Categories
General Posts, Non Reviews Science Fiction

All Things SPSFC2 Round 1 & The Slush Pile!

2022 is going by at dizzying speed and the initial stages of the SPSFC (SPSFC2) are underway!

Our fearless leader of team At Boundary’s Edge has posted a few articles to meet the judges and see the books we were allocated in round one! His blog is easy to navigate so definitely go check it out and stay up to date with things from there!

Here is the link for the whole competition. 300 (ish) books, 10 teams, many judges, all reading a whole lot of self published sci-fi over the course of the next few months. It’s a little intimidating but after years of following SPFBO it’s cool to be participating in this!


The team formula for round one is to read about the first 20% of each of our allocated books, and then take a vote on whether or not we would read the whole book.

Easy enough! The problem for me is keeping track of my thoughts on so many books! Therein lies the real point of this post – a few thoughts on each of the books I am reading in this round.

What I’ll do is show the title and link to the book, then add a few of MY PERSONAL THOUGHTS on each one after reading the first 20%. Again – MY PERSONAL THOUGHTS – which in no way shape or form reflect the thoughts of the team or anyone else! Check back here for my progress through our 28 book slushpile!


**p.s. I’ll probably make a new post after 5-10 books**


Here we go! #1 is Arkhangelsk by Elizabeth H. Bonesteel. At 439 pages this is a colony based novel with a different form of first contact.  I was interested but found the first 20% lacking in development.  Ideas are constantly introduced without background, and I needed just a little more info to have my attention snared.  My favorite aspects were having an older MC and a possible medical mystery. It just didn’t get off the ground fast enough for a yes vote from me.


Book #2, Between Mountain and Sea: Paradisi Chronicles, by Louisa Locke, carries a bit of a fascinating concept in that it’s part of an open world science fiction universe, where multiple authors have written novels about different families and people within the world, genre or style be darned. It presents as a soft sci-fi slice of life type read, for a Young adult audience.

At 270 pages, it features a teenage girl on a settled planet that’s now a few generations in.  I think the point is that she doesn’t agree with her parent’s choices for her and is going to find her own way (come of age) throughout the book.

I have to say, as a OneReadingNurse Medical Disclaimer© that there is enough irrational fear regarding lasik surgery already and the character’s surgical complication does not work medically or logically.  The whole thing wasn’t presented in a way that made sense and could be mis-informative to readers that may need treatment and already be fearful.  Also there was no other evidence of her being visually impaired.

As much as I LOVE the study on language and the pronunciation gallery, and I know there’s a soft historical character based sci-fi loving audience out there for this, I’ve got to say No 


Book #3 is my first YES! Black Table by Anttimatti Pennanen is a shorter one at 238 pages that seems packed full of fun. I love these nerdy men and their friendship. There is a Bill and Ted vibe to this humorous sci-fi adventure that shouts out so many pop culture references from Star Trek to Armageddon.

Despite the actually most inaccurate resuscitation attempt ever (please just ask a paramedic or medical professional before writing these scenes, we are happy to help 😂) I am immensely enjoying this one so far.


#4 – Alphabetical order gets a bit fuzzy here since I don’t recognize words like A/An/The. I went with The Ceph: Reborn for my next slush pile read

I LOVED the opening, with the introduction of the Ceph through the first few billions of years that they colonized the planet. The descriptions of the world ships, the idea in general, the synopsis, and humanoid octopus characters? I was on board all the way. Don’t mind me, I can get through the info dump, no problem. Poehler also put an obvious ton of time into his appendix, glossary, history etc for the end content, which I liked reading.

Then we get to the current day (2018) and it turned into the first person points of view of an octopus and a squid. I got super confused reading first person from underwater creatures for so long. I was interested in finding out what happens once the humans got involved (I gave it 120 pages and found only hints of human detection) but at the end of the day, am going to say …. Cripe I am really up in the air and a week later I am still thinking about this book


Moving on, Book #5 is The Cult Shadow by Peter Lamb! Despite a beautiful cover and interesting synopsis, I struggled with the writing itself and could not become engaged with the story at all.


#6 in the pile is Dangerous Thoughts by James L. Steele! I was getting flashbacks of reading Quozl by Alan Dean Foster here, mostly because there is a LOT of sex on everyone’s mind and some rather … Uh… Furry encounters.  It’s a bit of a personal preference but this was too much for me with the emphasis on casual encounters that started a little ways in. The plot was a bit muddy as well despite the fact that it’s interesting to have so many different species interacting as animal characters. I would personally say no here as well 


#7 is the last book I’m going to add to this post, as going in quarters seems logical and will somewhat align with what another group member is doing. The seventh book is Data Mine by Lou Lovino. At 209 pages this is one that reads rather quickly, about using biometric tattoos to monitor people of global interest such as politicians.  It’s a great idea for a techno-thriller, although it jumped around a lot and I found myself being thrown out more than drawn in by the short, alternate POV chapters. Also with the slightly stilted dialogue I am voting to not pass it forward. That said though, I think this one has a readership if you love political thrillers with a twinge of cyberpunk


Thanks for following my SPSFC journey so far! The second round of news and slush pile reads to be posted early this coming week!

