Talking About Favorite Andre Norton Novels

???????????????????????????????I’m talking about Andre Norton over at USA Today Happily Ever After blog today, in my SciFi Encounters column. There’s a “new” anthology out, containing quite a few short stories of hers I’d never read, so that was a rare pleasure. I’ve mentioned the tremendous influence her books had on me before, because they did…I still have two shelves full of falling-apart vintage Andre Norton ACE paperbacks. No matter if I switch my entire library onto my kindle, I’ll always keep these books. They started out as my Dad’s and became mine…

I thought I’d talk about a few of my top Norton favorites, in no particular order, and stick mostly to the science fiction, rather than the fantasy or the romances (which were never my favorites, because I think I wanted her to give me more of the Witch World magic vibe in those and as I recall they were pretty much Gothic romances. I didn’t think they were her strongest books.)

I always mention Catseye, because it was the first SF book I ever read, so I’ll skip it here. The Beast Master was one of my all time favorites (along with the sequel Lord of the Thunder).  I totally fell in love with the hero, Hosteen Storm, and I loved his telepathic animals. Looking back now, we’d probably say he had PTSD, after Terra was destroyed in an intergalactic war, but he was coping on his new home planet. And there were some really cool touches of the Forerunner presence in the Sealed Caves of Arzor. I just pretty much loved everything about this book.

Sargasso of Space and the crew of the ship “Solar Queen” – I enjoyed all three of their adventures….I’m not AS fond of this set of stories ???????????????????????????????nowadays as I was when I was a kid. I think Star Trek and Firefly and Farscape have taken over that niche in my heart that’s reserved for a ship and her crew cruising the star lanes, but in their day, the Solar Queen was it for me.

???????????????????????????????The Last Planet – Hard to say if Sgt. Kartr of this book is more my favorite than Hosteen Storm. I think it’s a tie. Besides, this book featured Zacathans, always a plus for me! (Yes, this cover is dorky IMHO.) I loved that the plot was based on the old legend about the Roman Legion ordered to march to the end of the world, who died in the attempt. Ms. Norton’s view on the way the galactic civilization was falling apart and how even the most loyal Patrol members had to adjust or die was fascinating.  It was 192 pages of great stuff and yet far too short for me. I always wanted the sequel to this story but alas, there never was one…she did leave hope that humans and their allies would rise to journey to the stars again someday. I’ve never forgotten how Kartr’s first view of the green of this “last planet” felt like coming home to him.

Ordeal in Otherwhere was the first science fiction book I’d ever read where a woman was the heroine and main character. I enjoyed how Chris kept her head and worked with what she found on the planet Warlock, dealing with the Wyverns. She was a problem solver and didn’t need anyone to rescue her, thank you very much. There was also a hint of romance with Shann Lantee, the hero of ???????????????????????????????the first book in this storyline. Plus, more telepathic animals!

???????????????????????????????Eye of the Monster was one of the inspirations for my own Escape From Zulaire, in that the main character  in Eye suddenly finds himself plunged into deadly peril one morning, with very little warning. All the beings he’d (more or less) trusted have turned against him AND the people who might have helped are dead or left the area without him. Not only that, he becomes responsible for saving two children and is assisted by an indomitable Salariki female. It’s a quick read but always left me asking myself what I would do, if I was ever plunged into such dire straits.

I have to mention two more books of hers that were extremely influential to me and among my all time favorites (although not SF): Shadow Hawk, which along with Eloise Jarvis McGraw’s Mara, Daughter of the Nile, left me determined to write my own stories set in ancient Egypt, which of course now I do…and Year of the Unicorn, which is my favorite of all the Witch World stories. I try to capture some of the feeling of mystery and myth and magic that so permeated the Witch World, when writing my own books. This isn’t my first copy of Year of the Unicorn – I’ve no idea what happened to the original. I think I just liked this cover better!

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Did you ever happen to read Andre Norton? Do you have a favorite novel written by her?

The Cherubs Will Help You With Your Corset Now

???????????????????????????????Today’s Wednesday Whimsy is about the 1880’s corset and the Victorian trade cards advertising that essential ladies’ garment. I picked my favorite cards to share….

I like the idea that little cherubs would appear to assist you in lacing up your “glove fitting corset” but I have the rose corsetfeeling more often it was like that scene from the movie “Titanic”, where Rose’s mother made the thing as tight as she could get it!

Here’s a quote from actress Sarah Gadon: “When you’re wearing a corset for a long period of time, things that were important to you hours before are no longer important, because doing them exhausts you.”

And Michelle Dockery of Downton Abbey: “I don’t mind wearing a corset, it informs your posture, changes the way you move, you can’t slouch.”

