Earths in Space: We Must Evolve excerpt #3

earths-in-space-v2-front-coverLaunch week for Earths in Space: We Must Evolve has arrived! The ebook’s preorder pages will magically transform into order pages on Friday, and the paperback edition already went live. It’s not absolutely necessary to read the first book, but I certainly won’t stop you. 

This latest excerpt allows me to bring up an extra-special point. An uncommon feature of the Earths in Space series is that it stars an asexual leading lady. Asexuality is the least common of sexual orientations. The description applies to maybe 1 percent of the population. But it’s real. Some people simply don’t experience sexual attraction, and that’s fine. To learn more about asexuality, check out the Asexuality Visibility and Education Network, or just Google it.

This sci-fi story is not about asexuality, and it’s not even explicitly stated. Amena’s asexuality is vaguely hinted at in Vol. 1, but it becomes a bit more obvious in Vol. 2, as you’ll see below…


“He actually can get pretty industrious sometimes,” Jem said.

Amena wondered if “industrious” was a euphemism. It didn’t sound like one, but a lot of euphemisms tended to take her by surprise.

That kiss was ingrained in Amena’s mind. It nauseated her on a number of levels, the age difference being a big one, but even worse was the notion that this bright—well, sometimes bright—beautiful and strong girl who was just barely old enough to drink would choose to spend such quality time with a slovenly wealthy man prone to erratic behavior. Jem was no gold digger. Outside of the salary she drew from this work, she never spent any of his money. The two of them just kind of clung to each other for unfathomable reasons. Amena understood precious little about it, but she was pretty darn sure it wasn’t healthy.

“Jem, let’s talk girl-to-girl.”

“I guess we would have to.”

“Huh?” Smirking? Why was Jem smirking at her?

“You can’t really talk woman-to-woman, can you?” Continue reading

Do women or men write better?

I never gave much thought to the question, but maybe a helpful infographic will come along and shed some light…

Oh, look. Here’s one, courtesy of your friendly neighborhood grammar checker, Grammarly.

MenvsWomen_Writers_infographicHonestly, I usually stay away from the battle of the sexes. (I come from a female-dominated family, majored in theatre, and work in an otherwise all-female office. I’d lose.) The above can be a fun statistical experiment, but it ultimately emphasizes generalizations and de-emphasizes the outliers. Lots of men and women are great writers. Lots of men and women are terrible writers. The bottom-line data says 59 percent of men and women believe women write better, which isn’t a huge margin and suggests gender is not a great predictor of a writer’s quality.

The data on sentences did jump out at me, however. Over 75 percent of women are more likely to write long, descriptive sentences vs. about 34 percent of men. That’s a statistically significant difference, and it backs up a trend in my dialogue. My female characters tend to be more verbose or prone to rambling, whereas my male characters use fewer words. Just compare Serissa and Rip in RIP. But there are exceptions, like the terse Mariana in Earths in Space. Don’t want to neglect the outliers.

I love writing those chatty women, probably because I’m not at all chatty. It’s a nice change of pace.

I don’t know if women or men are better writers. I don’t think the question matters all that much. But one thing I do know—men in general can do a better job of writing female characters.

Trust me, guys. It’s fun. And it’s not as hard as you might think, because you’re still just writing people…just potentially chattier people who are more likely to write long, descriptive sentences (but not necessarily!).

Earths in Space: We Must Evolve excerpt #2

Launch week for Earths in Space: We Must Evolve has arrived! earths-in-space-v2-front-coverThe ebook’s preorder pages will magically transform into order pages on Friday, and the paperback edition already went live. It’s not absolutely necessary to read the first book, but I certainly won’t stop you. The following excerpt spoils nothing about Vol. 1.


The vice president destroyed civilization, but he didn’t mean to. He simply neglected to seal his containment suit properly. Oh, and the whole initiative kind of was his idea in the first place.

Zanna Fuentes was his deputy press secretary, but now she had a new job—ambassador to the next Earth.

She stared at the massive vessel that would bring her there, along with nearly five hundred other survivors. It sat in the cavernous bunker beneath the Department of Scientific Advancement, where a bunch of paranoids had constructed it in secret a decade earlier. The body was an obese cylinder capped by hemispheres on both ends. The technicians dotted the grainy yellow hull as little more than specks from Zanna’s vantage point in the observation room.

That thing was going to be her home for many thousands of years. It was her future, her entire civilization’s future. Continue reading

Earths in Space: We Must Evolve excerpt #1

earths-in-space-v2-front-coverLaunch week for Earths in Space: We Must Evolve has arrived! The ebook’s preorder pages will magically transform into order pages on Friday, and the paperback edition just went live. It’s not absolutely necessary to read the first book, but I certainly won’t stop you.

