Indie Spotlight on SciFi Author, Lesley Smith

FOR EVERY GOOD FORTUNE, THERE’S AN EQUAL AND OPPOSITE MISFORTUNE. As a brilliant young computer scientist working on her master’s degree, Ella Hote doesn’t believe in luck. But when bizarre accidents, insane coincidences, and weird encounters with improbably handsome strangers start to happen all around her, even hardheaded Ella has to change her mind.

She comes to realize she’s inadvertently created a luck generating computer that can make even the longest of long shots pay off.

Unfortunately, for every stroke of good luck, someone else pays the price in bad luck.

Ultimately, when lives are on the line, how far will she go?

Conservation of Luck is an engaging science fiction story that grapples with questions of morality—do the ends ever justify the means? And how can you go to save your loved ones?

My Love Affair with Science Fiction

Hi, my name is Lesley Smith and I’m a science fiction fan.  And, yes, I know that sounds like the intro at a twelve-step meeting. I write science fiction because I read science fiction.

My SF experience all started when I was a little girl and my chemist dad gave me a copy of Isaac Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy. From there it was just a hop, skip, and a jump to novels of Robert Heinlein such as Stranger in a Strange Land and Time Enough for Love. And, then, before I knew it I was hanging out at the library at all hours, reading works such as Fahrenheit 451 and The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury.

Maybe you had a similar experience with your favorite books?

My love affair with SF continued over the decades. I was especially happy to find more modern authors like Connie Willis and Kathleen Goonan who write from a more feminine perspective.

My critique partners like to say I write ‘science fiction with heart.’ I say I write the kind of books I want to read, with female protagonists who can be kick-ass scientists, have romances and dear friends and joke around, who can live and love–all while saving the world.

The bottom line is I can’t resist flights of fancy to other worlds and other societies. I love going on adventures and trying to understand other sentient creatures, cultures and scientific concepts. I love letting my imagination run wild in parallel with my reason when I create new fiction.

Reading fiction is the only activity in which you get to become someone, or something, else. Thus, as a girl I got to become an astronaut, a Martian settler, a time traveler, a psycho-historian, a robotic engineer, a scientist, and many other professions. I felt as if I was having adventures such as exploring Mars and doing scientific experiments. I’m a firm believer that you have to be able to dream of something to do it. You have to imagine yourself doing it.

For me, SF became a gateway to something even more powerful: science. Decades later, you guessed it, I’m a scientist with several degrees under my belt including a Ph.D. in Physics. I’m very passionate about encouraging people in underrepresented groups become STEM professionals and I think science fiction helps make this happen.

Every day, I make use of the imagination and creativity I learned, and continue to learn, from science fiction. Every day, I’m honored to carry the torch and advance humanity’s knowledge a little further and to write about it in my fiction.

And every day I’m grateful for the opportunity.

(Photo by Patrick Campbell/University of Colorado)

Lesley L. Smith has collected a plethora of degrees including a PhD. in Physics and a MFA in Writing Popular Fiction. She has published seven science fiction novels with her latest being, Conservation of Luck. Her short science fiction has been published in several venues including Analog Science Fiction and Fact. She is an active member of the Science Fiction/Fantasy Writers of America and Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. She is also a founder and editor of the speculative fiction e Zine Electric Spec. She has had a variety of scientific jobs including investigating quarks, dark matter, extra-solar planets, clouds, atmospheric chemistry and global warming. She has worked for a variety of research institutions including The University of Kansas, Argonne National Laboratory, the Department of Energy, the National Center for Atmospheric Research, NASA, and The University of Colorado. If you’d like to know more about Lesley you can visit her website.

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What are you reading?

I’m reading ABOVE SUSPICION by Joe Starky. True crime story about how an FBI Agent lost his way in the biggest way possible.

Also this month I’ve read…

Bone Baby by Diane M. Dixon

Ghost Writers in the Sky by Anne R Allen

And I’m happy to say I can recommend all of them.

So…what are you reading? Anything super good, fun, interesting, or different? Leave the link in the comments so we can check it out.

