Category Archives: Science-fiction

Report on my Ad Astra 2019

The Ad Astra brings together fans and authors of science fiction & fantastic, both literary and mediatic in the north of Toronto. It’s a very user-friendly conference, which has left me with good memories.

Échofictions at the Ad Astra 2019

My house Échofictions had its vending table, which was successful. When people stop by themselves to look at the books and ask me questions, once in three, they leave with a book. Much better than my score at the big book fairs, where, on average, only 1 in 20 stop by my signing , because few readers come for the SF!

Michèle Laframboise devant son kiosque Échofictions

Michèle poses proudly in front of her stand, full of butterflies!

I launched the English version of my first SF novel, Clouds of Phoenix. Yes, the cover has changed, and the story has gained consistency. It’s the same story, but a little more detailed at 46,000 words! It is also the first full-length novel printed by Echofictions, whose full graphic design I realized.

2019-07-11CloudsPhoenix

Clouds of Phoenix, a novel by SF YA, 214 p.

Activities at Ad Astra

The nice surprises of the Ad Astra congress are the meetings with SF amateurs who did not know my books, and who discovered them. And to find fellow science fiction writers like Robert J. Sawyer, Julie Czerneda and Tania Huff presenting their latest Sf novels.

I have come to love this event; the sale tables are not expensive and the audience generous! I’ve offered a good choice of books translated into English.

Un Cosplay typique du Ad Astra

A typical Cosplay. Don’t ya love’em! I admire the cosplayers’ time and effort to make their costumes. The craftswoman Squid Creations behind the band does not look too scared!

Table de bijoux artisanaux

A craft table.

Mon voisin de kiosque au Ad Astra Zachry Wheeler

My stand neighbor, an independent writer, Zachri Wheeler, very well organized! We exchanged books. Note the announcement of the film in development, it is always useful.

Douglas Smith

Douglas Smith (a Toronto-area author) reading an excerpt from his novel The Wolf at the End of the World. I had already bought his book Playing the Short Game, at another Ad Astra

2019-07-13 20.58.26 Allan Weiss Michele

Allan Weiss and Michèle. It’s been 16 years that we know each other! Allan is a specialist and author of SF. Bow ties are cool!

Some Ad Astra panels I attended

My husband and son kept the table while I was there.

2019-07-13 18.29.43RomanPasCher
How to publish without spending too much!

How to publish for not too expensive, led by Beverly Bambury (center, black dress). The gentleman on the right, well organized, rolled his cupboard full of books!

2019-07-13 20.40.30AnimauxFantasy
The animals in fantasy with Avi Silver (left), Catherine Fitzsimmons and Eli Hirst. How to treat the Other, how to show the animal companions of heroes, or when animals are heroes.

2019-07-13MiddleAges
How to make medieval stories fantasy or historical. The mistakes to avoid! With Cathy Hird and L. A. MacLachean.

Book Harvest

Mon mari achète des livres au Ad Astra 2019

My husband buys books, a lot of books. He hides his secret identity well under his glasses…

Two Dark Moons

Two Dark Moons

For my current reading, I discover a new author Avi Silver, who considers himself non-binary.

In Two Dark Moons, we follow a teenager of the Hmuns who live in caves in the altitudes of the Eiji world, because the soil of the jungle is traversed by disturbing reptilian predators. Sohmen falls by accident (his fall broken by many branches). About 200 pages is very short, and enjoyable reading, in addition to staging non-gendered characters.

The Wolf at the End of the World

The Wolf at the End of the World

My colleague Douglas Smith signed his first novel to me, The Wolf at the End of the World, which mixes Native American legends and espionage, not to mention the nature threatened by greed on the part of the rich. Among us are Herokas, magic humans who can change into animals. Obviously, the secret services consider them as threats … But a too-hungry Wendigo and lost loves of the past mix the cards.

Canadian Dreadful

Canadian Dreadful, Anthology by David Tocher

Canadian Dreadful is a fantasy horror anthology inspired by the dark aspects of our beautiful big Canada. Edited by David Tocher, it brings together Canadian authors including Nancy Kilpatrick. I would not have bought it, but two public readings by participating authors convinced me to taste it!

