Sunday, August 29, 2010

LARRIANE WILLS: Does Science Fiction Have Any Effect On Science?

Though I only have one science fiction published, Looking Glass Portal, it isn’t because I don’t write more. Except for The Eternal Search, which will be coming out soon through XOXO Publishing, I just haven’t gotten any of the others ready yet for submission. It is one of my favorite genres to write in. Why? All those possibilities fascinate me. The challenge is to make the things you come up with believable, but do I have to rely on scientific theories? I give you a resounding no. In fact, the reverse is often true. Even 20 years ago, the idea of a phone small enough to fit into your shirt pocket was science fiction! A computer in your phone that connected you to literally millions—through the air? Home computers you could hold in your lap and you could talk to? So why not space ships and worm holes and light sabers, and best of all, aliens? Do any of you know that the cell phone was a direct result of the communicator used in Star Trek as well as other advances? Honest. I watched a documentary on how the series inspired inventions. Here’s another example:

"When I designed the UI (user interface) for the Palm OS back in '93, my first sketches were influenced by the UI of the Enterprise bridge panels,'' said Rob Haitani, product design architect for Palm-One Inc., the Milpitas firm that makes the popular handheld personal computers.

Rather than continue, visit this site to explore on technology advances developed from ideas written in fiction by non-scientists in Star Trek, one of the best know examples of Science Fiction. 

Centuries ago many of the things Galileo wrote and drew pictures of would have been called science fiction, had the term existed then. Look at all the things Jules Vern wrote about: trips to outer space before they even had planes or Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and his submarine. To quote, “Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve,” W. Clement Stone. He was a businessman and author, not a scientist, but the same thing applies. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Men love to wonder, and that is the seed of science,” and “Science does not know its debt to imagination.” What does a scientist think? “The process of scientific discovery is, in effect, a continual flight from wonder,” Albert Einstein. Did Einstein read something and then wonder? I have no idea, but such wondrous possibilities are out there, and I like wondering, imagining, and writing about it. However, when it comes right down to it, the story is the people and what they might be able to do, not the science or science fiction. The last is the background, but it has to be believable. For Looking Glass Portal I asked the question, “Do like minds reach out over vast distances, even that of space with what is reality on one world legends in another?” to explain the existence of a Pegasus. Do you think I’m mixing apples with oranges now, going from technology to ESP? No, scientists have researched ESP for decades at least. And why not a Pegasus as well as space travel? In The Eternal Search the story is based on time travel and immortality. I won’t bore you with Einstein theories that make the former at least plausible, but haven’t people dreamed of a ‘fountain of youth’ for centuries? What about Lacrezia Borgia’s attempts to stay young by bathing in virgin’s blood, earning herself the title of vampire or so some say? No, I won’t go into possibilities of vamps and weres. That’s a whole other kettle of fish as far as I’m concerned. But think about what’s possible or plausible and how much the imagination of writers through the centuries has contributed to science. for more excerpts and info on all my books, historical, contemporaries, fantasy and science fiction.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Book Blogger Hop

Book Blogger Hop

Want in on the hop? Click here.

As I was browsing the internet, I noticed there's a HOP going on! Since I love paranormal romance books, let's see how many different sites I can hit! 

Now, in order to enter, I have to answer the question, which is: Do you use a rating system for reviewing your books? If so, what is it and why?

Now, if you've browsed this site, you know that I review paranormal, fantasy, and science fiction romance. And you also know that no, I don't use a rating system. 

Why? Because I find that by thinking of something on a scale, I limit myself. There's always going to be something that blows my scale right out of the water. So instead, I prefer to think of each book on its own, and tell the reader what I thought was good (or bad) about it. 

That being said, I'm off on my blog adventure!


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Predators and Editors

If you've recently browsed my Useful Links page, you'll notice at the top, I've listed the Predators and Editors site. To link with my recent post about contracts, I wanted to discuss it today. 

Whether you're an aspiring writer or a seasoned veteran, you should definitely take a peek at this site. It's been around for a while, so most veterans out there probably have already checked it. But it is being updated all the time. 

