Freebie Friday

Our guest blogger, Lori Handeland, is giving away magnets and bookmarks for joining her Full Moon Club at:

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Keeping the Fandom Flame in a Sci-Fi World

by Gail Z. Martin

What do you do when the fantastic becomes commonplace?

Back in the day, early in the 20th century, sci-fi had a lot of ground to cover. Rocket ships, ray guns, space travel, light-up gadgets—there was no limit to what could be imagined.

A funny thing happened on the way to the future. Reality caught up—and sometimes passed—sci-fi. Space shuttle launches became ho-hum. Middle school kids carry cell phones far more advanced that Uhura’s entire communication panel, let alone Kirk’s communicator and Bones’ tri-corder put together. Our cars not only talk to us, they plan out our route, dial our phones and can call for help if we get stuck. The Internet happened.

Personally, I think that the closer reality became to sci-fi, the harder it’s gotten for the genre to keep up. Maybe that’s why fantasy does so well—it’s easier to surprise us in the past than to predict a future more mind-boggling than the one in which we already live.
There’s a hidden benefit to this shift. Long ago, it was difficult for the average person to imagine a ray gun future because it was so vastly different from what someone living in a rural community in the pre-World War II world experienced, a world that for many people still lacked indoor plumbing and electricity. As sci-fi converged with the real world, it became mainstream.

One quick run through the programming on TV shows plenty of plots hinging on scientific thrills and wonders—as well as fantasy elements and the paranormal—that are on every network and channel, not just Syfy. Books that at one time would have been considered “fannish” become mega-bestsellers, like Harry Potter and Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse books. Role-playing games broke out of the basement thanks to video gaming and took over every living room in America. Thanks to Cartoon Network, anime elements are as accessible as sushi at your local supermarket.

How do you keep the fandom flame? In my opinion, fandom wins when it embraces this new crop of readers, gamers and movie-goers and includes programming to attract them. Instead of considering mass-media newcomers as second-class, value their perspective and create ways to draw them further into other elements of fandom by exposing them in positive ways. Put the “fun” back in “fan” and stop taking fandom quite so seriously. Realize that the passing of the torch is inevitable, and is best done with grace and humor.
Older fans often remember the sting of exclusion from the “mainstream” culture. Let’s make sure fandom shows a more welcoming face now that we have seen the future….and they are us.

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The Holy Terrors

We call her Gizmo for short.

by Crymsyn Hart

If my pets had voices they would say, “You’ve done enough writing for the day” after only five minutes on the keyboard. “Come out and play with us. Throw the ball so I can catch it. No throw the Frisbee so I can catch it.”

I can already hear them barking at me to get my attention and pull me away from the computer. And if it’s not my two dogs, then it’s the bird screeching at such an insane volume that even with music blaring, earplugs in, and me in the other room with the door closed, I can still hear him.

I love my pets very much, but they run the house. Now that I’m working from home, I get to spend my whole day snuggling with my black Lab, Morrigaine or fighting with my Border Collie/black Lab mix, Cadence. Both of them are my babies. Morrigaine makes a wonderful footstool as I recline on the love seat and she takes up the other cushion. While I do that, Cadence is jumping by my head so her two front paws land on my laptop and press a whole bunch of keys and gibberish appears on the screen. She has already victimized my laptop and my v, b, & n keys have been sacrificed to the writing gods. Luckily the sensors are still intact so I can still write.

If Cadence isn’t jumping on my keyboard, she accidentally steps on the power cord and with one wrong move pulls it out of the laptop therefore leaving me gasping for my lost words because I hadn’t pressed save in the last couple of minutes or ready to throw the laptop across the room because it needs a new battery. Once Cadence pulls the cord out and that doesn’t get my attention, she then pokes her wet nose into my arm. I think this is the worst of her actions to interrupt my writing day. Because she seems to do it right when

Lapdog, foot warmer, and great Frisbee catcher.