I have not read yet the other books bought by my husband, a staunch supporter of new indie authors!

2019-07-13 AdAstraTable650

The things I learned from Ad Astra:

1- Novels sell better than short books and comics. Clouds of Phoenix was my best seller, almost half of my sales!

2- Participate in the round tables next year. It allows a first contact with the public, rather than “cold calling” behind a sales table.

3- Bring a tablecloth! It was not supplied, so I used a big poster to hide the uneven wood.

4- The month of July was not ideal, with less attendance due to vacations. Daniel, one of the organizers, said that the Ad Astra 2020 would come back in mid-April, at the same time as the Quebec book fair, oops!

5- If you missed the Ad Astra, know that … I will return next year, with new books. In the meantime, have a look at Echofictions’ list of publications!

Advertisements

Beat the heat with 10 refreshing books!

As the summer heat and Canada Day are upon us, most of you are looking for a place to spend your vacations… and for good science fiction adventure books to read!

So I look forward to dive into refreshing novels.

The choices are so much diverse than when I was a teenager looking for space adventures, and finding only guy’s adventures. I would say “white guy’s adventures” but in the 80s, male characters were on their way of getting more diverse, not so the female characters… (There were notable exceptions, and books from Ursula K. LeGuin that I  didn’t know existed at the time.)

When I dip into the waters of an enthralling story (like The Calculating Stars, by Mary Robinette Kowal ) and explore its depths, forgetting all about the outside world. It feels like this:

 

Reading GoodBookShort

When you emerge from a powerful and moving story, gratitude floods you, along with a faint regret of having finished the book… but there are many other waiting!

And, speaking of good books…

SpaceTravelCovers1000

The Space Travelers StoryBundle reunites several wonderful writers, and I am proud to be a part of it with one novel (Clouds of Phoenix, featuring a disabled heroine on planet Phoenix) and one short-story (Closing the Big Bang) in the Space Travelers Anthology.

This StoryBundle is a joint promotion that gets 10 very affordable books in your hands, and helps you discover new writers along the way.

More details about how the Space Travelers StoryBundle works for you are explained in last week’s blog entry. The gist is: you pay what you want for the ebooks, and they will get into your reading device, whatever formatting you use. This helps the writers get new readers.

As for discovering new authors, I already knew Kristine Kathryn Rusch and Dean Wesley Smith, and they are entertaining and never dull. I discovered Robert J. Jeschonek, Lindsay Buroker and Leigh Saunders for their short-stories in anthologies.

However, I will discover Kristine Smith (I met her in 2006 at a convention) with this StoryBundle.

I can’t wait to dive into those new, exciting novels!

 

 

Space Travelers StoryBundle cracks open new science fiction books

Discover new frontiers! 

When social medias and distributors force writers to shell out  more and more money to promote their books, the quest for visibility  spurs an unhealthy competition among writers. Getting readers to discover us is a challenge.

So, bundling e-books is a creative, cooperative way for writers to promote each other, and to get good books to SF readers.

SpaceTravelCovers1000

The Space Travelers Story Bundle regroup ten science fiction books, novels and anthologies curated by KK Rusch. This collective promotion effort makes you discover new writers and get a taste of  their work.

I have read stories from, and met in person, half of the authors participating in this bundle. If you are a Star Trek afficionado, you will love Robert Jeschonek! And I have read in KK Rusch’s Retriveal artist series and Dean Wesley Smith’s Seeder’s universe. However, I still have to discover the Grand Theft Starship Anthology!

Yet, there is not only one Laframboise in this bundle, but two! One of my SF stories has been re-published in the Fiction River Presents #9: Space Travelers.

2019_ebookCOVER_CloudsPhoenix150  and FictionRiverPresents09_150

How the StoryBundle works:

All information can be found on the StoryBundle website, but here are three distinct advantages for passionate readers:

  1. YOU choose how much you pay for the bundle, either basic (four novels, befinning at 5$) or extended (beginning at 15$) which makes it advantageous
  2. YOU control the percentage of your price that will go to StoryBundle and to the authors (the default is 30%/70%)
  3. YOU can opt in to give 10% to a charity featured. Able Gamers helps adapt video games for people living with various disabilities (like my son said yesterday, can you imagine a color-blind person playing a game?)

