sci fi

Science in Writing: Meradeth’s Houston’s Chemistry of Fate Blog Tour

horizontal blog tour bannerI’m proud to be hosting my Triberr buddy Meradeth Houston today as part of her Chemistry of Fate Blog Tour.  For my fellow geeks and sci fi fans, Meradeth is a writer and a scientist and I am thrilled she penned a wonderful piece on science in writing. Take it away Meradeth.

Science in Writing

Thanks so much for hosting me! I thought I’d talk a little bit about using science in writing. Not scientific writing (trust me, that’s way too dry!), but using bits of science in coming up with a story. Not just science fiction either, but any kind of fiction that uses some kind of scientific reference. I regularly do this, and my newest release, The Chemistry of Fate, is no exception J.

Okay, so why this topic? Well, mainly because by day, I am a scientist. Technically I’m a molecular anthropologist, but mostly I just tell people I sequence dead people’s DNA. Usually really, really dead people from thousands of years ago. So, I’ve spent a lot of time learning about anthropology, history, chemistry, biology, and a whole lot of other –ologies that I won’t bore you with. To say I like science would be a bit of an understatement.

Anyhow, with this as my day-job, it’s hard for it to not get added into my writing. Like in The Chemistry of Fate, Tom and Ari meet in his chemistry class and get to know one another studying. Tom also works in a lab that is a lot like the lab I worked before I moved to teach in Montana. I try to keep the details to a minimum so I don’t bore the daylights out of everyone, but a few little ones are there to keep it real.

The only real problem with being a scientist in my “normal” life is that I do admittedly have a lower, let’s say, tolerance for some kinds of science-y mistakes in books and movies. While I’m not about to say everyone should be perfect, but some blatant errors make me cringe. Generally, my rule of thumb when referencing a topic I’m not an expert in is to keep the handling of it general. For example, if you’ve never worked in a lab and haven’t read a ton about it, it’s probably better not to try and describe the sounds the machines make (I Am Legend does this and my co-workers had an absolute field day making fun of it). While little details can really make a scene come to life, wrong details don’t help!

Of course, other than reading, reaching out to someone who does know a lot about a certain subject you want to incorporate can really help. A polite and quick email to a researcher in any field usually sparks more interest than irritation. I know that when I started using lasers in one of my novels, I asked my physicist-in-residence (hubby) all about them, and that was totally helpful! That being said, does anyone have any anthropology or genetics questions?

The Chemistry of Fate 333x500Book Blurb:
“They are everywhere, can be anyone, and are always the last person you’d expect.” When Tom stumbles across his grandfather’s journal, he’s convinced the old man was crazier than he thought. The book contains references to beings called the Sary, immortals who are assigned to save humans on the verge of suicide. They certainly aren’t allowed to fall in love with mortals. Which the journal claims Tom’s grandfather did, resulting in his expulsion from the Sary. As strange as the journal seems, Tom can’t get the stories out of his head; especially when he finds the photo of his grandfather’s wings.

Tom’s only distraction is Ari, the girl he studies with for their chemistry class.

Ari has one goal when she arrives in town: see how much Tom knows about the Sary and neutralize the situation. This isn’t a normal job, but protecting the secrecy of the Sary is vital. If Tom is a threat to exposing the Sary to the public, fate has a way of taking care of the situation, usually ending with the mortal’s death. While Ari spends time with Tom, he becomes more than just an assignment, but how far can a relationship go when she can’t tell him who she really is? When she finds out just how much Tom actually knows about the Sary, Ari is forced to choose between her wings, and her heart.

THE CHEMISTRY OF FATE is a companion to COLORS LIKE MEMORIES and is set before the latter takes place. It is geared toward an upper YA, or New Adult audience.