What is this site? This is a site that lets you know about the reputations of publishers and agents. Are they good? Should you sign with them? Here, some of these questions are answered. The list(s) include both recommended, neutral, and not recommended publishers/agents. More or less, it lists the publishing world, along with any relevant notes on each entry. 

Why is this list indispensable? First off, it's run by a reliable source. Secondly, it's updated regularly. And, of course, the information there will help you to make good choices for your writing career. You definitely don't want to be jilted out of royalties or sign onto bad contracts. Read the lists! Make informed choices!


Sunday, August 22, 2010


Today I'm going to take a break from my mini-series to talk to you about a very important aspect of your writing career: the contract. If you are pursuing publication for that prized manuscript of yours, there are a few things you need to be aware of when going over the contract. 

1) Beware the contract that asks for you to submit your next work. 

Even if you plan on sending your next work to the same publishing house, this clause is a bad one. You shouldn't sign a contract if they ask for your next romance work in any subgenre, or your next work in any genre. Why? What if you change your mind at a later date? You aren't, under law, able to send your work anywhere else. 

One acceptable alternative to this clause is to offer the publisher your next work with the same characters -- or in other words, the next book in a series. That way, you are still free to shop other manuscripts elsewhere. Of course, some prefer not to give a publisher even that much control.

2) Beware the contract that asks for the rights to your world or characters.

Surely this speaks for itself. You don't want want someone else to hold the rights to your story. Things like merchandising, film rights, etc. can be given away, although you don't want your publisher sitting on rights they have no intention of using. But in this case, if they own the rights to your world, they can have anyone they want write stories involved in that story. While that may at first sound cool, trust me, it isn't. After all, they don't have to publish any subsequent stories of yours -- they can have anyone they want write them instead. And if you attempt to publish any story with the same world or characters, they can take you to court (and win). 

I have no alternative to offer them here. Ask for that clause to be taken out as a condition of your signing the contract. 

3) Beware the contract that asks for rights "for the length of copyright".

Let me explain that to you for a minute. Since the advent of Mickey Mouse, copyright has changed drastically. Every time Mickey's copyright is about to expire, Disney appeals to the copyright office to get it extended. What applies to Mickey must of course apply to everyone else. And as your work is a great deal younger than Mickey Mouse, this means that it will never go out of copyright. Signing a contract "for the length of the copyright" essentially means forever -- even after you're dead. 

Ask instead for a length of time -- three years. Five years. Whatever you're willing to offer. Your agreement can continue beyond that. Most publishing houses ask you to sign the same contract again after the time is up, to extend the agreement. But again, it is not indefinite.

But what if you really like this publisher despite those clauses? Most publishers are willing to negotiate on their contracts. Offer one of the alternatives I mentioned. If they will not change their contract, that is an indication that you should turn tail and find somebody else. 

These are only three examples, but they are three of the most common clauses seen in contracts. These are things to be wary of when looking it over. If you don't have an agent (or even if you do), you always want to be wary of the contracts you sign. Read them carefully. Look them over two, or even three times. If you don't understand something in them, don't be afraid to bring the contract to a lawyer. Better to fork over a small sum than have something you didn't notice come back to bite you in the ass. 

Does anyone else have examples of things to be avoided in contracts?


Thursday, August 19, 2010

Review: Twin Spirits by Mary Winter

Twin Spirits by Mary Winter is a paranormal menage. When two hot shapeshifting polar bear twins each recognize shaman-trained Louhi as their mate, they start to butt heads. Can they convince her to accept them both in time for her to strike a deal with the wandering Night Demons?

This book promises intrigue and delivers from the very first page. The chemistry between Louhi and the twins is explosive. She seems torn between Hans and Marc, wanting them both, but feeling guilty for adding tension between them. Although I found her wishy-washy attitude to be a bit annoying at times—first, she would push one away, then on the next page, drag him closer for a toe curling kiss—the tension and the hot sex more than made up for it. My sympathy started with Hans, but thankfully, by the time he and Louhi rocked the truck with their lovemaking, I wanted Marc to be able to win her over, too. The unique plot had me quickly flipping the pages to discover whether or not they would win out the day. Although this is not the first book in the series, someone who hasn't read the others would be able to easily understand what was going on. 

