How Does Alpha Happen?

For my NaNoWriMo project, I am writing an Alpha male who feels a bond to the heroine but she has her own agenda. When he tries to treat her like a “girl,” he damages the relationship that is barely starting between them. Of course he will have to change and let her fight her own battles to some extent. But how did he get to be that way?

I have trouble writing Alphas, I think. I like nice guys, and I don’t think they finish last. Okay, I started to write an innuendo here, and changed my mind, so just pretend I did. But back to how I am going to make Ash Leander a tough guy when he’s really a pussy cat. See what I did there? He’s a jaguar shape shifter. I crack myself up!

Here’s a list of the 25 traits of an Alpha Male: http://www.traitsofthealphamale.com/77/25-traits-of-an-alpha-male/ Ash scores high in 1 and 2, comfortable with himself, and passionate about life. Also 6, high morale code. Finding out his life mate married someone else is devastating to him, but he still won’t leave her side. Even if there’s no way he can be, you know, with her. Sigh.

I don’t think 9 or 10 really apply to Ash. He dresses well, but in the business of covert ops, he usually ends up in ripped shirts and shorts. Ahem. Give me a minute. Here’s the male model whose gorgeous body is my muse for Ash: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/514606694895309266/ Not much to go on, sartorially. And growth is something he leaves up to The Family. They run the business, he just does his job.

But the rest are very much spot on. This list narrows it down to five traits: http://www.sharpergame.com/inner-game/the-5-alpha-male-traits-women-simply-cant-resist/ These are the ones that make an Alpha irresistible to women. Confidence, composed, not afraid to take a risk, not given to bragging or worrying what other people thing, and not lacking in leadership skills. Okay. That’s good.

Now that we know what an Alpha is all about, HOW did he get that way? Or did he? Is Alpha vs. Beta personality a myth? http://www.artofmanliness.com/2014/07/07/the-myth-of-the-alpha-male/ So maybe in real life they do not exist, but in Romance Novels, to quote my Amazon parrot, “Heck, yeah!”

I found this list of Alpha males, and found an interesting fact about each of them. http://www.askmen.com/money/successful_150/178_success.html Each of these examples started out with a lack of things going for them. Either from poor backgrounds, or considered a freak, or pretty much not worth noticing. Fighting back and making it to the top is the resonating life goal for Alphas.

And that’s pretty much where Ash got his Alpha traits. He was orphaned about the time his jaguar started shifting. Chances are the people in his village would have killed him if he had not been found by the Fidel family. With the help of his foster parents, he learned to take care of himself, to rely on his own skills, and to assist the people around him to make the best of their own skills. He wants everyone to come through their various missions as winners.

I should figure out why Romela isn’t very interested in his skills. Maybe, as this last link quotes at the end of the article, “Alpha Males are jerks. I can’t stand how attracted I am to them.” I’ll be back on Sunday.

Music Soothes the Savage Author

Have you heard about BookTrack.com? I just saw a side bar ad for it on Facebook (how does FB know I’m a writer, that’s what I want to know?). Here’s their site: http://www.booktrack.com/ and here’s what Uncle Wiki has to say about them: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Booktrack

I had this idea! Just within the last year, I was having lunch with a friend and my husband, and the friend thought it would be easy to add a sound track to an ebook. We also talked about interactive maps and such, which I understand is also a current possibility. But not being a programer and not having money, someone beat me to this idea. Oh, well.

My Scribophile friends and I often discuss music to write by and to accompany some of their writings. One author could hardly believe how much this song by Loreena McKennit described his main characters and their relationship. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7LS4fiLHnMw Another thought of her character who was in rehab while listening to John Mayer’s In Repair. http://youtu.be/HKDPaf40LCw

Another listened repeatedly to The Eagles There’s a Hole in the World Tonight. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=haNpuHZam40

One of my favorite up and coming writers on Scribophile has a couple who got together for one of those wonderful, no strings, nothing but sex arrangements, and fell deeply in love. She picked 30 Seconds to Mars’ version of Stay. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IqPATbDhrb4

And there are pages and pages more of songs that either inspired the writer or reflect exactly the feeling they wanted in the story. As a writer of Regency Romances, I find things a little less easy, because I want any music I listen to to be period, and because I don’t really have time to listen to lots of songs to find the right ones. It’s not like I am going to hear a perfect tune on the radio, not even classics on NPR.

