Disaster! What to do When it Strikes. Get Popcorn! #sciencefiction #fantasy

Disasters were always on the TV when I was young: Towering Inferno, Godzilla, The Poseidon Adventure, Jaws, the many TV airline crash movies. Maybe that's why I enjoy this type of story so much. Whether it's a budget-buster of high quality like Titanic, or a low budget hokey thing like Atomic Twister, I'm a fan.

It's not just the popcorn. It's man against nature, man against machine, man against bad guys, man against beasts/aliens/space. Oh my gosh! How can anyone survive against a mechanical shark? What if I was stranded in space? These movies bring up larger-than-life scenarios, and somehow our heroes survive. It's fantastic. Some of the stories are completely fantastic and out there. I love it!

I watch to have fun and be entertained. Maybe it's the grand-scale problem that appeals to me; a problem way bigger than myself. I mean, a tornado of sharks... yikes!

I've always wanted to write one and recently I was given the opportunity. Some folks stopped by my inbox in the fall and asked if I wanted to be part of Pew! Pew! – Sex, Guns, Spaceships… Oh My! The idea for "Spaceberg" popped into my head and I replied with an emphatic yes. Here was my chance to write something funny and disastrous, my favorite kind of story.It involves an iceberg in space, moss balls with teeth, organic plastic, and dancing plastic flowers. There are also a lot of references to TV shows and movies (some very obscure). It was a hoot to write.

Over 30,000 words, "Spaceberg" is close to a full-length novel. Pew! Pew! – Sex, Guns, Spaceships… Oh My! releases June 1, 2017 and is up for preorder on Amazon.


Here are a few other goodies for you:

A mega science fiction giveaway ENTER

Every entry gets a copy of At the Helm, which includes my story "Patchworker 2.0" Signed copies of the first 3 Backworlds are part of the Grand Prize. My boxed set is in the prizes for other winners.

Via my newsletter every month, I giveaway either a Backworlds tumbler or a Rifters journal. Just ENTER my dimension to be part of these drawings.

Do you have a favorite disaster story/movie? I enjoy sharks and dinos most, but am a succor for any of them really. I can't resist.


Thinking Ahead to Summer - writing & bookish plans?

I teach college lit and creative writing part time in the fall and spring so I always look forward to summer in order to get lots of writing done. Also, I attend a weeklong writing retreat in Cape Cod then. We write all day (after an hour gabbing over coffee). Often I start a novel at the retreat.
One of my Cape retreat "writing stations"
I'm already mulling over what I should concentrate on. This spring I finally completed a draft of a romantic suspense novel and Maizy of Bellagio, a story for the forthcoming UR Spirits in the Air anthology. So it's not as if I slack off between the days of teaching. LOL.

I am trying to decide between starting a new witch book, which would be a companion novel to Witch of the Cards, or another one in the new suspense series. Which should I pick? How do you decide when you have more than one book in mind?  Do you choose the one you think will sell the best? Or the one you have plotted out most? Or the one that is closest to your heart? Help!

For my summer reading, I'll be delving into the Blue Fairy Book, Alice in Wonderland and Alice through the Looking Glass to name a few, because in the spring of 2018 I will be teaching a brand new college lit course simply called Fantasy. Woo hoo!

On another note, I finally redesigned my website, which has an entire shiny new page devoted to the UR Elements anthologies. Check out my main page, and then click into Anthologies Page to see what you think about the front page and the Elements page!

What are your summer writing and reading plans?


UR Group Post - Loving games!

Board games, video games, card games, role-playing games.
From the well-known classics to the modern and underrated.
We all love games.

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Christine Rains

This awesome board game is about strategy and luck. Build up your roads, settlements, and cities to win. The board changes every time you play and the mechanics of it are simple. I play this every day on the computer instead of solitaire, and if I'm lucky, I can find people willing to play the board game with me. I tend to roll well! It's not unusual to hear someone call out: "I have wood for sheep!"

