News, Uncategorized

Webiversary: Our New Posting Schedule

To celebrate our Webiversary, we’re adapting a new posting schedule (effective today), including the return of our puzzles! 

We will be posting a new article four times a week, as follows:

Sunday – ‘The Write Information’ Weekly Column
Tuesday – Book Review, Author Q&A, or Author Interview
Thursday – Article or Listicle
Saturday – Puzzle
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Q&A: Dan Melson

Real Estate Agent and Loan Officer in his day job, Dan Melson lives in Southern California with The World’s Only Perfect Woman, daughters in training to take over the world, and two dachshunds.

Life in the Empire has finally settled down. The last of the ston rebels have taken amnesty, and re-joined civilization – or have they? A massive terrorist attack kills millions and the trail leads the investigator straight to a remote world with no known Imperial contact – a world known to its inhabitants as Earth.

My questions are all about Melson’s book: The Man From Empire (Rediscovery book 1 of 4). If you are looking for additional information about this author and his writing check out the following social media links:

Blog: http://www.danmelson.com/

Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/Dan.Melson.Author/

Melson provided me with an excerpt to share with my readers.

Let’s take a look inside the book:

Twenty-three kilometers up, Osh Scimtar felt the explosion through his feet.

More ominously, he immediately realized that he was no longer feeling the full force of Sharanna’s acceleration. The building was falling.

Quick probes with his mental abilities and datalink told him all he needed to know about this disaster before it happened. Blue Gold Arcology held fifty-two million people at the peak of the primary business day, and its’ support columns had been severed and back up gravity generators destroyed by a series of cutter bombs at the base.

There was no time for anything but trying to save as many people as possible. He commanded all portals within the arcology to lock into emergency exodus mode – they would lock onto the destination chosen by the first person to enter them, and would refuse to accept any incoming traffic. Matos, his superior, beat him by less than a millionth of a second to flashing the emergency via all data channels.

Osh wasn’t concerned for his own safety. Like roughly a seventh of the Imperial population, he was capable of generating his own portals. The question was how many he would be able to save with himself.

Next question, what would happen to the mass of Blue Gold as it fell? Either of the destroyed systems would have had no difficulty keeping the Arcology up alone, but with broken supports and no gravity generators, the hull charge on the building wasn’t enough to keep it from falling – down or over. That hull charge was the real issue, as it was likely to cause irregular resistance as the massive arcology fell, imparting lateral force to the building as a whole. In short, the hull charge made it more likely the building would fall sideways, into the lesser arcologies surrounding it. The choice was to order the hull charge dissipated and hope it fell straight enough not to hit the smaller but still populous arcologies around it, or keep it on in order to buy perhaps an extra minute to escape with a practical certainty it would fall and hit at least one of its lesser brethren, more likely two or three.

Osh ran a quick mental simulation – the structural systems of arcologies were tough. It would take something more than bare mass to bring them down, but if Blue Gold Arcology still had its own hull charge when it hit a neighboring arcology, there was considerable doubt they’d maintain their integrity. He linked with Matos, his superior, who concurred in his estimate, and Matos ordered the hull charge dissipated. It wouldn’t make that much of a difference to those inside Blue Gold Arcology.

Already in the first four seconds, at least a million would have died as the lower floors pancaked, falling ever faster with the force of Sharanna’s acceleration. Ironically, the people at the top would have the longest fall, and therefore the greatest chance to find a way to save themselves. More than eight sixtieths of the imperial population were Guardians, and most of them would be able to rescue some non-operants as well – perhaps two or three each. Perhaps another five or six sixtieths might make it through a portal on time. Some few would be close enough to vehicles or spacecraft on the parking levels to get out. Isolated individuals might figure something out that enabled them to escape or be rescued, but already the lowest levels were crushed debris, and the levels above were crashing to ground with ever greater force. Osh estimated than probably eighteen million would die in the minute it would take for the collapse to complete itself – at the end, the top floors would be falling at supersonic speeds. Most of the non-operants were simply too far inside the building to have any hope of escape.