Not only do you help authors, but you can share the Space Travelers Bundle to help others discover new books. Four of those  books are new works, exclusive to this Bundle.

Your three-week mission is to help promote this wonderful summer reading Bundle around you.

Starting now!

A Delectable Issue of OnSpec

I’m late! I know…

Magazine Data File

Although I regularly miss the submission deadlines at On Spec, I do recommend this Canadian magazine published in Alberta.
I appreciate the work of Diane Walton and Barb Galler-Smith, whom I have had the pleasure of meeting at Canadian conventions, but many others writers, artists, editors are dedicated to making this magazine a success!

I read from one cover to another this number 109.

Sinkhole by Al Onia, takes place in Australia on desert background, where a meteor absorbs all the matter around, creating a hole. The story waves its way between the points of view of the scientists summoned there and Allan, an aborigine working at the cultural center built near Uluru Rock, who trusts in his spiritual traditions to ward off the threat.

Konstantine Kaoukakis’ non-fiction article To boldly go where no teacher has gone, gives a perspective from an English teacher who integrates fantasy and SF reading in his classes, genres that fascinates students who would otherwise be bored. And what efforts to get this new course accepted!

My favorite story, Joyhound, by Calder Hutchison, is a jewel of SF and black humor in a mafia setting, fedora hats included.  Imagine a werewolf who emits pheromones that make him so irresistible, that his prey, bathed in an ineffable happiness, strives to be eaten… In addition, the predator’s saliva is a painkiller. What a sublime treatment, what a heroine in shades of gray! And what link with the murky underworld of mafiosos? Read on and be happy!

Another story, “Two from the Field, Two from the Mill“, by Geoffrey Cole, who loves hockey a lot! Imagine that one night, all the dogs ascend to the sky and disappear, in a “rapture” way. Dogs, these devoted beings, left a big hole behind them, which even Christians seek to fill. A professional female hockey player (we have a visionary author there!) who also lost her dog, must manage the situation in her small town before it turns sour. I had read two stories from Cole, and I appreciate his humor and sport settings. The title hails from a biblical quote (Matthew 24, 36-42).

The other stories are Lee Chamney’s When they burned my bones, in which ghosts experiments such a difficult after-life, but it’s better than nothing! Fear and zen, then.

Spirits’ Price, by Van Aaron Hughes, a fantasy story, where you can get your desire with a well-told tale that appeals to spirits, but there’s a price tag to this. And what is the price of passing on the gift to your descendance?

Death is a Blindfold, by Rati Methrota, a story of encounter of the second type that leaves the witnesses a lasting impression. But if no one believes them and the ET never come back, why stick to it? This author, interviewed in this issue, has been inspired by reports of UFO sightings.

Two interviews complete the issue: Toronto-born Rati Methrota, a resident of Toronto, and René Martinez, the Cuban-born, Toronto-based cover artist who produces colorful and generous illustrations worth of Gaudi.

The prologue by Brent Jans, the organizer of Pure Speculation is worth the detour: “Everyone deserves to be Conned. Brent realizes that his event, which rolls very well, lacks diversity. He will fix it, even if it means skipping a year. The best sentence:

“I struggled with the idea that I was somehow to blame in an SF culture that could somehow accept aliens and elves, but passively and actively made it unsafe for women, people of color. LGBTQ2S, our Indigenous population -basically, anyone who was not me.”

We do not often get the point of view of an organizer, and his efforts to make his event accessible (like what I witnessed at the Utopiales in Nantes, who have sign language interpreters, and the first two rows of seats reserved for deaf people.)

By moving the premises and cutting the entrance fee, Brent made the Pure Speculation Festival accessible to wheelchairs, and for many low-income fans. And no, he did not regret it nor di he get bankrupted. Those are very encouraging words to read these days.

 

Wonders of Vegas (1)

Las Vegas has a Mayor, Carolyn Goodman, since 2011! She has succeeded her husband Oscar (deceased) and pursues progressive policies. Public transit is well developed, among other things.