A little time on Google, however, does present a few great selections. Take, for example, my “friend” Roxana Haley’s Regency Erotic Romance, Appetizer: Pure Seduction. The opening of the story could be accompanied by this sprightly tune, Backhofen Rondo. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I9rNU6GuK70 Once the main characters meet each other, the Gavota de Cortesana is a good choice. The video is very amateurish, but the music is what I want to share. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jWdlPcPBKWY

And not to give too much away, when the events come to a head and all is revealed, just about any jig or reel will do! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_3xeTpgLP5o

I’ll admit it, until I started to write this blog post, I simply moaned about the difficulties of finding the right Regency music for my stories. Now that I’ve dug in and got a start, I find it’s not that hard at all. Rather a lot like writing!

I finally dug in and listened to Pandora while working away today. They have a British Folk Music station. Who knew? I liked The Maid That Sold Her Barley https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZHo44M-J4PI, The Raggle Taggle Gypsy https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2WhifjRViZc and I especially like Red is the Rose https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_KPfB_PRYlY.

Problem solved, life is good, and I have writing to do! Hope you might purchase my “friend”’s ebook and write a review! Thanks, I’ll be back on Thursday.

Life Choices

I’m reading a great High Fantasy romance right now by someone I actually know! Is that too cool? Okay, I hang around with Romance Writers of America and on Scribophile, so I do know rather a lot of published authors. But Tameri Etherton is one of the best people I know and made me feel very welcome at RWA meetings. So when she announced the publication of her ebook, The Stones of Kaldaar, first book in her Song of the Swords series, I picked it up right away.

I haven’t put it down yet. I am really enjoying the book, and if you are interested in it, here’s a link. The cover art is just like Tameri herself, full of joy and drama. The good kind of drama. http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-stones-of-kaldaar-tameri-etherton/1120323231?ean=2940046141870

As I read the beginning of the novel, I thought, what would I do if (assuming I am a young woman) life suddenly revealed itself to me as something totally different than anything I expected? And what would I rather have the choice of being? Could I be revealed as the unknown heir to a title and fortune? Or a Messiah on another planet or in another dimension? What if I am a vampire or a werewolf? A sorcerer with untold, untapped powers? So many possibilities.

Let’s look at the pluses and minuses. Today I wake up, open my closet, and instead of the usual selection of fat clothes and skinny clothes, there’s a door! I, of course, open it, and step into a new world. Someone is waiting for me, and tells me I am the new ruler of Slumberistan. I now posses more magic power than I can imagine. But in two weeks, I will fight one on one with the evil Lord Damitall, who is trying to take over my rightful throne. For two weeks, I have maids who will wait on me hand and foot, scrub my back, choose my gowns, make sure I get to meals on time, and bring me books from the library. I have daily exercise in learning to fight with a big, heavy slice of sharp metal, and learning to use this magic I am supposed to have. Those are the pluses. The down side is that in two weeks, I’ll be killed because I can’t learn enough in that short of a time.

Next scenario, please! I’m driving to work, not really paying attention because I know where every little bump in the road lies, and when the traffic will slow down. But I look up, and everything is wrong. I don’t know this road, I don’t remember how I got here. There’s one lane and lots of trees and it’s dark like evening, not morning. The car starts to stall, so I pull over to the side. I get out, and a truly god-like man (a Chris Hemsworth close) approaches me. He tells me I have been sent to this dimension to lead the faithful away from the path of sin, and to convert those sinners who have left the fold. I tell him, “Buddy, you have got the wrong woman! Where’s the party?’ Yeah, not many pluses, especially if there’s celibacy involved.

Moving right along, I finally get to go to Eastern Europe and stay in a castle! I fall asleep in a huge, dusty bed (but I don’t mind the dust, because CASTLE!) only to be woke up by people in my room, arguing. A pair of delicious, half naked men are arguing over which one of them I belong to. I think, I wish my husband was here! I have to choose between a vampire and werewolf. Awesome, but again, not so many plus sides here. Dead or cursed, sucking blood or killing innocents. NEXT!