Author Ali Smith: “Words are like untying a corset – you can move into this great space with them.”

I don’t think I personally would have enjoyed wearing one, no matter how wasp-waisted it made me look in those petticoats and ruffles. Although I did read there were looser ones made for sports, such as bicycling. I should hope so!???????????????????????????????
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These three actresses in the center card above appear to love their corsets, although you can’t see any effect under the pretty robes.
But I think perhaps this card below is my favorite:
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I Think She’s Sleeping WRECK OF THE NEBULA DREAM Weekend Writing Warriors

WeWriWa buttonA fun way to sample new books and find new writers! Here’s the link to the Weekend Writing Warriors central page, so you can visit all the participants sharing excerpts today…

The luxury ship Nebula Dream has suffered a middle of the night catastrophe in space. My hero, Nick Jameson, has fought his way to the nearest lifeboat and found chaos. Some creative editing and punctuation has occurred. As he’s just about finished loading the lifeboat, businesswoman Mara Lyrae arrives, much to his relief. But she refuses to get on the lifeboat, as there are children in need of rescuing…after a brief argument, Nick sends the lifeboat on its way. He and Mara set out to rescue the children, accompanied by Khevan, a D’nvannae Brother (think bodyguard/assassin sworn to serve an alien goddess).

This snippet is after they’ve reached the family’s cabin and discovered a growing hull breach.

The door suddenly released completely, and the two men half fell into the cabin. Mara shoved past them, stumbling over them in her haste, calling to the children.

“Paolo? Gianna, where are you, sweeties?”

“In here, with Mommy, in our bedroom. She’s on the floor. I think she’s sleeping a while now,” the high-pitched voice, choked with repressed sobs, said from the darkness.

The three adults exchanged glances in the gloom of the main cabin.

Wreck-of-the-Nebula-DreamFinalMedThe Story
Traveling unexpectedly aboard the luxury liner Nebula Dream on its maiden voyage across the galaxy, Sectors Special Forces Captain Nick Jameson is ready for ten relaxing days, and hoping to forget his last disastrous mission behind enemy lines. He figures he’ll gamble at the casino, take in the shows, maybe even have a shipboard fling with Mara Lyrae, the beautiful but reserved businesswoman he meets.

All his plans vaporize when the ship suffers a wreck of  Titanic proportions. Captain and crew abandon ship, leaving the 8000 passengers stranded without enough lifeboats and drifting unarmed in enemy territory. Aided by Mara, Nick must find a way off the doomed ship for himself and several other innocent people before deadly enemy forces reach them or the ship’s malfunctioning engines finish ticking down to self destruction.

But can Nick conquer the demons from his past that tell him he’ll fail these innocent people just as he failed to save his Special Forces team? Will he outpace his own doubts to win this vital race against time?

Wednesday Whimsy S Is For Shoes

???????????????????????????????S Is For Shoes and I’ve got more Victorian trade cards to share…it seems to have been quite a “thing” in 1880’s advertising to have a pretty shoe with a bouquet of flowers artfully arranged inside. The one above is my favorite, and was advertising the White Sewing Machine Company, with 700,000 of  them in use by busy seamstresses at the time!

???????????????????????????????“Give a girl the right shoes, and she can conquer the world.” Marilyn Monroe  I’m totally with her, although I suspect she and???????????????????????????????I were thinking of something a lot sexier than these pretty Victorian slippers I’m showing today.

“A shoe is not only a design, but it’s a part of your body language, the way you walk. The way you’re going to move is quite dictated by your shoes.” Christian Louboutin  My secret wish for a long time has been to have just one pair of his shoes….don’t ask me where I’d wear them!

“I think I have something tonight that’s not quite correct for evening wear. Blue suede shoes.”  Elvis Presley Oh yes, those blue suede shoes of his were something else all right.

“Let your dreams outgrow the shoes of your expectations.”  Ryunosuke Satoro

“The time has come,’ the walrus said, ‘to talk of many things: of shoes and ships – and sealing wax – of cabbages and kings.” Lewis Carroll There was also a theme in Victorian advertising of people sailing the seas in shoes. And another theme of the ubiquitous cherubs playing in  and around shoes.

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The great thing about writing is that you always put yourself in the shoes of the character. If you’re doing it right, you can see into the heart of all your characters. Usually, when there’s a writing problem, it’s because you aren’t doing that. Peter Gould (Director of Breaking Bad)

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I Gave My Word WRECK OF THE NEBULA DREAM Weekend Writing Warriors

WeWriWa buttonA fun way to sample new books and find new writers! Here’s the link to the Weekend Writing Warriors central page, so you can visit all the participants sharing excerpts today…

(I’ve now set a new record of 9 days without a trip to the hospital or ER so I think I’m making good progress out of the woods. Thanks for all the support and encouragement, Warriors! It has definitely helped.)

