A Walker Scott: No Road Among the Stars

Ella Font (EF): This is Ella Font of the InterDimensional News Network. Today we’re visiting with that fantastic classical writer A. Walker Scott about his forthcoming book: No Road Among the Stars. Welcome to the program, Mr. Scott.

A. Walker Scott (AWS): Thank you. Great to be here.

EF: So, what kind of book is No Road Among the Stars?

AWS: It’s a science fiction tale about a young man studying diplomacy.

EF (leans closer): Does it have pictures?

AWS: Uh… Well, the cover art.

EF: You should consider making it a picture book.

AWS: It’s a bit long for that, but I’ll consider the options.

EF: That’s great, Scott.  I mean, Mr. Scott. So, when do you expect to release your book so our viewers can enjoy it?

AWS: If all things go well, I’m trying to release it in April or May.

EF: Of what year?

AWS: This year. 2018.

EF (stares at the ceiling for a moment): Wonderful. Most of our viewers will be able to find it in the historical works section of their favorite bookstore or library. Can you tell us about the main character?

AWS: David Asbury is an orphaned undergraduate attending Shel Matkei Academy of Social Sciences on a scholarship from the government of Earth stipulating that he must study diplomacy. He wants to study linguistics. He also wants to be alone. So he ends up in a diplomacy pod a year ahead of time, stuck with nine suitemates from as many worlds.

EF: A loner who’s studying to be a diplomat?  Huh. That’s different. Has he met Burke Zacharias or Thomas McCrady?

AWS: Who?

EF (blushes): Oops, sorry. Wrong timelines. Do you have any common traits with David?

AWS: Yes. I love languages and linguistics. I really enjoy cross-cultural situations, and he does too…whether he will admit it or not. And I’m stubborn and a bit sneaky.

EF: Really?  I can see how stubbornness could be handy for a diplomat, but sneaky? Not one I would have considered. Still, with such traits in common, I’m sure you two would make great friends.

AWS: Yeah, I think so, too, if he’d open up some.

EF: What’s your favorite line from the book?

AWS: How can you ask such a thing?

EF (leans back): Well, uh … Yeah, I suppose that might be a little spoilery for your fans in your own timeline. How about some questions from our viewers? First, which Muppet does your main character most closely resemble?

AWS: I’d have to say Skeeter.

EF: I can see that. And finally, if your character actually had pockets, would would he carry in them?

AWS: A netbook, cinnamon Altoids, and…a lint ball left from the piece of paper that he forgot to take out before his jacket was last laundered.

EF: A netbook?  How … vintage. Well, that’s all we have time for today. If you haven’t already, check out No Road Among the Stars after it releases in April or May of 2018. This is Ella Font and you’re watching the InterDimensional News Network.

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Book Review: The Gam3: Opening Moves

Although I was asked to include more specific examples to support my points, I want this to remain a …

Spoiler-free Review

…so, I’ll strive to give some examples without spoilers.

Product Details

Author: Cosimo Yap

Genre: LitRPG-Science Fiction

Ratings: (1 = Really needs improvement. 5 = Good stuff!)

  • Plot Development: 3
  • Character Development: 3.5
  • Dialogue: 4
  • Descriptions: 4
  • Wordsmithing: 3
  • Overall:  3.5 pushing toward a 4, but not quite getting there.

What Drew Me to THIS Book (Out of all the ones out there…)

Like last month’s Eden’s GateI picked up this one to learn about the LitRPG genre in preparation for writing one of my own. Although it’s set up to become a series, so far there’s only one book out, and I was looking for one-shot wonders. Further, when I was picking my first couple to read, I wanted one fantasy and one science fiction. Eden’s Gate was the fantasy. This one touts itself as science fiction, and in spite of a couple dungeon crawls, it really ended up being one.

Two Things I Like (There’s a bit of good in everything).

Mr. Yap does an good job of designing characters who have different mannerisms and voices. These are not the same one or two guys wearing different outfits. The characters have distinctive personalities and quirks. One character is very reserved. Another is  arrogant. A third is a bit conniving. Even the AI has something of a personality.

