Graphic Novel Review: Star Trek: City on the Edge of Forever

I was recently provided a pre-release copy of a new graphic novel that portrays a classic, fan-favorite Star Trek (OSG) episode. Luck me!

Star Trek: City on the Edge of Forever
by Harlan Ellison
via Diamond Book Distributors

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Wonderful artistry vividly captures this classic Star Trek fan favorite, uncut and how it was intended. The renderings are all well done, and the story flows nicely from panel to panel. Some of the dialogue or exposition is a bit long for comic, but fine if viewed as more of a graphic novel, It’s necessary to truly grasp the points the episode story was attempting to make. I think this book would best be enjoyed in print format. Adobe Digital Editions made it a slow, painful process to scroll through the pages. I think full-print pages would make this an exceptional experience for any Star Trek or science fiction fan.

This book is available for pre-order, and I do highly recommend the print version. It’s even on sale: 19$ at the time of this post instead of list price of 25$ at Amazon right now for pre-order. Click here.

Dec SFRB Showcase: Holiday Romance with a Sci-Fi Twist: Noelle In His Heart

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Welcome to the Science Fiction Romance Brigade Showcase for November, 2014! The Showcase is a chance for SFR Brigade members to share their own Sci-fi Romance books, WIPs and new releases. For more posts, visit the SFR Brigade Blog.

Since it’s the holiday season, I’m featuring my science fiction romance holiday story, Noelle In His Heart.

About: 

Noelle-Cover-V1-250A Christmas romance with a Sci-Fi twist!
Noelle has made the same wish for the past six years to the angel on top of Father Nathan’s Christmas Tree. All she wants for Christmas is someone with warm arms to hold her and who can understand that she has commitments – commitments which include the twenty-six children at the foster center she volunteers for.

Stranded on Earth six years ago, Steve and his crewmates have done a pretty good job of secretly finding a place in human society, but it doesn’t erase the loneliness that hits hardest around the holidays. He longs for companionship and someone who will understand that his alien heart can love just as deeply

The story is available for 1$ either as a stand-alone: click here
Or, you can get it for 1$ along with 10 other great sci-fi reads in the Nebula Nights collection.

Excerpt: In which Steve brings Noelle a really big tree…  *giggle*


Noelle pushed through the doors of the Walgreens, six bags in each arm. It had been the third store she had hit, and it had been a lucky jackpot. This close to Christmas, most stores’ shelves were barren of anything remotely red and green. Walgreens, however, had been restocking the school supply shelves and had all the craft paper, pipe cleaners and pompoms a teacher could hope for.

She’d gone over her budget again this year, but it was worth it. Not like she needed champagne money for New Years. Like last year, it was becoming obvious she was going to be counting down the clock with the kids at the Center instead of with someone special.

Selfish, Noelle. She stopped her rushed steps and frowned at herself. Those kids were special. Cracking poppers and drinking fizzy ginger ale out of plastic cups with them was more fun than having dinner at some fancy restaurant. It was also lonely going back home that night to an empty apartment, just like it was every other night.

Continuing her brisk pace down the street, she knew she should slow down. It wouldn’t do anyone any good if she passed out in the middle of the sidewalk. She wanted to get back, though, thinking foolishly that if she just got back in time, he’d still be there. Chances were high, though, that he’d had all the five minutes of the screaming kids he could take and had left right after she had.

It was mean to think that way, but her past experiences were her only reference. She thought she was pretty, at least, and didn’t seem to have problems getting dates. The Center, however, was a big piece of her life, and it seemed her ex-boyfriends didn’t like the competition. This time it was flipped, where Steve had been dumped headfirst into her world before even getting a date out of her. Curiosity on if he could swim or not had her feet moving even faster.

What if he’s the one? she thought, then shook her head at her own stupid idea. She’d made the same wish every year to Father Nathan’s angel that sat on top of the tree in the lobby. Please let me meet someone who understands.

After six years of making the same wish, perhaps it was time for a new one. Christmas Eve was in three days, and with it would come the unavoidable thirtieth birthday. It was often considered the birthday that marked the moment when the dating pool began leaking. Not that her pool had been very deep to begin with. She was an art teacher with no social life and twenty-seven kids.

Twenty-six, she corrected herself, but it didn’t feel right. Kyle may have been out of the system and nearly nineteen, but he would always be one of the kids to her. A good kid who’d gotten a rough break in life but was making the best he could of it. All these kids deserved so much more than the craft paper, glue and pompoms she had in her arms. At the very least, they deserved a real Christmas… tree?

