Celebrate: Star Trek anniversary

Celebrate blog hop

It’s the 50th anniversary of Star Trek this year, and I’m celebrating. Since I was 8 years old when the original Star Trek premiered, you can do the math and find out how older-than-dirt I really am.

Why did the original Star Trek work so much better than its television successors or the movies? In large part because the original Star Trek was written for a mass audience. Not only that, a mass audience of the 1960s, when Western television shows that didn’t violate Judeo-Christian values were the most popular form of entertainment, and the three networks had strict rules to keep swearing and sex out of the public’s living rooms.

One thing that made the original Star Trek beloved is that the Enterprise was a military space ship— you can tell by the military ranks and command structure, and the fact that the ship had state-of-the-art weapons and defenses. Military was something that a lot of men in the audience could relate to in 1966. Some had served in World War 2, and others in the Korean War, and military service was something people did proudly. It was not until a bit later that the anti-Vietnam-War movement convinced large segments of the people that military veterans were people to be spat upon.

The original Star Trek gave us an optimistic vision of our future. Perhaps the most optimistic, for me, is the sheer number of times the King James Version of the Bible was quoted by a Star Trek character. Probably unintentionally, Gene Roddenberry let me know there was a place in his future vision for a Christian like me.

Contrast that to the most popular vision of the future we have on the small screen today: The Walking Dead. The message seems to be that if you are one of the lucky few to not become a zombie, you can have a good time killing zombies for a while. Then Negan will beat you to death with his pet ball bat, Lucille. Not my favorite view of the future (though I’m a zombie prepper anyway.)


My own private Star Trek universe:

I’ve been making up stories in my head about starships and the Enterprise crew since about 1966. Still do, some of the time. By the time I was a teen I began to realize that my versions of the Enterprise crew were beginning to drift away from the original concepts.

By the time I became a Serious Writer, I began to think of making a Star Trek universe of my own with characters who belonged to me. In the past couple of years I’ve been working harder on it, and have come up with the Starship Destine universe.

The Starship Destine is at the center of the universe’s stories, so far. It is a massive spherical ship that only rarely lands on a planet. At the core of the ship is a forest— transplanted tree by tree, plant by plant from a forest plot owned by an Amish farm family and sold to the Fleet.

The starships of the Destine’s time are not the massive government funded exploration ships of the Star Trek universe. A major role of the starships is to facilitate interplanetary trade, and to engage in trade themselves to pay the bills.

The starship Destine is a new starship, which was landed on the planet Sackett on the grounds of the Fleet Academy. During an attack on the planet Sackett by unknown forces, cadets and instructors from the Academy and neighboring Amish farmers took refuge on the ship. One almost-graduated cadet, deemed captain of the ship for the purpose of a training exercise, became captain for real when the Destine escaped the attack on Sackett and began a search for surviving Fleet authority figures….


This is a post in the Celebrate the Small Things blog hop. It is a Friday event which gives bloggers a chance to interact with other bloggers and build up a bigger readership. To sign up yourself, go to: http://lexacain.blogspot.com/2015/01/celebrate-small-things.html

 

The first book I ever bought for myself.

The first book I ever bought for myself.

Celebrating book reviewing, book sales and surviving heat wave

Celebrate blog hopWhile I have things to celebrate today, my Wildblue internet service is not one of them. I just got told by them that I’m over my usage limit again— even though I gave up Facebook games in order to save bandwidth for my writing career. So I’m unplugging the internet when not in use and getting up early to use my off-peak bandwidth.

But there is good news in my life. First, I made two sales of my poetry book, ‘surly petunia’ on Amazon.com which is a good start there. As you may guess, poetry doesn’t sell well, and ‘quirky’ poetry even less. But I am encouraged.

Next, now that I have decided to devote my efforts to becoming one of the top Amazon.com reviewers in my genre, I am developing methods to create reviews more easily. Mainly I keep a legal pad handy when I read and note down the key points of the book including character names and such. Here are some of my recent reviews:

Shatterworld – Lelia Rose Foreman

Anne Perry and the Murder of the Century – Peter Graham

The 8-Minute Writing Habit – Monica Leonelle

If you should happen to read any of my reviews — thank you! — and if you happen to think one or more of them is a helpful review for someone deciding whether to buy the book, please click ‘yes’ in the place at the bottom of the review where they ask ‘is this review helpful?’ That would be a big help to me.

