Feb 18, 2015

Top 5 Reasons I’ll Stop Reading a Book

We’ve all started a book and wound up ditching it at some later point. Here are my top 5 reasons for ditching a book.


1. Lack of editing

I’m okay with a few typos here and there. We all make mistakes. But I read a lot of kindle samples and immediately mark a book down on the “nope” list if it’s got too many problems with sentence structure or redundancy or telling or… it goes on.  Basically, if you aren’t going the traditional publishing route, I think you need at least 3 sets of other eyes raking over what you’ve done. And you need to make sure they’re helpful. People who gush over your book and have no critique, aren’t doing you any favors in the editing process.

2. I don’t even like you anymore

I’m a sucker for compelling characters. Give me a terrible book with a character I’m invested in and I can get over a lot of issues. Give me a book with an amazing plot but characters that I don’t care about or that I slowly start to dislike… and I’m not going to finish said book. (This is why I’ll likely never read books 6 and 7 of A Song of Ice and Fire – if they are ever published – I just don’t care about what happens to anyone anymore.)

3. I’ve read this before…

There’s something to be said for tropes and how nice it is to have set parameters for a narrative. I’m not talking about books that are similar… I’m talking about books that are pretty blatant copies. I don’t want to read a knock-off of a story I’ve already read, you’re not going to do it better by copying.

4. You’re cheating your reader

What is with this new “trend” (apparently big in the Self-publishing Romance area) of making a trilogy from a single book? I’ll admit that I don’t always look at the page count when I snag stuff for my kindle. I read the blurb and the sample and make my decision there. But if I get to the end of the book and its actually the 1/3rd mark, it doesn’t compel me to buy the next one, it pisses me off and puts you in the category of untrustworthy authors.

5. You’re playing into stereotypes or are just plain gross

I don’t need to read a book that strives to enforce societal ideals that are antiquated and harmful. I don’t need to read a book where non-consensual sex is glorified. I don’t need to read a book where close-minded phobic protagonists are glorified for their stunted viewpoints. If I wanted to do that, I’d pick up a piece of “classic” literature with those themes, because clearly, I’d be living in the past.

What about you? What makes you stop reading?

Feb 16, 2015

Heather M Gardener's One Good Catch

On Friday (March 13, 2015) Heather Gardener’s new contemporary romantic suspense title will release from InkSpell Publishing.

Read the blurb, check out the lovely cover from Najla Qamber Designs, and mark it down on your to-read list:

Ignoring a recent trauma that is affecting her everyday life, ER Doctor Kate Maguire engages in some high risk activities, but putting herself in these dangerous situations isn’t enough to feed her edginess. She needs something more. When her brother’s high school best friend comes back to town, it’s her chance for a ‘no strings attached’ fling with the man who still headlines in all her best dreams.

Rhys MacGrath’s days of one-night-stands are long over. The pro-football player might be side-lined at rehab for a shoulder injury, but that doesn’t mean he can’t admire and desire the all-grown-up, so-damn-hot, version of the tomboy he once knew. His sudden interest in Kate might be aggravating his best friend, who doesn’t approve, but it’s her indifference that’s driving Rhys crazy.

Everything heats up when Kate’s nosy nature sets her in the line of fire of an arsonist forcing them to deal with more than just the sparks igniting between them.




Heather M. Gardner's love of books began on the hand-woven rugs of her small town library where her mother worked. There she had a never-ending supply of stories to read at her fingertips. As a teen, her favorite genres to curl up with were romance and mysteries. When she started to create her own stories, they were the perfect fit.

Heather resides in New York with her best friend who is also her husband, plus her talented and handsome son. She is currently owned by four stray cats. Heather's a full-time mom, works part-time from home, a chocolate enthusiast, coffee junkie, cat addict, book hoarder and fluent in sarcasm.

Feb 11, 2015

Why Do We Live In A World Of Either/Or

We live in an amazingly diverse world. Ours is a planet where creatures can live with no sunlight at the bottom of the sea, or survive in habitats with little to no water. We’ve been to space and climbed Everest, and taken submersibles into the depths…. And yet there are so many things we approach as either/ or with no in between.

I am surrounded, daily, by people who believe there are only two political trains of thought and if you are conservative, you have to be conservative in all things, if you are liberal, you have to be liberal in all things. They believe that gender is binary and anything otherwise is an oddity that can’t be explained (though one specific individual would tell you it’s the devil’s doing.) From a young age, I was taught about good and evil with little preparation for the fact that good people can and will do evil things, and the other way around.

There is an odd belief that there has to be one right way and we have to choose what that is.

It’s a belief that sets us up for failure.