Une vue iconique de Las vegas! Face à la Fremont Experience

An iconic view of Las Vegas, facing the Fremont Experience

I went there for a writer’s workshop. However, I discovered other less known and very positive aspects.

Murals

This week, I open with murals. In every city I visit, I try to capture the mural art. And Las Vegas has some amazing art.

This is behind the restaurant Vegenation, which I will talk about soon.Une murale qui anime un triste stationnement!

A mural that animates a sad parking lot! Near 6th Avenue

2019-03-04 11.32.11muraleAllongee

Another colorful mural, surrounding the same parking lot.

2019-03-04 12.26.53muraleAstronaute

The Astronaut and Unicorn hidden mural, visible from a back alley!

2019-03-04 17.42.48muraleGeante

Here, a very well sponsorised giant mural

2019-02-28 14.50.23trompeloeil

A well-thought illusion featuring a place long gone.

2019-02-28 14.52.49

A museum mural. Wheter the red splurt was designed or not to symbolize the fragility of wild life  reminds to be seen.

Rebellious murals

Corporate Welfare? Not a taker!

Some very unconventional murals surprizes the visitors!

2019-03-04 12.30.17muraleFemmeRose

This young pinkish girl seems to mock us!

2019-03-04 12.26.29murale

Another rebel graffiti. The woman’s face extends below on the asphalt, a mark of the artist’s craft. The other graffiti artists have (for the most part) respected this image!

2019-02-28 14.49.46muraleHommeChapeau

You can guess the hope and apprehension in this man’s eyes. (My other angle without the post was too sun-drenched to show.)

2019-03-04 11.27.40muraleFearNoFate

This dignified face may be a publicity stunt, but the Fear no Fate text looks like Fear no Hate, all in all a good message for me.

2019-03-04 11.31.33murale

As a science fiction writer I can’t ignore that one.

La plus belle murale de Las Vegas, selon moi

That dreamy mermaid closes this review.

Taste new indie voices on Bookfunnel!

In a sea of millions stories available on Amazon, the indie writer (despite her-his talent) is a single drop. Discoverability becomes a challenge.

To augment our visibility, instead of bickering, we help each other to make the stories more prominent.

Indie authors helping their discoverability

The main advantage of A Short and Awesome Promotion  is that the featured free stories are shorter than novels or trilogies. So,  between October 1-31, you get to taste various writers for free!

Time-limited joint promotions help readers discover new indie authors they might like. Besides my own work, you get to find many other voices. That’s discoverability.

My book “How to Think Inside the Box” has joined the Short and Awesome Promotion on Bookfunnel! If you like first contact stories featuring an alien POV, this one is for you! Dip into this chunky 7000-word SF story.

 

 

Books are like Ice cream

I always say that books are like ice cream, there are a lot of flavors besides vanilla. So among the 100+ authors participating, you might find some enjoyable stories by an unknown author.

Well, I found my wonderful friend SF author Douglas Smith offering “Spirit Dance”. Visit also Douglas’ website, a very comprehensive resource for writers in all stages of their career. Particularly of interest is his foreign-language markets list. His book, Playing the Short Game, is a must for the short-story writer wanting to get published in magazines.

Ignite by Emerald Dodge, is the brain behind this promotion. Her series of YA novels features Jillian Johnson, young superheroine called “Battlecry”.

See in particular the story “Beginnings” by Tikiri. The opening is grabbing and heart-wrenching. The author denounces in a firm voice the exploitation of women; her novel follows a trio of rebel women endeavouring to bring some justice in this harsh modern world. “Beginnings” reaches in the past on one of the “red-heeled rebels” heroines.

As for brand new voices in SF, the Clone Crisis prequel “Alexi” by first-time author Melissa Faye is a YA dystopian SF about, yes, a society made entirely of clones: how do you manage sound family relations?

“If the world is all clones, what happens to family units? Raising your own clone feels strange, like inbreeding” Melissa says aboutthe inspiration behind her series on her author’s website.

There are about one hundred short reads offered on the Bookfunnel page, enough to sate your thirst for reading. On Bookfunnel between october 1st to Halloween!