Phew just one more day til the weekend! Have a good one.

Annie

 

Indie Spotlight on Crime Writer Christina Kaye

THE SINS OF THE FATHER

In my award-winning suspense novel, LIKE FATHER, LIKE DAUGHTER, Libby wakes up to find her husband murdered in the bed next to her. When police arrive at the scene, they quickly realize that she’s the daughter of the infamous I-75 Strangler, who is now service several life sentences in prison. So I wondered…what would it be like to have a serial killer in the family?

When we hear about serial killers in the media, we become fixated on the monster and the horrific crimes they committed. We often forget about their victims. Beyond that, we forget that there are other victims that are rarely mentioned, if ever – their children.

Take for example, Kerri Rawson, daughter of the BTK Killer, Dennis Raider. She and her mother had no idea Dennis was a cold-blooded torturer and murderer until the FBI showed up at her house and told her and her husband everything. She claims she has coped with her father’s notoriety and the pain that comes with being the daughter of a serial killer with the help of her church and a psychologist (much like Libby in LIKE FATHER, LIKE DAUGHTER).

Melissa Moore is the daughter of Keith Jessperson (aka The Happy Face Killer) who murdered at least eight women in the early nineties while working as a long-haul truck driver (again, like Libby’s father in LIKE FATHER, LIKE DAUGHTER). He was known for mailing letters to the police and media detailing his crimes and signing them with a happy face. Chilling, but true. The truth came out when Jessperson turned himself in when Melissa was only 15. While she knew nothing about his crimes, she did tell BBC reporters that she knew something was “dark” about him. Moore wrote a book called “Shattered Silence: The Untold Story of a Serial Killer’s Daughter.” She later went on to host a television series called The Monster in My Family (available on Netflix).

The Green River Killer (Gary Ridgeway) may be one of the most well-known American serial killers. He is infamous for killing at least 49 women in Washington State before being captured in 2001. His son, Matthew Ridgeway, has said that his father (though absent mostly due to divorce from Matthew’s mother) was a “normal” dad and that he showed up often to sports matches and even taught his son how to ride a bike. Eerily, it has been said that Gary Ridgeway showed victims a picture of his son just prior to killing them, in an effort to calm their fears and make them feel at ease. Matthew went on to serve in the US Marine Corp. He later married and settled in California.

Some children of serial killers, however, do not fare so well. Take, for example, Yury Odnacheva, son of Andrei Chikatilo, arguably the most prolific serial killer ever identified. Chikatilo was convicted of sexually assaulting and murdering over 50 people, though he claimed to have killed many more than that. His son, Yury (who took on his mother’s surname after Chikatilo’s arrest), wound up having several run-ins with the law, including convictions for theft and extortion.  In 2009, he was arrested and convicted of attempted murder for stabbing a man nine times.

Though each of these individuals has reacted differently to learning that their father was a notorious serial killer, they have one thing in common. They all have to live with the knowledge that their father killed countless innocent victims and that the man they knew as “daddy” no longer exists.  They’ve each felt the sting of losing a father and having to accept the fact that the man who raised them is responsible for taking away other people’s mothers and fathers from them.

When I wrote Like Father, Like Daughter, I had seen an episode of The Monster in My Family and it got me wondering…what would it be like to have a serial killer for a father? Would you turn out to be just like them? Or was there a chance you could go on to live a normal life, despite living in the shadow of someone notorious for committing horrific acts of violence? I chose to take it a step further and have my main character, Libby Carter, charged with the murder of her own husband. In my mind, if an individual was charged with murder and then police learned that their father was a convicted serial killer, odds are they would be scrutinized even more thoroughly. I would think police would be disinclined to believe them and that they would automatically assume that they were just like their father. Hence the title, LIKE FATHER, LIKE DAUGHTER.

BIO: Christina Kaye is the award-winning author of dark, twisty novels. She was born and raised in Lexington, Kentucky. Some of her favorite things include: sweet tea, dragonflies, books, puppies, and thunderstorms. Christina lives in Nicholasville, Kentucky with her two teenage daughters, an extremely intelligent Aussie, and a very fat cat.