Osh, Matos, and all three of Osh’s Primus subordinates were among the Guardians – one of them, Fridalisa, was a known Fourth Order Guardian, and she had already created a portal for everyone in the government office to escape the fall, with a terminus in Leading Edge Arcology, too far away to be endangered by the fall of Blue Gold. Aided by Matos she was expanding it downwards as fast as she could – an escape column in one corner of a building several kilometers on a side. It wasn’t much, but it was what could be done. Matos and the Primuses had the situation in hand; that left Osh free to investigate.

He stretched his perception to the now crushed sublevels where the explosion had been. There was a fading Instance Portal not five steps from one of the blast centers. Where it led, he couldn’t tell, but it wasn’t the home Instance. There wasn’t much doubt; the ston terrorist who planted the bombs had fled through that portal. The time for action was now; in the next minute tracking down the exit Instance, let alone a precise destination, would be something that would take a specialist days at least to track down. Osh didn’t want to emerge right on top of his quarry, so he applied a small lateral – thirty ififths. He was confident he would be able to sort out the proper Personal Event Line from that distance. He reached his hand into his personal pocket for his main weapon, and projected himself through the portal.

It’s time to delve into the Q. & A.

This my favourite part. My Questions are crafted to give a reader a clear look at how an author writes; what drives them; and what can be expected in their books.

 

Carol Ann: What genre would you say the book falls into?

Dan Melson: Space Opera. It has elements of action/adventure and coming of age story, but it’s a space opera.

 

Carol Ann: Are there any trigger warnings and/or explicit content readers should know about?

Dan Melson: Two non-sexual adult situation scenes, including one with nudity

 

Carol Ann: What is your favourite Quote?

Dan Melson: “Don’t you have any adults on this planet?”

 

Carol Ann: What advice do you have for new writers?

Dan Melson: The same advice my dachshunds would have about most things: Persistence will get you there. Don’t expect to succeed immediately. I’ve been writing for forty years. Some of it, I’m really glad it wasn’t published. But everything you write will help you. The difference between the master and the novice is that the master has failed more times than the novice has tried. I’m not claiming to be anything like a master, but it’s the failures that helped me learn.

 

Carol Ann: Where do you write?

Dan Melson: By preference, at my desktop at home. I really appreciate having a good keyboard and a good trackball and a broadband connection for research on the fly. But I can write on my laptop any time I have half an hour to work with.

 

Carol Ann: Are your characters real to you? Do you speak to them?

Let me illustrate: In pretty much all of my stories, the characters – not me – have had better ideas that have changed my pre-planned plot significantly, making it better.

 

Carol Ann: What piece of advice from other authors do you hear the most but choose to ignore?

Dan Melson: Follow the market. The money is in traditional publishing.

 

Carol Ann: Which do you prefer – Novels or Novellas and why?

Dan Melson: Evidence says novels. Every one of my stories has been over 60,000 words. The characters think things through. They make plans in response to events, and sometimes the adversaries do smart things too. You can’t gloss the thought process of the characters coming up with something better. Not and have it be an actual thought process.

 

Carol Ann: Are there any Easter eggs in your book(s)?

Dan Melson: General pop culture references, yes. Teasing other story lines from other works, which is what I consider to be Easter Eggs, I try to avoid except where necessary. They’re cool, but they can also alienate someone who’s giving you a try for the first time.

 

Carol Ann: What’s your favourite food? Have you ever mentioned it in your book(s)?

Dan Melson: Barbecued tri-tip roast, red-rare in the center. At one point, it’s mentioned as being contributed to a potluck, but it’s not the favorite food of any of my characters. Just a convenient thing to use in that particular example.

 

Carol Ann: Do you have a writing Motto?

Dan Melson: The readers can forgive anything but boredom. That said, the best stories are worked into a framework of the way things actually work. Do your research, get your facts right. If you have to distort something from the way it actually works, it will also distort the story. Figure out a story that works with reality as best you can picture it.