Same castle, but instead of waking up to arguing beefcakes, I see flashes of very white light under my door. I open it up to find a pair of sorcerers battling with lightning bolts and fire balls and staffs. I think, “I better check out of this place!” and step into the hallway, just as each sorcerer throws their most powerful spell. Hmmm, probably just going to be a pile of ash, now that I think of it. Not even Cinderella.
I guess I’m happiest being someone who thinks up these things, instead of someone who has to live through them. Have a good week, and I’ll be back on Sunday.

Formula Stories for the Win

Tropes and formulas are a part of the Romance world. Searching Google will give you lots of plots and arcs and Very Important Elements for any romance novel. Using these formulas might just earn you some criticism about tropes and writing the same story over and over.

You can blithely ignore those critics. At the Romance Writers of America (RWA) meeting I attended yesterday, those of us who were not lucky enough to go to the National convention in San Antonio just last month were treated so some Publisher Spotlight notes that not only made us more jealous of those who went, but gave us lots of important information. And I am going to share some of it with you today.

Harlequin single title lines are not easy to break into, but the Harlequin series, under the Spotlight title, is a little more understanding of both authors and readers. And they insist on the formula. Not the same story over and over, but the same elements. Think of it like a foot race. All the entrants have to hit the same marks to meet the race requirements, but they can do it at their own time, in their own way.

The readers drive the desire for these same elements. A tortured hero, a flawed heroine, a reason for them to work together, a reason they shouldn’t fall in love, and a way to overcome all of that for the Happy Ever After (HEA). Here is Harlequin’s “format” for the perfect story: http://www.harlequin.com/articlepage.html?articleId=1425&chapter=0

Larry Brooks, the Storyfixer, wrote a great blog a couple years back on discovering that Romance writers are as competent and motivated as any other writers, and maybe more dedicated than most.
http://storyfix.com/what-i-just-learned-from-a-room-full-of-romance-writers And I am going to buy a copy of his book, Warm Hugs for Writers, to give to all my Scribophile friends when they doubt themselves.

Shoshanna Evers posted this Secret Formula in 2009, and now is a published author. Wait, can it be a secret if you post it on the Internet? http://www.thewriterschallenge.com/2009/09/secret-formula-of-most-romance-novels.html

At the RWA meeting, we discussed a lot of what is hot and what is fading from view in subgenres. Personally, I am just going to keep writing what I want to write, and I will find my readers through good stories. But the next wave is Historical Romance, particularly medieval. And paranormal is on the way out, apparently. I am sure there are more readers like me who just realized the wealth of books out there about Alpha Male Wolf heros that make me a little melty. And even a lion shapeshifter has caught my attention, in Dark Age Dawning #3, Daybreak by Ellen Connor (who turns out to be two talented women!).

About Dark Age Dawning, I picked up a copy of the third book, and started reading it without the slightest intent of looking for the first two novels. Not only has that changed a few chapters in, I am going to find everything they ever wrote and read it. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/8397035-daybreak

Dystopia worlds have been a big deal for a while, where magic makes everything dangerous and beautiful. The Hunger Games and Game of Thrones are big reasons for this trend. But the genre has been around for a long time. Animal Farm being one of the earliest, and The Handmaid’s Tale one of the best. Here is Julia Gandrud’s 8 Point Dystopian Plot Formula. http://writingreadingandlife.com/2013/11/29/guest-post-8-point-dystopian-plot-formula-julia-gandrud/

Think you need a little more help getting this formula under your belt? Look for your local RWA chapter and find out which workshops are available. You can take some of the on-line workshops from any chapter, if it suits your needs. There are also many other sources of learning, from community college creative writing to Scribophile forums, but some of those are not exactly Romance friendly. But here’s a great plot mapping idea from Tracey Montana and Adrienne Giordano at the Romance University (whose motto is R U Ready? Love it). http://romanceuniversity.org/2009/10/19/do-all-roads-lead-to-plot-mapping/

Like Adrienne says at the end of the blog, I’d love to hear how you use the formula, and how you map your plot! Maybe you’d like to write a guest post for me on the subject! Maybe we can trade posts! I know if I followed through on half the ideas I come up with, I’d be rich and have all the time in the world to write. See you on Thursday.

