Notes from An Alien

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Tag Archives: science fiction

Blog Conversation About “Genre” Writing . . .

Our last conversation was about “serious writing”, on May 2nd, 7th, and 9th… Genre Writing

It ended because the last post had no comments…

So, here I go again, starting up a new conversation :-)

I’ll begin with the word history of “Genre”:

1770, “particular style of art,” a French word in English (nativized from c. 1840), from French genre “kind, sort, style” (see gender (n.)). Used especially in French for “independent style.” In painting, as an adjective, “depicting scenes of ordinary life” (a domestic interior or village scene, as compared to landscapehistorical, etc.) from 1849.

If you did a Google Search on “Genre”, you’d have a merry time trying to sort out all the opinions…

Sure, authors often stay within certain well-established genres; like Murder Mystery, Police Procedural, Science-Fiction, Fantasy, Alternative History, etc., etc., etc….

Still, my favorite fiction writer, C. J. Cherryh, usually wrote in either Sci-fi or Fantasy (though, she ably warped them at will…); plus she has a series, the Morgaine Cycle, that is both Fantasy and Sci-Fi…

So what is this slippery “quality” of fiction that has well-walled-off communities of writers and readers, as well as many examples of strange and wonderful hybrids of all types; and, certainly, some works that can’t be corralled into any specific category…

Being the kind of writer I am, I can easily go out on a literary limb and say: One could consider each author’s unique style their own particular “Niche” in the book world…

Oh, my, now I have to show you the word history for Niche:

1610s, “shallow recess in a wall,” from French niche “recess (for a dog), kennel” (14c.), perhaps from Italian nicchia “niche, nook,” from nicchio “seashell,” said by Klein and Barnhart to be probably from Latin mitulus “mussel,” but the change of -m- to -n- is not explained. Watkins suggests that the word is from an Old French noun derived from nichier “to nestle, nest, build a nest,” via Gallo-Roman *nidicare from Latin nidus “nest” (see nidus), but that has difficulties, too. Figurative sense is first recorded 1725. Biological use dates from 1927.

So, following my maverick logic, we could consider:

…the author’s “nook” of “style” for their writing; or, the “nest” of their “kind” of writing; or, their particular “sort” of “recess” in which their writing happens…

Too strange to consider…? Or, fruitful of thought…?

What are your thoughts and feelings about “Genre”…?

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Interviewing Authors and Sharing Interviews . . .

Regular readers probably read the most recent author interview, detailing efforts to promote and market books

Author Interviews

Image from Michal Zacharzewski, SXC

And, to prep for this post, I counted up all the Author Interviews on this blog (as of this date…)—and, it’s 80.

For various reasons, it’s taken me a bit over six years to gather-up those interviews.


I spend a bit of time on Twitter…

And, because my posts here get pushed out to the TweetVerse, I have folks following me and it only seems fair to consider following them (except for the people who only want to sell me Twitter Followers…).


Not so many days ago, I noticed I’d received a Follow from @ERHardcastle, who turned out to be the author, editor, and literary-innovator, E. Rachael Hardcastle.

It’s only been a few days since I followed back and exchanged a few Tweets with her…

I noticed she works hard at gathering author interviews.

I compared my 80 in 6 years; and, found out she’d gathered over 50 author interviews in 2016!

Plans are for us to swap interviews

E. Rachael Hardcastle But who is this author?

Here’s her Bio:

Hi, I’m Rachael.

I’m a dreamer, a deep thinker, a bookworm and grammar nerd.

I write poetry between imaginative high fantasy, post-apocalyptic and science fiction novels.

I believe that through writing we face our darkest fears, explore infinite new worlds and realize our true purpose. I write to entertain and share important morals and values with the world, but above all, I write to be a significant part of something incredible.

All my fantasy and post-apocalyptic books face our planet’s struggles because I believe that together we can build a stronger future for the human race.

I support independent publishing so all my stories are written, edited, formatted and published by me, offering a low-cost, epic adventure and a memorable escape from reality for my readers.

I also discovered she does writing workshops with kids—this is why I called her a literary-innovator up there…

Here’s what one of the teachers said to her:

“Many thanks for your inspirational work with our Year 6 children who have really enjoyed their time with you. You have made them believe that writing is fun and that anyone can be an author if they work hard enough – and made it possible for them to be published authors too! We are very proud of our book and have it in pride of place in the classroom at the moment. Thank you!”


