Titles Matter

When you create a title for something you wrote, how careful are you to choose the right words?

Here’s one example of a not-so-effective title:

Tests confirm chocolates contaminated – CAA

And here’s the very brief news article the title is for:

The Consumer Affairs Authority(CAA) told the Colombo Magistrate Court today that test results from Singapore confirmed that the milk powder imported by Edna chocolates contained Melamine.

Hmm. Somehow, I think it would have been more effective had they said something like:

Tests confirm milk contaminated – CAA

What do you think?

Useful Websites For Speculative Fiction Writers!

Today, I’ve got a couple useful websites for you. The first…

SF Editors Wiki – it’s a wiki for keeping track of the works that science fiction editors have worked on. It includes editors with Ace Books, DAW Books, Baen Books, and Tor Books, just to name a few.

The Fantasy Novelist’s Exam. How cliched is your novel? Is it derivative crap or fresh and interesting? While answering the questions in this exam won’t necessarily give you an accurate answer to those questions, it can still be loads of fun. :) And if you want to write a cliche-ridden derivative piece of crap, this would be a great checklist to make sure you got ’em all. :) Or at least a lot of ’em. 😀

TV Tropes Wiki. Not for speculative fiction only, and not for television series only. It just started with television before expanding into other forms of fiction. For the uninitiated, tropes are story elements that help convey a purpose. Clear as mud? 😛 Go there and get started reading. It’s not just educational but also highly entertaining. :)

An interview with three speculative fiction editors and what they do – and don’t – want to see in their slush piles. Like no Isabelles nicknames Izzy. No exploding spacecraft in opening paragraphs. No unheard of virus that alters humanity completely except for one (un)lucky bastid who’s immune. Poor guy. :( 😉

The Query Project. With links to published authors who post the query letters that worked for them. Even Simon Haynes‘ query letter is included, as rambling as it is. 😉

Speculative Fiction Comics

I’m not much of a comics person – with the exception of Asterix & Obelix, thanks to my oldest brother, Tony – but I’ve recently been introduced to a few comics that are right up my alley. Speculative fiction comics. Can you say, “Cool!”?

We have Freefall, which starts with a wrecked spaceship, duct tape, and a robot. I think. Hey, cut me some slack – I’ve just started reading it! 😉 And I’m liking the humour. 😀

Then there’s Skin Horse, which starts here. Genetically augmented lions, a sniper, and some kind of talking dog. The lion talks as well, of course. I mean, where would we be without a genetically mutated talking lion?

Gunnerkrig Court reminds me, initially, of the Adams Family. Except Gunnerkrig Court is a school and Antimony, who somehow acquired a second shadow, is our main character. Complete with schoolgirl uniform. And the shadow wants Antimony’s help to escape. And it goes on from there with a minotaur named Basil…

And then there’s Dicebox. Starts here. With a spacesport and spaceships, Jaffa freighters (how did the Jaffa get in here?), and two down-in-their-luck people.

And of course, Girl Genius – Adventure, Romance, and Mad Science (starts here). “Now, this isn’t a Heterodyne story like your mama tells you…”

Do you read speculative fiction comics? Other kinds of comics? Which are your favourites and why?

Mobile Phone = eBook Reader

We’ve been contemplating getting me an ebook reader for a few months. I have joint problems, and honestly, it isn’t a whole lot of fun dislocating a thumb from holding a hardcover book. 😀 Okay, so in all fairness, I dislocate my wrist when I slice bread, so this isn’t all that unusual…

Then the husband recently got himself a new mobile phone – an Omnia – so naturally, I inherit his old one. My old one was already dead, as was the prior old one. Yeah, I’ve got a mobile phone graveyard happening. And an iron graveyard, too, but that’s another story. 😛

The phone I inherited is an HP pocket PC that he got in Dubai a couple of years ago. Initially, I thought the screen would be too small and there would be too much glare, but then I plowed through ten ebooks (fantasy, of course) in about a week and a half…

Sure, an ebook reader would probably be nice, but they cost money, and besides, going by the way I’m going through ebooks, this is working just fine. :)

Happiness reigns!

Sentinel and Short Stories

Fahim had a dream that led to a story that we started developing.

You know, this is a fairly standard thing with us. I have ideas, I bounce them off him. He has ideas, he bounces them off me, then gives them to me. 😀 So, really, it should come as no surprise that he gave me another idea. An intriguing one, too.

Not that it’s entirely his, despite his illusions…

Without going into what the story is about – it’s still in development phase, plus I don’t want to reveal too much at this point other than it’s science fiction set in the current time- I will say that one point has me somewhat frustrated.

I was looking for short story ideas.

I’ve been wanting to try my hand at short stories. I’d love to work on developing some of my story-telling skills, honing them, analyzing them, improving them, working on them, in short story mode. Character development, dialogue, description. Things that are universal to all stories, regardless of length.

But this is another one that’s turned into a novel. There’s too much stuff there to be a short story, and honestly, I don’t – any longer – see a way to make it a short story. It’s just no longer possible from the way I’m looking at it.