Interview with Lila Auclair

Some weeks ago, I posted three photos of models who were in the running for the basis of my heroine in a Regency naval-based Romance. I had long ago picked my hero, thinking he would be a pirate, but he’s turned into Captain Christopher “Kit” Dash. Here’s his Pinterest image: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/514606694893848864/

In the story, Kit is a tall man with broad shoulders and long legs who has some issues living on a ship that uses very little space for any one thing. So I felt that the woman who wins his heart will be a sturdy woman, beautiful and curved, but also taller than the norm, who feels solid in his arms and in his bed. This is Lila Auclair: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/514606694894666796/

I’m getting to know Lila, even though actually writing this story isn’t in the forecast, so I decided to get what I know about her written out and saved for the time to come.

Novel Approach: Miss Auclair, welcome. Would you tell us a little about your childhood?

Lila Auclair: My younger days passed tediously, I wouldn’t dwell on them. Suffice to say that my father is a French fisherman, my mother was Scottish, from Stonehaven. They met when his fleet blew in during a storm. He stayed a while, as some of the boats were damaged. Then he went back to France. Mama didn’t speak French, but she thought he meant to come back. Well, in the course of things, I entered the world. We lived with her parents on a small farm, and she died when I turned twelve.

NA: That’s very touching. How did you end up in France? Boulogne-sur-mer, was it?

LA: Yes, I went to find my father, and found instead his family. Mostly fishermen, but some farmers too. I stayed with an aunt and helped my cousins run the farm. I have learned to make the very best goat cheese in the whole world. Would you like to try it?

NA: Oh, maybe later. Thank you. I read somewhere that Boulogne-sur-mer hosted a fleet of smugglers. Are you sure your father fished for a living?

LA: Having never met the man, I can only tell you the stories my mother told me. I have been reassured by my aunt that he did indeed fish at some time in his life. He has gone to fight Napoleon, so we do not know if he will return to the farm.

NA: Your father still does not know of your existence? How does that make you feel?

LA: How should it make me feel? I have no claims on him, and want only to live in France with the Auclair family. My aunt wrote a letter to him, to tell him about me, but I do not know if he received it. There has been no reply.

NA: What was your mother’s family name?

LA: MacFarlane. Hannah MacFarlane, daughter and only child of Edward and Mary Gordon MacFarlane.

NA: How did you happen to meet Captain Dash?

LA: My cousin Pierre took fresh vegetables, flour, and chickens to the British ships that patrol the channel. The captain asked him to bring more, everything we could spare. So we took two boats out, with goats and wine and honey, and much more. Just as we had off-loaded our boats, and Pierre started back in his, a French ship appeared, and the captain ordered his crew to attack. I could not get to my boat safely, so he sent me below. To his cabin.

NA: Well, that’s all the time we have today! Thanks for your candid answers, Miss Auclair. And thanks to everyone for reading. I’ll be back on Thursday with more about ladies’ clothing.

LA: Oh, I’d like to read that one.

NA: I don’t think the ship has WiFi.

Slip of the Tongue – Or – The Foundation Series – Or – The Stays the Thing.

I may have mentioned that I write Regency Romances. Published nothing so far, but come pretty close a time or two. Under and assumed name so my sister won’t be ashamed to acknowledge me in public, I am writing erotica. I have a fun scene where the hero dances the heroine outside and into a hedge maze, and does unspeakable things to her. That’s why I wrote it down, instead of making a recording.

One reader was amazed that the hero could simply pull her sleeves down her arms a bit, and all her glorious bounty lay exposed before him. “Didn’t they have bras?” she asked. No. No, they did not.