And now, the final thing to celebrate— I am surviving the hot weather in spite of my lack of air conditioning. I bought an air conditioner unit but there are difficulties in installing it. It’s hard on me because of my poor health but I am surviving by drinking a lot of ice water and not doing much around the house. Today my big project, besides this blog hop, is doing the laundry. Some of the laundry. Well, maybe one load of laundry and some folding.

This is a post in the Celebrate the Small Things blog hop. If you don’t know about it— it’s a great way to get started getting more people reading your blog. Go to Lexa Cain’s blog to sign up, here: http://lexacain.blogspot.com/2015/01/celebrate-small-things.html

IWSG: Book Review Reciprocity

Insecure Writers Support Group Badge

 

The online world demands a lot of reciprocity. If you join a writers’ group on Facebook, and you want people to like and comment on the stuff you post there, you have to like and comment on other people’s stuff. If you want your stuff retweeted on Twitter, you retweet other people’s stuff.

But the biggest part of a writer’s dream is not about reciprocity— it’s about loads and loads of people liking your books and buying them and you not having to buy any books from all of THEM in return. That’s what you have to do to make it as a writer— sell to people including faceless strangers who only know you through your books.

Part of that dream these days is that a decent portion of your readers will write a review and that’s important. But real¬† writers not in the Stephen King category have another source of reviews, and that is a circle of writing friends— the kind of friends you can make in the writers’ groups I mentioned above.


Facebook Writer’s Groups

Aspie Writers (for writers with Asperger Syndrome and autism, new group, needs members.) https://www.facebook.com/groups/616192595221372/

Christian Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers https://www.facebook.com/groups/366357776755069/

These are two of the groups I’m in— do searches at Facebook to find ones right for you— look for ones with real interactivity going on, not just people posting their books for sale.


Of course sometimes you are caught in a no-reciprocity trap. You write a review for this one, you write a review for that one, you write 2 for that author and 3 for that one— and they never think of reviewing your book in return.

That’s where I am at with my poetry book ‘surly petunia.’ (The title is taken from the first poem I wrote as a serious writer of poetry— amazingly it stood up over time, mainly because it’s weird and funny. Or sad. I can never tell those emotions apart.)

The excuse I get is that it’s POETRY and they don’t know how to read POETRY and review POETRY because, I suspect, they’d rather read someone’s overweight & second-rate fantasy tome than read a few pages of POETRY.

So today, I am taking the Nuclear Option and adding a poem to this post. Don’t worry, it’s a short one. And it’s in my book ‘surly petunia.’ Which is here: https://www.amazon.com/Surly-Petunia-Nissa-Annakindt-ebook/dp/B00NZ96EYE


catbox thriller

red explosions lying on the sidewalk
where just anyone could steal them
how can you treat your mothers so?

and why oh why the denizens
of minor towns with hidden hitlers
chastely placed beyond white window curtains

and I walk by as if quite ordinary
spies were sleeping in my breast pockets
still with their heads on they look better.

(c) Nissa Annakindt 2014


This was a post in the Insecure Writer’s Support Group blog hop. It’s a great way to build up your blog if you are a writer. It happens the first Wednesday of each month.

Riding your obsessive interests

Captain_KirkAs a person with Asperger Syndrome, I have Special Interests— obsessive/intense interests in a number of topics. My Special Interests include languages, ancient Roman history, The Walking Dead, and Star Trek.

Right now, especially Star Trek. At an intensity that’s a distraction from my writing work. Which is an on-going problem— it’s hard to plot and write the story I’m supposed to be working on when my mind is buzzing away at a Special Interest.

When I am feeling a Special Interest very intensely, it takes up more of my time. Because my Star Trek interest has been at the top of my mind lately, I’ve been rereading some of the Star Trek novels from my collection. I have a whole bookshelf that is nearly all Star Trek books. This takes up time I should be spending on writing, blogging and housework.

I’ve also been highly tempted to buy new Star Trek novels. I haven’t bought new ones in years. In part because since my father’s death in 2004 there has been no one to go to the bookstore with.¬† And of the two most recent Trek novels I’ve bought, one was dreadful and the other was so-so. But still, I keep looking on Amazon and sooner or later I may buy.

Special Interests can cost an Aspie a good deal of money— money we mostly don’t have since Aspies have an 80% unemployment rate. One of the tough parts of riding a Special Interest is to say ‘no’ to buying special-interest-related items when the interest is very intense. When this happens I may feel intensely like I ‘need’ certain items— and have less sales resistance to buying them even when they cost too much and I don’t have money to spare.