A shock wave planted Noelle’s feet in the doorway to the gymnasium and her arms fell to her sides, the plastic bags falling to her feet. Where once there was a bland white wall and a few paper garlands, there now stood a fourteen foot, real honest-to-God pine tree. On top of that tree was the biggest shining star she had ever seen and next to the tree, on a ladder, was Steve stringing lights.

“Miss Noelle!” Joey ran up, pointing excitedly at the tree. “They brought us a real Christmas tree!”

“And decorations,” Father Nathan grinned, stepping up behind her before giving her a gentle push through the doorway. “Joey, please pick up the craft items that Miss Noelle so graciously bought for us and take them to the tables.”

“Yes, Father,” Joey began grabbing the bags, Sarah joining him to help. “Thanks, Miss Noelle!”

“Thanks, Miss Noelle!” Sarah echoed before rushing off at Joey’s heels.

Noelle tried to form some sort of coherent sentence, but nothing came out. Glancing back at the tree, she spotted Steve staring straight at her. He hung the line of lights from a branch and stepped down the ladder, motioning to his right. One of the plaid-wearing men from the store that morning appeared and took Steve’s place on the ladder as he walked over to Noelle.

“Hope you don’t mind,” Steve pointed over his shoulder at the tree. “We had a bunch of decorations left over this year, and our last job was Mr. Jackson’s this morning. I know it’s not as personal as handmade stuff, but I thought a tree might be nice. You know, for the dinner.”

“How did you… A tree… A really big tree…” Noelle’s brain was stuck between the very large tree and Steve’s strangely handsome eyes.

“We have connections at several farms around Portland,” Steve shrugged off her astonishment, feeling a little embarrassed. “This one was supposed to be set up today at a hotel, but they cancelled when they realized it would be too wide for their lobby. The farm sent them a different kind, and they let us have this one at half price. It came all wrapped up and skinny, so they just delivered it through the service entrance.”

When she still seemed speechless, he continued. “After New Year’s, we’ll come back and take it out. Kyle’s already volunteered to be in charge of watering it.”

Noelle sniffled, fighting back the lump in her throat. Catching sight of the children lining up for Kyle and Amber to pass out ornaments for the children to hang, the waterworks turned on full. She cried into her candy cane scarf with no hope of stopping the tears.

“Oh, dear child,” Father Nathan rubbed her back with a gentle smile.

“Uhm, sorry,” Steve shuffled his feet nervously at Noelle’s unexpected reaction. He knew Earthers cried for all sorts of reasons, but he wasn’t quite sure what to make of Noelle’s sobbing. The poor woman was trembling and he just wanted to hug her until she stopped.

“Thank you!” Noelle finally pushed words out of her mouth then flung her arms around the man.

Steve stumbled back one step as Noelle’s arms wrapped tightly around his waist. Heat blossomed through his body and set every nerve alight. Without thinking too hard about the consequences, he hugged her back. She nuzzled a tear-stained cheek against his chest and he hugged her more tightly.

Her sobs quickly quieted with his comforting hug. He was so warm and felt so good in her arms. Pressing her head to his chest, she listened to his heartbeat – the heartbeat of a wonderful, caring and giving man. A heartbeat that was strong and soothing. A heartbeat that had the oddest rhythm.

And isn’t where it should be, she realized. Her face was pressed into his right side, not his left, and it was clearly a loud thumping emanating closer to his right shoulder than the left center of his chest. The rhythm was also… backwards? She was no doctor, but that wasn’t right.

Stepping away, she dried her face with her scarf, deciding it was none of her business if he had a pacemaker or something else that might explain what she was hearing. She also figured it could be her hysteria making her hear things. “Thank you,” she repeated, not sure of what else to say. Words couldn’t express the joy she felt.

“Way to go, ace,” Garry passed by with a box and a chuckle. “Making her cry is no way to get a date.”

Steve coughed, throwing a glare at the back of Garry’s head, thinking that was two paybacks he now owed the Vragan. Noelle was now redder than her scarf, and Steve didn’t want her to have the wrong idea. Okay, sure, he was finally willing to admit that he wanted a date, but not like this. “That’s not why I did this.”

“Of course not, son,” Father Nathan patted Steve’s arm as he walked past. “And that glorious tree isn’t going to decorate itself, is it?”

