Tuesday, July 7, 2015

What Is the Question?

I read an interesting statistic recently – that children ask an average of 144 questions a day. That sounds about right, since many times with a young child especially, the first Q&A only brings on more questions.

To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle, requires creative imagination and marks real advance in science. Albert Einstein

We authors might not be young children (any prodigies out there in the Brigade?) or Einstein, but I bet all of us ask more questions than the average adult. If we didn’t, there’d be a severe shortage of science fiction romance to enjoy! I’m not in any way a structured writer – I use no tools, not even a spreadsheet, I don’t outline, I don’t work with Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat system of plotting – but I do ask questions. I know some people go very VERY indepth when getting ready to write a novel, ‘asking’ their characters all kinds of questions from his/her childhood pet’s name to what’s their favorite color, create elaborate bios…I sincerely applaud you if that’s one of your tools. I figure out the hair color and the eye color and then I’m off, seat-of-the-pantsing. All things about my hero and heroine come to me as I write. In my latest, Star Cruise: Marooned, I discovered my heroine had brothers and they’d abandoned her in the woods one day when playing hide-n-seek. I didn’t know this until the plot called for the hero (and me) to have an explanation for why she’s terrified of storms at night in the forest.

Dreams are today's answers to tomorrow's questions. Edgar Cayce

Getting back to questions though, my novels usually start with me asking one (or two) big questions, usually “What if…” What if the Titanic was an event in outer space? What if my heroine was caught in an uprising like the 1857 Sepoy Rebellion but on an alien planet in the far future? What if a luxury cruise liner puts its passengers ashore on a nature reserve planet for four hours of fun but then the crew abandons them? What if indeed…

A good book always keeps you asking questions, and makes you keep turning pages so you can find out the answers. Rick Riordan

The answers you get from literature depend on the questions you pose. Margaret Atwood

I am just a child who has never grown up. I still keep asking these 'how' and 'why' questions. Occasionally, I find an answer. Stephen Hawking

So, what questions do you ask when you start plotting a new book?

The story for STAR CRUISE: MAROONED:
Meg Antille works long hours on the charter cruise ship Far Horizon so she can send credits home to her family. Working hard to earn a promotion to a better post (and better pay), Meg has no time for romance.

Former Special Forces soldier Red Thomsill only took the berth on the Far Horizon in hopes of getting to know Meg better, but so far she’s kept him at a polite distance. A scheduled stopover on the idyllic beach of a nature preserve planet may be his last chance to impress the girl.

But when one of the passengers is attacked by a wild animal it becomes clear that conditions on the lushly forested Dantaralon aren’t as advertised – the ranger station is deserted, the defensive perimeter is down…and then the Far Horizon’s shuttle abruptly leaves without any of them.

Marooned on the dangerous outback world, romance is the least of their concerns, and yet Meg and Red cannot help being drawn to each other once they see how well they work together. But can they survive long enough to see their romance through? Or will the wild alien planet defeat them, ending their romance and their lives before anything can really begin?

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Amazon best-seller Veronica Scott is a three-time recipient of the SFR Galaxy Award, is the USA Today/HEA SciFi Encounters columnist, and has written a number of science-fiction and fantasy romances. You can find out more about her and her books at https://veronicascott.wordpress.com/

Monday, July 6, 2015

The SFR Brigade Summer Cafe - Space Opera 2 #spaceopera #scifirom #giveaway


It's Week Six of the SFR Brigade Summer Cafe and our last, and we're serving up the second menu of Space Opera for your enjoyment! In the menu card you'll find our first servings of SFR: starters are shorter length stories, the main courses provide something more substantial, and desserts give you a sweeter finish. You'll also find this week's prize bundle listed under extras, and all the prizes on offer are to the same theme of space opera. One winner will be chosen by rafflecopter at the end of the week (and the rafflecopter only appears on the participating blogs).

To visit the participants in the Space Opera 2 menu, simply click on one of the blogs below and show your appreciation at each with a little comment love if you could. Who knows, it might win you some extra goodies too!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Hot Off The Press: Sci-Fi Romance Quarterly #7

Sci-Fi Romance Quarterly #7 is now out! Here's a sampling of what you can discover among this stuffed-to-the-gills bumper issue--a whopping 98 pages of SFR fun!


"SFR and the Hugo Awards" by guest columnist Cora Buhlert

* Free sci-fi romance short: "Old School Sensibilities" by Christine Tang-Bernas

* "Are Alien Abduction Trope Mash-ups on the Rise?" by Charlee Allden

* "On "Kick-Ass" Heroines" by KS Augustin

* "On Being an SFR Prospector" by Heather Massey (that's me!)

* book reviews, Ian Sales' Mistressworks, sneak peaks, and more!

Head on over to our sparkly new site and download your free copy of Sci-Fi Romance Quarterly #7!

Sci-Fi Romance Quarterly is brought to you by KS Augustin, Diane Dooley, and Heather Massey. Happy reading!

