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XX Authors: Featuring C.L. Roman

XX Authors: Featuring C.L. Roman

XX Author Interview

I am starting a series of interviews with authors of the female persuasion. In some cases, this may be the only thing they have in common. As the instigator of this endeavor, I thought it only fair that I start with myself.

BRP: Give us the deets – genre(s), length of writing career, how long you’ve been writing – all the basics.

CLR: I’m an indie author. Been writing my whole life, but my first book came out in 2013. Several others are gathering dust in a drawer somewhere. Thank goodness.

BRP: What made you choose Sci-fi and Fantasy?

CLR: I’m not sure I chose them so much as those genres chose me. I love the world building aspect, especially constructing the rules for the magic in a fantasy world. And, with both SF and Fantasy, you have so much scope. Anything is possible, which makes for some wonderful story opportunities.

Coming soon to a platform near you.

BRP: How do you feel about female characters?

CLR: I am definitely pro-female characters. (Grins.) There is such a lot being said about how women are portrayed in books and movies. I think its important to simply let them be who they are. Strength or weakness should be an aspect of the character without regard to gender. The same is true for honest/dishonest, honorable/dishonorable and all the rest. I build my characters from the ground up starting with whether, at their base, they are a good person or a bad person, then progressing to how good/bad, how strong/weak, etc. Gender factors into that, but it does so as a separate issue.

BRP: What is the hardest thing about being a female author?

CLR: I think balancing work and home life continues to be a bit more difficult for women than it is for men. Maybe that’s a sexist view. I don’t know. I can only speak from my own experience. When I’m working, and something needs to be done (care for children, mess to clean up, meal to be made, whatever) I used to have to battle within myself the idea that I should automatically be the one to do it. Sometimes I still do.

Let me be clear. Neither my husband nor anyone else in my family “makes” me feel this way. It has a lot to do with the way I was brought up. The roles in family life were unspoken, but clearly defined nonetheless. So, when I’m working and something needs to be done, I am learning to ask myself, is this something I, specifically, need to take care of, and if not, I let someone else handle it. It doesn’t work that way all the time, of course. It’s a work in progress, like most of life.

BRP: What is the best thing about being a female author?

CLR: In some ways, being an author may be easier for women than being in the corporate world, because to a huge extent we are our own boss. We choose who we work with, which offers us a huge advantage that women in the corporate sector don’t have. When I was a secretary, for instance, I dealt with sexual harassment on a daily basis, and more than one instance of gender discrimination. Keeping my job meant putting up with it or finding a way around it. But as an indie author, if I have a bad experience with an editor or a cover artist, then I have a hundred others to choose from. (Luckily, the ones I’ve worked with have been awesome.) The competitiveness of the field tends to weed out those who make things difficult.

BRP: How does being female affect your writing – or does it?

CLR: Never having not been a female I don’t know how to answer that. I know that probably sounds like it was intended as a joke, but the truth is, I have nothing to compare it to. I think all of us wear these lenses through which we view the world but, most of the time, we aren’t aware of wearing them. So, it’s really hard to set them aside. It is only when we intentionally remove the lenses, or something happens that knocks them off, or at least sideways, that we can see things differently. And that isn’t just true for women. It’s true for all of us. All we have is our first-person perspective, unless we make the effort – and it is a large effort, make no mistake – to see things from someone else’s viewpoint.

BRP: What do you think about the “strong female character” or STF, trope in literature?

CLR: In as much as it suggests that the “strong female” is a distinct subset, somewhat unusual and rigidly defined, it worries me a little. Everyone has strength. Sometimes that strength comes from gender, but far more often it comes from the totality of who one is: personality and life experience. Some are stronger than others, or strong in different ways. Some don’t access it as often or as readily as they might, but that comes back to character and choices.

On the other hand, I do like the STF as an alternative to the submissive stereotype that used to be more common in literature. The funny thing is, those types of characters are forgettable. They have no staying power. Who do we remember from literature, and why? Do we remember Diana Barry or Anne-With-An-E? Hint: I had to Google Diana. I had no trouble remembering Anne.

BRP: How do you treat misogyny in your writing, or do you?

CLR: It would be foolish to ignore misogyny. As Elie Wiesel said, silence helps the oppressor, never the oppressed. There are people in the world who do bad things out of a warped worldview that sees women as less than.  But I try hard not to glorify or reward it in my writing. And I try not to lean on it as a trope either.

BRP: Do you think the market treats authors, and/or protagonists, differently based on gender?

CLR: I have heard it said that in certain genres, readers accept authors of one gender more readily than they do authors of another gender. I have no idea whether this is accurate, and no interest in testing the theory. True or not, I can only write the best stuff I can write, and let the pages turn as they may.