Buy Links
MuseItUp Publishing
Barnes and Noble

Rafflecopter giveaway

I’m holding a giveaway that’s tour-wide, in addition to any that might be going on at individual sites. It’s for a really nice leather journal, which fits with the story , and a $10 Amazon gift card. The link for the rafflecopter is below for anyone who would like to add it to your post.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

About Me
Meradeth’s never been a big fan of talking about herself, but if you really want to know, here are some random tidbits about her:MeradethHouston

  • She’s a Northern California girl, but now lives and teaches anthropology in Montana.
  • When she’s not writing, she’s sequencing dead people’s DNA. For fun!
  • She’s been writing since she was 11 years old. It’s her hobby, her passion, and she’s so happy to get to share her work!
  • If she could have a super-power, it would totally be flying. Which is a little strange, because she’s terrified of heights.

My Links

Branching Out: Starbound Lovers Here I Come

Hello Everyone,

My day life has been chaotic of late–that good chaos that keeps you busy, energized and engaged, but tired and time-stealing.  With April over, and three major meetings behind me now, I should be returning to what looks like routine, or at least the illusion of it.  I am thrilled to announce that in addition to my personal blog here, and my twice monthly visit to Darker Temptations, a multi-author paranormal-centered blog with a lot of erotic and a little scifi thrown in. If you haven’t visited, its worth it for the visit for the photos alone.  The writing is ace.

I’ve also joined Starbound Lovers

, A blog for science fiction romance.  My writing is heading there big time, and I am a firm believer in diving in early.  I’m over there today, talking about when the scifi bug first bit.  Hope to see you there.

To be or not to be…a cyborg?

I may want me a sexy cyborg, but do I want to be one?  That question is sitting on my table, staring at me, demanding my attention. I can’t seem to look away.

A disk in my neck has collapsed, permanently.  Pain and discomfort levels are tolerable but never far away.  The only real cure is to rebuild the disk with titanium and plastic parts.  If I do, that becomes my first inexorable step into cyborg—part human, part machine.

Stop the melodrama, Sabrina. (Yes, I can hear you out there.)  Lots of people have rebuilt parts, my mother included, and for many it’s been a true god send.  As we age, the integration of machine parts into our bodies gets more likely.

But for this future obsessed geek, it’s more than just a medical fix.  Underneath it all, are questions about who we are, where we’re going, and a niggling thought that we should think some deep thoughts about this before arriving at a new shore of what it means to be human.


My real concern with embracing my inner cyborg is once I get used the metal as a medical fix, it’ll be pretty easy to accept it as an enhancement. Don’t believe me?  Take a look at sports and doping.

We want to shine, to be the best.  Bionics—metal superpowers, genetic advantages, new sources of physical (and intellectual) power.   See where I’m going with this.  What happens when we are promised godhood in exchange for a few hours in the OR? Tempting, no?

So yeah, maybe its only a handful of plastic and titanium…now.  But what of tomorrow?

Thoughts?  Fears? Hopes?  I love to hear from you.

Nurturing your inner fantasy writer: Geeking out with Magi Quest

What did I do on my summer vacation?

I ascended to Master Magi in MagiQuest.  What a head rush, flicking a wand to unlock a chest full of gold and jewels;

animate a suite of armor;

duel dragons and goblin kings with ice and lightning; 

and rescue a princess.  I would have much preferred a prince but at least I got some nifty powers out of the deal so I can’t complain.

Why am I sharing this?  Because playing fantasy heroine in a 3D game created in the minds and stories of others nurtures my inner geek and fans the flames of my creativity. (How many cliches can I use?)

Creativity needs feeding.

Play is an integral part of its diet.

So I play.

What do you to do to stoke your inner (or outer) fantasy writer?

World building: How do you play?

Have you seen the newest Monopoly game, the electronic banking edition, where players swipe their debit cards to pay for property, taxes, etc…   What did you think?

My gut reaction—Yikes, playing with credit card look-alikes, how can that be good for raising kids?  The rational me reaction—No  surprise. Play mirrors life.  Hard to imagine that our grandchildren will even remember money.  Instead of buying Boardwalk with the roll of a square, plastic die, children playing Monopoly of the future may take a holographic site tour of Martian biodomes and have to calculate Martian-Earth exchange rates to create their intergalactic real estate empire.