The luxury ship Nebula Dream has suffered a middle of the night catastrophe in space. My hero, Nick Jameson, has fought his way to the nearest lifeboat and found chaos. Some creative editing and punctuation has occurred. As he’s just about finished loading the lifeboat, businesswoman Mara Lyrae arrives, much to his relief. But she refuses to get on the lifeboat, as there are children in need of rescuing…

After hearing about trapped children, Nick knew he’d stay on board as long as it took to free them. But first, she needs to be safe. “Tell me exactly where on the Second Level and I’ll go – you get in this LB.” Nick reached out to take her by the arm, intending to guide her through the portal.

“No,” She took a hasty step away from Nick, shak­ing her head vehemently, “I promised that little boy I’d come for them myself, as soon as I found their father, or someone -if you’re going to help me with this, then we have to hurry.”

“I swear to you I’ll go up there and do my best to get them out of whatever trouble they’re in, but I want to see you safely off this ship first,” Nick said. “Now please take your place in this lifeboat so I can seal it and send it – you may not have another chance at a seat on an LB later.”

“I gave them my word – I can’t leave them.” 

And she doesn’t……

Wreck-of-the-Nebula-DreamFinalMedThe Story
Traveling unexpectedly aboard the luxury liner Nebula Dream on its maiden voyage across the galaxy, Sectors Special Forces Captain Nick Jameson is ready for ten relaxing days, and hoping to forget his last disastrous mission behind enemy lines. He figures he’ll gamble at the casino, take in the shows, maybe even have a shipboard fling with Mara Lyrae, the beautiful but reserved businesswoman he meets.

All his plans vaporize when the ship suffers a wreck ofTitanicproportions. Captain and crew abandon ship, leaving the 8000 passengers stranded without enough lifeboats and drifting unarmed in enemy territory. Aided by Mara, Nick must find a way off the doomed ship for himself and several other innocent people before deadly enemy forces reach them or the ship’s malfunctioning engines finish ticking down to self destruction.

But can Nick conquer the demons from his past that tell him he’ll fail these innocent people just as he failed to save his Special Forces team? Will he outpace his own doubts to win this vital race against time?

Earth Ship Siren – New SciFi Romance Continuity Series

es siren1Over at USA Today/HEA, I’m interviewing a trio of Australian science fiction romance authors who had an inspired idea for an SFR continuity series. All three novella-length stories are set on the same ship, heading for the same colony planet.  My friend Shona Husk, who I’ve known since my days as fellow authors at Carina Press, had the original idea, and invited Mel Teshco and Denise Rossetti to play along with her.

The books are best read in order and here are the summaries (courtesy of Momentum):

Yours To Uncover: ES Siren 1, Mel Teshco: It’s the year 2202. Earth is grossly overpopulated and seriously polluted. Rita Songworth has spent half her twenty-two years trying to escape the dying planet. But the journey to Unity, the new colony, isn’t easy. Rita has to resist an attraction to hard, brutish prisoner, Tristan MacFallan, whose masterful hands create more than the beautiful art he’s been assigned to make. But obeying Kane, her ex-lover and malicious lieutenant, appointed to keeping the prisoners under guard, comes at a high price. Is Rita willing to sacrifice everything to keep her secret and her lover safe?

Yours to Command: ES Siren 2, Shona Husk:  Corporal Sienna Jade wasn’t given a choice about joining the mission to Unity. Alex Tariel knew his only chance to get a place on ES Siren was as a prisoner, so he stole water rations. Becoming Sienna’s ship husband puts Alex between her and the lieutenant who tried to kill her for kicks on Earth. While Sienna tries to keep control of her feelings for Alex, Alex would do anything to protect her, if only she’d let him.

essiren2Yours to Desire: ES Siren 3, Denise Rossetti: On board ES Siren, the brilliant Doctor Lily Kwan has worked in secret to develop an antidote for the aphrodisiac rape drug, sexmeth. The antidote has no effect on her extraordinary reaction to Connor Madison, the Siren‘s tough quartermaster. A former gang rat from the slums of a dying world, Con came up the hard way, so when geeky Doctor Kwan tops his hit list of possible drug runners, nothing’s going to save her—not her family’s money, nor her clever mind. Not even the smile in her eyes.

A few Q&A we ran out of room for over at USAT:

Veronica: Do you have a favorite line from Yours To Command?

Shona: Only one? I’m going to cheat and say these three.