So let’s kick things off with an excerpt. Then, for an even grander time, I’ll post other excerpts throughout the week.

Here we go, but be warned — this snippet includes some spoilers for Vol. 1…


Evolution was a real thing. Amena Wharry knew this for a fact. She had witnessed it in action on an Earth that no longer existed. That giant swimming eyeball was forever etched in her memory. She saw it, felt its slimy tentacles as they ensnared her, and she had regrettably killed the poor thing, though she never learned what species it had descended from. Did a race of giant eyeballs already exist deep within her Earth’s oceans? But those snakes were clearly evolved, the way they stretched their mouths unnaturally wide. Then again, that could’ve been a species of snake that had remained hidden in rainforests or was driven to extinction long ago, and those little dinosaurs might never have gone extinct over there in the first place…

The slender redhead swiped her paintbrush across a side wall in The Patrick Henry’s control room. The dull metal got old on day one, and she finally found time to rectify the horrid situation—rectify it as much as her limited artistic talents allowed. Intricate murals were beyond her abilities, and she didn’t have that much time anyway, but she could slap assorted streaks of color up and down the walls. She preferred detailed images that merited close inspection—the sort of work she’d find in art museums’ historical wings—but she settled on abstract expressionism. It was color. It broke the monotony, stimulated the brain even.

Surely people were capable of evolution. If those animals could evolve on that ancient Earth, then humanity likely had the same potential. They just never got the chance there. That civilization died young, lasted for a teensy fraction of the planet’s ten billion years. But maybe on some other Earth…


Preordering is fun, by the way…

Hermione could’ve been a great lead in ‘Harry Potter’

Buzzfeed posted an article titled “If Hermione Were The Main Character In Harry Potter.”Hermione-Granger-hermione-granger-26743720-960-1280

When I saw the headline, I was expecting a story about a muggle-born witch rising out of humble beginnings to achieve greatness no one ever would have expected of her. Maybe Hermione would even going so far as to defy the prophecies surrounding “The Boy Who Lived” that everyone around her was taking so much stock in, and she’d be the one to defeat Voldemort, not Harry, because she built herself into a person capable of doing so, to heck with whatever was preordained when they were babies.

That could be a great self-made person story — and it would serve the cause of gender equality better than that Buzzfeed article about Hermione vs. The Patriarchy (though I don’t recall the actual Harry Potter series being sexist — after all, it gave us Hermione).

I get what the article is trying to do, but if that were an actual series, it would read like the feminist equivalent of Atlas Shrugged. On-the-nose preaching just doesn’t work as entertainment, and preaching doesn’t change minds. Show, don’t tell.

Super Comics: Uncanny X-Men #172 & 173

New post over at Smash Cut Culture!

UncannyX-Men173WolverineLet’s go back to the early days of the super-hero movie trend, to the first X-Men movie from 2000. (Spoilers ahead, but it’s been nearly 15 years.)

That movie featured Wolverine and Rogue as our viewpoints characters, and it built a friendship between, which culminated in Wolverine—at great risk to his own health—allowing Rogue to borrow his healing ability so she could recover from life-threatening injuries. I can’t find that scene on YouTube, but this is the music that plays during the moment.Uncanny_X-Men_Vol_1_173

I’m guessing that scene was inspired by the events ofUncanny X-Men #172 and 173 from 1983, which were written by main X-architect Chris Claremont and drawn by Paul Smith. This pair of issues serves a double purpose—to follow up the excellent Wolverine miniseries Claremont had just completed with artist Frank Miller, and to establish Rogue as a bona fide X-Woman. By the way, that Wolverine miniseries influenced aspects of The Wolverine movie from 2013, but that’d be a whole other article.

Rogue only joined the team in #171, and before that, she was primarily known as the bad guy who stole Ms. Marvel’s powers and memories—in an Avengers comic, since no competing studios were keeping Marvel’s mutant and non-mutant characters apart. Ms. Marvel was a friend of the X-Men and of Wolverine in particular. In today’s comics, Ms. Marvel has become Captain Marvel and is more popular than ever, and she’s set to star in her own film in 2018. But the ‘80s were not kind to her.

Read the rest, please.

The 25 best-mannered people of the past 25 years

jimmy_fallonThe National League of Junior Cotillions has announced its list of the “25 Best-Mannered People of the Past 25 years.”

I came across it as a press release and thought it might be worth sharing as a reminder to start 2015 off on a kind note. (Though I do question ranking a comedian as more well-mannered than Mother Theresa, but the concept as a whole is still a nice thought.)

So, happy New Year! Behave yourselves.