And what about sex?  (Where are you going with this Sabrina, you ask.).  Toys depend upon and help shape our sense of touch (e.g. teddy bears, scrabble letters, monopoly pieces, baseballs etc…). They involve the hands and body by definition and develop our sensuality and sense of play.  So if play all happens through a remote, will sex in the future need one as well? Actually, if you look at current game control design, yeah, over there, hmmmm.  And then there’s the joy stick.  Anyhoo, I’ve digressed enough.

Children’s toys and games don’t often find their way into grown up entertainment. When they do show up, they’re not really about having fun.  In Star Next Generation Unification II, we meet a 24th century toy—Vulcan language dice, used by the Romulan Unificationists to teach their children Vulcan. Keeping the unification dream alive, toys are a political statement.  And these were Spock’s toys as a child which explains an awful lot. I adore Spock and the Vulcans, but let’s face it, they’re not a hell of a lot of fun.  Toys will tell.

Designing toys and play is fun part of world building even if they don’t actually show up in our final drafts.  I’ve found when I get stuck with a character, delving into their childhood–how they were parented, how they played, the toys they used—can breathe life into their personality and quirks and drives.

So how about you, any examples of other worldly toys you’d love to get your hands on or toys of the future you know are coming down the pipeline?   You are invited to play along.

Alien Anatomy, Where is it?

Riddle me this. Why do almost all humanoid species and paranormal supernaturals sport the same sexual equipment and it works just like ours?  Their ears may be cupped, their blood silver, and two hearts beat in their belly, they buzz or glow in the happy moments or  have different erogenous zones but the sexual apparatus is non-negotiable.  Anatomy cannot impede true love.

It makes it easier to get it on with an Alien dude or dudette, but we’re more imaginative than that.  Invention is a human specialty.

Lets look at this logically? Vampire traditionally are dead, they don’t have kids so why does their equipment still work? What are the men ejaculating anyway?  Live sperm from the walking dead?  Dead sperm, now that’s a cold shower if there ever was one.  Yuck.  There are ways around this, of course.  We can make them a new, living species, ignore it because its fantasy, or innovate with it. In Morgan Hawke’s House of Shadows, our vampire hero Rick shoots blood. Messy but so very vampire.

Seems to me, playing with alternative genitalia can really spice up a paranormal, sci fi or any other story for that matter. Just because.

There are a few fun examples out there.  In another world created by Morgan Hawke’s Imperial Stars Series, skeldhi males have two, one for the front and back door. Aah creativity.

Laurell K. Hamilton’s Merry Gentry Series gave us  Sholto, King of the Slaugh, a hybrid, whose extra bits and bobs stimulate multiple parts. So you have the physical pleasure of a ménage but the emotional depth of a single partner.  That’s what I’m talking about.

These worlds don’t just push at the edges of the box, they obliterate it and rebuild.  (Hamilton goes well beyond anatomy but you’ll have to read it yourself).

How do we explore the depth of who we are, if don’t hack away at our barriers, including the anatomical ones?

Any favorite alien body parts out there? Examples of other books that don’t let human anatomy get in the way of a good story?

Overlooked but Not Undervalued: Reflections on Being a Kick-ass Babe (and those who missed the first list)

The A to Z Challenge has ended for the year, reflections on the experience offered, and now it’s time for take a microscope to what it means to be a kick-ass babe in the 21st century.

I chose sci fi and fantasy because this genre has put swords and spells in the hands of women warriors as a right on a regular basis longer and more thoughtfully than almost any other.  Sci fi and fantasy bend rules, kick ass women bend rules. Its an easy fit.

I am going to put myself out there and say women have been accepting the male definition of kick-ass for too long and its time to take it back, which I’ve hoped you’ve noticed I’ve been trying to do.

Kick-ass is not just fighting techniques or skills or destructive potential or the ability to wear an iron bikini or leather cat suite. Although it would be nice.  Sure Trinity, Ripley, Lara Croft are fun and we want to be them, or at least be able hit  (and dress) like them.  When Velma Dinkley wins the day, its more likely to be a day like ours. `Geeky girls are worthy.