“No,” Noelle squeaked out, avoiding Steve’s gaze and following Father Nathan to the tree.


I don’t think Noelle is quite sure what to make of Steve’s tree… or the fact that his heart is in the wrong place…. or is it?

Continue reading with a copy from Amazon for $1 or, you can pick up the entire Nebula Nights collection here.

Also, be sure to check out the rest of this month’s SFR Brigade Showcase posts!

Authors, Bloggers, Readers: Speak Up, Sign Up for #HaleNo to Bullying

This post has been syndicated with permission from Ramen Noodle Book Reviews

We here at the Ramen Review want to make sure this topic doesn’t get swept under the internet’s very large rug. We want the discussion to continue, because we think it’s an important one to have. The problem isn’t going to go away overnight. Everyday there are new examples cropping up of authors beating up reviewers and reviewers beating up authors, with many bloggers stuck in the middle unsure of who to support.

Who you should NOT support:

  • Authors who act unprofessionally by retaliating against book reviews they don’t agree with, throw tantrums or organize witch-hunts against reviewers
  • Reviewers who use unprofessional tactics like hate-speech, are intentionally hurtful or who organize witch-hunts against authors
  • People who stalk, threaten or are just generally awful to other people

Who should you support?

Easy: people who don’t bully online through hateful, mean-spirited posts, tweets, and flaming campaigns. The blogs linked below are a good place to start:

 Speak Up and Participate!

Join the #HaleNo Blog Train!

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Sci-fi: Captured with an ex-lover, she must choose him or her mission. #scifirom

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Welcome to the Science Fiction Romance Brigade Showcase for November, 2014! The Showcase is a chance for SFR Brigade members to share their own Sci-fi Romance books, WIPs and new releases. For more posts, visit the SFR Brigade Blog.

Side-Story-Og400This week, I have an excerpt from According To Plan, a side-story from my Space Opera Romance series. The main character, Jehdra, is a Hedarion. The short-statured, black-eyed Hedarions have fiery passions, high intelligence and a temper you don’t want to find yourself on the wrong end of. When she’s captured during a botched mission on the planet Artilis, she finds herself stuck in a cell with the last person in the universe she ever expected – her ex-lover, Trent.

Together, she and Trent explore past misunderstandings, plans gone wrong and a questionable future. They must come to terms with each other if they hope to get out alive.

Continue reading below for an excerpt. You can also grab a copy from Amazon for $1 or, you can pick up the entire Side-Story collection here.


“You’re going to wear out the floor pacing like that, Jehdra. Why don’t you try and relax?”

Trent’s suggestion only intensified the glare in her eyes. “Relax? Exactly what part of this whole situation do you find so damn relaxing, Trent?”

Trent shrugged and rubbed the itchy stubble on his chin. “These tight quarters remind me of old times, I guess. I think our dorms were smaller, actually.”

“You aren’t seriously reminiscing about the academy!”

“Why not? It was good times!” He sat up and leaned back against the wall. “You know, you used to be more fun.”

With a snarl, her fists clenched as she set them on her hips. “And that attitude is exactly why they booted your ass out of Central Academy. Everything is a damn joke to you!”

“Fuck, Fraj’chna, when did you get so God-dammed uptight?”

Her arms tensed further as he used her own native Hedarion to call her that old nickname of ‘short-fuse’. No one had called her that since graduation. She thought, having been a Central Agent for eighteen years and just four months away from her status as Director being finalized, that no one would dare to call her that again. This was supposed to be her last mission as an active field agent, not a fucked-up trip down memory lane with someone she had assumed she’d never see again. “Things change, Trent. People, normal people, grow up.”

He made a noise that bordered the line between a resentful laugh and amusement. “I could be a real ass and slip a height joke in there.”

This time, her kick hit intentionally against his foot. “Why were we ever friends?”

“Well, you used to have a sense of humor.”


Oh my. The two of them locked in a holding cell together sure sounds like a recipe for trouble… or hot make-up sex…

Continue reading with a copy from Amazon for $1 or, you can pick up the entire Side-Story collection here.

If you’d like to learn more about the series, visit Corwint.com

Also, be sure to check out the rest of this month’s SFR Brigade Showcase posts!

