Tag Archives: Mankind’s Redemption

Isn’t it Time to Re-brand Space Opera?

2016 phoenix comicon boothI’ve harped on this before. Where in the middle ages did we come up with the term “space opera” to refer to soft science fiction? Is it a derogatory term? Did it make sense at the time? What were they thinking?

Space opera. It sounds like soap opera, so what are readers going to think when they hear the term? I know what I thought; Days of our Lives aboard the USS Enterprise. Now, I admit, that would fit a fair number of Star Trek episodes, but it definitely does NOT define the genre. So, what should we call it instead? What term would fit a genre that incorporates adventure, romance, horror, and/or mystery in a futuristic setting that has scientific elements but does not strictly adhere to known scientific fact? My vote? Galactic Fantasy.

I’m sure you’ve heard the term before. I’ve heard it here and there, though not consistently, and it’s rarely used by the die-hard sci-fi gurus. And maybe I’m wrong. If the experts are okay with the term then why change an established genre.?

Why? Fans. Space opera may be established in the writing community, but it is not widely established among the fandom. And I have proof.

I shared tables at the 2016 Phoenix Comicon with a group of writers called AWW (Amazing Wycked Writers), which is a group of local Arizona sci-fi/fantasy authors who band together on occasion for conventions and such. I ran my section of the tables, showing my books to passing fans and talking about them. When describing the genre of my “Mankind’s Redemption” series, I used the proper term, space opera. Some fans knew what that meant, the avid readers and those who knew their sci-fi stuff, but most just smiled and nodded. You know the look. Sure, I’m going to pretend like I know what that means so you don’t try to explain it and so I don’t have to show my ignorance. A few people just admitted that they had no clue, and a few were familiar with the term, but not many. About halfway through the convention, I switched my genre label to Galactic Fantasy.

Now, did the readers recognize the term galactic fantasy any better than space opera? No, but I saw their eyes light up as their interest sparked. Maybe they thought the same thing I did when I first heard the term; a fantastical adventure in an outer space setting. Now, being a fantasy and soft science fiction fan, that idea appeals to me a lot more than a soap opera in space. And it appealed to the fans at Comicon, too. I garnered more interest, sold more books, and spent more time explaining my stories rather than defining the genre in which they take place.

If Galactic Fantasy makes more sense to the fans then that’s the road I’m going to travel, even if it is less worn. (Reference to famous poem intended). I hope you’ll join me and we can all be part of the Galactic Fantasy revolution. Isn’t it about time…and occasionally, time travel?

Colette Black Bio:
Author PicColette Black lives in the far outskirts of Phoenix, Arizona with her family, 2 dogs, a mischievous cat and the occasional unwanted scorpion. She loves learning new things, vacations, and the color purple. She writes New Adult and Young Adult sci-fi and fantasy novels with kick-butt characters, lots of action, and always a touch of romance. Find her at www.coletteblack.net

 

Growing Community

Evan’s 1000th post yesterday made me nostalgic. When my son showed me the Superstars Seminar advert, I never imagined how much that event would affect my life. But, of course, that could be said of quite a few events I’ve attended over the years. And it all started by submitting a story.

Intrigued by the concept of FTL travel and the suspension of time, I wrote a short story about a planet with aliens who travel from one end of their speed-of-light-rotation planet to the other, in opposite directions. It was terrible. I submitted to the only short story market I’d heard of, Writers of the Future. The rejection letter from Joni Labaqui, though I’m sure it was a form rejection, is still the nicest rejection I’ve ever received. Somehow, WotF has managed to put together a letter that says no while still telling writers, “you’re great, what you’re doing is great, keep at it and you will get there.” That was my community seed.

If my piece could be rejected and me still feel good about writing then I should be able to handle the rejection of my local peers. Thus, I joined the local writer’s group. If they enjoyed my writing and supported me then I could find the courage to attend my first convention. Thus, I attended World Fantasy Convention. There, I met a wonderful published author and I realized that if she saw promise in my work and was willing to take time on me then I should take the opportunity to learn from other well-published authors. Thus, I ended up at Superstars Writing Seminar and we eventually formed The Fictorians.

With my Superstars/Fictorians support I branched out further, attending more seminars, workshops, conventions and eventually I started having my own launch parties and signing events. Recently, I released the third book, Mwalgi Justice, in my “Mankind’s Redemption” series. I’ve had the series compared to Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Moon’s work. I also released the first book, Fourteen, in “The Number Prophecy. “I couldn’t have done it without the wonderful community that has encouraged and helped me move forward. Of course, not every interaction has been good, but most have, and the journey has been worth it. I have fabulous friends.

I encourage all writers to take the time to reach out and grow their community. Even if you’re published and attending conventions, do you spend time with people or hole up in your room. People remember how you treat others and your community can grow or shrink and it’s not all about the quality of your work. Get brave or get humble, whichever is necessary, and reach out a hand. Because a community holding hands can create miracles.

