Don't Miss Out On Exciting News!

Subscribe to my newsletter and get a free copy of Andromeda's Tear!
* indicates required
/ ( mm / dd )

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Trope-tastic Tuesdays: (Green-Skinned) Space Babe

(Parts of this were originally posted on February 21, 2013)

Trope: (Green-Skinned) Space Babe

Description: The attractive alien with mostly human features so having sex with him or her isn't too squicky. While the fictional aliens of yore were mostly green, blue has been more common in recent years, though they can come in every color of the rainbow. Female space babes are more prevalent than the males, and they will frequently be large-chested and/or scantily clad.

Examples: The Asari from the Mass Effect series (plus, to a lesser extent, the Drell, or even the Quarians, based on that one picture of Tali), the Na'vi from Avatar, the trio of male aliens in Earth Girls Are Easy

Pros: Sometimes we've banged all there is to bang on this planet and need to expand our horizons. On a more serious note, an alien romance can add another layer of intrigue and complexity to any sci-fi story. As far as the intimate part of the relationship goes, you can keep it identical to what humans do, or...well, the sky's the limit here, I suppose. (Pun partially intended.) For maximum bonus points, throw in at least a conversation about how reproduction works.

Cons: Everyone's got their preferences when it comes to romance, and for many people, interspecies sex is a no-no. Care also has to be taken here when it comes to portraying one of the species (human or alien) as superior to the other as that can mirror real-life issues here on Earth, and you don't want to inadvertently stumble into something problematic.

Would/Did I Use It?: Once again, years after the original post, I have an entry for this trope! Originally, I was on the "not a fan" train, but I've come around. (Blame Mass Effect.) In Out of Orbit, Jasmine crash lands on a planet inhabited by a humanoid species and falls in love with their leader, Aras. I didn't go too crazy with the aliens here, as they look and behave very similar to humans. I didn't even pick one of the typical colors of green or blue; they have pearl gray/silvery skin. In the interests of full disclosure, if we're talking about video game inspiration, I think I'd been playing some Dragon Age: Inquisition before writing this one, and some of the features of my fictional species resemble those of the qunari in DAI (and DA2).

Sunday, June 6, 2021

Disintegration Updates

In addition to writing my blog posts on tropes, I have been plugging away at other things, namely the Disintegration series re-release. For the most part, everything's been going smoothly, and I think I'm on track to release at the end of the summer as planned. As always, some things come with a learning curve, so I figured I might as well organize all my progress updates in one place and talk about my experiences, as I try to document in this "writing about writing" blog. Let's organize this into categories!

Covers: First and foremost, I cannot possibly say enough good things about Emily of Emily's_World_Of_Design. She has been absolutely fantastic to work with and I 100% recommend her to anyone who's looking for a cover designer. As of right this second, the covers for Disintegration and Disintegration: The Prequels are complete, and The Fall of the Midnight Scorpions is in progress. I'm planning on doing an official reveal for Disintegration in about another month, but in the meantime, here's a tiny sneak peek to hold us over. (I say "us" because this cover is amazing and I'm so impatient, but I want to wait for a few more things to be finalized before the reveal.)

Keep an eye out for that little scorpion to be showing up on all sorts of things in the weeks to come, and don't forget—newsletter subscribers will see the full cover first!

Editing: Everything's fine here. Since the kids are finally back in school full-time, I started getting back to my usual work schedule a couple of weeks ago, so that's slowed me down a bit on the editing front, but it'll get done. Again, Disintegration and Disintegration: The Prequels are completely done, and The Fall of the Midnight Scorpions is in progress. The "that" and "just" count for TFotMS did, as predicted, nearly make me sob, but I went through and slashed a lot of them. ("Still" wasn't awful. "Really" snuck in more than I'd remembered.) Like I said in a previous post, there wasn't a ton of work to do here (as compared to the Skies series, for example), but I still need to devote time to actually doing it.