The good guy character is not perfect. When he makes a mistake, there are consequences for that error, and he has to face the music. In this era of good guys doing reprehensible things and then getting kudos for it, that’s a refreshing change. When he ignores his AI’s advice by talking into a radio after killing someone, he makes a powerful enemy. This affects him and his team. They’re not impressed.

One Thing I Didn’t Like (Everyone has room to improve).

Unfortunately, this story suffered from plot development troubles. I realize this is meant to be Book 1 of many, but it opened huge cans of very wiggly worms (political shenanigans, major quests, minor quests, and so on) … and in the end only resolved one tiny plot point: a personal issue. I had no feeling of resolution with so many major issues still wide open.

Had it been a cliffhanger, I might have found that more agreeable. I get serials. I’ve written serials. I understand cliffhangers. There was no overriding tension or immediate danger at the end of the tale, so this doesn’t qualify for a cliffhanger. The ending was, in fact, very unsatisfying.

It really felt like a violation of Chekov’s Gun rule. Anton Chekov said once upon a time that if you show a pistol (or rifle in some versions of the quote) in the first act, you’d better make it fire by the third act. (paraphrased) Some allowances for that are made for serials since seeds planted early in the tale bear fruit much later, but in this case, there was no ending for the book. It simply stopped and out of all of Chekov’s Guns that were shown hanging on walls and sitting on tables, only a tiny derringer was fired, as it were.

Two Specific Ways the Author Could Improve (Hey, I’m a teacher. It’s what I do).

  1. Books ought to have a self-contained story. It should have a beginning, middle, and end. You can leave loose strings that can be tied off later and end with the main character in a real pickle, but tell a complete story each time. This will provide a more satisfying ending for your readers.
  2.  Watch your character development. Your main character gains levels and skills at a unrealistically fast rate, even beyond the early levels where jumping multiple levels at once is expected. Yes, he has an AI to give him directions, but he has mad plot skills at significant points of the story. He tries things on his AI’s advice and gets it right on the first whack too often. For example, the main character takes out a skilled sniper at an early level. Later, in one of the dungeon crawls, the main character finds a group battling an extremely high-level monster. He tries something totally wild and enjoys a critical success. There is some balance with the consequences to some of his actions, but I would have liked to have seen him have to work for his victories a bit more often.

Final Recommendation

This was an engaging tale. The individual subplots that occur were interesting by themselves even if the main story needed more resolution. It’s worth picking up.

 

Book Spotlight: Excerpt of “Wings Beneath Water”

After our interview with author Yaasha Moriah  yesterday, I’m sharing an excerpt of her novella. Take it away, Yaasha!

cover

Chapter One

They say if you see wings beneath the water, you get a second chance to live. If that is true, I may live yet. If it is not true, my blood will stain these waters within moments.

The marsh mists swirl around me like transparent hands, chilling the sweat on my forehead as my footsteps explode through the murky waters. I pause, catch a gnarled branch, and lean gasping over it.

The surface of the dark waters shows the face of a boy, with round cheeks and frightened purple eyes. Will the Karagi have mercy if they see me as a child?

No. They know what I am, and they will not waver. They will remain at a safe distance, and shoot to kill. They are master bowmen. I should know. They trained me.

That was before they knew what I am.

According to the wise woman, some say it only happens when you are born to the marshes on a moonless night. Others say that it begins when a child looks into the waters and, unknown to him, the Siyeen looks back at him from beneath the surface of the waters. Still others say it is a gift given to the one who seeks truth above all else.

If a gift results in your death, is it not a curse instead?

I have lingered too long. Even as I move, some instinctive twitch saves me, for a death-breeze fans my chin and a crimson ribbon opens across my collar-bone, the warning of a razor-sharp arrowhead.

I turn, and they are there, emerging like ghosts from the mist, their long dark hair loose around their lean faces, their leather vests leaving bare their muscled shoulders. Emotions stab my stomach, for Uraun leads them, the scar upon his right cheek lit in silver by the wavering moon.

“A child?” one hunter asks, glancing quickly at the foremost of the men.

“It is an illusion,” Uraun says darkly, and draws his shaft to the corner of his lips.

