Tuesday, June 30, 2015

One Day Soon, We’ll All Be Telepathic...

by Mattie Dunman



One of my favorite plot devices in SFR is having a main character be telepathic in some way; whether by reading minds or controlling them, using the brain to do something extraordinary has always been particularly fascinating to me.

When I sat down to write my first book, At First Touch, I wasn’t thinking about developing a character who could read minds. I was creating someone who had seen the worst of people and was still fighting. As the story developed, it became clear that my main character’s ability wasn’t the main problem or catalyst; it was how people in power perceived her and sought to use her for their own purposes.

And it got me thinking. There are so many books, movies, etc. about characters who can read minds or other variations on the theme. What is it about knowing the thoughts of everyone around us that is so compelling?

When I was a lowly undergraduate, I majored in Psychology. The real draw for me (apart from all the fun personality tests) was learning how to read people, understand the way they think, why they behave the way they do. In short, I wanted to be a mind-reader.

Everyone is a bit of a mind-reader. It’s how we know to stop asking the boss for a raise when he gets a certain tone in his voice, why we recognize when our significant other is about to end things, or how we know the time is right to ask our parents for that raise in allowance. We base our reactions on a lifetime of memories and precedence, and most of the time we’re right.

So why do we dream about more? Why are we so drawn to stories of cyborgs, characters who can move things with their minds, who can heal with a thought? Some of the best SFR out there involves telepathic abilities in one way or another.

Because it’s a completely awesome idea. And it may not be that far off in the future. There’s some pretty exciting stuff being investigated right now, things writers have been dreaming of for decades. Microchips in the brain that teach us to heal ourselves, that link to others, link to computers. The list goes on. For instance, during a recent neuro-technology experiment at the University of Washington, two subjects actually accomplished brain-to-brain interaction using a brain-computer interface (BCI).

Brain-to-Brain Interface (BBI) is the newest and most exciting development in the field. Unlike BCI, where the interaction is interpreted by a computer, recent advances are in the stages of infancy, but rely solely on mind-to-mind connections. In 2014, Harvard Medical researchers were able to connect a human brain with a rat’s brain (creepy, right?) to move the rat’s tail with 94% accuracy using only direct neural commands from the human brain.

Eventually, this area of research is intended to produce the ability to send a text or email with a thought, to give commands on a video game telepathically, along with other, more practical implementations. Can you imagine if covert military operatives were able to communicate brain to brain instead of relying on whispers or signals? Or individuals suffering from strokes, ALS, or other debilitating conditions that prevent speech being able to hold conversations in their heads? Already the technology is being used in robotics, making robotic prosthetics a very real possibility in the near future. The implications are staggering.


Of course, I wasn’t thinking about any of this when I created my own telepathic character with BCI; I just wanted to see what it would be like if she were burdened by knowing everything about anyone she came in contact with, and how that would change her as a person.

            But it raises some interesting questions, both regarding the good that can be accomplished by such technology and abilities, as well as the harm that can be done. What would the societal ramifications be if we all had computer chips in our brain that interfaced with a larger server? Or if we were expected to work with someone across the ocean using only a neural interface? What privacy concerns and ethical issues would arise if this technology became a reality?

             Readers and authors of SFR may be ready to answer some of those questions now, and in fact, some already have.

             At any rate, synthetic telepathy is a real possibility, and a wonderful source of inspiration, even if we’re not all lining up to be joined with a rat brain!




Really cool info!


Mattie Dunman is a lifelong resident of "Wild & Wonderful" West Virginia, and has dreamed of being a writer since she first held a pen in hand. Mattie has pursued several useless degrees to support this dream, and presently is lost in the stacks of her local library. She spends most of her free time writing, but also indulges in reading and traveling. She is the proud owner of an adorably insane American Eskimo named Finn, and a tyrant cat named Bella, who take up more of her attention than they probably should.

Mattie would love to hear from you! www.mattiedunman.com

The views expressed are solely those of the author and not representative of the SFR Brigade.