I think readers are looking for someone they can identify with. Gender is part of that equation. To that extent, maybe the market, or rather the reader, wants or expects different things from a protagonist. Whether or not that is based on gender? In part, yes, I think. But there are other components as well that are just as important.

BRP: What outside influences, if any, do you see having an impact on your writing?

CLR: The nightly news has a significant impact on my writing. Things that are happening in the world today – climate change, the #metoo movement, political weirdness – it all shows up one way or another.

BRP: Favorite author? Why?

CLR: As a young girl I loved Anne McCaffery. Her Dragon-Riders were everything I aspired to. Brave, tenacious. Then, as I grew older, I discovered Bradbury and Atwood. Now I don’t try to pick favorites. I just read what appeals to me.

BRP: Do you make a conscious effort to include feminist themes in your writing?              

CLR: Not really, but I’m finding they show up more and more. Probably due to the question above about outside influences.

BRP: What advice would you offer to new women authors coming up?

CLR: Don’t give up and don’t listen to anyone who tells you that you should. Regardless of what field you’ve chosen to rest your passion in, pursue it with everything you’ve got. Even if you don’t meet the world’s definition of success, you may find it better to write your own anyway.

BRP: What are you working on now?

CLR: I am working on the third novel in my Earth Prime series, Gaia’s Revenge. Humans have been evacuated from Earth and are trying to find a new home, or regain the one they lost.

C.L. Roman

Author Bio: C.L. (aka Cheri) Roman, writes fantasy and sci-fi with a paranormal edge. You can find her at www.clroman.com and on Facebook. Cheri and her ever-patient husband live in the not-so-wilds of Northeast Florida with Jack E. Boy, the super Chihuahua, and Pye, the invisible cat.


The #1 Most Important Question for World Building: Guest post from E.J. Wenstrom

From Hogwarts to Middle Earth, the most compelling speculative fiction worlds are not just believable, but make readers want to envelope themselves between the pages and inhabit that world.

…A new story almost always starts not with the world, but with the character.

The devil, as always, is in the details. When it comes to developing a world that comes to life in full color for my novels, I always find myself coming back to a single question:

Why?

For me, a new story almost always starts not with the world, but with the character. Everything else fills out as an extension of that initial voice.

The beginnings of the world, therefore, are filled out to help me understand who the character is and how they became that way. The why behind it all.

When I started writing my first novel, Mud, I started with little more than a mood and voice from the golem who became the story’s antihero.

Why is this character on the streets?

Why is he hiding from everyone in a shuttered building?

Why does his soul feel so desperate?

These are all questions I asked myself at the earliest stages of the story’s development, and the answers heavily influenced the shape of the world that I built around him from those small nuggets.

Incredibly, before I knew it, I had not only a voice but a complicated character rich in history and shrouded in mysteries driven by the nature of the world he inhabited and its terrible history of wars between the gods and rebel demigods determined to overthrow them.

Why does the why method work? It is a flexible approach that you can put to work from any starting point for any project. The open-ended approach prompts your creativity to reach for the answers and encourages deeper thinking automatically.

Most importantly, it inherently encourages logical cause-and-effect worldbuilding that builds an internal logic to your world as organically as a sapling grows from a seed.

So the next time you find yourself stuck in your worldbuilding, keep this simple word in your pocket and give it a try! I hope it stretches your creativity as much as it has mine.

E. J. Wenstrom believes in complicated heroes, horrifying monsters, purple hair dye and standing to the right on escalators so the left side can walk. Her award-winning fantasy series Chronicles of the Third Realm War (City Owl Press) includes Florida Writers Association’s 2016 Book of the Year MUD (#1), RAIN (#0), TIDES (#2), and more books to come.


A Revolutionary Heroine With a Sci-Fi Twist by Bria Burton

“Her Midnight Ride” is a Kindle Single Story as well as a story featured in The Prometheus Saga Vol. 2

The name Sybil Ludington may not conjure up a daring, sixteen-year-old revolutionary for most Americans today, but I hope that will change. In my short story, “Her Midnight Ride,” featured in The Prometheus Saga Vol. 2, Sybil is the main protagonist fighting for American Independence.

While the story is based on historical facts, the premise of each short story in The Prometheus Saga revolves around the idea that an alien presence is observing humanity throughout history, watching how we evolve over time and intervening when desired. The collected stories are part of a science fiction anthology created by the Alvarium Experiment.

The Prometheus Saga Vol. 2 is available on Amazon

In “Her Midnight Ride,” history dominates and the science fiction is subtly woven in. My goal was to shed light on who Sybil was while telling an entertaining story with a sci-fi twist, but I didn’t want the science fiction aspect to overwhelm the facts. Readers seem to have responded well. The Single Kindle Edition was a #1 New Release on Amazon One-Hour Sci-Fi & Fantasy Short Reads.