Book Review: Outside – A sci-fi m-m romance on a deep space station #amreading #scifi

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Outside
Series: None
By: Lucy Kemnizer
Sub-Genres: M/M Romance, LGBT, Deep Space

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GoodReads
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Rating: I liked it  (?)

Review

Overall, I liked this book. The story and themes were enjoyable. The worldbuilding was well done and unique. It felt familiar enough to be graspable, yet alien in a way that makes for good futuristic science fiction. The issues came down to style and author voice, both of which kept me from loving it.

Continue reading

Updated:Bad Book Reviews: What NOT to do. Hint: don’t stalk people.

((Article originally published Sept 13th, 2013. After recent events in which reviewers were being stalked and attacked (one sent to the hospital over the weekend), It  seems this post is needed again. *sigh* Updated links at the bottom, too.))

I’m not sure if it’s the weather or just one of those traceable, connected-consciousness internet trends that people in dark, computer monitor lit rooms study, but there has recently been an up-welling of posts, tweets, facebook conversations and group discussion about the same topic: Bad Book Reviews.

As both an avid reader and an author who believes 100% in giving (and receiving) honest feedback, I felt the need to comment on some of the things I have noticed.

There are two definitions for Bad Book Review I want to touch base on:

  1. Bad book Review: A review that is poorly written, verbally abusive against the author or about a book they haven’t even read.
  2. Bad Book review: A review that is well written, not abusive, offers constructive criticism but that gives a low rating to a book because they thought it was bad.

It seems that some authors are having a very hard time understanding the difference between those two definitions. In the past week, I have watched six friends and fellow reviewers get attacked by authors and author fanclubs because they chose to leave a one or two star review for a book. That is ridiculous.

I thought the concepts in this post were common sense, but it seems some need a refresher. I know that the influx of self-published authors is also one of the key factors in the recent backlash I have seen. I am a self-published author. I get it. It’s hard to put yourself out there and not feel connected to your book. You aren’t protected by a wall of a publishing house’s media and PR department. You see a review on your book and feel like it’s all about you.

It’s not. It’s about your book.

You chose to write a book and publish it. You chose to put it out into the world and ask people to buy it from you. People bought it (or you gave it to them free in a request for a review) and they read it. Those same people, as they read your book, form an opinion about it. They then have every right to come back and write their opinion down (just like you wrote your book) and publish that review for others to read.

I’m going to put the following in point form, because I know authors are busy people. I’m putting aside four WIPs and eight review requests to write this post, after all.