Categories
Author Interviews & Guest Posts

Sunday Brunch Author Interview Series ~ Featuring W.O. Torres

Sunday Brunch is back! Before getting started I want to thank everyone who supports both indie authors and smalltime bloggers, including my little interview series! Brunch has always been a beacon of community and I’m endlessly glad to see how the indie SFF world supports it’s members!

That said, episode 25 of the Sunday Brunch Series features self published sci-fi author W.O. Torres! He is entered into the second SPSFC competition and if you don’t know what that is, I’ll include the link at the end!

Sci-fi means a lot of different things to a lot of different people and I love W.O.’s story! Read on to see how sci-fi positively influenced his life and eventually led to holding a book of his own!


🍳Welcome to the Sunday Brunch Series! As an introduction, can you tell everyone an interesting fact about yourself that isn’t in your author bio?

🎤Thanks for having me. So, an interesting fact about me that isn’t in my bio is that I have had three very close calls with death over my lifetime that include: a near drowning at Lake Camanche after swimming between islands and having to be saved by a boater, water poisoning (drank 160 ounces of water in a four hour period because I was training in 112 degree sun and didn’t know you could die from drinking water) and being hit in the temple with a rusty nail that was attached to a 2×4, while at the landfill. In each instance there was a medical professional who shook his/her head at me while uttering the same sentence…”you are lucky to be alive.” So, I got that going for me, which is nice.

🍳What’s your favorite brunch food?

🎤My favorite brunch food is such a great question and in my case it has special consideration. For the past 25 years I have skipped breakfast as part of an intermittent fasting regimen. But, when the stars align and the kids are in school, me and my wife have the day off and find ourselves craving mimosas…I will go bonkers over brunch! I start with a mimosa or bloody mary that has a piece of bacon in the drink.I absolutely love omelettes and will sometimes have them for dinner. I like to create my own with pepper jack cheese, mushrooms, onions, and tomatoes. Or, if I can find it on the menu I will always order a plate of chilaquiles, which instantly reminds me of my Abuela’s cooking

🍳I love that you mention sci-fi and other related media like Marvel comics as an outlet away from getting into trouble as a teen! What did that look like for you?

🎤I’m not using hyperbole when I say Marvel Comics altered my life in a good way. My neighborhood was filled with gangs, drugs and violence and unfortunately if you grew up there, it was inevitable that around the age of junior high school, you were recruited into the gang that spanned a couple generations. At the same time this was going on, I was out of my mind obsessed with Marvel Comics…think late 70’s to early 80’s (before Spider-Man had a suit that turns into Venom and when the “New X-Men” featuring Wolverine, Night-Crawler and Colossus had only been in print for a few years). I met a very small group of kids in grade school who were like me, and by that I mean could reference the origin story for Daredevil. We formed our own little “gang” and while other kids our age were running the streets, we were holed up in each other’s bedrooms arguing over the leadership styles of Professor X versus Mr. Fantastic

🍳You also mention Star Trek in your bio so we had better have your favorite show and favorite captain, bonus points for including your rationale 🤣

🎤 I began watching Star Trek in 1976, I know this because I have vivid memories and pics of my 6th Christmas presents which were 10″ action figures of the entire crew of the USS Enterprise NCC-1701 (no letters after), that included a transporter room (you placed a figure in one side, then spun the top and watched them fade until appearing on the other side…I would give anything to still have it)!!! So, when I tell you who my favorite Captain is, rest assured that it is not a decision I entered into lightly. I’ve watched them all (full disclosure, I haven’t started watching Strange New Worlds yet) and there is one leader who stands above the rest and their name is…Captain Jean-Luc Picard. I will literally start a barroom brawl with anyone who disagrees with me. I have worked in Law Enforcement for nearly 25 years and we train constantly and never stop talking about leadership. It’s a weird thing in that nobody seems to be able to agree on a definition for what a leader is, but we all just know it when we see it. And that’s Picard. I would follow any order that man gave. Plus…Sir Patrick Stewart, I mean, c’mon on!

🍳So you grew up loving sci-fi and now have written a scifi book! How cool is that?

🎤I’m in my fifties now and have had a lifetime of experiences and sometimes when I reflect on all the people and places and emotions, the one constant throughout my life is and has always been, science fiction. Magazines, movies, comics, television series, books, stories and even discussions all surrounding sci-fi are littered like tiny dots across my timeline. I’ve always written stories but I never once completed a story, until my recently self-published novel, Tomorrow Lives Today. Once I held a copy of my own sci-fi / time-travel book in my hands, it didn’t matter that it took me a lifetime to finally do it. Something about that moment when I stopped being just a consumer and finally became a contributor…it’s an indescribable feeling, really.  
 

🍳The book focuses on time travel and technology, fun sci-fi topics! Are these your favorite subgenres or what nudged you toward writing the story that you did?