If you write short stories and novels both, how do you do it? How do you get just enough meat for a short story before it turns into something much longer?

A Potentially Very Cool Site

Is currently in construction. It’s a Tor site. You know Tor – publishers of science fiction and fantasy. You can read more about it on Making Light.

The basic idea behind the new site – as I interpret it – is a community for people who enjoy reading speculative fiction and all sorts of other things. But probably not sourdough. 😉

Anyway, check it out. And, if you sign up at the new Tor site, you get free ebooks. About one a week. Which was enough incentive for me… :) Not that I really needed incentive… 😀


Science Fiction.

A group of people, heading towards the Gathering of all the families, go through an unstable Nexus point into an uncharted region of space where they discover their ancient roots, lost in the passages of time until now.

Status: Rough plotting, but needs a seriously detailed plot outline. Have a few scenes written, but nothing more.


“You don’t have to manhandle it, you know,” screamed Charla.  “The damn thing is already broken.”  Blood clotted just below her nostrils, more blood staining her bright blue uniform.

A man, grey hair at his temples, stood to the side as the doctor straightened her nose.  He folded his arms in front of him.  “What was it this time?  Insubordination?  Merely having an opinion contrary to your own?  What?”

“An opinion contrary to my own?  Is that what you think this is?” asked Charla.  She brushed the doctor aside and stood up, squarely facing the captain of the Jona.  “Do you have even a little bit of a clue what Raiph is like when no one else is around?”

He rolled his eyes.  “Not this again, Charla.  We’ve settled this…”

She scrunched her eyes.  “Have we?  Galen?  From what I recall, he offered to marry me, a solution you found acceptable, but I did not.  And still do not.  Do you know how he tries to manhandle me?  Do you find it acceptable behavior that he tries to assault me?”

“There’s no proof that he’s ever attempted to assault you…”

“And because I’m your daughter, you can’t possibly find it in you to give me the benefit of the doubt.  Because that wouldn’t be fair to him.”  She shook her head in disgust, then hopped back on the examining table.

“The Gathering is a good time to find you a mate, one with his own ship.  Then you won’t have to put up with Raiph any more.  Or me.”

She shook her head.  “Galen.  Father.  You wouldn’t be saying that if mom were still around.  You know that I’d make a better captain than Ghai ever will.  But you’re bent on the old ways.  Just because he’s older.”

“This isn’t the time or the place for that argument, Charla.  But at Gathering, we will find you a husband.  It’s time for a solution.”

“You could always sell Raiph’s contract.  Oh wait, you can’t.  No one else wants him on their ship, either.” She sneered.  “Sometimes, Galen, it does actually pay to listen to instinct.  Not everything has to be by the book, logic and reason.  Emotion has its place to.  Mom wouldn’t have liked you tearing your heart out just because she died.  She wouldn’t have…”

“Enough.  You will not speak of her that way.”  Galen had turned white, his lips rimmed with red splotches.  His voice was soft, barely audible.  He turned and left sickbay.

“Angel, you’re an angel.  Thanks for fixing me up.”

Angel smiled.  “You’re welcome.  But please, try not to break it again.  It’s going to ruin your lovely profile.”  Angel was tall, taller than Charla, who already stood taller than many men.  “So what really happened in Engineering?  The unofficial version?”  Angel cleaned up the bandages and detritus left behind after bandaging first Raiph’s wounds and then Charla’s.

“First the whistling and catcalls.”  Charla rolled her eyes.  “You know I wouldn’t deck him over that – it’s not worth my time or energy.  But it’s been progressing.  He grabbed me a few times, and I hit him back.”

“Hmm.  I didn’t see the reports.”

“Because there weren’t any.  As far as I was concerned, it was dealt with unofficially and effectively.”

Angel nodded.  “I can see that.  There was a guy I worked with once…”  Angel smiled.  “But you’ve heard the story.”

“Yeah, guy grabs, you elbow him, he sings soprano.”  Charla and Angel laughed.

“So what happened?”

“I caught him in Recycling, doing what, I have no idea, when he didn’t need to there, and when I asked, he refused to give me an explanation.”  Charla shrugged.

“That sounds a bit odd.”

Charla nodded.  “It is.  I might have let it go, but then he deliberately picked a fight with me.”

Angel frowned.  “Like you caught him off guard and he needed a diversion?”

Charla nodded.  “Which only makes me more suspicious.”


“But father won’t want to hear any of this, not until or unless there’s incontrovertible proof.”  Charla stiffened her spine, straightened her shoulders, and put a stern expression on her face in imitation of her father.

“What now?”

“Now I go back there and see what I can figure out.  There has to be a reason for what he was doing.  Mel’s not sick, is she?  None of my readings indicate anything.  Can you run a double check?”

Angel walked over to her desk and sat down. She typed commands into the console and, satisfied, looked back at Charla. “I’ll know soon enough, and as soon as I do, I’ll let you know.But I don’t know how Raiph could make a Jona sick through Recycling, let alone why he’d want to. He knows as well as anyone that if Mel gets sick, then we’re all dead. We’re not close enough to any other Jonas if anything goes seriously wrong.”