Monday, June 29, 2015

The SFR Brigade Summer Cafe - Supernova Hot #scifirom #erotica #giveaway


It's Week Five of the SFR Brigade Summer Cafe, and we're serving up the Supernova Hot category for your enjoyment! In the menu card you'll find our servings of SFR: starters are shorter length stories, the main courses provide something more substantial, and desserts give you a sweeter finish. You'll also find this week's prize bundle listed under extras, and all the prizes on offer are to the same theme of space opera. One winner will be chosen by rafflecopter at the end of the week (and the rafflecopter only appears on the participating blogs).

To visit the participants in the Supernova Hot menu, simply click on one of the blogs below and show your appreciation at each with a little comment love if you could. Who knows, it might win you some extra goodies too!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

The SFR Brigade Summer Cafe - Androids & Aliens #winner

The fourth week of the SFR Brigade Summer Cafe has ended, and we have our winner. The Androids & Aliens bundle was won by:

Shelly Hammond


Congrats and enjoy your prize! Tomorrow sees the start of week five - Supernova Hot!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Congrats to our Brigaders - Golden Quill


Congrats to Brigader Christina Westcott who finaled in the Golden Quill Contest (fantasy/science fiction category) run by Desert Rose RWA.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Five Things I've Learned Going Indie #publishing

Hi, I'm Pippa Jay, author of scifi and the supernatural with a romantic soul. On the 1st of May, 2015, my main publisher closed, leaving my five titles homeless. This was the third publisher I'd lost in just over a year, and I really didn't want to go through it again. 

So I decided the time was right to go fully self published (although I still have one title with a publisher). I've been self publishing short stories for as long as I've been with small presses, and had just committed to publishing my first full length novel - Keir - which had been my debut but reverted to me early 2014 after losing that publisher too (no, I'm not a jinx!). Only time and the costs of cover art and editing had held me back from self publishing more.

My former publisher went out of his way to make the closure as painless as possible by allowing us to use the edited version of our books (the norm is that you get the rights back to your unedited MS and often with a clause that you can't use the edits provided by the publisher). We were also given the option to buy modified versions of our book covers (ie logos removed) at a much reduced cost compared to having to buy totally new covers. As it happened, I took the opportunity to change two of my covers and bought two others from the publisher. 

Which left me the task of minor edits to remove the publisher's info front and back of book and adding new info, reformatting and uploading all my books to a host of retailers, and the new artwork. I'm not going to go through all that process, but I will share five keys things I learned while doing it to save you some trouble. 

1. Previous reviews, especially Amazon. One thing that disheartened me was losing the precious few reviews I'd had, but someone told me these transfer over to the new edition. Well, sometimes they do, sometimes they don't. There's something you can do about it though (but not for iTunes. Once those are gone, they're gone). If after republishing on Amazon they don't automatically transfer over, you can email Amazon and ask for them to be linked (include titles, new ASINs and your author name for good measure). In the case of my SciFi romance Keir - which had been off Amazon for nearly eighteen months AND had a name change - they requested the old ASIN number for the original release in order to find those reviews (if you don't have it, check out the 'other editions' of your book on Goodreads - it should be listed there). Within a few hours even those reviews were back (though Amazon do say allow five days). Surprisingly, B&N automatically linked all my old reviews to all my titles without any intervention from me, even the one that had had a title change! You can also get ebooks linked to the print books the same way.

2. Don't upload on a Friday. The book I uploaded on a Friday at D2D and Kobo still wasn't live by Monday, even though the books I uploaded Monday were live by Tuesday. I also had copyright issues with one of my titles, possibly because my publisher's print edition was still live (and I only suspect that because similar things happened to my fellow ex-Breathless authors). It was rejected twice with a request to confirm my rights and the dire threat of needing to do it within five days or it would be deleted. Eep! I emailed KDP several times, but didn't get a reply until the Monday. Fortunately by then a third attempt to upload the contested book resulted in it publishing (if this system is meant to prevent piracy, it's extremely flawed since simple persistence got the book up).

3. Have all your info to hand (blurb, cover, tags, categories, previous publication dates if applicable, pricing, etc), whatever digital formats you need, the Goodreads page open, and the dashboard for each retailer open. This means you can just copy and paste, or click and go pretty quickly. If you don't have your own ISBNs, do NOT use the free one issued by Smashwords or any other retailer. Those are specific to YOUR book on THAT retailer. For All Romance eBooks, they have their own 13 digit number system to use in place of an ISBN but you need to email them.