Why is it that we can do such amazing things, but we cannot wrap our heads around the idea that there are so many more than just two options?

I have no answer to this… only more questions.

Feb 9, 2015

Guest Post: Top 5 Amazing Predictions Made by Arthur C. Clarke

Arthur C. Clarke was a British science fiction writer, science writer, television host, and undersea explorer, mostly known for writing his script for Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 science fiction film 2001: A Space Odyssey. He was a man with a vast imagination, and throughout his life, Clarke made many predictions about the technological advancements and events for the future – many of which came true! Let’s take a look at some of the most amazing predictions.
The Internet and Personal Computers
In 1974, Clarke appeared on Australia’s ABC network in a memorable clip with a reporter and the reporter’s son. Clarke said that in the year 2001, the reporter’s son would be able to have his own compact personal computer, which he could use for everything from communicating with friends to reviewing bank statements. When questioned about whether or not this would have adverse consequences for humanity, Clarke was adamant that computer technology would ultimately enrich our lives, and let us live anywhere on Earth. The internet is perhaps Clarke’s biggest prediction that affects our lives today. In the 21st century, computers and the internet have become such a necessity that now, there are schools that even require you to have your own personal laptop. And today, obviously, with wireless internet accessibility on cell phones, tablets, and gaming consoles, we are almost never offline.
Geosynchronous Satellites and Telecommunicating
Geosynchronous satellites have been commonly used since at least 1957 when the Russians launched Sputnik 1, but the concept had been proposed by Clarke much earlier. He thought they would offer a perfect means of telecommunicating. Clarke first wrote about this idea in a letter to an editor of Wireless World in February of 1945 and then expounded on it with an article published in Wireless World in October of 1945 titled, “Extra-Terrestrial Relays: Can Rocket Stations Give World-wide Radio Coverage?” He stated that if rockets were sent into orbit around the Earth at a fixed location over the equator, satellites would orbit earth in synchronization with earth’s rotation. We would be able to use these satellites to transmit radio signals. Clarke’s writings on geosynchronous satellites also set the stage for the Telstar program which was a famous collaboration between Howard Hughes and NASA. In the 1960s, the Telstar program made the world’s first successful trans-continental TV transmission. The program set the foundation for not only satellite television, but also the HughesNet company, which still specializes in satellite internet. This orbit is now sometimes known as the “Clarke Orbit,” and the area containing satellites in this orbit as the “Clarke Belt.” Today we use geosynchronous satellites for communication, weather, broadcasting, and more.
3D Printers
Clarke appeared on a BBC documentary in 1964, speaking about the future. One concept he foresaw, he described as a “replicator” that would create an exact copy of anything. He says this is “an invention to end all inventions” possibly because it has the potential to turn us into a barbaric society because we would greedily want unlimited quantities of anything we could get our hands on. Twenty years later in 1984, the first working 3D printer was created by Charles W. Hull of 3D Systems Corp. Now, 3D printers are readily available to consumers and are significantly cheaper than they were in the 80s. They are even expected to be able to replicate food in the future. Clarke may possibly have been right about the machine making us greedy but with its potential to be used for architecture, dental purposes, and aerospace, the 3D printer can do so much more to enrich our society.
Virtual Surgery
In the same 1964 BBC documentary, Clarke also mentions being able to perform remote surgery in the future. He says “One day we may have brain surgeons in Edinburgh operating on patients in New Zealand (clip here).” This is the concept of telesurgery, the ability for a doctor to perform surgery on a patient even if they are in different locations. The first account of telesurgery was in 2001 when doctors in California were able to use technology such as surgical robots and videoconferencing to perform surgery on patients in Rome. This trans-Atlantic remote surgery was the first of many that were to occur the following years. With this, people across the world would be able to get the surgical needs they require without having to travel to a different country.
The iPad
2001: A Space Odyssey was a popular science fiction film in 1968 written by Arthur C. Clarke and Stanley Kubrick and was partially inspired by Clarke’s 1951 short story “The Sentinel.” In the film’s script, Clarke wrote about a device called the “Newspad” and, looking back, it seems eerily similar to the iPad that we have today. Clarke describes the Newspad as something like a digital newspaper, in which you can find the latest reports from Earth. In 2010, two years after Clarke had died, the first iPad was released. The following years after that would come the iPad 2, the iPad 3, the iPad 4, and the iPad mini, each performing even greater than the last. We are able to utilize these tablets in similar ways we use computers, by using wireless internet, communicating with people, and keeping track of our daily lives.  In the market today, we can find tablets similar to the iPad produced by companies such as Microsoft and Samsung.