And, here’s a video (cute, funny, engaging, revealing) about her preparation for the coverage she received on the Made In Leeds TV show (her segment,in the TV station video, begins at the 4:50 mark):

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Using Science in Fiction ~ Tread Carefully . . .

I used the words “Science in Fiction” not “Science Fiction” in the title of this post… 

Cat's Eye Nebula

Image Courtesy of Hubble Space Telescope Image Site

Most fiction that isn’t science fiction doesn’t use much science.

And, much science fiction doesn’t use real science.

There’s a breed of “science fiction” that goes into imaginary worlds that have no support or anchor in true science—many of these stories are fun to read.

There’s also a substantial amount of what folks like to call “hard” sci-fi that stays as close as it can to what is thought to be true science.

But, there’s a problem here

Much of the science (especially astrophysics) that is used to create science fiction is purely imaginary and has little to do with knowledge generated through the scientific method.

I’ve probably lost many of my readers by now; but, if you’re still there, I may have something yet to say that might benefit anyone—even those who don’t care much about science.

Let’s talk about fiction itself.

Should fiction be based on truth?

I have two past posts that approach the issue:

Does Fiction Always Tell The Truth?

How Much Truth Should Be In Fiction Stories?

A few excerpts:

“Truth” can be a slippery topic—it can have “layers”—it can change over time…

Then, there’s the word “fiction”—sometimes used to mean, “an untruth”; sometimes to mean, “an invented statement or narrative”.

And, being “invented” doesn’t automatically make something untrue…

Certainly, any story that resonates with most readers must have a heap of truth in the fiction…

Many fiction writers expend great effort in their research to learn “facts” that will lend some “truth” to the “lies” they tell.

One particular genre (among many) where this can be important is Science Fiction.

What I say next can easily be applied to many other genres…

Imagine a science fiction writer who wants to add science facts to their story.

They conduct research and, usually, adapt whatever they find that is given by “experts”.

One problem with this method:

“Experts” are not necessarily Experts.

That last excerpt is from the post, How Much Truth Should Be in Fiction Stories?, and that post has two fascinating videos from a scientist who talks about “unscientific” science

But, the writer of any genre of fiction must still balance the “truth” they want to convey with the “facts” that are true

There’s another past post that I feel any writer could profit from reading (it also has a profound video)—Setting A Few Things Straight About The Universe . . .

Here’s an excerpt from that post:

Ultimately, because psychology shows that the deepest, not-conscious information and motivation have profound effects on conscious action, the closer I can get to the Truth about the Universe and my place in it, the better I should be able to write works that relate well with my readers.

Naturally, there are writers who skim the surface of life, write about it, and sell thousands of books to readers who gobble up the result…

So, I’ve been loudly hinting that much of science is bogus.

But, even though I’ve spent many years doing the research, no one should believe me without checking things out on their own

Perhaps I can help you begin that trek by sharing a few brief excerpts from an article from New Scientist, “In Science, is Honesty Really Always the Best Policy”?

“…one-third of scientists confessed to ‘questionable research practices’ such as cooking data…”

“…researchers see plagiarism as more heinous than making results up. They are more likely to report a colleague they catch in an act of plagiarism than one fabricating or falsifying data.”

And, if those don’t make you start wondering about the “truth” of “science”, this one should:

“…teaching research ethics made students more likely, not less, to misbehave.”

Also, in case you’ve seen the hoopla about scientists finally detecting gravity waves (from two merging black holes), you might want to perform a reality check by visiting the Thunderbolts Project Forum

The following video, with a real scientist (which was banned by TED), could also help you begin a search for truth in science; and, if you can find a way to judge truth in science, you’re well on your way to finding truth anywhere

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Author Interview ~ Red Harvey

There are Lots of Author Interviews on this blog

Today’s is a bit different…

First, because the interview is with another Wattpad author (there are six more, just above her, in the list at that link up there…).

Second, this author is a bit feisty :-)


Red Harvey - Author O.K., Red, give us a few personal insights?

Well, I’m just a girl, standing in front of some readers, asking them to read her…no, okay, I flubbed that up.

Do over. I’m a Puerto Rican crazy person, and if I don’t rid myself of the crazy ideas (also known as stories), then I’d go into overload mode. That, and my two kids drive me nuts, in the most loving way possible.

What do you do all day?

I write, and I write, and I write. Mostly science-fiction, although I slipstream into other genres, like fantasy and horror. I’m also big into essay writing.