I’ll let Uncle Wiki fill you in on the history of the brassiere. Suffice to say bras were not used until the late 1800s, and the Regency era really slipped into the Victorian era about 1820. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_brassieres

What did the women do to keep the “girls” in line? There were several options. Much depended on the social status of the woman. Regency women dressed like an onion, in layers. First there was the chemise, also called a shift. Often this was the nightgown, too. Over this light and easily washed shift, would go the stays. https://mantua-maker.com/Corset_Patterns.html The breasts were lovingly placed into the stiff cotton twill garment, and a wooden (usually) busk (yardstick) is inserted in the front, in a pocket designed just for that use. The stays were expected to flatten the stomach, but lift and separate the bosom. This is more flattering than the Georgian flat from neck to toes style, and much more comfortable than the Victorian corset.

The shoulder straps, as you can see here: http://www.songsmyth.com/underthings.html can be undone from the front and tucked in the back, if your ball gown had a wide neckline. So my hero could easily have pulled the stays down the slender heroine, with no impediment.

Shall we finish dressing our Regency Heroine? Why not! Over the stays, her ‘tiring woman or abigail places the petticoat. The bodice of the petticoat would be of a cheap, coarse fabric, and the had open sides for eas of dressing. Strips of fabric tape tied it all closed. The chemise would not be ankle length, but the petticoat was designed to fill out the shape of the dress, so that the wearer’s legs could not be easily perceived under her gown. It went to the hem and had at least one ruffle, properly called a flounce. http://janeaustensworld.wordpress.com/2010/11/17/why-petticoats-and-chemises-were-worn-under-regency-gowns-jane-austens-world/

Drawers, you ask? Oh, no. Only fast women and prostitutes would wear drawers! http://janeaustensworld.wordpress.com/2010/11/06/ladies-underdrawers-in-regency-times/

But that’s a step backward. Here are a few more wonderful links on the subject, and next Thursday we’ll look at the outer layers, and that wonderful hobby, laundry! Have a good week.

http://wordwenches.typepad.com/word_wenches/2007/10/undressing-your.html

http://www.kristenkoster.com/2011/11/a-primer-on-regency-era-womens-fashion/

Around the World in 80+ Books, Part 13

The most exciting parts of traveling are the day you leave and start the adventure, and the day you roll home with tons of laundry to do and weariness you wouldn’t trade for anything. So let’s jump off of Cypress and head on to Gambia. Where the Gamers all live.

241. Gambia. Mid-week, I mentioned my love of horses in fiction, novels like The Black Stallion making up a large part of my story-spinning daydreams. Alhaji by Ebou Dibba is the story of a 16-year-old boy who owns a dream horse, and what happens when he is offered a lot of money to sell the animal to a rich man. Horses aren’t just property, nor is any animal who shares our lives. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/4552704-alhaji?ac=1

242. Germany. Yeah, missed it completely. So much great literature here, but I think Three Comrades: A Novel of Germany Between the Wars by Erich Maria Remarque is a good choice. Trying to keep alive and employed in a country devastated by war and treated as less than human by the rest of the world, these three young men keep each other going, and are the most vulnerable to love. There’s apparently a Russian version that is equally well received. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/91203.Three_Comrades?ac=1

243. Grenada. What if you emigrated to a beautiful island in the Caribbean just in time for a Communist Revolution to break out? Why, you’d probably write a book about it. That’s what Kay Howard did. Memories to Die For: An American Family’s Terror-filled Adventures on the Island of Granada. Reviews are mixed, some complain about the ethnocentric Americans looking down on the native inhabitants, and some enjoying the page-turning pace of the adventures. It’s worth a look. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/218531.Memories_to_Die_for?ac=1

244. Guinea-Bissau. As a country on the coast of Africa, Guinea-Bissau has lots of needs, such as clean water, improved economy, and good health care. Or is that California? Anyway, I admire the woman who set up clinics to treat many diseases that were rampant in the country. I don’t know if I admire the fact that she came to do God’s work, which meant creating a written version of the language and translating the New testament into that language. That feels a bit heavy handed to me, and a bit of the culture might have just changed completely. Still this book is God’s Needle: How Lily Gaynor Brought Hope and Healing to the Land of the Witchdoctors. It could have been much worse.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17575050-god-s-needle?from_search=true

