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Mashiara Sedai

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  1. lol 325 population. What are the odds? Now I need to know who you know. We might be related! My in-laws live there--my dad runs his own mechanic shop, and my mom is one of the owners of Hilltop Fruit Market in Grantsville.
  2. Really, Sooh? That’s amazing! It’s an actual place. My husband’s from there, and I used it for the setting of my latest book “The Accident Curse.” *lol*
  3. *lol* That is so hilarious! It’s such a tiny place, it seems so weird for anyone to remember it.
  4. I think I’ve decided on an outline to try for NaNo. That’s only if I can finish the one I’m currently working on. I’ve got a submission date of November for it, but I want to finish by the end of October.
  5. I was excited to get to speak to J. Scott Coatsworth about his newly released sci-fi novel, The Stark Divide. The book was enjoyable, and I was eager to delve further into what its author had to say. You can read my review of The Stark Divide here. Slight spoilers will follow. Q: The cast of the series is quite diverse, in terms of age, gender, nationality, and sexual orientation. I like that it suggests a uniform front in the future, people willing to work together regardless of their background or lifestyle. Was that a theme you wanted to emphasis? Hmmm, that’s a great question. I’m a fan of golden age sci fi, when things were a little simpler. And while I sometimes like things dark and complicated, sometimes I’m in the mood for Star Trek. I was a Superman fan as a kid - I loved that he was true and strong and good, and for that reason I absolutely HATED Batman vs. Superman. We’r going through such a dark period now that I want to believe, have to believe that at some point, some of us will find a way again to pull together for the common good. So yeah, I guess that does come out in the book. Q: The story also spans the course of 30 years. How difficult was it to storyboard or brainstorm the steps for the evolution of Forever? Can you tell us how far into the future the series will reach? The Stark Divide is actually the second book in the series. The first one was written more than twenty years ago, and was never published. In the current timeline, it would take place a few hundred years after this part of the story. I sent it off around 1995 to ten big publishers - it took a year, but the last rejection came in, and I pretty much gave up writing for almost twenty years. When I came back to writing in 2014, I decided to go back in time and figure out how the world came to be. It started with a novella that eventually became Seedling, the first part of the novel. I’m writing another sci fi series - Skythane - that’s told in a more traditional one story format, so doing The Stark Divide in a three-story epic format has actually been a lot of fun. Each story can stand alone, but they share characters, and allow me to telegraph the story over a long period of time. It’s exciting to see how things shift each time, as a decade or two passes. The current trilogy will cover a hundred years, give or take. But I hope to eventually take it all the way across the stars, to mankind’s new home - maybe 300-400 years in all. Q: Did you find it difficult with these jumps in the timeline? Or was it easy to let the reader conclude the natural steps between without it being shown in the text? I think in most cases it should be easy for readers to fill in the gaps. It’s like getting to fast forward and see if the couple you liked really makes it, or if the world comes through the latest challenges and goes on to grow into something new. It’s one of my favorite things about the story. Q: I love the undertone of religious epiphany throughout the piece. First in Hammond’s realization that AI may have souls, and then in the coincidental episodes that lead to Ana’s metamorphosis. Is this important to the plotline of the story arc, or just a detail of the characters? It’s something I didn’t really plan at first. Initially I was going to have the Church be a villain in the first part of the story, but then it took a turn. One of my best friends is a very religious Catholic, but she’s also one of the most progressive people I know. I’m more on the atheist side, but when I asked her for some help on the confirmation process for the story, it made me think. It’s so easy for me as a gay man to make a villain out of organized religion. Not too much later, my husband decided he wanted to go back to church for the first time in more than twenty-five years - a reaction to the growing strife and negativity we are all living through today. I went with him out of solidarity, and we found a progressive church nearby. These two events made me reconsider religion, and realize that it had a place in any future that would spring forward from our present. So I decided to weave religion into the story, and it’s been a fascinating thing to work with. On a side note, the series title, “Liminal Sky,” came out of a sermon Pastor Matt gave in which he used the word liminal to talk about the people on the edges of society. It was the first time I’d ever heard it, and so I looked it up: Liminal 1. relating to a transitional or initial stage of a process. 2. occupying a position at, or on both sides of, a boundary or threshold. It seemed perfect for the time when everything changes. Q: On that same note, Lex seems to be able to anticipate what may happen. Within your world, is Lex a deity? Or is it more the processing of a supercomputer to analyze logical outcomes? Hmmm, I’d never thought of it that way. Lex is not a deity, though there’s that famous quote from Arthur C. Clarke: "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” And I do play more with the themes of religion and heaven in book two, “The Rising Tide,” which I just finished. Q: Andy’s inherited “dipping” seems to be something similar to magic. With this genetic code being passed onto the next generation, will more and more of humanity be able to bend the world around them? Um, yes… and… kinda? There will be a lot more of it in book two, along with reaching and pushing. :P But by the end, things will shift again. That’s all I can say. Q: The ending is bittersweet. Was it depressing to write, thinking of how easily the world could be decimated? Or is there more a focus on the hope that life will always find a way? A little of both? I gotta say, part of me is ready to blow things up and start with a clean slate. We’ve gone so far down some dark roads that I’m not sure there’s a way back. On the other hand, the Obama years showed me what was possible when good people strive for big things, and I still hold out hope that things will change. Or yeah, that life (and mankind) will find a way. You can purchase The Stark Divide in paperback or ebook here. To learn more about J. Scott Coatsworth, check out his website!