The SFR Brigade Summer Cafe - Supernova winner

The fifth week of the SFR Brigade Summer Cafe has ended, and we have our winner. The Supernova Hot bundle was won by:

Mary Preston


Congrats and enjoy your prize! Tomorrow sees the start of week six, and our final serving - Space Opera 2!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

One Day Soon, We’ll All Be Telepathic...

by Mattie Dunman



One of my favorite plot devices in SFR is having a main character be telepathic in some way; whether by reading minds or controlling them, using the brain to do something extraordinary has always been particularly fascinating to me.

When I sat down to write my first book, At First Touch, I wasn’t thinking about developing a character who could read minds. I was creating someone who had seen the worst of people and was still fighting. As the story developed, it became clear that my main character’s ability wasn’t the main problem or catalyst; it was how people in power perceived her and sought to use her for their own purposes.

And it got me thinking. There are so many books, movies, etc. about characters who can read minds or other variations on the theme. What is it about knowing the thoughts of everyone around us that is so compelling?

When I was a lowly undergraduate, I majored in Psychology. The real draw for me (apart from all the fun personality tests) was learning how to read people, understand the way they think, why they behave the way they do. In short, I wanted to be a mind-reader.

Everyone is a bit of a mind-reader. It’s how we know to stop asking the boss for a raise when he gets a certain tone in his voice, why we recognize when our significant other is about to end things, or how we know the time is right to ask our parents for that raise in allowance. We base our reactions on a lifetime of memories and precedence, and most of the time we’re right.

So why do we dream about more? Why are we so drawn to stories of cyborgs, characters who can move things with their minds, who can heal with a thought? Some of the best SFR out there involves telepathic abilities in one way or another.

Because it’s a completely awesome idea. And it may not be that far off in the future. There’s some pretty exciting stuff being investigated right now, things writers have been dreaming of for decades. Microchips in the brain that teach us to heal ourselves, that link to others, link to computers. The list goes on. For instance, during a recent neuro-technology experiment at the University of Washington, two subjects actually accomplished brain-to-brain interaction using a brain-computer interface (BCI).

Brain-to-Brain Interface (BBI) is the newest and most exciting development in the field. Unlike BCI, where the interaction is interpreted by a computer, recent advances are in the stages of infancy, but rely solely on mind-to-mind connections. In 2014, Harvard Medical researchers were able to connect a human brain with a rat’s brain (creepy, right?) to move the rat’s tail with 94% accuracy using only direct neural commands from the human brain.

Eventually, this area of research is intended to produce the ability to send a text or email with a thought, to give commands on a video game telepathically, along with other, more practical implementations. Can you imagine if covert military operatives were able to communicate brain to brain instead of relying on whispers or signals? Or individuals suffering from strokes, ALS, or other debilitating conditions that prevent speech being able to hold conversations in their heads? Already the technology is being used in robotics, making robotic prosthetics a very real possibility in the near future. The implications are staggering.


Of course, I wasn’t thinking about any of this when I created my own telepathic character with BCI; I just wanted to see what it would be like if she were burdened by knowing everything about anyone she came in contact with, and how that would change her as a person.

            But it raises some interesting questions, both regarding the good that can be accomplished by such technology and abilities, as well as the harm that can be done. What would the societal ramifications be if we all had computer chips in our brain that interfaced with a larger server? Or if we were expected to work with someone across the ocean using only a neural interface? What privacy concerns and ethical issues would arise if this technology became a reality?

             Readers and authors of SFR may be ready to answer some of those questions now, and in fact, some already have.

             At any rate, synthetic telepathy is a real possibility, and a wonderful source of inspiration, even if we’re not all lining up to be joined with a rat brain!




Really cool info!


Mattie Dunman is a lifelong resident of "Wild & Wonderful" West Virginia, and has dreamed of being a writer since she first held a pen in hand. Mattie has pursued several useless degrees to support this dream, and presently is lost in the stacks of her local library. She spends most of her free time writing, but also indulges in reading and traveling. She is the proud owner of an adorably insane American Eskimo named Finn, and a tyrant cat named Bella, who take up more of her attention than they probably should.

Mattie would love to hear from you! www.mattiedunman.com

The views expressed are solely those of the author and not representative of the SFR Brigade.

Monday, June 29, 2015

The SFR Brigade Summer Cafe - Supernova Hot #scifirom #erotica #giveaway


It's Week Five of the SFR Brigade Summer Cafe, and we're serving up the Supernova Hot category for your enjoyment! In the menu card you'll find our servings of SFR: starters are shorter length stories, the main courses provide something more substantial, and desserts give you a sweeter finish. You'll also find this week's prize bundle listed under extras, and all the prizes on offer are to the same theme of space opera. One winner will be chosen by rafflecopter at the end of the week (and the rafflecopter only appears on the participating blogs).

To visit the participants in the Supernova Hot menu, simply click on one of the blogs below and show your appreciation at each with a little comment love if you could. Who knows, it might win you some extra goodies too!

SFR Brigade Bases of Operation