🍳I have so many favorite sci-fi tropes that I could never pick just one. If I’m being honest, I will probably never feel complete until I write a space-opera at some point in my life. That being said, there is something viceral that happens to me on a biological level whenever watching/reading about time-travel. I don’t know what it is but it began when I was fourteen years old and The Terminator hit theaters. That movie warped my mind like no other movie previous to it. My friends couldn’t stop talking about cyborgs (which don’t get me wrong, I love them as well) but I couldn’t stop asking theoretical questions about going back in time. The past thirty-five years I have made it a priority to consume any story that has to do with time-travel as that initial feeling still hasn’t gone away. So, when I started writing my novel, Tomorrow Lives Today, it began with a premise set in actual science I had just read about about called The Technological Singularity; a hypothetical future point in time where tech growth becomes uncontrollable and irreversible, resulting in unfathomable changes to humankind. I think the dots lined up and it just made sense to use time-travel as a tool to tell this story the way I wanted to.

🍳What was the last amazing book that you read?

🎤The last amazing book I read that I find myself thinking about months later, was Dark Matter by Blake Crouch. He’s a great writer first and foremost and he delves into trippy sci-fi concepts that he neatly connects to human relationships. I love his books. If you haven’t already read Dark Matter, it is about parallel universes and decisions made. That’s another genre that has exploded recently that Star Trek (the original) was decades ahead of in telling. Thank you Gene!

🍳Your book made it into SPSFC2! That’s exciting – are you excited? What are your general thoughts about a self published sci-fi competition?

🎤YES! Having my book selected as part of SPSFC2 felt like when your coach scans the bench and calls your number! GET IN THERE! I think it goes back to this new feeling (my book has only been out since 6/2/22) of being a contributor and not just a consumer. There are three-hundred other book entries so the chances of winning with so many other talented writers are about as good as successfully navigating the innards of a Borg Cube (yes, I’m saying there’s a chance), but just being included is a WIN as far as I’m concerned.  

🍳Do you have any advice for those who are also self publishing, or considering it?  I think the most common lament I hear is that it’s hard to get eyes on a new self published book

🎤 The best advice I can give after spending nearly four-years writing, editing, finding Beta Readers, a professional editor and illustrator, and countless revisions is…don’t give up. You can walk away and take a break, but keep thinking about your book, keep scribbling notes in a pad next to your bed or on your phone in the middle of a boring work meeting. Seek out other writers on social media in your genre and ask questions, answer questions. Keep pushing, keep grinding and enjoy the little victories, like closing a time loop or coming up with a dope line your antagonist would say and the end result will be greater than you ever imagined. Sometimes when the day is kicking my ass at work, I say to myself, “Hey, you wrote a sci-fi novel that’s four-hundred and fifty-one pages…you can do anything!”

 

🍳Thank you so much for taking the time to interview! This is the open forum question, so if you want to talk about ANYTHING else, please do so here!

🎤Thanks for having me and listening to me rant about things I’m passionate about. Each time I connect with anyone who is part of the sci-fi world always leaves me in a better mood than where I started. Since you handed me an open mic, I would also like to mention that books and stories need diverse characters. I grew up in the 70’s and 80’s and I can count on one hand how many Mexican-American characters I read or watched in sci-fi stories. It’s gotten better, but still a long way to go. My MC is Mexican-American like me, but his love interest is a black female. I am neither black nor a female but I didn’t think it should stop me from writing about Destiny Jordan, who is one of my favorite characters I have ever written. So, I connected with two extremely talented writers who happened to be black females and asked if they would consider being Sensitivity Readers to make sure I was showing empathy in my writing and avoiding any negative stereotypes when it came to Destiny. The experience from their feedback improved my writing in so many ways and I do believe some stories are best told from a unique perspective, but I also see tremendous value in adding diverse characters in your story, even if the characters differ from the writer.


Check out his book here!

 

Meet the author: bio from Am*zon

Mr. Torres resides in Northern California along with his beautiful wife, brilliant daughters, and their wonder dog, where he often writes once everyone is finally asleep.

As a child of the ’70s, his original works are inspired by his love of the golden age of Marvel Comics, Saturday afternoon Kung-Fu Theatre, Star Wars, Star Trek, James Bond, The Twilight Zone, and all things strange and unexplained.

These obsessions helped him avoid gangs, violence, drugs, and dropping out of high school, which were sadly all too familiar occurrences in his neighborhood.

He is wrapping up a twenty-five-year career in law enforcement and looks forward to the next chapter. Tomorrow Lives Today is his debut novel and was partly inspired by a lucid dream he had the same day his childhood idol, Stan Lee left this world and crossed over to the other side.

When not writing, he can be found coaching youth sports, attending dance recitals, and on occasion, enjoying a super burrito with carne asada…or carnitas.

Twitter: https://mobile.twitter.com/wotorreswrites

Here also is the SPSFC link where you can track the progress of this book along with 299 others!

https://thespsfc.org/


Thank you to everyone for taking the time to read and support indie authors!