  6. I’m excited that this month’s Fantasy Review is J. Scott Coatsworth’s The Stark Divide, the first in the Liminal Sky series. I was able to get an early copy of this stunning sci-fi tale! Synopsis: In the year 2135 AD, the human race is struggling. To combat the devastation on Earth, a new world is being created. An AI will be merged with a seedling, a ship that will grow from an asteroid and eventually become an inhabitable world. Due to an unforeseen accident, the seedling’s planting doesn’t go according to plan. The three crewmembers do what they must to ensure the new world starts to form. In 2145 AD, the new world, known as Forever, is growing. The first workers are terraforming the land, planting compatible seeds, building sustainable homes. But, Lex, the AI who runs Forever, hasn’t forgiven those who caused the accident so many years ago. When given the chance to meet her maker, Lex shows that though she has been manufactured, she is still capable of very human emotions. Hopefully, forgiveness is one of them. By the year 2165 AD, Earth has reached its boiling point. War, famine, changes in weather. Refugees try everything to flee the dying world and make their way to Forever. But the new world is not so safe as everyone seems to think. Humanity still walks its surface, which means their base nature of greed, envy, and corruption will never be left behind. Pros: This story is very epic in scope, spanning over a thirty year period. You get to see the birth of the seedling, its adolescence, and finally its capabilities of being a host and home for humanity. One enjoyable aspect is viewing the technology as it grows, understanding the process taken to ensure the survival of the human race. It’s a well thought out and logical system. The idea of the self-aware AI is given a different spin in this story. They are seen as if they are a new species, ones with souls and worth. I loved the evolution of Lex as she grew and began to gasp her place within the universe, and her purpose for being brought to life. The details of Forever were intricate. It was easy to picture the terrain and landscape of the asteroid, and so interesting to imagine the aspects that made it unique, like the plants glowing with an ethereal light, powered by the lifeforce of Lex. The concept was exciting. Cons: While each of the three segments of the story were engaging on their own, I wished they could have been more drawn out. The first chuck about the birth of the seedling was my favorite, with a sense of intrigue and suspense. Spending more time with the buildup and the release would have been great. And I wish the rest of the story could have held up that same tension. Conclusion: This story is a great introduction to the series, establishing the measures needed to allow life to survive after Earth. Now that the basics of the world and the people’s plight have been laid out, I hope the next in the series will set a breakneck pace of the evolution of the citizens as they learn to live away from their native homeworld. I’m more interested on the species as a whole, than any focus on one particular human. Rating: 4/5 The Stark Divide will be released on October 10th, and is available to purchase from the publisher in paperback or as an eBook,or from Amazon.
  7. Happy birthday, Dragonmount! And thanks to you, Jason and Jenn,for keeping it going for so long! I second Elgee in saying it's such a wonderful place to be with friends and people who now feel like family.