I’m in the zone. Of course, there’s nothing I can do except look longingly at the screen, and pray that my characters will talk to me once I’m done being the slave that my dogs have trained me to be.

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Glamorous Life

by Lori Handeland

I used to go to work wearing make up, with my hair “done,” wearing skirts, hose, heels.  I had manicured nails.  Those days are done, and truthfully I don’t mind.  But I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had people upon hearing what I do comment,  “What a glamorous life!” after which they usually ask my husband why he’s still working for a living.

My day always begins at 5:30 am when I roll out of my canopied princess bed, complete with filmy harem curtains—ahem—I mean my king sized bed, of which I sleep on about ¼ because my husband and his dog hog the rest, and hit the shower.  In my mansion there is only one shower and if I don’t get it before the teenagers, forget about hot water.

For the next hour I masquerade as an alarm clock, routing teenage boys from their rooms, pounding on the bathroom door so the next guy can get his turn, feed, clothe, find lost homework, books, wallets and cell phones.  By 6:45 I shove them out the door and say, Whew!  The mansion is mine until 3 pm—in theory.

Since I am the queen of my castle, I do not wear make up; I do not do my hair.  For work I wear flannel pajama bottoms and sweatshirts, no shoes, just slippers.  It is heaven.

Until the doorbell rings and the Fed Ex man asks if I’m home sick.  Is that a comment on my appearance or just that I appeared?

Next I grab my coffee and sit at my computer to read over what I wrote yesterday on my latest work in progress.  I make some headway before my husband returns and sets up shop at the kitchen table.  His phone rings, the fax machine buzzes, the doorbell blares and his employees tramp in and out dropping off time cards and picking up materials.  I slam the door to my throne room and put in my ear plugs.

I return to the world of the Nightcreatures where kick ass heroines fight deadly monsters and survive.  Someone taps me on the shoulder and I shriek.  Luckily I can’t hear the shriek because of the earplugs.

My husband has just taken the new puppy for a walk.  He hands me the adorable ball of fluff.  As soon as I’ve enfolded him in my arms hubby says, “He rolled in poop.  Gotta go.”

Puppy and I take a shower.

Since I’ve been torn out of my imaginary world for the time being, I run to the drycleaners figuring no one will be there in the middle of the day.  The clerk says, “I’ll be right with you, Mrs. Handeland.”  The customer in front of me turns, looks me up and down and with a wrinkled nose says, “You’re the writer.”

Uh, no.  That would be another Mrs. Handeland.

When I get home, it’s time for lunch.  But the cupboard is bare.  The servants are really slacking off.  I partake of the last few grapes in the bag and some cheese.  That should get me through until the chef makes dinner.

The cover for my next book arrives via e-mail attachment.  “How do you like it?” my editor asks.  I stare at the beach scene they’ve put on my jungle book and wonder if I got someone else’s cover.  I point out that there is no beach in this book.  “Can you put one in?” my editor asks.  I spend an hour creating a dream sequence for my heroine, complete with a walk on the beach.  By the time I’m done, they’ve changed the cover to a jungle.  But they like the beach scene so much, they leave it in.  I can’t decide if that’s good or bad.

I manage a few more pages in the Nightcreature world before my younger son calls to be picked up from school.  I drive there in my work clothes, then spend the return ride hunched over like a crone wishing I had long hair to cover my face since my darling son neglected to mention I was also giving 6 of his friends a ride.   “Dude, is your mom sick?” one of them asks.  “No,” he answers, “she always looks like that when she’s writing.”

Like what?  I think, but I know better than to ask.

At home, the chef has not shown up.  The servants have not returned from the grocery store and the dusting fairies haven’t arrived yet either.  I mix a casserole with noodles and whatever is left in the house—noodles will cover a multitude of sins around here–then return to Nightcreature land where my heroine never has to make dinner, run errands or pick up a truckload of teenagers.  Her puppy doesn’t poop (because she has no puppy, although werewolves are another story) and if someone recognizes her when she’s out and about it’s usually to say “thank you for saving my life” unless of course, that person, or creature, has been sent to kill her.