Formatting: Aaaaaand here it is, why the statement "everything's been going smoothly" has the "for the most part" qualifier in front of it. By this point, I'm pretty confident in my abilities to format an e-book. I went back and forth for the longest time over whether to outsource the paperback formatting or do it myself. I finally decided to give it a go on my own, and then if it turned out I was in over my head, I'd pay someone else to deal with it.

I used a combination of Amazon's official guide plus a couple of other articles/blog posts that explained some steps a little more in-depth. While I know there are various programs out there for book formatting, I stuck with MS Word because that's what I already own and that's what I'm familiar with. As I followed (or thought I followed) the step-by-step instructions, it turned into one of those things where everything was going fine...until it wasn't. For the curious, where I got tripped up was the page numbers and the headers/footers. There's a difference between "acceptable" and "professional" and I was aiming for the latter, so I turned to Google for help. It took a little time, but I eventually wrapped my head around how to accomplish exactly what I wanted, and I think/hope it worked out. I'm crossing my fingers that I got all the margins and stuff right the first time out and it won't be rejected, and I'm definitely planning on ordering a proof to double check everything. If, after all that, something's still not right with the paperback, I'll turn it over to someone who actually knows what they're doing.

The e-book and paperback for Disintegration are mostly formatted; I have a placeholder in for the TFotMS cover and blurb, and I figure I should probably write a dedication for this one. Disintegration: The Prequels is only getting an e-book, but I haven't formatted it yet. I'm hoping once I get to formatting the paperback for The Fall of the Midnight Scorpions, I'll feel pretty comfortable. Maybe.

So that's where everything stands. I was originally planning for a September 1st release date for Disintegration (and make the prequel set the newsletter freebie starting then; I'll also make it accessible for free to current subscribers). However! I was recently reminded that the Alanis Morissette concert tickets I got last year were rescheduled for that day, and it looks like the show is going ahead, so even though I think everything will be all set up for the book release, it still feels like a LOT for one day, y'know? Since everything's going well, I'm now aiming for August 30th. I haven't decided when I'll make the preorder available, as I've heard conflicting advice about that, but there's going to be a lot of fun stuff going on leading up to the release, so stay tuned!

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Trope-tastic Tuesdays: Raven Hair, Ivory Skin

Trope: Raven Hair, Ivory Skin

Description: Though beauty ideals tend to go in cycles when it comes to what's popular at any given moment, Raven Hair, Ivory Skin is one of those tropes that's often used as a shortcut for "this character is physically attractive". Due to said cycles, these characters can take on all forms, from gothic heroines to 1950s pin-up girls to vampires from all different time periods. However, to qualify for this trope, they have to be good-looking. There can be some overlap with the Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette trope, but that one has more to do with how a character is perceived beyond physical beauty. Both have a tendency to skew female, but attractive raven-haired men with ivory skin are out there in all sorts of media.

Examples: Snow White in every form she's ever taken, Scarlett O'Hara, Miranda from Mass Effect, Yennefer from The Witcher

Pros: The visual contrast makes this appealing, even when you're writing and you want the reader to get a certain image in their minds. As stated above, it can also be a quick way to get to "this character is pretty!" without spending a huge amount of time on descriptions and perceptions right away. When it comes to the overlap with other tropes and genres, you can either lean in to the established tropes, or have some fun playing around with them and subverting expectations.

Cons: There's a fine line between "relying on tropes" and "laziness." (Let's not talk about how many times I've walked that line.) Also, as with all physical appearance tropes, beauty is highly subjective.

Would/Did I Use It?: Indeed I have! Tabitha from Hunting Astrid qualifies, as her appearance captures Astrid's attention right away. Alizeira from Flight of the Dragon Queen also fits this trope, and she might also count as an Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette, at least at the beginning of the book before we learn more about her. I gave some serious consideration to whether Jasmine from Out of Orbit and Sari from Fire Beyond the Frost qualify, and ultimately decided that they don't—aside from debating whether or not their brown hair is dark enough, while their love interests are attracted to them, it's never mentioned if they're considered objectively beautiful to most of the people around them.