To learn more about Christina you can visit her website and follow her on Facebook and Twitter

 

 

Tips, Tricks, and Little Known Halloween Facts…

Hey kids, it’s been quite a while since I did a whole big resource post but Halloween is always a fun  holiday,  so let the tips and tricks begin.

The facts

  • Halloween has its origins in Celtic, Wiccan and even Catholic traditions and celebrations. Most of which were meant to celebrate the end of the growing season, the coming of winters and the thin line between the living and the dead.
  • The celebration was a blend of All Saints Day, the Celtic celebration of Samhain, and the Roman festival Feralia.
  • The custom of putting lights in carved vegetables came from the pre-Christian Druids in northern Celtic lands. Before and during Druidic ceremonies practitioners hung a carved and lighted turnip around their necks as a “spirit guide” to get them safely through the dangerous procedures, which sometimes included human sacrifice.
  • By the 19th century, most of the religious aspects of the Halloween celebration were gone and became mostly a secular holiday that was more about dressing up in costume for fun and entertainment than confusing the dead and warding off spirits.
  • The tradition of ‘trick or treating’ in America is believed to have originated with Irish immigrants who brought with them the Halloween tradition of going door to door looking for sweets and other treats.
  • Many believed (perhaps still do) that Halloween is a pagan celebration of witchcraft. Among the traditions that seemed ‘witch like’ are –
    • Young women could determine her future spouse by staring into a mirror in a darkened room or by peeling an apple in one long strip and then casting the peel over her shoulder.
    • Baking small coins, trinkets, and a single, plain ring into a type of fruit cake that would be shared among the neighbors. If you got a trinket in your piece – that was your fate for the coming year, with the person who got the ring destined to wed.
  • Some Christian faiths still maintain that Halloween encourages witchcraft and hold “Hell Houses” meant to scare children and young adults away from the traditions and to lead them back to the church. Some even go so far as to hand out pamphlets on Halloween night to be found when kids go through their candy.

Halloween Safety Tips

Costumes:

Dressing up in costume is one of the more fun aspects of the holidays but some costumes can be problematic. The following tips might help prevent costume malfunction:

  1. With kids’ costumes you want to avoid choking hazards. Look over the outfit and accessories for anything that can be pried off or favored as a teething toy for a baby. Details such as buttons, beads, sequins, or other baubles meant to be decorations may need to be removed or given a couple extra stitches to ensure they remain intact.
  2. Make sure costumes don’t obstruct your view, including peripheral vision.
  3. Dragging hemlines can cause tripping and be caught in machinery, fences, gates and car doors. Hem costumes so your child won’t trip herself or others.
  4. Also check tags to see what kind of fabric is used. You or your child may have an allergic reaction to synthetic fabrics, or they may cause chafing if fabric is rough and your child does a significant amount of walking in it.
  5. Always ensure that the fabric of your costume is proofed against catching fire.
Trick-or-Treating:
  1. Make sure youngsters have flashlights and/or some sort of reflective tape adhered to their costume when going door to door.
  2. Make sure they are wearing appropriate footwear for walking and weather conditions.
  3. Organize it so that children travel in groups, and have a buddy system in place. Do not move from one house to the next until all kids are accounted for.
  4. Be extra careful crossing the streets, though drivers may be trying to be careful the streets will have more than usual foot traffic and accidents still happen.
  5. If you are driving on Halloween during trick or treating hours, be extra vigilant and keep your eyes on the road. If you need to break up an argument between your kids over whose candy is whose, pull over and work it out rather than looking away from the road.
  6. Never let the kids consume any of the candy from their bags until an inspection has been done. Check to ensure that wrappers and packaging is still sealed properly, wash and cut fruit such as apples before consumption, and check baked good as well. If you are in doubt about any item it is better to throw it away than take a chance.

