is that I keep notes on a lot of things that I believe I will forget. For example, I had some minor characters who step into the spotlight in a later book and I never gave them much description in their first appearances. There was just enough that they stood out and I had to make sure I had those identifiers written down. The other trick is never to be afraid to look back at your earlier books to confirm information. If you have even an inkling that you’re off on a fact, then jump back to the book where you know the information has already been written. This helps with plot lines, character descriptions, world-building and anything else that carries over from book to book.

Nicholas: LOL—I love the idea of “a 5,000-piece puzzle with no picture to guide you.” Indeed, it can feel that way at times.

I have a .doc file that includes all sorts of minor details, from names to subplots. Also, when I write, I always have my older books open as well. That way, I’m instantly able to jump back and forth and check things out. For example, a lot of the action takes place in a place called the “Chamber of Justice.” Every now and again, I’ll catch myself typing “Chambers of Justice” (plural) instead, so I have to remember it’s actually singular. I have no idea why some days it feels self-evident it’s singular and others that it’s plural, but that’s just how it is.

Pearseus Bundle on Amazon

Pearseus Bundle on Amazon

Do you have any suggestions for readers who wish to get into reading a long series?
Charles: I’m a fan of starting from the beginning, but I know many who start at the most recent book. If you do this, then I highly suggest that you read the earlier books at some point for more context and to see events that don’t get mentioned again. Also, one must be patient with a series because the story is stretched out and every book will have an opening. Also, not everything gets cleared up at the end of the earlier books. That understanding helps a reader accept that questions will remain. The only other tip I have is that you have to trust that the author knows what he or she is doing. I see a lot of readers try to demand that certain events happen in a story, but those desires might not fall in line with what the author has planned.

Nicholas: This is a typical “patience is a virtue” situation. Writing a series is a serious responsibility. Reading a series is an investment of both time and money, so we have to make sure that each and every book not only meets the readers’ expectations, but exceeds them. We owe them as much. That is why I’m grateful to all my readers, but those who have invested in Pearseus hold a special place in my heart.

There are several things we can do to make it easier on the reader, of course. For example, all my Pearseus books have a map with the cities and places that have been revealed so far, plus any new ones. Also, I have a character list at the beginning (and in “X-ray,” if reading on a Kindle), with a two-sentence description of who that person is. Another good idea is to offer a quick reminder each time a minor character first appears. For example, you can say something along the lines of:

“Parad walked into the room. He spotted Angel, his daughter, and smiled.”
This helps people who may have forgotten who Angel is.

Yet another trick I use is to give names to as few people as possible. For example, a minor character may be safely referred to by their property or occupation. Readers don’t need to know the name of every healer that tends a hero’s wounds or every blacksmith that sharpens his weapons.

Finally, the best thing to do is to make sure each book can stand on its own. That means no cliffhangers and no obscure references—at least not without a reminder.

Sadly, this is not always possible. Mad Water, the third book in the series, ends on a cliffhanger because the subplots raised there are not resolved for another 400 pages. So I could either have an 800-page-long book or two 400-page ones, the first of which ends on a cliffhanger.

Obviously, I chose the latter, which brings me back to readers’ patience. 🙂

CLICK FOR AMAZON SITE Cover Art by Jason Pedersen

Cover Art by Jason Pedersen

Charles Yallowitz‘s Information

Blog: www.legendsofwindemere.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/cyallowitz
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Charles-E-Yallowitz/e/B00AX1MSQA/
Website: www.charleseyallowitz.com
Jason Pedersen, Legends of Windemere‘s Cover Artist: http://www.jasonpedersen.com/

Nicholas Rossis‘ Information

Nicholas Rossis
Blog:http://nicholasrossis.me/ .
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Nicholas-C.-Rossis/e/B00FXXIBZA/
Goodreads: Pearseus: Schism can be read for free on Goodreads.
Twitter: www.twitter.com/Nicholas_Rossis
Google+: https://plus.google.com/+NicholasRossis
Facebook: www.facebook.com/NicholasCRossis