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River Fairchild

Little Green Men

Let me just say, I'm very glad I don't live in Las Vegas. I'd be panhandling on the street in order to collect enough money to play this silly video game. It's not the gambling aspect that draws me, it's the game itself. Okay, this is a secret, right? I hear somebody out there laughing. Don't. The cows laughed... right before the aliens took them. Beware!

Simon Kewin

Zelda: Breath of the Wild

This is a tough question. I played Dungeons and Dragons a lot - probably too much - when I was younger, and I also love a good fantasy-based computer game. I have lots of fond memories of losing myself in games like Tir Na Nog and Lords of Midnight. Ah, happy days. But I'm going to cop out slightly and go for the game I'm currently playing because, well, it's my favourite right now. Zelda: Breath of the Wild is awesome and huge and beautiful.

Catherine Stine

Little Bird with Candyland Cards, oil on canvas by Catherine Stine
I'd have to say Candyland, though I do love Clue because I love sleuthing and I usually win. LOL. And I like Candyland not to play, but because I adore the images. In my days as a painter, I painted the Candyland board and the cards many, many times! I can't tell you exactly why I love these images so much. Perhaps it has to do with the peculiar magic of childhood. Anyway, here is an oil painting of mine called Little Bird with Candyland Cards, along with a photo below of the old style Candyland board.
The old style Candyland board

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Meradeth Houston

So maybe I shouldn't admit this, but if I had to pick my favorite game lately, Cards Against Humanity would win. Mainly because it's my favorite one to play when I have friends over. Though it does get a little old after a while, the expansion packs are fun, and it's pretty much guaranteed to bring a laugh or two :) Albeit, a bit of off-color laughter at things that aren't terribly appropriate, but that's okay from time to time!

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M. Pax

We always had game night when I was a kid, and my family loved game. Everybody was so competitive. There was no 'letting the kids win' ever. I have fond memories of sitting around tables, talking, and laughing, teasing each other. My grandmother was the best hearts player. No one ever beat her, but we kept trying. I had my first taste of beer while playing cards with the grandparents. I see all the faces of people I miss: Grampa, Gramma, my brother-in-law, and my brother. The games I played with them will always be my favorites.

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Cherie Reich

I couldn't begin to tell you how many hours I've played Age of Mythology. You can play either as Egyptians, the Norse, or the Greeks. If you have the Titan Expansion pack, then you can also play as the Atlanteans. They now have one for Chinese gods too! They have two amazing campaigns, and the storylines are fantastic. The graphics are beautiful. The music is awesome, and there is something strangely satisfying about wiping out the other civilization. My favorite cheat of the game is Wuv Woo, which summons a flying purple hippo that kills enemies with hearts.


Book Review/ Horizon Alpha: Predators of Eden. #SpeculativeFiction worth #amreading

Horizon Alpha: Predators of Eden
by D. W. Vogel

I was recently in a group promotion where this was one of the books. I had to buy it because of the dinosaur on the cover.

Here's the blurb:
Two hundred years ago, the great Ark Horizon Alpha escaped a doomed Earth and went searching for a new home. The passengers landed on Teu Ceti e expecting paradise, but instead they discovered a planet stuck in its own version of the cretaceous period. The humans’ one defense against the dinosaurs ravaging the planet is an electric fence, built from the remains of the shuttles that brought them there. 
But Eden base has only days of power left. 
With most of the adult men dead, rookie soldier Caleb Wilde and his unit of teenage boys leave the electric fences of Eden in search of a reactor core lost deep in the jungle. 
The last remnant of the human race waits behind the electric fence for their return. The dinosaurs wait, too--for the electricity to die and the feast to begin.

Honestly, the prologue had me worried. It wasn't bad, just basically feeding me information about what happened before the story starts.

The story itself is fantastic. It's like Jurassic Park in space. It was suspenseful and fast-paced. It combined my love of dinosaurs, exploration, and discovery. The creatures go beyond dinosaurs as we know them, because, after all, they are aliens.