Come to think of it, even with the puppy poo, I like my life so much better.  I get to visit other worlds every single day, and in my imagination I can be anyone and still return to my glamorous life whenever I want.

So tell me, what’s the biggest daily interruption to your glamorous life and how do you cope?

For more information on my paranormal romance series, The Nightcreature Novels go to:

You can listen to the audio from when Lori was a guest of Blog Host, Gail Z. Martin’s Ghost in the Machine podcast here:

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Paranormally Speaking

By Tina R. McSwain

I Can’t Remember The Last Time I Had a First

At this point in my life and paranormal career, it is rare that I experience a “first”. This past week, I had an exceptional one on Monday night. I had completed a speaking engagement in Fort Mill, SC and was returning home. All of a sudden, I noticed the car lights behind me were being blocked out. I thought to myself, “the lid on my travel box must have come off and I am seeing it in the back window”. As I continued down the dark road, trying to see through the back window into the truck bed behind me, I realized it was not the box lid. Instead, it was an unearthly passenger riding along with me in the backseat. Now, this is not the first I am talking about, I have had ghostly hitchhikers before. What happened next was.

I picked up my cell phone to call my CAPS colleague who was driving behind me to advise her that someone had apparently left the speaking venue with me. I dialed the number and waited for her to answer. She has one of those phones that play music before she answers. I heard this music, then nothing. I said her name over and over again but did not get a response from her. What I did get was a response from an elderly lady’s voice saying “help me, I need your help”. That was the first.

I had heard of spirits using the phone lines to communicate, but I had never had this happen to me until Monday night. Quite surprised and somewhat taken aback, I thought about pulling over. It was about this time that my colleague called me. She asked, “Tina, did you call me? I saw the number, the call connected, but I couldn’t hear you”. Excitedly, I began to explain the reason why. I quickly concluded our conversation, and turned my attention to the lady in the backseat. I could now feel her presence as well as see that she had dark gray hair and was wearing a blue blouse or jacket. While driving north on I77, glancing in the rear view mirror from time to time, I began to speak to her directly. And in case you’re wondering, as a Spirit Rescuer, I did give her the aid that she had asked for, and helped her to move on.

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Freebie Friday – Janny Wurts

Guest blogger, Janny Wurts, shares an excerpt of her latest book:

Readings from her books can be found here:

For folks unfamiliar with her work, To Ride Hell’s Chasm is a standalone fantasy with a plot that wraps up in four and a half days. It is available in print and e format.

An excerpt can be found at:

A readng from the book can be found at:

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Why book fans need media and gaming fans (and vice versa)

by Gail Z. Martin

I run into some groups of fans who have a “separate but equal” view when it comes to conventions. Some book fans get twitchy around fans whose primary experience with the genre comes via gaming, movies and TV. Multi-media fans sometimes don’t “get” what all the excitement is about listening to a bunch of authors talk in a hotel ballroom.

Can’t we all get along?

I’ll be the first to admit that I consume the genre in multiple ways: books, music, movies, TV, anime, costuming, and when time permits, role playing games (video and old school). For me—and for many fans—consuming the genre in more than one way deepens the experience.

Don’t get me wrong—I love books. After all, I write them. But I also enjoy the genre when it’s presented well in a variety of formats. I’ll get something different out of each experience. Experiencing the story in ways that stimulates multiple senses makes it more memorable, more tangible and more pleasurable.

That’s why I think that the books vs. media “controversy” is a tempest in a teapot. Book and multi-media fans have a lot they can learn from each other. Working together with respect for each other’s perspective and experience, they can gain a whole new way of alooking at their favorites. They can serve as cultural translators for each other, and in the process, find treasures in formats they might not have otherwise explored. I really believe book fans need media and gaming fans—and vice versa—because together they provide a more well-rounded and wholistic fandom, with roots in the past but comfortable and fluent in the present.

It’s worth the effort to bridge the divide. Fandom is stronger—and more fun—when we work together.

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