One thing that helps me is to rate the Special Interest that triggers the desires. A brand-new Special Interest does not warrant purchases, because the interest may fade quickly and may not recur for years. With a lifelong Special Interest such as Star Trek, a few modest purchases may be justified.

Others are harder to figure. With my interest in languages the problem is that I like to try new languages, but don’t know how interested I will be in them in the future. So I go for free audio language lessons from Book2 with a new language and tell myself when I’ve completed the lessons then I can buy something related to that language.

As a writer there is one way to keep a Special Interest from becoming a distraction— use the Special Interest that is obsessing you in the story. Herman Melville did that when he wrote Moby Dick— he gave us a lot of information about whaling and the life at sea in the book.

Of course if you are writing an Amish romance, it may be difficult to work a science fictional Special Interest into the story. Your current interest may not be something you can incorporate into the story. But you might be able to use your Special Interest as a reward when you have completed your writing quotas for the day.

Another trick might be to try to reactivate a previous Special Interest which DOES fit your story. How might you do this? Well, here’s an example: I currently have one writing project which is set in Russia. The Russian language has been one of my Special Interests, on and off, since my late teens. Doing a little work with Russian language tapes or listening to online radio from Russia might ramp up that particular Special Interest, and that might keep my interest on the story a bit more.

The worst temptation for an Aspie Writer when the Special Interest bug bites is to drop the current writing project for a new, more compatible one. I almost did that a couple of days last month, when instead of working on my current project I did some planning/outlining for a starship-based science fiction story which was compatible with my Star Trek obsession. But today my plans are to be a good girl and work on my proper project— mainly doing planning/outlining since I didn’t do quite enough of that before beginning.

Question: do you have Special Interests or other obsessions which can be a distraction from your writing/blogging? How do you cope?

5-star review can mean ‘This Book Sucks’

tenfromLenI often go to that online bookseller named after women with one breast (Amazon.) And noodle around looking for something new to read. And often I come upon something by an indie author with 9 – 17 reviews, all 5-star. And my usual conclusion is that this book is crap, likely reviewed mostly by the author’s mother and loving aunts. I tend to read the 3 and 4 star reviews first, and then glance at any 2 stars. I think I find a better class of books that way.

There is a sad trend toward making 5 star book reviews the norm, which is very bad. Because it makes people think anything less than five is a bad review marking a real stinker of a book.

This is awful. We need honest and fair reviews to help us find books we will like. I don’t insist on only perfect books. Some of my favorites are books where the author has a good story but is struggling with learning some of the writing skills. Honest and fair reviews help me know what I’m getting when I buy a book, and somehow if I know in advance that the book has some weak points, those weak points interfere less with my enjoyment.

Here are what the star-reviews mean on Amazon.com:

5 = I love it.

4 = I like it.

3 = It’s OK.

2 = I don’t like it.

1 = I hate it.

You can see that in a logical world, we would all know that 5 and 4 stars are good reviews, 3 stars can be good, bad or indifferent, and 1 and 2 are bad reviews. All modified a bit by the accompanying written review.

Very recently I have decided to become a serious Amazon reviewer. I am working to get more book reviews written. And in the meantime writing a few product reviews to add to my review total. [My profile page is here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/pdp/profile/A3GH4IA9SLC3YN You can read my most recent reviews there and if you find one of them ‘helpful’, please consider up-voting it, which will help my chance to rise in the reviewer ranks.]

My preference is to review books that are in genres I read, and that seem like I might enjoy them. These are the kind of books that I can review the best.

When it comes to getting a 5 star review from me, it’s kind of like getting a 10 from Len on Dancing With the Stars. You shouldn’t expect it, it’s very hard to get, and when you finally manage to get one, it really means something. I like to tell people seeking reviews from me that only 2 of the 4 Gospels get a full 5 stars from me (Luke and John.) And I regard the Gospels as being the Word of God!

Four-star reviews are my workhorse rating. Four-star reviews mean that it’s a good, solid book and that any flaws are minor and easily overlooked when you get caught up in the story. I give out a lot of 4-star reviews. Though I’m always happy when one of my favorite 4-star authors makes a Great Leap Forward and produces a 5-star book.

Three star reviews mean a book is OK. OK is good. If you don’t believe me, try reading a bunch of books that are LESS than OK. Three star books have more flaws and sometimes have a weaker, less compelling story. But if there are things to like in the story and characters, I will make sure to mention it. I prefer to review 3-star books with enough good qualities that the review is essentially a good review and will gain the author some readers in spite of any flaws. I haven’t had to give out any three-star reviews that were mostly critical yet. I probably wouldn’t bother except for a flawed book where the author was begging me for any review, even a bad one.