The only thing I might caution readers about is the typos. I bought this book straight from the website and as I was reading, it soured me to the story a bit to find it riddled with mistakes and typos. If you can overlook that in the book, as I quickly learned to in this, it is a quick, hot read. 

Mary Winter writes earthshaking tension and chemistry coupled with irresistible characters. In a word, Twin Spirits was:


Visit Mary Winter's site online here. Buy the book from Pink Petal Books here


Sunday, August 15, 2010

Shifters, Part 5: Human Shifters

This last subtopic of shapeshifters, I must admit, I have never read in paranormal romance, though I would be eager to get my hands on a book if one does exist. I'm talking about shifters who can change their appearance to that of any human. I'm talking about changelings, doppelgangers, if you will. 

I've read about this once in the classic science fiction series Dune by Frank Herbert. In this series, he wrote about Face Dancers which were able to shift their facial features to resemble any person they liked. 

Similarly if you've watched the popular TV series Supernatural, you might have seen a shapeshifter change its appearance by morphing the top layer of its skin to resemble the person it wishes, and later shedding its skin. 

A Doppelganger is considered in mythology to be an apparition or double of a person. It has its own mythology surrounding it, claiming that every person has a ghost-like counterpart, and this counterpart is considered to be evil. Here, I used the term in the common urban disambiguation, meaning that it is literally a person's look-alike. If you want to learn more about the original myth surrounding the doppelganger, take a look at the Wikipedia page, this website, or this Fact or Fiction? website.

A Changeling in mythology refers to a fairy spirit who, at birth, was switched with a living child. This spirit can take on the physical appearance of the child and is considered to be evil. More information about changelings can be found at the Wikipedia page, this website, or this website about German Changeling legends

Visit the Wikipedia page about shapeshifting to learn more about it in general.

Don't forget to stop by this Wednesday to read a review of Mary Winter's Twin Spirits!


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Shifters, Part 4: Unusual Animal Shifters

Now, having talked about werewolves and shapeshifters that shift as a part of their natural physiology, and shapeshifters that shift through the use of magic, I'm going to move on to the animals you don't usually see as shifters. The first, dragons, I have seen in several different books, but the others I have never read. They might be out there, but if so, they haven't yet crossed my path. Let me give you a bit of information on these lovely creatures, anyway.


These creatures of legend were said to be monstrous beasts, which would eat the flesh of virgin maidens. These maidens were sometimes offered up to them as sacrifices to prevent the dragons from attacking their villages. Some legends state that the dragons were guardians of great treasures. Most legends depict brave knights riding out to slay them, such as the Knights of the Round Table.

Books with these unusual shifters include Dragonswan by Sherrilyn Kenyon, Master of Dragons by Angela Knight, Fiery Magic by Raine Delight, and Light My Fire by Jodi Redford.

Sources for more information about dragons include:


Griffins are creatures with the body of a cat, but the wings, beak, and talons of an eagle. Depending on the myth they are either violent or benign. Some myths list their feathers as sources of luck; others say that you cannot tell a lie while around them.

Sources for more information about griffins include:


Centaurs are creatures with the body of a horse but the torso of a (wo)man. They are said to be excellent archers and stalwart fighters. Some sources list them as good diviners.

More sources about centaurs include:


Unicorns are horse-like creatures with large horns, similar to those of narwhals, protruding from their foreheads. Some sources say that it is bad luck to kill one.

More sources about unicorns include:


Phoenixes are immortal birds. They go through life cycles but at the end of which, instead of dying, they burst into flame and are reborn from the ashes.

More sources about phoenixes include:

Thanks for joining me! Next week I'll be moving on to my final post regarding shifters. A review of Mary Winter's Twin Spirits is still forthcoming!


Sunday, August 8, 2010

Shifters, Part 3: Using Magic to Shapeshift

In The Dictionary of Mythology by J. A. Coleman (Arcturus Publishing Ltd., 2007) the description of a werewolf included:


It is said that those who can become werewolves also practice witchcraft when in their normal human shape.

So today, that is what I am going to talk about. Shapeshifting using magic.