245. Kosovo. I have the pleasure to be acquainted with a woman who sponsored a family from Kosovo. Their experiences while leaving the war-torn area are horrific. And one can only rage impotently at the brutality and death the children of the family witnessed. My friend calls the children her grandchildren, and they are her spiritual family. We say one person can’t do very much alone, but there are so many examples of what one person can do that we have to stop saying that or believing it. I picked The Hemingway Book Club of Kosovo by Paula Huntley because it’s a true story and it’s an accidental book. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21945723-the-hemmingway-book-club-of-kosovo?ac=1

246. Kuwait. Once more a book is set between two wars, these the Gulf wars with poetic names like Desert Storm and Desert Shield. In the intersection of the lives of five different people, lies a crime of abuse against a young woman. The reviews of Small Kingdoms by Anastasia Hobbet (what an awesome name!) are mostly ecstatic to have found the book. Wise and well paced, said one. Another quoted wonderful lines and noted the pages. Looking forward to this read. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6845658-small-kingdoms?ac=1

247. Nauru. One of many people who “discovered” this island called it Pleasant Island. During World War II, the island was invaded by Japanese soldiers, two-thirds of the population taken away without communication to those left behind. Captivity and starvation on the island, exile off the island, the people survived, and Jemima Garrett wrote their story in Island Exiles. Not found on Goodreads, so here’s a Google link. http://books.google.com/books/about/Island_Exiles.html?id=zuD_PAAACAAJ

248. Netherlands. So many choices, but as an avid fan of Gregory Maguire, I had to go with Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister. Yes, the reviews are mixed, and yes, he might belabor a point or two, but his retelling of Cinderella has to be worth the read, as well as giving us a glimpse into seventeenth-century Holland. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18943.Confessions_of_an_Ugly_Stepsister?ac=1

249. Sint Maarten. Oh, how I love islands. The privacy, the luxury, the sand and the sea. A Time to Love by Barbara Delinsky is referred to by one reviewer as Lifestyles of the Rich and Horny. Okay, I’ll buy that. Rich girl with a broken heart meets celebrity photographer, and lust ensues. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1268352.A_Time_to_Love

250. South Africa. There are people who can’t wait to leave the place where they were born and grew up. Then they realize they will be taking with them everything they inherited from that place. Imaginings of Sand (Afrikaan’s title would translate to Sand Castles, I believe) by André Brink tells the story of a woman who escaped, but her loyalty to her family calls her back. The reviews complain a bit about a man writing as a woman. So I guess my book about a bisexual male in Regency England would not work? I wouldn’t worry about a man writing as a woman, I would comment on a person doing well as a writer. But that’s me. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/509676.Imaginings_of_Sand?ac=1

251. Sudan. I want to mention a children’s book, A Long Walk To Water: Based on a True Story by Linda Sue Park. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7981456-a-long-walk-to-water?from_search=true I have to read this one, just to see how the two stories come together. But I also like the true story Tears of the Desert: A Memoir of Survival in Darfur by Halima Bashir and Damien Lewis. All the reviews are 3 to 5 stars, the first one saying that if you are a Politically Correct sort of person, this book is going to piss you off. Not for the faint-hearted and life changing follow. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3170677-tears-of-the-desert?from_search=true

252. Switzerland. I picked The Raven and the Rose by Susan Wigg because it takes place in the Monastery of St. Bernard, where the beautiful and intelligent dogs were bred and trained. But there are half a dozen books with that title or near enough titles, and even an author named Rose Raven. If ever a book called for a subtitle, this would be it. However, our story takes place in the time of Napoleon, which I know covers a few decades, but the hero known as the Raven is sent to kill a royal bastard of Louis the XVI who might be able to derail Bonapart’s plans. The Rose, the natural child of the king, knows nothing of her heritage, and, well, it’s been a long war and the Raven could use a little R and R. (See what I did there?) https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1293412.The_Raven_and_the_Rose?from_search=true

Well, that’s the world, so now we need to go somewhere else. How about a quick trip out through the Solar System?