Just another reminder: There are a lot of great books waiting to be taken to a loving home. Just click on the buttons in the right sidebar and enter. Tomorrow, come back and enter again. If you’d like to try out my new series, “The Number Prophecy,” Fourteen will be one of the prizes next week. Happy Reading!

Second Person? Yes, You Can

SojournerOne of the infallible rules that I’ve always been told is that you can never write a good story in second person. First person stories let us see the character in depth from a single person’s point of view. Third person, while not quite as personal, allows us to easily switch viewpoint characters and see the world from multiple points of view. But second person? Who wants to read a fiction story that keeps taking the reader out of the story by insisting that they are the character. “You went to the store. You bought a gallon of milk. You chugged it down so fast you made yourself sick.” Nope. Doesn’t work. But can it?

There are two scenarios in which I think second person works beautifully. First, is the choose-your-own-story scenario. These are books, sometimes online and sometimes sold in stores, where the storyline can change according to the choices the reader makes. I haven’t read many of these. Okay, maybe only one, but I’ve seen calls for them. One online publisher in particular–I can’t remember the name–wanted stories for YA girls. It seems that many of these girls enjoyed a second-person story with a bit of romance and adventure, where they could decide how their story progressed and how it ended. I think there’s some value in this. Just as first person, present-tense, makes a story more immediate, second-person can make it more personal. There’s a unique opportunity to entertain while teaching about the inevitable consequences to our choices, especially if the story is done realistically well.

Another scenario, my current favorite, is writing for games. After struggling for over a year with the technicalities of creating a story for the board game, Sojourner Tales, I finished the module, The Hologames. It’s a take off my Mankind’s Redemption series, going back to the early years of one of the side characters, and introducing the inception of one of the series’ fun elements, the hologames and hololympics. The story modules are written in second person, present tense, and like a choose-your-own-story, the players select the direction in which the story proceeds. There are a lot of great reasons to present the story modules this way:Hologames (2)_smaller

Second person makes the game feel like a personal adventure. In A Knight’s Tale, you are the one trying to find the princess. Will you find the clues, get lost in a dungeon, eaten by a dragon…? In The Hologames, you’re trying to win prizes and glory along with your chosen partner. Will you pick human or alien, which species, what battle themes, and will you select the right environments to win? Second person increases the fun of the scenarios.

In a board game scenario, having the story in second person coordinates with moving tokens, having unexpected events, and the eventual closing chapter and game conclusion. They integrate well.

By putting a tell-your-own story with a board game, Tracy Hickman has brilliantly made a game that can be played multiple times for each story module and the players will have a slightly different game each time. It may not be strategy with the complexity of Twilight Imperium, but the inherent variety is an interesting twist on traditional board games. It’s a lot of fun.

So, never write in second person? Generally, no, but when given a chance to take a risk and step outside the box, I took it. It’s been a great ride.

Bio: Colette BlackAuthor Pic
Colette Black lives in the far outskirts of Phoenix, Arizona with her family, 2 dogs, a mischievous cat and the occasional unwanted scorpion. She loves learning new things, vacations, and the color purple. She writes New Adult and Young Adult sci-fi and fantasy novels with kick-butt characters, lots of action, and always a touch of romance.

The Horrible, No-good Launch Party, Part 2

scary popcornSo, today’s post was supposed to be about the terrors of planning the second launch party. Will people show up again? Will the hype of “I finally got a book out” turn into the flop of “been there, done that, who cares” from my friends and fans? But it turns out there are other concerns that take precedent, like where the %&+@# do I have my launch party and can I even make it happen?

I started out wondering if I should have the launch at the same place as last time, even though it’s on the very outskirts of the city in which I live or if I should choose a more central location. I’m giving out candy, maybe I should have the launch near a candy store in the mall. Or maybe I should find an independent bookstore and coerce them into letting me in with a table for a couple of hours. Between making that choice and getting managers to return my calls, I still don’t have a location. And then I start to wonder if I’m going to be able to make it happen at all.

These kinds of dilemmas relate to the fears that can really get to me as an author; do I even have the slightest clue what I’m doing? We post on social media, enjoy engaging with people at conventions, do some launches and book signings, win awards, but when it comes down to it, is any of this resulting in greater awareness and sales? And that’s the real fear that often gnaws at my insides. Am I destined to go down in the silent flames of obscurity? This is the question we have to put behind us so we can find courage and move on.

So what if I don’t have a launch party; my first book in the Mankind’s Redemption series just won the Howey award. So what if sales aren’t high; I’m just getting started. So what if my fans are few; they’re giving my book five-star reviews. We look at the bright side so the scary parts don’t overwhelm us. Making writing into a career can take a lot of time, a lot of effort, and a fair amount of time going unnoticed. But if we keep working, Kevin J. Anderson’s popcorn method of success is bound to happen. The more kernels in the pan, the more opportunity for something to POP. So good luck to all and enjoy the popcorn.