 

Carol Ann: If you could change the date to any year past or future, what date would you change it to and why?

Dan Melson: I have an almost boundless confidence in the ability of humans as individuals to adapt and overcome and make things better. If I could change the date, I’d go forward as far as possible. Yes, I’d have to learn everything all over again, completely start over as far as every skill I possess. But I’m as confident as I can be that it would be worth the effort.


Thank you for your time. I hope you’ve enjoyed this Q. & A. Session. I’ve already picked up a copy of The Man From Empire. Watch for my review coming soon. If you are looking for a copy, follow the links!

Kindle page: https://www.amazon.com/Man-Empire-Rediscovery-Book-ebook/dp/B00FDLKNXU

Paperback page: https://www.amazon.com/Man-Empire-Rediscovery-Dan-Melson/dp/1493682822

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Dan-Melson/e/B00FSDT1MC

Book Reviews, Diversity, Uncategorized

The Shadow Speaker by Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu

I first picked up The Shadow Speaker because I have recently become an avid fan of Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu, recent Hugo award winner for her novella, Binti. Not only was I intrigued by the fact that her stories of magical realism set in Africa (whether partially or wholly) but I was also excited by her featuring girls coming of age and into their own power. The Shadow Speaker does not disappoint. This full-length novel centers on Ejii, a 14-year-old Muslim Nigerian girl living in 2070. She also happens to be able to speak to shadows, for which she receives lessons in fluency and ability.  It’s a story of her journey from a girl uncertain of her abilities and place in the world to standing up for what’s right.

I wish I knew before I started reading got most of the way through it that this is a sequel to Zahara The Windseeker. Likely, that story has certain things in it that could shed some light on this book. However, it worked well enough on its own that reading the first book will only add to it. Nothing in this book was really confusing without having read the first book.

Being what this story is, a coming-of-age story, much of the character development does occur for the main protagonist. It’s a story through her lens and her journey to tell. And it’s done really well. Her development doesn’t have any surprises that come too soon, she doesn’t grow in ways that are unnatural to her or too early for her, even as there are some missteps and her uncertainty of her role in life. At one point, she must literally journey on her own from her home to another city in order to become an apprentice.

Along the way, she meets Dikeougu, a boy about her age. After Ejii, he is the one to go through the most change. What’s believable about them is that they don’t change at the same rate or for the same reason – they are their own people with separate desires and needs and changes that must happen. The other characters in the story are there to either help Ejii (or Dikeougu), like her mom, her instructor, her friends, even her abusive half-brother, or they serve to be the counterpoint to Ejii. While we understand each of the character’s motives and they react predictably, they don’t change or grow in the way that Ejii and Dikeougu do. In a way, it makes the changes they go through more acute.

The story in of itself is very cool. It’s at once familiar and new. The familiarity is in the journey Ejii undertakes, the new is in the combination of interesting characters, changes in the world that make it different from ours, and an introduction to worlds vastly different from our own, but with people not so different from us. The crux of the story is very familiar – violence versus peace, environmentalism, anger and fear versus love, and self-acceptance all play a role in the plot. It’s what each character does in response to the events as they unfold that make it interesting and vivid.

Okorafor-Mbachu is skilled at making this relatable, which is important especially for teens who reading this. She is able to take these magical elements, explain and present them in such a way that it is utterly normal even if daunting in certain instances, and make it easy for the reader to access the story. The one major hang-up I have about this particular novel is that Ejii carries something similar to a tablet but we only see two pages as though she has written something on it as a journal entry. It pulled me right out of the story since it happened only the one time and seemed out of place. Also, as a personal preference, I would have loved more information on the races she encountered in one of the other worlds.

Overall,  

for each one, you can have more than one thing. (keep it together tho… all the good about character, then all the bad) But alternating good and bad, and ending with the best, helps soften the blow while still telling the negative parts you need to tell to be honest