A parting word before you dive in this promo…

The most beautiful gift you can give the authors in exchange for their free book is to share your pleasure about it.

Leave a review on Goodreads.com or on any platform (Amazon, Kobo…) featuring the author’s books.

Reviews really go a long way to help a clueless reader (like me!) decides if the ebook is worth his-her time and money. Even simple “starred” evaluation do help readers in theri choices. Don’t leave a read book site silent!

Of course, after you have taken a taste, you can also visit the websites of your newly- discovered storytellers and buy their books!

header

Summary of the Short and Awesome Promotion:

WHAT: SF & fantasy short-stories and novellas

WHERE: On Bookfunnel.com

WHEN: between October 1st to 31st -Halloween eve!

HOW MUCH: Free!

WHO TO THANK: Emerald Dodge has organized this promo

HOW TO THANK an AUTHOR: Leave a ***** evaluation or a review on Goodreads.com (for a starters)!

 

 

Good Tidings for my Latest SF Novel

GroupePLusJuryLivres_IMG_0130

5 finalists : Maude Deschênes-Pradet, Marilyne Fortin, Karoline Georges, Michèle Laframboise, Mathieu Villeneuve. Behind, from the selection committee members: Billy Robinson, Guillaume Voisine, and Émilie Boulé-Roy. (Photo credits: Gilles Gagnon)

My science fiction novel La ruche (The hive), published by Les Six Brumes, is featured among the 5 finalists announced for the 2019 Horizons Imaginaires Award.

Marilyn_Cover250

(Yes, it contains a not-so-discreet homage to the iconic actress! A wonderful cover by Xin Ran Liu)

A selection committee composed of booksellers, publisher and a student has chosen the five books of science fiction/fantasy/horror. The full press release can be read on the website of the magazine Les Libraires.

The announcement was made in a nice bookshop (La librairie de Verdun) which offers a wide selection of books, and even some culinary items of high environmental quality. You can also sip a small coffee at the back.

During the school year, the five novels will be read by hordes of CEGEP students. Mathieu Lauzon-Dicso, who teaches literature at the Montréal Marianopolis College, explained how this prize was born in 2016, thanks to the passion of five students who wanted to further explore the field of Francophone imaginary litterature.

Unique in Quebec, the Prix des Horizons Imaginaire allows Cegep students to discover science fiction and fantasy written by French-speaking Canadian authors.

(Which includes Ontario, Whew!)

The winning work will be announced at the 40th Boreal Congress to be held in Sherbrooke. That gives the finalists nine beautiful months to brag!

The list of finalists and their publisher, plus the link to buy the books if you read French. Les Libraires are a network of independant bookstores.

Le Potager, de Marilyne Fortin (Québec Amérique)

Hivernages, de Maude Deschênes-Fortin (Éditions XYZ)

De synthèse, de Karoline Georges (Éditions Alto)

La Ruche, de Michèle Laframboise (Éditions Les Six Brumes)

Borealium tremens, de Mathieu Villeneuve (La Peuplade)

 

Losing Ursula

LOST: a formidable, witty, science fiction and fantasy writer.

IF FOUND: please send her back to Portland, Oregon.

REWARD: millions of readers expecting her next stories!

UrsulaKLeGuin2007

A quick 2007 ink sketch I made in her presence, and that she approved and signed!

In person, I had the chance to met Ursula at the 30th Wiscon convention. We had approached her as a monument, a conception that her good humor shattered. I remember, after we had complained about the difficulty of getting published, that she told us “You know, it has always been difficult“.

Reading The Dispossessed, I felt like coming home. A sense of peace, rightness arose from the pages as I discovered how people lacking comfort and material possessions could live and achieve a reasonable happiness (with the small imperfections of life, because Ursula was a no non-sense writer).

Changing Planes is a beautiful collections of short-stories, a perfect introduction to paradoxal societies, like Those who walked away from Omela who turns on its head the maxim (the needs of the many prevail on the needs of an individual); here the happiness of a whole city hinges upon a price so horrible that some chose to walk away.