253. The Sun. Full disclosure impels me to admit I am a huge fan of David Brin, I will sit in on any panel he is on at a convention, and I love the Uplift War sagas in the extreme. So of course when thinking of a book that takes place on the sun, I thought of Sundiver. I really loved this murder mystery set in space on the most unique ship I have ever encountered. Reviews are mixed, but that’s humans for you. Not obsessed with current technology, and Brin does have a way of making things just work. The concept of the food dispensers doesn’t come with diagrams and synthesizer discourses. It simply gives food. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/96472.Sundiver?from_search=true

254. Mercury. I learned something very interesting while researching this book. Before Lord of the Rings came out, there was a very similar epic (similar in basics, not in detail) called The Worm Ouroboros by E.R. Eddison. Tolkien himself even acknowledged its influence on his books. That makes it a must read for me. Most reviews are 5 and 4 stars and very complimentary, so let the enchantment continue. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13624.The_Worm_Ouroboros?ac=1

255. Venus. The Radio Planet by Ralph Milne Farley (who also writes as Roger Sherman Hoar) deals with the invention of matter transmission by radio, allowing the hero to encounter monsters, dinosaurs, and giant insects! This is the third book in the Radio Man series, and has that macho, weapon-wielding Earth man bit we grew up with. Two out of three reviews gave it high marks. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2258426.The_Radio_Planet?ac=1

256. Mars. (We did earth, remember? Look back a few weeks, I’ll wait. Ready now?) John Carter of Mars is the perfect series for the Red Planet, and the first book in the Barsoom series is A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs. This is the plot that turned up in the movie John Carter. Now I have to go watch it again. I don’t care what the reviewers said, this is a great story. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40395.A_Princess_of_Mars?from_search=true

257. Jupiter. Well, yes, but there’s no real land mass on Jupiter, so we’ll visit the moon Callisto. And in a style much like Edgar Rice Burroughs’s, Lin Carter presents Jandar of Calisto. You know, battling mean aliens, saving the beautiful princess, and being the first in a series. Good reviews, worth a look.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1005186.Jandar_Of_Callisto?from_search=true

258. Saturn. We turn from the epic sagas and such to much more “hard” science fiction. Robert L. Forward was a scientist and an aerospace engineer. His books, like Saturn Rukh, are cited as having scientific credibility. Some fans of sci-fi want to read the fluffy stuff and let the facts fall where they may. That’s why space ships were making noise in space long after we knew that wouldn’t happen. But if you can challenge yourself to read this interesting premise of four people being paid to research Saturn’s atmosphere and the possibility of turning that ball of gas into useable fuel, you won’t be disappointed. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/263467.Saturn_Rukh?ac=1

259. Uranus. Another gas giant. Oh, stop giggling. Goodreads has never heard of this book, although there are a bazillion titles by the author, Edmund Hamilton. And Amazon has it as a double book, so that’s the best I can give you. Treasure on Thunder Moon is a story of someone on the edge of being too old for their chosen profession, but getting one more chance to pilot a starship and find untold wealth. No reviews available, love the pulp fictionesque cover. http://www.amazon.com/Treasure-Thunder-Moon-Trail-Astrogar/dp/1612871348

260. Neptune. Well, let’s just put in on the moon called Triton, shall we? Neptune Crossing by Jeffrey A. Carver is a First Contact tale, and not just meet and greet sort of contact. Allowing an alien to set up housekeeping in your personal brain. Exciting idea to some, claustrophobic to others. A good, hard-science read, maybe a little weak at the end, but maybe that’s to allow a sequel some day. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/590747.Neptune_Crossing?ac=1

260A. Pluto. Please take any debates about the planetaryness of Pluto outside. I don’t care. I grew up with 9 planets, and I am happy to be a Niner. I only made this 260A because otherwise I am over my limit of 20 books per week. So there. And what a wonderful book to mark this last stop on the way out of the solar system! Whisperer in the Darkness by H. P. Lovecraft. Did you know Mr. L actually discovered Pluto? In his dreams and imagination? Of course, he called it Yuggoth. And while he was writing this story, the planet was discovered. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/912625.The_Whisperer_in_Darkness?ac=1

Honorable mention to E.E. “Doc” Smith’s First Lensman novel, https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/826521.First_Lensman?ac=1
And Robert A. Heinlein’s Have Spacesuit – Will Travel. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20417.Have_Space_Suit_Will_Travel?ac=1

Next Sunday, I’ll be back to writing things about writing, and my new mid-week day is Thursday. See you then.