When I’m not writing or being a mom, I’m teaching college composition, editing for the academic journal Penumbra, or editing at my indie press Nuff Said.

What’s your favorite part about speculative fiction?

I love the oddity. Every genre has the potential for oddity, but speculative fiction feeds off it in order to transport the reader properly.

Why do your stories often strike a dark tone?

Could be because I’m (read above) a lover of odd, which then translates to dark. I also find life to be dark, and in my stories, I throw life on a screen.

Who inspires you?

Stephen King. Kidding. And not kidding. But no, really, my newest inspiration is a very distant cousin, Julia de Burgos. She was a poet, feminist, and nationalist, and though her life was a disjointed tragedy, I’m inspired by her drive to promote equality and kindness.

When did you first think about being a writer and/or when did you first do some writing?

Like the corny cliche goes, I’ve written from a young age. However, I never finished a full-length novel until I was 24 (I’m now 29, if that puts things into perspective). I got pregnant with my first son and realized I needed to finish something instead of starting a chapter, moving onto a different story, or jotting down a short story. My mind used to be all over the place about writing. Now, it’s only sort of all over the place.

Care to share a bit about what it’s like on Wattpad?

Being on Wattpad is inspiring, addictive, and rewarding as hell. Utilizing a simple interface, anyone can post a story, and receive feedback in minutes. Does it always work out that easily? No, but sometimes it does, and every writer needs and wants that golden ticket of feedback, so why not try Wattpad? I didn’t intend to turn this into a Wattpad infomercial, but there ya go.

Tell us a bit about your works on Wattpad (especially, Obsolution, my current read…).

I have a few works on Wattpad, such as a horror novella, The Dark, or a paranormal thriller, Cursed, but my labor of love is the sci-fi novel, Obsolution. Gender dynamics have always fascinated me, and sci-fi is my go-to genre of choice, and so I decided to push the two together. Obsolution is about an average retail manager living in a futuristic setting. He inadvertently gets his hands on revolutionary 3-D tech, and prints a female version of himself. Through the eyes of his clone, or Sam, he sees the world differently, all while contending with the growing mechanization of the workforce.

I worked in retail for a long time, and as I rung up people’s purchases, the thought that a machine (or a monkey) could do my job crossed my mind many a time. I worried I might lose my job constantly, but fate gave me a new one, so yay! I’m glad to be out of that world, but I’m also grateful for the real-world experience I gained.

What’s the big project at the moment?

Currently, I’m chugging along on a space opera about four explorers compelled to answer a mysterious alien invitation. As their journey progresses and the decades fly by, they find themselves changing, for better or worse.

Looking forward to reading that, Red…

And, thanks, so much, for taking time out of your busy day to share with my readers about your writing life…

See ya on Wattpad :-)



Red on Wattpad
Red’s Blog
O.K., time to ask Red some questions in the comments :-)
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Author Interview ~ Raphyel M Jordan

There were already 62 Author Interviews on this blog; and, included in those, 2 Wattpad Author interviews.

Today’s interview will make it 3 Wattpad Author interviews.