This isn't commonly featured in paranormal romance novels, however I have read it before: both instances involved one of my favourite writers, Christine Warren. The first was in Wolf At The Door. In this book, Sullivan Quinn, a werewolf, meets an intoxicating fox woman, Cassidy Poe. Fox women, in Christine Warren's Other series, are able to shift into foxes, but only through the use of a specific kind of magic.

Likewise, in her tale Heart of the Sea, offered on her website or here for free, selkies are witches who are able to transform into seals by a combination of witchcraft and their magical seal skins.

So let me dive in a bit about selkies, which are more commonly seen in literature than fox women. If you're wondering about the folklore behind fox women, while I am not entirely certain about Warren's thinking on the matter, the Japanese have a myth treating foxes rather like fairies, where they are able to transform into humans. Read more about the kitsune myth here.

The selkie myth originated along the Atlantic Ocean, in places like Scotland, Wales, etc. They can be males or females, and it is said that if you steal their skin they are unable to turn back into seals. Warren's short story, in my opinion, is a very interesting depiction of selkies.

More resources include:

Does anyone else have some examples of paranormal romances in which magic is used in order to shift?


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Shifters, Part 2: Inborn Abilities

We've all read books like this. This is the books featuring werewolves (or werecougars, werelions, werejaguars—you get the picture). I classify these books as "inborn abilities" because in these books, these creatures are all born with the ability to shapeshift (which usually manifests for the first time at puberty).

But for a moment, I'm going to sidetrack to werewolves. In the original myth, this is a disease, one which causes the person to shift into a wolf-like monster upon the full moon. This disease is spread through the werewolf's bite at this time. The Dictionary of Mythology by J. A. Coleman (Arcturus Publishing Ltd., 2007) describes a werewolf as:


a human said to be able to change into a wolf

In those cases where men were turned into wolves by others, it was said that, if they refrained from eating human flesh for eight years, they would be restored to their human form.

Other animals take the place of wolves in those places where the wolf is not feared. Examples include the bear (North America), boar (Greece/Turkey), crocodile (Africa), fox (China/Japan), hyaena (Africa), jaguar (South America), leopard (Africa), lion (Africa) and tiger (Borneo/China/Japan).

In European belief, a werewolf removes his skin and resumes his human shape at daybreak and will die if the skin is found and destroyed.

A German story says that a person wearing a belt from the skin of a wolf or a man who has been hanged will become a werewolf.

In the lore of some North American Indians, werewolves can be either men or women. It is said that those who can become werewolves also practice witchcraft when in their normal human shape.

I'll come back to that last bit in the next post. But this, the stuff of horror films, is rarely used in romance. Nonetheless, let me give you some good references to look into:

But, as I mentioned, rarely do paranormal romances follow this example. More likely, being a werewolf is hereditary—and the werewolf gene is dominant in half-breeds. Depending on who you read, the werewolf lore can be the "inner beast" which grants the bearer strength; the werewolf is able to shift into a wolf form either on the full moon or at will (although in almost all cases, the full moon still pulls at the beast inside them); the werewolf is able to shift into a half man, half wolf form.

Some of my favourite authors who write books with these kind of shifters are:

L. K. Below

His Familiar Touch (in Paramourtal)

Kresley Cole

A Hunger Like No Other

Wicked Deeds on a Winter's Night

Pleasure of a Dark Prince

Lauren Dane The Cascadia Wolves series

MaryJanice Davidson The Wyndham Werewolf series

Sherrilyn Kenyon

Night Play

Unleash the Night

Dark Side of the Moon

Bad Moon Rising

No Mercy

Christine Warren

Big, Bad Wolf

Wolf At the Door

She's No Faerie Princess

Howl At the Moon

Walk on the Wild Side

Born to be Wild

Next week, I'll be talking about shifting as a part of witchcraft, but for now:

What are your favourite shifter romances?


Sunday, August 1, 2010

Shifters, Part 1: Introduction

Now we've moved onto shapeshifters! A big thanks to L. K. Below for kicking it off for me!

During the next couple weeks, I'll be talking about:

-Shifters: Inborn abilities 

-Shifters: Using magic to shift

-Shifters: Unusual animals

-Shifters: Human shifters

And to sum it all up, I have a review lined up for Mary Winter's fantastic book Twin Spirits. I hope you'll join me!