He was pretty sure they weren’t just talking about the fruit. If they were, he’d just gotten his first peach-driven hard-on. It didn’t feel entirely wrong.

Veronica: What’s on your Bucket List?

Shona: I don’t think I really have one. I have a list of stories that I want to write a mile long and I want to travel and perfect my macarons (I keep trying and they keep failing–not so badly they are inedible though). I’d also like to develop super powers at some stage…however that is unlikely (I may have watched too many X-men cartoons as a kid)

es siren3Mel: Travel! I want badly to tour Europe. But I also want to see more of Australia. Though I’ve moved over twenty times in my life, I’ve only ever lived on the East Coast and haven’t even explored that side of Australia fully. When I travel I get to write too, so it’s great knowing I can combine both loves.

Denise:  I’d love to go on safari and see big cats and elephants and rhinos in the wild. Sometimes, I think about sky-diving. Then I stop.

There’s much more about the books, the authors and the characters over on my SciFi Encounters column.

 

 

October for Wednesday Whimsy

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???????????????????????????????I LOVE the month of October! Yes, ok I was born in this month, but I generally love the cool, crisp Fall ???????????????????????????????weather and this is my favorite time of the year.  I’ve been keeping my eyes open for October-themed or autumnal 1880’s Victorian trade cards…found a few to share today. I also scooped up an alphabet card,  V for Veronica of course, although the maker of the card series seemed to feel the letter is best represented by volcanoes and vipers and vino.

We had a poem we had to memorize in elementary school, “October’s Bright Blue Weather” by Helen Hunt Jackson, published in 1893. Here’s the first stanza:

O SUNS and skies and clouds of June,
        And flowers of June together,
    Ye cannot rival for one hour
        October’s bright blue weather;

The poem goes on for six more stanzas along these lines, SO much bounteous praise for my favorite month, and then the poetess concludes:

O suns and skies and flowers of June,
        Count all your boasts together,
    Love loveth best of all the year
        October’s bright blue weather.

Totally works for me!

014So the 8th is my birthday…here’s me hard at work tomorrow on the current WIP, because birthday or no, we authors must get the words out….I did actually learn to type on a typewriter nearly that old, a Royal that my Dad picked up for cheap at a thrift store when I was a kid. That’s why I still literally pound the keys,  even on my nice laptop, because you had to use force to get those metal strikers to fly up and leave a letter imprinted on the paper.

And here’s me, trying on new earrings for the family dinner party we’re having to celebrate the event???????????????????????????????…She was actually advertising Magnolia Balm on this card. And then here’s The Author celebrating in the last card below:

The bottle contains “Compound Oxygen” created by Drs. Starkey & Palen of Philadelphia. The back of the trade card admonished sternly that this was “not a drug” and  listed numerous Editors, Ministers, Foreign Consuls and Members of Congress who swore by the stuff. All I can say is she looks pretty darn relaxed and cheerful for someone who’s just “restored the Fountainhead of all mental and physical activity to a state of integrity, thereby causing her muscles, nervous system and organs to all act more kindly and efficiently.” GIVE me some of THAT!

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Trapped! WRECK OF THE NEBULA DREAM Weekend Writing Warriors

A fun way to sample new books and find new writers! Here’s the link to the Weekend Writing Warriors central page, so you can visit all the participants sharing excerpts today…

(Friday night was another ER trip (that’s three in three weeks due to medication side effects,WeWriWa button for those who are counting –  can’t wait for life to settle down a bit), doing ok again now, so just going to continue posting from WRECK, which was my first SFR….)

The luxury ship Nebula Dream has suffered a middle of the night catastrophe in space. My hero, Nick Jameson, has fought his way to the nearest lifeboat and found chaos. Some creative editing and punctuation has occurred. As he’s just about finished loading the lifeboat, businesswoman Mara Lyrae arrives, much to his relief. (Do I need to mention he’s been distracted by her since they met on the shuttle coming to the ship at the start of the novel?) She’s shouting for help.

He’d been prepared to search the entire ship for her if necessary, but now here she was.

Sensibly dressed but disheveled, her hair loose around her shoulders, Mara worked her way through the rapidly thinning crowd, gaze locking onto him. “Please, I need someone to come to Level Two.” His men let her through the cordon and she grabbed at Nick’s arm. “I’m so glad you’re still aboard. It’s the family who was on the shuttle with us – I can hear the children crying in their cabin, but I can’t get the door to open far enough to get in. The boy says his mother is trapped under something,” Mara bit her lip, shoving her hair away from her face, “And they can’t get out of the back bedroom, or won’t try.”