I cannot outrun his arrow. I have watched too many times the stumble of a woodland buck, stricken while in mid-flight by Uraun’s skill. I am also tired, too tired. This hunt has taken all my strength, all my heart.

How do you run away from someone you love?

“Uraun.” My voice carries across the waters. “Please.”

So long as he holds his breath, he will not shoot. Experienced archers release only at the exhalation.

I stand upon a small hillock of marsh weeds. The waters beyond my feet ripple like black silk, for I have come to the edge of the deeper waters, where the bottom is invisible and the feet find no purchase. Many things that have been lost to the deep marshes.

“Uraun,” I say again. The corner of my vision snags upon something, a glimmer in the water, like light reflecting upon an outstretched wing.

It is here.

Then Uraun’s jaw tightens, and, plunging, I give myself to the waters. The arrow’s shaft pierces my side and my instinctive gasp fills my mouth with liquid darkness.

Something smooth slides beneath my grasping fingers, then jaws clamp around my ankle and pull me downward, deep. I struggle, panic-stricken. Have I misunderstood? Did I see a wing, or only the glitter of a marsh eel’s serpentine body?

I spiral downward until my mind becomes as dark as the waters around me and my breath burns and explodes in my head. Then light births, broadens, shimmers, and I rush toward it. Am I swimming down? Or up? I cannot tell.

That is when I see the face staring back at me from the other side of the water.

My face.

I know it is my face because only I among the Karagi possess eyes the color of wild irises. It is the mark of my separation.

 

Author Interview: Yaasha Moriah

Ella Font (EF): Good morning wherever you are. This is Ella Font if the Interdimensional News Network. I’m here today with Yaasha Moriah, another of our 21st Century Authors. Yaasha’s work was popular throughout the first half of the century.

Yaasha, thank you for joining us today. What have you brought to share with us?

Yaasha Moriah (YM): Thanks for having me! I am sharing about my fantasy novella “Wings Beneath Water.”

cover

EF: Beneath the water? Sounds interesting. Can you tell us a bit about it?

YM: Certainly!

Brother.

Ever since Risha was found on the shores of the river and adopted into the tribe, he and his brother Uraun have been inseparable. But when a neighboring tribe ignites war, killing the boys’ father, their lives start on a path that begins to divide them.

Siyeen.

As the tribe goes to war, Risha’s gift awakens. He is the Siyeen, capable of reading a person’s true nature—and in Uraun’s nature, he reads only vengeance.

Fearing that his gift will endanger Uraun, Risha flees to the marshes. To save his brother’s soul, Risha must learn the secrets of the first Siyeen and seek the redemption that will grant his brother a second chance.

EF: Fascinating. That doesn’t sound like a typical fantasy. Does it fall into one of the other categories?

YM: “Wings Beneath Water” is a sort of “native fantasy.” Think native peoples, all mixed up with supernatural dragons and shape-shifting powers. One of my ARC readers said it had “deeply spiritual themes” and was more in-depth than my other books, which he liked better.

EF: I don’t think I’ve seen many fantasy novels told from the perspective of native people. Can you tell us more about your main character?

YM: Certainly.

Discovered as an infant in the marshes, Risha bears distinctive purple eyes. As he grows up with his adoptive brother Uraun, Risha seems like a normal boy. He trains with the tribal warriors, hunts deer with Uraun, and swims in the river.

Risha cares deeply about his brother Uraun and about the truth. Sometimes the two things conflict, so Risha struggles with the implications of his choices, especially when the power of the Siyeen awakes in him.

EF: He sounds like a complex person. Many of our viewers are curious about how much authors invest in their own characters. Are there any characteristics you share in common with you main character?

YM: Risha and I share a deep love for truth, even hard truths. If you look for comfort instead of truth, you will eventually end up with neither. If you look for truth, even truth that makes you uncomfortable initially, you will eventually find both truth and comfort.

We also share a fierce loyalty to family, even despite conflict. Risha makes hard choices in order to protect his family and, although my choices aren’t nearly so dramatic as Risha’s, I’ve done the same. Family is worth fighting for!

EF: Indeed it is. Let’s see if any of our viewers would like to ask you a question. First up?  Amanda Rekkonwif from Tombstone Colony on Europa. Amanda asks, “If your character actually had pockets, what would be in them?”