The author added in mystery along with the dino feast. I felt as if I experienced the planet alongside the main character: the fear, the wonder, the horror, the relief. It was a terrific ride.

Great job, D. W. Vogel. I want more!


You Can't Go Home Again

I'm so excited about our upcoming Spirits in the Water anthology! It will be released in October, but I wanted to share a snippet of my story with you today. It's called, You Can't Go Home Again.

How many of us have wished to go back and change something from our past? I imagine all of us. It's human nature to want a do-over. Be careful what you wish for, though...

You Can't Go Home Again

an excerpt by River Fairchild

“Don’t look so glum, dear.” Clara leaned in closer, invading Alex’s space, and gave her a wink. “You have your whole future to look forward to. Wait till you’re my age for that sort of nonsense.”
She settled back into her own seat, soft gray curls bouncing with the gentle sway of the train as it negotiated a bend in the tracks. “Always look ahead, child. As my mother used to say, you can’t go back home again.”
“What?” The phrase struck Alex as odd, even sinister. “What does that mean?”
Clara put her knitting needles down in her lap and stared out at nothing with a dreamy smile on her face. “Mum had a saying for everything. It means you can’t go back and change the past. She used to say that nothing good ever came of worrying about what was already done and gone so you should only look forward and not repeat your mistakes.”
Changing the past…
Alex closed her eyes, ignoring the beauty of the countryside as her throat constricted. She’d give anything to undo the mistake she’d made five years ago—the mistake that allowed her younger sister to die. To stay with her that day at the lake—like she was supposed to—instead of getting into an argument and stalking off. If Alex had stayed, maybe she could have talked Liz out of sledding across the frozen lake on an overloaded sled.


Happy Spring!

In the Spring, I have counted 136 different kinds of weather inside of 24 hoursMark Twain

I am going to try to pay attention to the spring. I am going to look around at all the flowers, and look up at the hectic trees. I am going to close my eyes and listen. Anne Lamott


Premonitions: Supernatural or Science? #paranormal

A premonition is a strong feeling something is about to happen. They're mostly associated with bad events. Perhaps because impressions of tragedy are stronger than impressions of wonderful.

The premonitions I most clearly recall are those associated with bad events. Way back when I lived in Northern Virginia, I stopped at a corner market after work to pick up a few things. There was this man standing there. When he looked at me, I had the most unshakable feeling of awful. I mean, I felt horror in my bones. Later that evening, my car was stolen.

When I moved into a new apartment in NYC, I had a nasty dream about a dark shadow trying to get inside. I couldn't run down the hall to shut the door fast enough. Needless to say, they were the worst landlords ever.

Are they premonitions, or am I picking up on information my brain doesn't know how to fully process? So it comes across as a terrible vibe, a really terrible vibe?

I've also had good ones. Usually if I dream I did well on a test, I did very well on a test.

Premonitions are actually quite common. There may be a scientific explanation for them. They may be bred into our genes. Being able to react quickly to information that isn't easily quantifiable would have helped our ancestors survive. It can help us survive, if we listen.

I believe in my case, I was picking up on signals and information I wasn't fully conscious of at the time. What do you believe? Is it scientific or is it something more?

Premonition came into my life recently when misreading a road sign. Oddly, it was while visiting the real Oregon town that inspires Settler, the town featured in my series, The Rifters. I thought the sign said, Premonition Center. It did not. I can't remember what it really said, but I took the sign literally as a sign for the next book.

It was such a funny occurrence in a place associated with my series, I knew I had to use it. It's 'a sign' after all.

The main street in Fossil, Oregon. I use it almost exactly as the main street in Settler. Just past the stop sign on the left-hand side is the library. At the end of the street is the high school and the fossil beds. Sight of the infamous volcanic killer bee attack.

Have you ever had a premonition? What about?