Don’t expect Mara to be getting into the lifeboat, is all I can say!

Wreck-of-the-Nebula-DreamFinalMedThe Story
Traveling unexpectedly aboard the luxury liner Nebula Dream on its maiden voyage across the galaxy, Sectors Special Forces Captain Nick Jameson is ready for ten relaxing days, and hoping to forget his last disastrous mission behind enemy lines. He figures he’ll gamble at the casino, take in the shows, maybe even have a shipboard fling with Mara Lyrae, the beautiful but reserved businesswoman he meets.

All his plans vaporize when the ship suffers a wreck of Titanicproportions. Captain and crew abandon ship, leaving the 8000 passengers stranded without enough lifeboats and drifting unarmed in enemy territory. Aided by Mara, Nick must find a way off the doomed ship for himself and several other innocent people before deadly enemy forces reach them or the ship’s malfunctioning engines finish ticking down to self destruction.

But can Nick conquer the demons from his past that tell him he’ll fail these innocent people just as he failed to save his Special Forces team? Will he outpace his own doubts to win this vital race against time?

Risque Ladies of the 1880’s for Wednesday Whimsy

???????????????????????????????I thought since we had Queen Victoria herself last week, this week I’d do “R Is for Risque Ladies” as my ???????????????????????????????Wednesday Whimsy/A to Z Challenge post. I must hasten to add though that what was risque in the 1880’s, is pretty tame to our eyes.

I’m using Mae West quotes today although she’s obviously not from the 1880’s but the flavor is there…

“I didn’t discover curves; I only uncovered them.”

“Love thy neighbor – and if he happens to be tall, debonair and devastating, it will be that much easier.”

“I’ve been things and seen places.”

“If I asked for a cup of coffee, someone would search for the double meaning.”

“Cultivate your curves – they may be dangerous but they won’t be avoided.”

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??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????025This one to the left’s not very risque until you realize her skirt is hiked all the way up in front…oh my ;-)

And then there were the Bathing Beauty cards, usually associated with cigars or cigarettes….this lady below is smoking a cigar herself, in fact.

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There were probably much racier cards in the 1880’s but those don’t show up in a price range I can afford, in the places I shop….sorry! These final two Bathing Beauties were advertising a shoe store, of all places….

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No One’s Going to Make It WRECK OF THE NEBULA DREAM Weekend Writing Warriors

WeWriWa buttonA fun way to sample new books and find new writers! Here’s the link to the Weekend Writing Warriors central page, so you can visit all the participants sharing excerpts today…

(Last night was another ER trip, doing ok now, so just going to post something from WRECK, which was my first SFR….)

The luxury ship Nebula Dream has suffered a middle of the night catastrophe in space. My hero, Nick Jameson, has fought his way to the nearest lifeboat and found chaos. (SMT is the name of the shipping line.) Some creative editing and punctuation has occurred. I hope this is only eight sentences, kinda struggling with the medicines and a flu variation I picked up!

“Quiet down now,” he said, watching the people in the front row of the mob, getting eye contact, to personalize his commands, make them feel like responsible individuals, not a mindless, panicking herd.

The blaring sirens and recorded emergency warnings cut out, resumed briefly and then died away in a slowly fading gibber­ish. The lights in the corridor flickered, causing gasps here and there in the crowd.

“Are there any SMT officers or crew here?” Nick said.

Desperation, fear, and puzzlement on the faces in front of him, many sidelong glances, mute head shakes.

Silence.

“All right, then, I’m Captain Jameson, Sectors Special Forces and I’m taking charge of this LB portal. You can’t all get into this LB –  no one’s going to make it off unless you keep your heads and we go about this calmly and quickly.”

Wreck-of-the-Nebula-DreamFinalMedThe Story
Traveling unexpectedly aboard the luxury liner Nebula Dream on its maiden voyage across the galaxy, Sectors Special Forces Captain Nick Jameson is ready for ten relaxing days, and hoping to forget his last disastrous mission behind enemy lines. He figures he’ll gamble at the casino, take in the shows, maybe even have a shipboard fling with Mara Lyrae, the beautiful but reserved businesswoman he meets.

All his plans vaporize when the ship suffers a wreck of Titanic proportions. Captain and crew abandon ship, leaving the 8000 passengers stranded without enough lifeboats and drifting unarmed in enemy territory. Aided by Mara, Nick must find a way off the doomed ship for himself and several other innocent people before deadly enemy forces reach them or the ship’s malfunctioning engines finish ticking down to self destruction.

But can Nick conquer the demons from his past that tell him he’ll fail these innocent people just as he failed to save his Special Forces team? Will he outpace his own doubts to win this vital race against time?