  8. This edition of “Fantasy Review” may be a bit unorthodox. I wanted to cover Renewal, the new anthology released by Queer Sci-Fi and Mischief Corner Books. The two team up once a year to host a flash fiction contest (300 words or less). Of all the submissions, only 110 were selected for publication. And of those chosen, three placement awards were given out, a judge’s choice for each of the five judges, and twenty-five honorable mentions. Since discussing all 110 entries would be nearly impossible, I narrowed my focus to the winners and judge’s choice recipients. A brief synopsis: First Place Winner “Mating Season” by Steve Fuson A tale of resignation and then realization. A young female repulsed by the opposite sex is given a son, and through this bond sees how precious a treasure a child is. Second Place Winner “In a Bind” by SR Jones Out in space, solutions get creative. A human pilot creates an unorthodox playpen for a bunch of alien eggs. Third Place Winner “Urban Renewal” by Siri Paulson Changing things, for better or worse. Sikander's home is scheduled for a renewal. Unbeknown to him, it's also a renewal of his life. Judge’s Choice Recipients: “Bluebonnets” by Emily Horner A futuristic Johnny Appleseed. In a post-apocalyptic world, a woman seeks the blue wildflowers her girlfriend always spoke of. Though love may be lost, the seeds planted along the way still bloom. “ARC” by ER Zhang The line at the DMV is always long. In the distant future, an alien shapeshifter needs to renew its visa. Unfortunately, to do so it needs a new ARC card. After hours of waiting and dozens of papers, revealing its true form may be its salvation. “The Wrong Daughter” by Robyn Walker The black sheep of the family. In a world where the "bad" children are left in the borderlands, Mary's daughter Annabelle is just shy of that point. But when Annabelle comes carrying tales about her sister, Alice, Mary wonders who the bad one really is. “Love Rituals” by Elsa M León A lovesick witch seeks a demon. After unsuccessfully trying to summon a demon with a spell, a witch's crocodile familiar pokes fun at its mistress's unlikely crush. “The Dust” by A.M. Soto The Earth is dry. Meg’s childhood memory of snow and rain are awoken when she spots a cloud in the sky. My take: Of these eight stories, I enjoyed “The Wrong Daughter” the most. Featured in the anthology’s science fiction section, I’d compare it to a horror tale as well. It’s got just a bit of that hair-tingling terror that made me wish the story was longer. The character development of Annabelle is expertly done in the allotted length. For suburb settings, “Love Rituals” was amazing. The witch and her crocodile familiar live in the bayou, and the crocodile’s words elicit that soft, southern dialect to echo in your head. The familiar itself is quite a hook; I’d be fascinated to read more fantasy stories set in such locations. “Bluebonnets,” while post-apocalyptic, was still a beautiful romance. It spoke of hope even though the world was falling apart around her, and lasting emotions despite the fact the love had diminished. And “ARC” was familiar in its anecdote (the common runaround seen at the DMV), but still so great to see from an alien’s perspective. A nice comical break and another story I wanted to read more of. The anthology is an amazing collection of works, ranging from sci-fi and fantasy to paranormal and horror. There’s something in here for everyone, and since it takes only a minute to read each story, you’ll keep going and going. On a side note, my own addition, “Springtime Fae,” was awarded an honorable mention! The Renewal anthology is available now in print and eBook formats.
  9. Earlier this year, the classic anime Sailor Moon had a theatrical rerelease of the first film Sailor Moon R: The Promise of a Rose. Sailor Moon was my favorite anime when I was growing up, and I would wake up at 5:30am on weekdays to catch the episodes playing on the WB before school. When I found out the movie was going to be shown on the big screen, I knew I had to see it with my friend Jessica. And I never like to go to these sorts of events empty handed. I looked high and low for my original Moon Rod, but I seem to have lost it at some point over the years. That left making one. I will preface this with the admission that I was rushed on this project and only used items on hand—I couldn’t justify spending extra money on making a Sailor Moon themed wand. Sometimes being an adult sucks. So, with that said, this was not my best work. I wish I had a few more days and a few more dollars. But, it still turned out good enough to tag along to the show. For materials I used aluminum foil, a metal rod for holding down tents, clay, and paint. First, I wrapped aluminum foil around the metal rod to make the handle. After that, I crafted a crescent moon for the top, and a ball for the Silver Imperium Crystal. I attached them all together. Then I covered the handle with pink clay. I used yellow for the crescent until I ran out and then had to add white. I covered the ball with white. I cooked the whole thing according to the directions. Once it cooled (I did all this in one afternoon, the day before the show), I painted each section. I went over the handle with a glossy pink, the yellow to cover up the white spots on the crescent, and the crystal a metallic silver with black lines to symbolize it’s many sides. For finishing touches, I hot glued the band around the bottom of the crescent and the handle. I painted them white. My Sailor Moon cosplay outfit completed the look. Another moviegoer was in a Sailor Moon inspired kimono and looked gorgeous! If they rerelease anymore, I’ll have to make a Princess Serenity outfit. Or I can make that just because. Thanks for reading! Next time, I want to show you a super cute Haku plushie I made for the Studio Ghibli Fest—October’s featured film will be Spirited Away!
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