A two-star review means that the reviewer didn’t like it. That’s a very subjective term. There are great works of world literature that I don’t like, but I know they are well written and would never give them a 2-star. I think a fair-minded reviewer would rarely if ever bother to write a 2-star on a book. On a flawed product, especially a pricey one, maybe. It should only be used on a book that, objectively, has a number of deep flaws, and perhaps a moral issue in addition (porn or praise for Hitler and/or Stalin on top of incomprehensible writing would do it for me.)

One-star means you hated it. Can a Christian morally ‘hate’ anyone’s book? Or any person with a moral code? Most of the one-star reviews I’ve read were mean-spirited, cruel, and often based on the reviewer’s prejudices. Some fine non-fiction authors I know recently wrote a book about the Obama presidency that had some negative things to say. When the book came out some nasty people gave it one-star reviews without reading it— one admitted to reading no further than the title. I would never write a 1-star. I am a fallible human being and I would not judge any author’s book quite that harshly.

Do you write book reviews? What star ratings do you usually give out? Are you wary of books with nothing but 5-star reviews?


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Belated Celebrate: Barn Kittens

0729161314The picture above is what happens when a barncat mother of 6 wakes up to find 5 extra kittens in the kitten bed. And it looks like she’s going to have to keep them. Charybdis, first time mama of 6, has to take care of the kittens of Consubstatial 1, who ran out the door and hasn’t come back.

Escaping mama cats is a chronic problem around here. Most of my cats are barn cats, but I bring the pregnant ones in the house so the kittens will be properly socialized. Many people want to get barn cat kittens, but they expect them to be friendly, not the hostile little monsters that you get when you leave barn kittens alone until their mama moves the litter to someplace you can find.

But mostly mama cats come back to my door after an hour or two of freedom. So I’m pretty worried Consubstantial 1’s kittens may be orphans.

These kittens are very young, but not too young to be started on solid food. And Char’s kittens are about 4 weeks and just started on solid food.

Since Char can only feed 6 kittens at a time because she only had 6 nursing before, I’m feeding them in shifts. I put Connie 1’s kittens in the lower bin of the multi-level cat bed, and Char’s on the next level up. When Connie 1’s babies are done, Char’s babies get a turn. And I’m keeping solid food available at all times for Char’s babies and have let Connie 1’s babies sniff at it.

I am hoping that I can manage to keep all 11 kittens going that way if the mama doesn’t come back.

In other cat related news, escaped pregnant cat http://lexacain.blogspot.com/Consubstantial 2 has been recaptured, and this morning had 4 newborn kittens in her nest. I REALLY hope she will stop at 4.

This is a post in the Celebrate the Small Things blog hop.

Does Simon of ‘Alvin & The Chipmunks’ have Asperger Syndrome?

simonAnd now, for a really important topic— The Chipmunks. Specifically, does Chipmunk brother Simon show signs of Asperger Syndrome.

It does seem that Simon is the Chipmunk with the worst social skills. In the second movie, he wouldn’t hug ‘Aunt Jackie’ because he wasn’t a hugging kind of guy. Later he never became one of the school jocks even though he showed that he had skills by throwing an apple core into the waste basket from a good distance, besting one of the jocks. Simon was twice pictured at tables with chess pieces but never really developed a circle of friends like Alvin did at school.

Simon was also very awkward with Jeanette, his Chipette counterpart. It wasn’t until the third movie when Simon was bit by a venomous spider and transformed into the heroic ‘Simone’ that he was able, in that other persona, to express his affection for Jeanette.

In the original descriptions of Asperger Syndrome children affected by the disorder were called ‘little professors.’ Doesn’t that describe Simon? He always has some intellectually advanced information to impart. And he doesn’t have the social skills to dumb it down when his only audience is Alvin and Theodore.

Simon relates well to the adult in his life, Dave Seville, and can have adult conversations with him. I don’t know if this is a common Asperger trait, but I know in my childhood I related better to adults than other kids. So perhaps this is also evidence.

I know some people think it’s futile to make these amateur diagnoses of Asperger Syndrome in famous people, and perhaps it’s even more so when we are talking about a famous chipmunk whose also part of a hit singing group.

But still, my conclusion about Simon Seville (yeah, that’s his last name) is that he is One Of Us.