More people are becoming aware of Sybil Ludington, and thanks to the efforts of the Enoch Crosby Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, Sybil’s legacy in the American Revolution has not been forgotten.

 

Statue of Sybil Ludington on Gleneida Avenue in Carmel, New York by Anna Hyatt Huntington. Image licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. Anthony22 is the original photographer.

While Sybil didn’t have the privilege of being immortalized in a poem by Longfellow like Paul Revere, her midnight ride was no less important, and nearly twice as long.

On April 26, 1777, at nine o’clock at night, a messenger arrived to inform Sybil’s father, Colonel Henry Ludington, that the British were burning patriot military storehouses and patriot homes in Danbury, Connecticut. Ludington’s regiment was scattered throughout two counties, and Sybil rode from her family farm in Fredericksburg, New York (now called Ludingtonville) to alert the militia, who would meet their colonel back at Ludington farm.

Sybil rode through 40 miles of dangerous countryside in a severe thunderstorm. Her horse, Star, is equally heroic as he braved the treacherous landscape at his mistress’s bidding. Sybil had a stick to knock on doors, and it was believed that she fought off a highwayman.

There is progress in terms of Sybil’s increased recognition. Books have been written about her. A large statue commissioned by the Daughters of the Revolution depicts Sybil riding her horse, Star, in Carmel, NY. The inscription below the statue honors her as a Revolutionary War Heroine. A board game was created where players followed Sybil’s route. An episode of Drunk History highlighted her story. She was once honored on a postage stamp.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Alvarium Experiment, a by-invitation-only consortium of outstanding authors, has produced two volumes of The Prometheus Saga, and there will likely be more. My American Revolutionary War story, “On Both Sides,” appeared in Vol. 1. “Her Midnight Ride” is a companion piece.

 

For further reading on Sybil’s life, I suggest starting with the many websites dedicated to honoring her legacy. One site claims to be her personal blog: www.sybilludingtonblog.weebly.com. It includes a short animated film that aired on PBS Kids TV. And here is an article from Equitrekking that acknowledges her and her amazing horse, Star: www.equitrekking.com/articles/entry/sybil-ludington-and-her-horse-star-heroes-of-the-american-revolution.

Author Bio:

Award-winning author Bria Burton lives in St. Pete, FL, with her wonderful husband, darling son, and two wild pets. Her short fiction has appeared in over twenty anthologies, magazine, and podcasts. She is a member of the Alvarium Experiment, a consortium of writers working “independently together” on an anthology of short stories, reinventing the short fiction experience.


A New Start

Hi there.

Remember me? That author you signed up to see posts from about a million years ago?

The sci-fi and fantasy writer?

The one with the cat?

Yeah, that’s me. Can’t blame you if you didn’t remember right away. It’s been a minute since I posted. The official reboot began last week when I put up a guest post by the awesome Leslie Halpern. Her post was the first one in a new posting schedule that I hope you will enjoy. It’s going to work like this:

Every Thursday a new post will go up. Because there are so many stellar authors out there, and I thought you’d like to hear from a few of them, I’ve offered guest spots to a wide range of sci-fi and fantasy authors. So I’ll be posting at least once a month, on the second Thursday, but the rest of the month it will be a guest author.

At least, that’s the plan.

I have the schedule mostly filled through November, but there are a lot of open slots after that. If you have an author you’d like to hear from, drop me a line in the comments. Come to that, if there’s a topic you’re dying to know more on, let me know. I’m always open to suggestions.

This represents a sort of reboot for this blog. I started it a while back when I set up the website. With it, I’m hoping to connect to readers and spread the word about my books and the indie world in general.

I hope you’ll join me.


Using Science Fiction Conventions to Inspire Ideas

By Leslie C. Halpern

As if attending a Star Wars Celebration, Worldcon, Dragoncon, Necronomicon, Comic-Con, MegaCon, or other similar event weren’t inspiring enough, these conventions can inspire out-of-this-world ideas for your writing. The trick is combining your powers of observation with your powers of imagination.

 

It’s taking a step back and becoming an observer instead of a participant and using your senses to take in the entire spectacle for a different take on what’s happening around you. It’s making connections between dissimilar things that momentarily create meaning. Writing sci-fi convention previews (such as scheduled special guests and presentations) and reviews (including panels, lectures, and exhibits) are standard ways of writing about these events. Try taking it one step further into “What if” territory by elevating the experience to inspire new fiction and nonfiction writing ideas.

 

A World of Inspiration  

Take Worldcon, for example. I was lucky enough to attend the 1992 World Science Fiction Convention (MagiCon) in Orlando, Florida in 1992. I was on assignment for an entertainment publication to cover a meet-and-greet with director Francis Ford Coppola about his newly released movie, Bram Stoker’s Dracula. In addition to the assigned film article, the dynamic atmosphere inspired years of writing ideas, including an article about screenwriting for a writer’s magazine.