Sally Ember, Ed.D., is the author of the sci-fi/romance/utopian ebooks in The Spanners Series. Volume I, This Changes Everything, is permafree. Volume II, This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, is usually $3.99. Look for Volumes III and IV in 2015.
All reviews, info, excerpts, links: http://www.sallyember.com/Spanners

#Writing as Excavation of the Soul

Repost from 12/2/13

For me, #writing fiction and poetry always involves digging up artifacts and dirt. My own and others’ buried treasures, junk, secrets and lies are uncovered, examined, deemed worthy “as is” or refurbished, cleaned up and presented within the text.

Writing #ClaraBranon, as her and about her, is the most autobiographical fiction I’ve ever written. I decided to gift Clara with most of my own “stories” and history, to see what would happen when a version of me is involved in the circumstances and relationships Clara encounters. It’s a roller-coaster for me, delving into my own life to pull up people, events, emotions, reactions, wishes, fears, griefs and successes and foist them onto Clara.

Usually, she does a lot better than I do or I already have with these events and has a much higher “success” rate with her conversations and intimacies than I can claim. In many ways, I feel envious of her. I also do not want her life, especially the public part. But, I do sometimes wish I had her personal strength and courage.

Oh, wait; I do. I must. I also have her creativity, the fire that burns within her, since I gave it to her. Of course I do.

Then, why is it so much easier to see this in Clara than in myself? I believe I make a character in my own image and deliberately make her better than I am only to discover that she can’t be better than I am because I made her. Not to put too fine a point on it, but the whole “God-made-humans-in-‘His’-own’-image” story has similar issues, yes?

As a fiction and poetry creator, as a #Buddhist well aware of the illusory nature of all phenomena, as a fabricator and dreamer, I am well aware of the fantasies I make into a semblance of reality with each paragraph or stanza I put into words. I paint pictures of scenes, drawing upon deep emotional bonds and reactions in order to do it, but we all know none of this is “real.” Right? Except for the parts that are true, that is.

The exhilarating, terrifying ride of writing one’s own stories in whatever forms is that others are going to read them and get to know things about me and my inner world I would never tell them, otherwise. My best defense, then, is to mix these true tales with pure fiction.

Sometimes serving up this admixture seems to be a cop-out move on my part, as I feel a taunting voice within me saying: “Na, na: you can’t know me! You don’t know what parts of this are ‘mine’ and which are completely made up. So there! Try and figure it out. I’ll never tell!”

This is the gauntlet every writer throws down to one’s readers: “Catch me, if you can!”

I do leave breadcrumbs for your journey, especially on Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/sallyember and here in my blog posts. Happy treasure hunting, readers!

Please let me know what you find and what labels you decide to put on each trinket. We can compare later. Start with Volume I, This Changes Everything (NOW FREE) and ask: “Who is #EpifanioDang?” Move on to “Are there really #aliens coming or already here from the #ManyWorldsCollective?”
http://www.sallyember.com for buy links, reviews, interviews and more. Look right; scroll down.

Continue with a chapter-by-chapter analysis of world history, politics, biology, religions, the arts and meditation and keep going: The Spanners Series has so much to offer you, including Volume II, This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, which released 6/9/14, and Volumes III and IV coming out in 2015!

Enjoy! Write Reviews! Share!

National #Science-Fiction Day is Today! Celebrate #Scifi #Authors

Woo-hoo! #Aliens, #Robots and more: Oh, My!
TODAY is National Science-Fiction Day! Who knew? An entire day to celebrate #sciencefictionwriters in honor of what may (or may not) be Isaac Asimov’s birthday!

Full post here: http://genrelove.co/2015/01/national-science-fiction-day/

image from http://www.treehugger.com

http://www.sallyember.com/Spanners gets you all info and links about my sci-fi series.