Kick ass is so many other things. The willingness to fight against the odds for something that matters (Charlotte), being the brains of the group (Hermione), social IQ (yes indeedy), compassion (what Xena learned from Gabrielle), loyalty to friends, leadership, nurturing, working in teams, skills women have in abundance. (If you want the research, I can get it for you.) And most importantly, kick-ass is the power to make choices even when the universe is trying to stop you at ever turn.

Kathryn Janeway turned a ship of battling enemies into a family, something I don’t think Kirk or Picard could have done nearly so well.

And a woman should not have to give up the things that matter (one of the reasons Zoe Washburne was so special, she kept her marriage together in the middle of chaos and the woman could shoot)–take that mommy wars.

So, my big audacious goal is to take what I am learning and create the most kick-ass woman ever. It started here. I’ll keep you posted. But first an expression of sincere gratitude to those bloggers out there who  have been regularly sharing additional women you like that I had forgotten to put down during the challenge.

Thank you, Thank you, thank you. Free Clipart Picture of Large, Gold Star. Click Here to Get Free Images at Clipart Big Gold Stars to the following A-1 bloggers who kept feeding me names:

Geoff at the ROFL Initiative

Naomi Baltuck, Writing Between The Lines

Missus Tribble, Rose Wine Lover, Life on the Edge…of the Sofa

Kasia James, Writer’s Block

Space Crisp

To you all, I dedicate the complete list as it stands today. Those who were overlooked in the first go round, but not undervalued are highlighted in Red.

  • Aeryn Sun, Farscape
  • Amazons
  • Amy Pond, Dr. Who
  • Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter
  • Artemis
  • Arwen Undomiel, Lord of the Rings
  • Athena
  • Barbara Gordon (Batgirl)
  • Barbarella
  • B’Elanna Torres, Start Trek Voyager
  • Beverly Crusher, Star Trek SNG
  • Brienne of Tarth, Of Ice and Fire
  • Borg Queen, Star Trek
  • Buffy Summers, Vampire Slayer
  • Cally, Blake 7
  • Catwoman
  • Cersei Lannister, Of Ice and Fire
  • Charlotte, Charlotte’s Web
  • Cherry Darling, Planet Terror
  • Dana Scully, X Files
  • Dayna Mallenby, Blake 7
  • Deanna Troi, Star Trek TNG
  • Diana, Goddess of the Hunt
  • Diana Prince (Wonder Woman)
  • Egwene Al’vere, Wheel of Time
  • Ellen Riply, Aliens
  • Emma Peel, The Avengers
  • Eowyn of Rohan, Lord of the Rings
  • Fiona, Shrek
  • Galadriel, Lord of the Rings
  • Ginnie or Ginevra Weasley, Harry Potter
  • Guinan
  • Hermione Granger, Harry Potter
  • Inara Sera, Firefly
  • Jadzia Dax, Star Trek, DS9
  • Jaime Sommers, Bionic Woman
  • Jean Grey, X-Men
  • Jenna Stannis, Blake’s 7
  • Jinx Johnson, Bond Girl
  • Jo Grant, Dr. Who
  • Kara Zor-el (Supergirl)
  • Kathryn Janeway, Star Trek Voyager
  • Katniss Everdeen, Hunger Games
  • Kaywinnett Lee Frye, Firefly
  • K’Ehleyr, SNG
  • Kyra Nerys, Star Trek, DS9
  • Lal, Star Trek, TNG
  • Lara Croft
  • Ro Laren, Star Trek, TNG
  • Laura Roslin, Battlestar Galactica
  • Lessa of Pern, Dragonriders of Pern
  • Lois Lane, Superman
  • Luna Lovegood, Harry Potter
  • Lyra Belaqua, Her Dark Materials Trilogy
  • Marion Ravenwood, Indiana Jones
  • Martha Jones, Dr. Who
  • Meg Murray, A Wrinkle in Time
  • Nandi, Firefly
  • Nyota Uhura, Star Trek
  • Nyssa, Dr. Who
  • Oracle, (Barbara Gordon grown up)
  • Penny Robinson
  • Quorra, Tron  (yeah, a Q, a real Q)
  • Red Sonja. Conan Universe
  • River Song, Dr. Who
  • River Tam, Firefly
  • Rogue, X-Men
  • Sarah Connor, Terminator
  • Sarah Jane Smith, Dr. Who
  • Servalan, Blake’s 7
  • Seven of Nine, Star Trek, Voyager
  • Staanz, Farscape
  • Starbuck, Battlestar Galactica
  • Storm, X-men
  • T’Pau, Star Trek, Enterprise
  • Trillian, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
  • Trinity, Matrix
  • Ursa, Superman II
  • Velma Dinkley, Scooby-Doo
  • Wai Lin, Bond Girl
  • Wanda Maximoff (Scarlett Witch), X-men
  • Wilma Dearing, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century
  • Xena, Warrior Princess
  • Yelena Belova (Second Black Widow). S.H.I.E.L.D.
  • Zoe Washburne, Firefly