YM: Twine to fix a fishing net, arrowheads for his arrows, a knife, a sinew for his bow… Odds and ends that help him survive in the marshes.

EF: I can understand that, but those are definitely not things you’d find in most people’s pockets. Next up? A question from Jerry Mander calling in from Wiggle Road on Charon. Jerry wants to know, “Can you share a line from your work?”

YM: “They say when you see wings beneath the water, you get a second chance to live.”

EF: So you sourced the title from your book from one of the lines in the book. That’s a good way to do it. Tom Katt from Litter Pan Colony on Ganymede. Tom wants to know, “If your character existed in main life, would you be friends?”

YM: I think we’d get along splendidly. Risha would teach me about survival in the wild and I’d teach him how to read and write. An excellent trade, I think.

EF: Where can our viewers find your work?

YM: It just released on March 31st. I’m so excited to share it! You can find it on Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads, Smashwords, and my own website YaashaMoriah.com.

I’m always busy on my website at YaashaMoriah.com. I am also on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram as Yaasha Moriah. I love interacting with people about all things speculative fiction, so people are always welcome to introduce themselves, tell me about their favorite sci-fi or fantasy book, and why they like it.

EF: That’s great. I’m sure our viewers would like to connect with you online and share about their love of science fiction and fantasy in the early 21st Century. Thanks for joining us today. [Looks into the camera] That’s all we have time for today. Please stop by Yaasha’s internet hangouts and chat if you have other questions about her amazing work. Stay tuned tomorrow when we’ll have an excerpt of “Wings Beneath Water.” For now, this is Ella Font of the Interdimensional News Network. Back to Bob Frapples at the news desk. Bob? 

 

Mindstorm: Parley at Ologo — The Excerpt

Time for a bit of shameless self-promotion.

front sanserif

Grace Bridges designed the lovely abstract cover, which actually represents what Calla sees when she goes into someone’s mind.

An excerpt for you…

 

Angela reeled back as if she had been kicked in the head. Thomas tried to catch her, but his fingers brushed past the sleeve of her shirt. She hit the ground hard and stayed still.

“Angela!”

The garden’s gate burst open a second later under the weight of several Cordilians. The first hit on his mental shield came a second after the gate fell. His protection wobbled but held. Gunshots echoed off the garden’s wall. Bits of rock from a planter struck his thigh.

He yelped and dove under the table, even though the thin wood would never stop a bullet or a blaster bolt. He clapped his hand over the wound. If he were lucky, the snipers wouldn’t see him.

Shrill screams split the air. The sense of pain and terror from the delegates sickened him. He could do nothing to help them directly, but if he could reach Angela, he could teleport them both home, get her to a doctor, and send back more experienced help for the delegations.

As he inched toward her, a female presence shoved against his shields. Thomas bolstered his defense and pushed her back.

The second attempt battered at his mental shield and bored through. Before he could reset his guard, his attacker thrust into his mind like a spear. Thomas clenched his eyes and focused inward.

You want a fight? You got one.

A dark, curvaceous image bearing a pair of fiery knives appeared in his mental perception. Her hand covered her mouth. “Ooo. That didn’t hurt, did it?”

Thomas mustered every scrap of power and focus he could pull together. “Not half as much as this will.”

His own personal image formed in the shape of a huge wolf. He launched himself at the shadow woman and tackled her, tearing into her with a mouth full of sharp teeth.

 

Find Mindstorm: Parley at Ologo here.

Grab Bag: Did you ever wonder…

… why hotdogs and hotdog buns don’t come in packages with the same quantities?

… why people will pay more for a machine made widget that will likely fall apart faster than a similar handmade widget?

… why words spelled with the same letter combinations (eg: daughter/laughter) don’t sound the same?

… why a woodchuck would even want to chuck wood?

… how long to the Point of Know Return?

… why the Son had to Carry On if he was so Wayward?

… what those last two questions referred to?

… why people drive on parkways and park on driveways?

… why your feet smell but your nose runs?

… if plastic storage container lids and socks end up in the same alternate dimension when they disappear?

Do you wonder about something? Post it in the comments.