4. Do all your formatting and preparation beforehand. Depending on if you use software to prepare and/or convert your MS (like Scrivener or Calibre, which many authors swear by) or if like me, you just work with Word and use online conversion programs (or Word to make my pdf), be sure to have all versions ready to go. If you're new to the process and using Word, be sure to download and read the free Smashwords Style Guide. It looks long and complicated, but it takes you through step by step and can save you a lot of trouble.

5. Be strong! While not without its issues, hiccups and glitches, and being time consuming even when things run smooth, at the end of the day you have full creative control of your work, the option to play with pricing, categories and tags, and almost instantaneous sales data to show you if something is working particularly well. You can also instantly update your work, change around your back matter with things like traceable smart URLs to see what readers prefer to click, and keeping any sales links inside the book up to date. It's worth it!


Do you have any tips to share on the process?




Bio:

After spending twelve years working as an Analytical Chemist in a Metals and Minerals laboratory, Pippa Jay is now a stay-at-home mum who writes scifi and the supernatural. Somewhere along the way a touch of romance crept into her work and refused to leave. In between torturing her plethora of characters, she spends the odd free moment playing guitar very badly, punishing herself with freestyle street dance, and studying the Dark Side of the Force. Although happily settled in the historical town of Colchester in the UK with her husband of 22 years and three little monsters, she continues to roam the rest of the Universe in her head.

Pippa Jay is a dedicated member of the Science Fiction Romance Brigade and Broad Universe, blogging at Spacefreighters Lounge, Adventures in Scifi, and Romancing the Genres. Her works include YA and adult stories crossing a multitude of subgenres from scifi to the paranormal, often with romance, and she’s one of eight authors included in a science fiction romance anthology—Tales from the SFR Brigade. She’s also a double SFR Galaxy Award winner, been a finalist in the Heart of Denver RWA Aspen Gold Contest (3rd place), the EPIC eBook awards, and the GCC RWA Silken Sands Star Awards (2nd place).

You can stalk her at her website, or at her blog, but without doubt her favorite place to hang around and chat is on Twitter as @pippajaygreen.

Blogs –
Adventures in Scifi - http://www.pippajay.blogspot.co.uk
Spacefreighters Lounge - http://www.spacefreighters.blogspot.com

A SciFi Romance Novella
Goodreads | Available from...
Amazon | All Romance eBooks
B&N | Kobo | iTunes | Scribd
Smashwords | Google Play


Blurb:
She can kill with a kiss. But can assassin Tyree also heal one man’s grief, and bring peace to a galaxy threatened by war?

For Tyree of the Su, being an assassin isn’t simply something she was trained for. It’s the sole reason for her existence. A genetically enhanced clone—one of many in Refuge—she’s about to learn her secluded lifestyle, and that of all her kind, is under threat by a race capable of neutralizing their special talents to leave them defenseless.

For Zander D’joren, being a diplomat has not only cost him his appearance, but also the love of his life. Scarred, grieving, he must nonetheless continue in his role as co-delegate to the fearsome Tier-vane or risk a conflict that could only end one way.

Now both of them need to keep each other alive and maintain a perilous deception long enough to renegotiate the treaty with the Tier-vane, or throw their people into a war that could wipe out Terrans and Inc-Su alike. But there’s more at stake than humanity, whether true or modified. Can the love growing between them save them both? Or merely hasten their destruction?

Monday, June 22, 2015

The SFR Brigade Summer Cafe - Androids & Aliens #scifirom #giveaway


It's Week Four of the SFR Brigade Summer Cafe, and we're serving up some awesome Androids & Aliens for your enjoyment! In the menu card you'll find our servings of SFR: starters are shorter length stories, the main courses provide something more substantial, and desserts give you a sweeter finish. You'll also find this week's prize bundle listed under extras, and all the prizes on offer are to the same theme of space opera. One winner will be chosen by rafflecopter at the end of the week (and the rafflecopter only appears on the participating blogs).

To visit the participants in the Androids & Aliens menu, simply click on one of the blogs below and show your appreciation at each with a little comment love if you could. Who knows, it might win you some extra goodies too!

SFR Brigade Bases of Operation