I’ve read what Mr. Jordan has on Wattpad and can heartily recommend the series we’ll be talking about :-)

~~~ Prossia

Raphyel, tell us about your “Prossia” science fiction series. 

Prossia is a coming-of-age adventure that follows a seventeen-year-old alien girl named Aly whose first encounter to the world beyond her home comes in the form of her getting drafted into a galactic war. A lot of people claim it to be like ‘Star Wars with Space Elves’.

Space Elves… Hmm… Somehow they seemed more “real” to me; but, what actually inspired you to write “Prossia”?

Blame it on my stubbornness of being young. I started writing Prossia when I was 19. I was subject to hearing this common notion about ALL Millennials as being lazy, spoiled, and having a foolish sense of entitlement without the lack of work. I was going to school with young people working two jobs just to make ends meet along with young single mothers who got better grades than many other students who only had to worry about school work and nothing else.

The surprising thing is, however, not once did I ever hear these people complain out loud about how obviously hard things were for them. Oh, not to mention I had tons of friends doing tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. Are those people lazy ? I doubt that. So, in short, Prossia was written for the young people getting the job done despite people saying they couldn’t.

Inspiring motivation, for sure! So, where did the idea for Alytchai, the series protagonist, come from?

I started writing the Prossia series before the Katniss Evergreens, Supergirl TV Shows, or the more-recent Rey from Star Wars introduced a newer take on female protagonists to the general public. I thought seeing a young man rise to the occasion was getting a little redundant too, which is why Prossia‘s protagonist is a female teenager who can handle her own. And while the above-mentioned characters are still regarded as “strong female protagonists”, it’s my hope that we’ll get to the point where we’ll just see these capable characters as “strong protagonists” and look beyond the gender.

Here, here… The sooner the better, I say. So, what can you tell us about your heroine and her struggle? 

Aly comes from a background many people are familiar with, which is covered in the prequel, Evaluations of the Tribe. She had a tough childhood because she wasn’t like the other kids. Bullying, self-esteem—she had to struggle with finding her self-worth at an early age. This challenge is taken to higher levels later in the series, where she has to face life-or-death situations and make decisions that may not be popular with those closest to her. 

You have a theme song for your books—how did that come about?

Oh, that! LOL! The theme song, called The Moment, came from April Reaux, who did some editing for Prossia. However, it turned out that Reaux’s main passion is music. So, after hearing some samples of what she could do, I just had to have her compose a song for Prossia. I knew since she’d read the entire book in finer detail than most, she could provide something original and well defining to the feel of the story.

I told her what I thought the most powerful scene was in the book, and how it would be the defining moment that would carry the story throughout its entirety. She used that scene as inspiration, and I guess you could say “the rest is history”. Take a listen :-)

That is one Ultra-Compelling piece of music………

Raphyel, where did the word “Prossia” come from?

Oi, now that wasn’t easy. I needed something that sounded foreign but logical, all at once. In the story, it’s explained that Prossia means “for peace” or “unity within diversity” in one of the numerous alien languages in the story’s galaxy. So I took “pro”, which is the prefix that means “in favor of” or “for”. Then, I needed something simple and pleasant to the ear, so I finished it with “sia”. So, I had the word, “Prosia”.

However, when I wanted to make sure that this wasn’t a real word, I quickly found out that there is actually a Prosia in Romania. Yikes! By that point, however, I was really attached to the sound of the word, so I added an extra “s” so I could keep it.

Have your fans been impressed so far?

The general reception has been VERY positive, to my relief! I was concerned readers wouldn’t feel connected to the characters since they aren’t human. However, people have been very fond of the universe I made, and all the back-story I’ve developed. On top of that, I’m always getting told how surprisingly relatable the characters are, even though they’re aliens. That tends to be the most rewarding compliment I get.

I completely agree that the characters are relatable, even though obviously alien…  Are there hidden messages in the books?

There are numerous hidden messages in the Prossia series, actually. Still, if I needed to sum them all up, I would say it’s not to let anyone choose your life for you, especially when you’re at a vital period when you’re starting to make core decisions that will define the person you will be for the rest of your days. If there is a conflict in the heart that’s telling you the path you are currently on is wrong, then it is your obligation to get on the other path, even when everyone else around you is giving you odd looks for your decision.

How many books will be in the series?

All good things must come to an end, and I will be completing the Prossia series this September, bringing it to a total of four. I’m finishing the third and final act of the final book as we speak, which has been one of the biggest challenges so far. See, I want to make sure every arch that’s been built throughout the series is given its well-deserved closure, but these stubborn characters of mine refuse to follow my outline. I’ve had to go back to “formula” four times already! ^_^

I certainly understand—had a character in my novel—just for the first scene… Nope—whole book and last line of the text :-)

So, Raphyel, do you have a newsletter?

You betcha! See, I didn’t want to spam people’s email inbox’s with too much stuff every day, so my assistant and I made it a rule to only send 2-3 posts a month. If I’m doing anything Prossia-related, you’ll be sure to get some info on that as well.

Any other morsels of interest you can share with us?

. . . >_>. Uhhhh, well. . . My favorite color is green. I’m an Aquarius. I used vacation hours at work so I could play Mass Effect 2 and 3 because it’s the best video game series…EVER. My favorite radio station is NPR, which I got a lot of beef about since when I was still in my 20s, and . . .

. . .

Ohhhhhh, you meant things pertaining to the book! Doh! >_<

People can read the first book in the series for FREE, either by reading it on Wattpad (final Act will be posted soon) or downloading it on any major online book retailer.

Subscribers in my newsletter get awesome exclusive deals like giveaways and book discounts. I’m also on these various social networks:            

My Blog

Well, Raphyel, thanks for the ride :-)


He never mentioned it; but, Raphyel is also a fine artist, designer, and illustrator…

So, Folks, looks like it’s time to ask Mr. Jordan a few questions in the comments…

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