Although not all of Clarke’s predictions came true, it seems like many of them were starting points for even greater technological advancements for the future.
About the Author:
"Jared Hill is a Chicago based blogger with a keen interest in vintage pulp novels (especially science-fiction titles), sports (especially the Wizards), and food (especially nachos). Follow him on Twitter: @JaredHill341"

Feb 6, 2015

Why Is A Show With An All Male Cast "For Everyone," But A Show With An All Female Cast is "Only For Women"?

There are a lot of options on your TV screen anymore. With the advent of services like Hulu and Netflix and HBO Go, you don't have to watch what the networks tell you on a specific schedule anymore, and - if you're like me - that means you get to be choosier about the things you watch.

Unfortunately, that doesn't always mean you get to choose exactly what you watch.

There are three "currently airing" shows I watch on Hulu the day (or two days) after they air on ABC. (note: the ABC thing isn't an active choice.) Those three shows are Castle, Agent Carter & Agents of Shield.

I'll try out random shows that pop up (I hoped Galavant would be a new Krod Mandoon/Backstrom didn't have much to commend itself outside of a Portland Setting) but for the most part, I've found that the new shows I like are harder to find, and I'll go back to rewatch the shows I've already seen.

And I realized something the other day. I haven't tried Jane the Virgin yet, even though the premise sounds awesome.... because I watch these shows with my husband. I asked him once I made this realization and he told me he'd have no problem trying it out, but the idea that a show about a woman (in that capacity) is "only for women" is so engrained in me that I didn't even think to ask.

I mentioned this to him, and he agreed. It is something that we are taught - even if it is that passive kind of osmosis where we don't realize it until it's already happened - and something I think we've become so used to that no one thinks to question it anymore.

Agent Carter is the only show of the three "currently airing" that we watch consistently that have a female lead who doesn't necessarily share the spotlight with a male cast member. Beckett is a lead character, but the show isn't named for her, is it? And Agents of Shield has moved toward a better rounded main cast, but I think most people talk about Coulson as the main main character.

The only all/mostly female show my husband could think of that men would watch (off the top of his head) was The L Word. And because I do think that #yesallmen have a dark little corner of their hearts and minds where societally engrained thoughts lurk, it's not a surprising answer.

I myself am hard pressed to think of a show that has an all (or nearly all) female cast. Because I'm conditioned to not see them. I am, after all, filtering my viewing based on the understanding that I will usually be watching with a man sitting on the other side of the couch.

How did we get here? How can we dig ourselves out of this mire?

Feb 4, 2015

IWSG: Branching Out

This post is part of the Insecure Writer's Support Group

Series are tough.
Among the covers at the top of this page, you'll see the five covers for the current Flynn Monroe books. They're stories I love writing, stories I love talking to others about, and that have been selling consistently. And I went into this business with a hope for consistency, not crazy numbers. What I'm saying is: I have nothing to complain about.
But still, series are tough.

The number of sales for each book slowly goes down, and I start to wonder.... am I (and this small handful of people) the only one who cares about the story anymore? Would I serve my readers better by stepping back from this series for a moment and giving them other stories for a while. Because I write for myself, but I also write for them.

I had to think about that last month and in the end I came to the conclusion that for the moment, scaling back on the series was probably a better plan. I'm still writing the fourth novel, I've got the fifth one done (have I mentioned I write out of order) but for the moment, I'm going to focus on the breadth of my bibliography. Once I get some more options out there, then I'll go back to focusing on the depth (the rest of the Flynn books and the other long series I have planned).

February is about branching out, about preparing to widen my net to hopefully keep myself happy while giving readers a reason to be happy as well.

Feb 2, 2015

Why I Have No Desire To Go Into Space

As a Spec Fic author, who's only published titles take place in settings that are heavily space-centric, one might assume that I  would snatch up the chance to go into space if it was offered.


I'm perfectly happy here with both feet planted on Earth. I'm pretty sure I've never wanted to be an astronaut. And I know for a fact I could never pass the rigorous tests (etc) that it takes to qualify for such an occupation.

The people who go into that field are amazing. There is no doubt in my mind about that. But I wouldn't want to be one of them.

As a writer, I have the ability to play with the deadly vacuum without any chance of succumbing to it's dangers. I don't have to worry about the 989 things that could go wrong any second. I can step away from the screen, or put my pen down. Playing with space from my desk chair isn't likely to kill me.

Maybe you think I'm a coward for saying that. I think I'm practical.

It's funny when I think about writing these things (imagining the impossible) and yet knowing that even if offered the opportunity to try, I would decline (understanding reality).

I have no desire to go into space, because I know that I'm not the sort of person who will ever be able to, and that by the time it is possible for people like me to go to space with minimal risk... I'll be long buried.

What about you? Would you go into space if given the opportunity?