  1. A review is an opinion. Period. End of argument.
  2. Not everyone is going to like everything they pick up to read.
  3. The “if you don’t have something nice to say” argument was great, when you were five years old. Telling people to hold their tongue unless they can leave a shiny four or five star review is like trying to live on sunbeams and granola. It gives authors false ideas about their books and gives potential buyers of the book only a partial view of what they are about to buy. No book, in the history of the written word, has ever deserved only 4 or 5 stars from everyone who ever read it. People read for different reasons and get different things out of the books they read. See points 1 and 2 again.
  4. Not having something nice to say is not an excuse to say something awful, hateful or poorly thought out. Even if you hate something, there is a way to say so that wont have you sounding like an asshat. People will take your opinion more seriously when you don’t sound like an asshat. So, speak your mind, be honest, but don’t be an asshat. It’s really not that hard, people. If you feel really strongly about a book you didn’t like, write down your thoughts then step away before publishing it. Let those thoughts sit for a day or two then revisit them. I bet you real money you change your words and tone a bit and add in some less critical and more helpful points than you had originally written. It’s hard to be constructively critical when your emotions are involved, and reading is always an emotional process.
  5. Everyone has opinions. It is their right, as human beings who have been given a mouth and a brain, to speak what is on their mind.
  6. Not everyone’s brain functions in a complete circuit with their mouth. Some people are just rude. Responding to them does absolutely nothing to curb the behavior. The internet makes it even more impossible to reason with them. You can’t reason with them, threaten them or otherwise get them to listen. Yes, these are the trolls, and yes, you should under no circumstances feed them. Especially after midnight.
  7. Walk away and do not respond. Ever. Never. Never. NEVER respond to a review. Period. I cannot stress this enough. No argument is valid as to why you should ever respond to a review as the author. Do you see the “big name” authors responding to reviews on Amazon and GoodReads? Absolutely not. It never works out in your favor, I promise you. This is both for 1 star and 5 star reviews. No matter your intention, responding to a 1 star makes you sound like a bratty author with hurt feelings, and responding to a 5 star makes that 5 star sound like a ‘sock puppet’.
  8. Negative reviews can be a good thing! If you step away from the little stars (or lack there of) and just read the review, you may be surprised about what you can get out of it. If you do get something out of it, feel free to mention it, but don’t respond directly to the reviewer. In example, I recently received a 3 star review that said simply “too much like Firefly for my tastes.” – That review made my farking day and you are damn right I tweeted about it because I was so proud of it. I didn’t respond directly to it on GoodReads, though, and if I had been offended by it (seriously, how could I be offended by being compared to freaking Firefly, but if I was,) – you better believe I would have walked away and never mentioned it on Twitter or elsewhere. Why? See next point.
  9. Do not WHINE about it on Twitter, Facebook, to your friends and family, etc. When you whine about a negative review, it calls in the “troops”. People you didn’t even know you knew or had backing you will come out of the wood work to stir the pot. Some of them might reply with well written and valid arguments. Most will end up being #6, even though they may not mean to be. Some may get caught up in the heat of the argument or feel emboldened by the internet’s anonymous cloak and lose that connection, turning them into a #6 against their will. Then what do you have? A bunch of #6’s arguing at each other on your book’s review page, blog post or twitter feed – and no one is listening to anyone else.
  10. Let it die. If it is one thing the internet has proven time and time again is that the average lifespan of anything is five days, unless you are stupid and you feed it. See #6 again.
  11. Take what you can from critical reviews and ignore the rest. Ignore the reviews that blow sunshine up your ass. Ignore the reviews that burn your book. Read the reviews in between that give you points and opinions on your style, characters, world building, story and grammar. Take them and actually consider them. If you think your book is perfect the way it is and everyone should just love it and love it some more, then you will never grow as an author and there is nothing I can do for you except pat you gently on the head like a good little kid and say “awe, bless your little heart.”.
  12. Stop taking things personally. Unless the reviewer specifically mentions you in a hateful, derogatory tone (such as “so-and-so is a ‘derogatory term’ and should commit suicide” ), then you should understand that the review is about your book and not you. Yes, reviewers may mention you as the Author, such as “so-and-so’s style leaves some things to be desired and I feel like she could have done a bit more research”. That is not a personal attack. That is a valid opinion about you the author, not you the person. If, however the person does sound abusive about you personally, don’t respond. Report it and walk away.

I will never deny that I’ve broken a couple of those rules. I most certainly did when I first published. I was a scared little author who thought my book was awesome and everyone should love it and I was waiting for someone to call me about the movie rights. Then I stepped back and woke the fuck up. I had some seasoned authors (I love you, Kbards) shake me, I started listening to the feedback and realized my book needed some major work.

I learned from it. I grew as an author, and I feel like I’ve come a long way from where I was just one year ago. I also understand that I have a long way to go. I hope I never stop growing as an author and I hope I never stop receiving critical feedback about my books. There are still times when I am tempted to take negative feedback personally. I’m a human being with feelings, after all. So, those 12 rules above are as much a reminder for me as they are intended to be some advice for other authors.

I commend every single self-published author who takes that huge, scary leap and hits the Publish button. It is an act of bravery that the majority of the population will never do. Putting yourself out there takes guts, but it also takes an understanding on how to step away.

I am in no way condoning abusive reviews. If you don’t get that, then you need to re-read my post at least twice. As with all things on the interwebs, this post reflects my personal views and opinions. Feel free to leave yours. I will not censor replies, unless you include a link to a website selling purses. (Yeah, I see you, spam bot!)

In the spirit of supporting online conversations, here are some posts by other bloggers on the same topic: (msg me if you have one!) And no, I don’t just post links that support my views, but thanks for asking :)

UPDATE: One Year Later. ... I wrote this piece a year ago. A YEAR AGO… and this weekend we’ve had one reviewer hunted down to her house and the author/stalker bragging about it, and we’ve had another reviewer hit upside the head with a wine bottle and sent to hospital!? Seriously??

Authors, please stop doing stupid things like this. You are ruining the reader-author relationship for the rest of us. As a reader/reviewer – It scares me. As an author – it pisses me off.

Stop. Being. Stupid.

You don’t just have to take my word for it….
Chuck Wendig agrees! 

Sincerly,
The Sane Authors’ Club

You can also Speak Up and Participate!

Join the #HaleNo Blog Train!

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