The quotations and observations also came in handy when I recently wrote the book Scantily Clad Truths (where I wrote a humorous personal essay describing my weekend at MagiCon), and in my previous books Dreams on Film (where I discussed Dracula’s ability to make victims sleepwalk in a trance) and Passionate About Their Work: 151 Celebrities, Artists, and Experts on Creativity (in which I used Coppola’s direct quotations).

 

Photo copyright 2009 Leslie C. Halpern. MegaCon costume contest.

Sources for Ideas

  • People Watching: Regional fan-based science fiction conventions may attract 5,000 or more people while major international events such as Stars Wars Celebrations often bring in 70,000 fans. Either way, that’s a lot of potential people-watching. Each person has a story – whether you ask for the real one or imagine your own version of it.
  • Costume Contest: Sometimes there’s an official contest, and sometimes people just dress up for fun. Does the personality of the character seem to match the person? Does the outfit go with the body type? How much craft went into making the costume? How much creativity went into the concept and design?
  • Exhibit Hall: When the event is in full swing (typically on a Saturday), shoppers, sellers, and celebrities (selling their photos, books, and autographs) are most abundant in the exhibit hall. Exhibitors become increasingly desperate to sell their wares as the final day draws near so they can avoid shipping costs and transportation hassles of unsold merchandise. This is the perfect setting to observe, listen, take photographs, jot down notes, ask questions, and talk to as many people as possible.

 

Science fiction conventions provide terrific sensory stimulation – amid a temporary mass mingling of diverse segments of the population – for generating book, short story, article, essay, and poem ideas. See what inspires your writing at the next convention you attend.

***

Leslie C. Halpern is an award-winning poet and author of several books, including Scantily Clad Truths (2018), 200 Love Lessons from the Movies (2016), Passionate About Their Work (2010), and Dreams on Film (2003). She has written more than 4,000 articles, reviews, essays and poems for a variety of publishers such as The Hollywood Reporter and Daily Variety. Leslie also teaches a film course in the Senior Tars Enrichment Program at Rollins College.

 

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Book Review: Outsystem by MD Cooper

Outsystem: A Military Science Fiction Space Opera Epic (The Intrepid Saga Book 1)Synopsis:

In 4123, the greatest colony ship ever built is leaving the Sol System, and Major Tanis Richards has secured a berth.

Demoted by the military and hung out to dry, the media calls her the Butcher of Toro. However, despite her soiled record, Tanis still one of the best military counterinsurgency officers in the Terran Space Force.

The backers of the colony mission need her to stop the terrorists trying to destroy the GSS Intrepid, while in the final phases of construction at the Mars Outer Shipyards.

Getting the job done will be her ticket out of the Sol system, but Tanis discovers she is up against more than mercenaries and assassins. Major corporations and governments have a vested interest in ensuring the Intrepid never leaves Sol, ultimately pitting Tanis against factions inside her own military.

With few friends left, Tanis will need to fight for her life to get outsystem.

Review:

M.D. Cooper’s Outsystem is a fast paced, high tension power ride with vivid, multi-dimensional characters and an intriguing plot line. I was hooked from page one and fully invested by the end of the first chapter.

Full disclosure – I haven’t read sci-fi in a long time. Recently, most of my reads have been fantasy and/or young adult. But Outsystem made me rethink my trajectory. A lot of the reason for that had to do with Cooper’s protagonist, Tanis Richards.

Female characters in sci-fi stories, especially those with a heavy military angle like Outsystem, tend to be either frail princesses waiting to be saved, or hard-assed – erm, boiled veterans with little or no emotional side. Tanis is different. She is smart, savvy and more than capable of defending herself against the enemy, but Cooper also manages to provide her with a heart. Rather than shoving her into the mold of the male warrior as is so common, Tanis is presented to us as a fully-fledged, multi-faceted character with the same wants and needs of any normal human being.  She has been through rough times, and she carries that baggage, but she doesn’t come across as fragile or weak. Tanis is a hero anyone, male or female, can relate to and appreciate.

For this reason, plus a strong plot and an outstanding supporting cast of characters, Outsystem gets 4.5 of 5 stars. If you enjoy military sci-fi, this is a must-read.

Author Bio:

M.D. CooperMichael Cooper has been writing since he finished Return of the King and had to have more. Lately, he has turned toward science fiction and is working on a series of books which surround a colony ship leaving the Sol system for 82 Eridani.

When he’s not writing novels or software he can be found spending time with his wife and daughter or in his wood shop building furniture.

You can find out more about Michael and his books here:

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