 Halloween Recipes

Meringue bones and skulls

Easy roasted pumkin seed recipe

Watch this vid to see how to make “dirt pudding”

Halloween Laughs

If you’re in the mood for something punny – check this site for some groan worthy jokes

Halloween Games

Need some games for your Halloween party?

And if you happen to be staying home tonight with no particular plans, check out this movie trailer. Who knew Helen Mirren could be so scary? LOL!

Have a ghoulish good Halloween and don’t forget to save me some candy. Caramels and Hershey’s Chocolate, please. 😉

Annie  

Indie Spotlight on Romance (Thriller) Author Renee Charles

Amidst an epidemic ravaging the world, all Megan Fletcher’s hopes for the future lie in getting to Las Vegas where newscasts reported scientists were gathering to search for a cure for the modern plague. After rescuing her from a rooftop surrounded by Zombies, Sam Woods appoints himself her escort. While he knows she is determined to get to Vegas no matter the cost, he doesn’t know her secret. And with his hatred of all things Zombie, she doesn’t dare tell him the truth. The more he kisses her, the harder it is for Megan to hide her growing feelings…and the bite-shaped scar. But Vegas is not the haven it was promised to be, and when Megan’s immunity to the disease is discovered, she realizes her future and her heart belong to Sam, if he will trust her.

An idealistic school teacher and ex-corporate mogul manage to find love despite a looming worldwide catastrophe. Can their love survive while everything around them is dying? Will they learn that when facing the end of the world, Only Love Survives?

Do you believe in Monsters?

If I told you monsters were real would you believe me? What if I said there is proof all around us? Everyday proof and we step over it like a pile of laundry in our room, which screams for our attention, yet barely registers on our radar.

Think about this for a minute. How can multiple unconnected cultures come up with similar creatures, down to the height and smells, throughout history. Easy, because they are real. Don’t believe me? Just Google ‘Bear walking on hind legs’ AND ‘Bear with no hair’. It’s okay, I’ll wait. <<Cue elevator music.>>

You’re back. So, now do you see why the legend of BIGFOOT won’t ever die? Yeah, marry those two images together and voila, the stuff nightmares are made of.

Legends are born of truth. So are monsters.

Another good example is the Dragon. Thirteenth century men needed a word for what they found fossilized in the rocks around them. We call them dinosaurs now, but could you imagine what it would have been like to happen upon a skeleton taller than your thatched roof?  First off, you’d give it a name. Then you would give it a story as magical as the finding itself.

Another great example, the vampire. Sun sensitivity is a very real thing. I have a redheaded friend who gets bruises like she’s been punched rather than the traditional sunburn. I, myself a devote vegetarian since birth simply because I hated the texture of anything meaty, woke up one morning when I was 23 and cooked (barely cooked, really more I just took the chill off) a big hunk of red meat for breakfast. Turns out, not only was I preggers, but anemic as well. The body craves what it needs, and sometimes that is some good old fashioned protein soaked in blood. Harsh, I know, but it gets my point across.

These stories come from somewhere. Explanations for what cannot be explained, often from the minds of those who imagine the worst and revel in it. We authors do exactly that.

Romance authors are the worst, known for taking two perfectly innocent people and throwing the worst possible set of circumstances at them. Why? Because the harder the trials and tribulations, the better the HEA is afterward. Now add some good old fashioned monsters in the mix, and you have the perfect love story in this author’s humble opinion. That’s what I do in my books, I love strange beginnings with passionate endings. My full length novel, Only Love Survives chronicles two people as they carve out a life in a post-apocalyptic, zombie infested world.

Renee Charles believes all love is legendary. Having been the only female in a house full of giants (husband and two boys) for the past 20 years. she tends to lean toward the strange and unusual, but inevitably the softer side shines through. Her own romance began in an insane asylum. Luckily, both she and her husband only worked there. But it makes sense her romance novels have strange beginnings, which lead to passionate endings. Romance with a twist. In the face of zombies, werewolves, and dragons she always seems to find a happily ever after to leave you with a sigh at the end.

If you’d  like to know more about Renee please visit her website , follow her on Facebook and Twitter.