She transformed the landscape in SF by writing from a woman’s point of view; her heroes and heroines achieve their goals by more creative means than outright violence. And if they don’t achieve their goals, they discover that even an imperfect way of life can give them happiness as in The Dispossessed, The Lathe of Heaven, Four Ways to Forgiveness. I recommend the latter to show how a positive social evolution can come unexpectedly, getting there by side roads.

This citation, as she had to battle for her words in a mostly male literary environment.

“We are volcanoes. When we women offer our experience as our truth, as human truth, all the maps change. There are new mountains.”

Her writing had compassion and wits, lots of wits. I still have many books from her to discover, to get a better understanding of humanity (both halves of it, and more than the halves with the Left Hand of Darkness!)

Her blog gave visitors funny anecdotes about her cat Pard, reflections, poems and more. Some recent books available at the Bookview Café.

I leave the rest of this post to her voice. Here: a link to her extraordinary discourse at the national Book Award, where she denounces the expulsion of science fiction from the island of Literature.

The Guardian article reporting Ursula’s passing
The bookview café blog article, that she contributed to found. A group of authors that publish their ebooks independantly.

Margaret Atwood, an author who sometimes disagreed with UKL about science fiction, wrote this eulogy in the Guardian.

What happens to your books after you die?

FinishedReadingPile1000My reading pile will stop growing! (Extract from the Sunday artist blog entry)

More seriously, your copyright will live on for 50 years after your death in Canada, 70 years after death in the USA. If you are a writer, learn how to protect your books after you pass away. Even if you don’t think they have any value!

Did you know that the singer Prince, did not leave a will when he died?  An ordeal  for the bereaved family.

Elvis Presley left a debt-ridden property to his daughter Lisa Mary (who was only 9 at the time). Priscilla Presley did step in to save Lisa Mary from ruin.

The latter exemple comes from a small and practical book by M.L. Buchmann, who writes military romantic suspenses (yes, it is a genre). I had the pleasure of meeting him in Oregon. There are stunning occurences of what can happen when personnalities die without a will (intestate) or when the heirs mismanaged the deceased writer’s IP, or leave the management into other (greedy) hands.

Here is the podcast of his interview at Kobo Writing Life with Mark Leslie. Matt is a hyper-organized writer: even if some rules only apply to the USA, most advices are valid for Canadians. To taste his brand of fiction, visit his author page.

A worldwide map of copyright term length, from Wikipedia: in some countries, that post-mortem life of copyright can last quite long…

 

A few useful references:

The Copyright Handbook – What Every Writer Needs to Know: Nolo Press (448 p.). The latest edition just came out (fal 2017) Quite expensive even for the e-bookbut they do have some sales like the Halloween sale on their website. Price in USD. I have the e-verson of the precedent edition (I knew there was a reason for the lower pricing…) That kind of book, you don’t want to read it in one sitting.

Helen Sedwick, Self-Publisher’s Legal Handbook, Ten Gallon Press (<200 p.). Helen is a business lawyer with 30+ years of practicing. “Stay out of court and at your desk” is her motto. Her book’s last chapter list typical clauses in contracts, with the simpler plain English version besides. The new 2017 edition is out.

Kristine Kathryn Rusch- Business Musings: Prince, Estates, and The Future  and  Business Musings: Agents and Estates.  Those are two articles from her blog, but she has reunited some chronicles in books. Kris is a Science fiction and manygenres author about my age but with lots more published titles and experience. She has gotten real savvy on the business plan! I do recommand to follow her very rich blog.

Now, getting back to apply what I have learned…

September Surprise!

FRP7_WritersWithoutBorders_cover500

On the first of this month, I got a email from WMG Publishing. My first published SF story in Fiction River 21, (Tavern Tales, not so far back) Closing the Big Bang, has been re-published (hurray for the reprints!) in Fiction River presents: Writers without Borders.

Then I looked at the cover… Houla!

What a wonderful surprise to have such wonderful writers as Jane Yolen and Mark Leslie as cover neighbors!

Each contributor from outside the USA got their first published story in this special edition. To find more about the book and all the contributors, go here.  Kudos to the fine crew of WMG Publishing, especially Allyson, Dean and Kris!

Go grab the ebook on this universal link to all platforms!