Z is for Zoe, last but never least #AtoZchallenge

We’ve reached the end of the A to Z blog challenge and like many of you out there, I’m tired, glad to be finished with the everyday-ness of  this exercise but happy that I did. I made new friends, flexed those writing muscles, and finished something.  All in all, not a bad way to spend April.

So, my last blog post, the Z goes to Zoe Washburne, Mal’s  second in command, the last Firefly babe.  A soldier to the core and a wife, which in and of itself is somewhat unusual. Most of the women in the kickass sci fi and fantasy hall of fame are not married, at least not during the heyday of their fighting days.  Spoiler alert: she does lose her husband in the film Serenity. Her last line is classic, summing up her strengths–resilience and loyalty–in one perfect sentence. “She’s torn up plenty but she’ll fly true.”

Here’s to you Zoe, last, but never least.

Wilma vs Wanda for the W #AtoZchallenge

Life is overflowing today so I am doing a quick blog just go keep it going and finish the challenge.  The W has two kick-ass women head to head.

Colonel Wilma Deering, of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century Fame.  She lacked a full blown personality but hearing the term Colonel in front of a woman’s name gave me a little thrill, like had we had really come along way in Buck Rogers universe.

Wanda Maximoff, also known as the Scarlet Witch, is Magneto’s daughter in the X-men and twin to Quicksilver. She starts off in the evil camp as one of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants (Ah, the familial obligations of the children of supervillians!) and then joins the Avengers and comes to the side of good.  In addition to magic, she holds a mutant power, which is quite unusual–she controls probability. How cool is that?

Honorable mention.

Wai Lin, a James Bond Girl with rad martial arts skills, she actually kicked ass, not just stripped down as women in Bond movies are prone to do. The film: Tomorrow Never Dies.

Any other W’s welcome.  And for those of you doing the A to Z Challenge, keep blogging. We can do it.

Trinity vs Trillian for the T

Two dynamic female are battling it out to win the T position in the A to Z kick-ass Sci Fi/Fantasy challenge.

In the right corner, Trinity from Matrix fame. Black leather, heeled boots, martial artist, weapons master, master hacker (Don’t you just love it when they hand out brains with the black leather?)

In the left corner, Trillian, the only character with gumption in Douglas Adam’s A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, finding a way off of doomed earth and traveling throughout the galaxy. She was the voice of reason, intelligence and bravery, an oasis of courage in a desert of goofy. Did I mention she was a mathematician and an astrophysicist?

Honorable Mention

T’Pau, the Vulcan Minister, who oversaw Spock’s wedding, was the only Vulcan to turn down a seat on the Federation Council, and got her own story in the questionable series, Enterprise.  Frankly, she was one of the few (make it only) characters I actually liked in that series. Those episodes with her taunted us with a promise of what Enterprise could have been, but never achieved.