Friday, September 22, 2017

The Speculative Fiction Cantina with Sherry Peters and James M. Corkill

Today on the Speculative Fiction Cantina we are pleased to welcome writers Sherry Peters and James M. Corkill.

Sherry Peters
Sherry Peters

Sherry Peters is a certified Success Coach for Writers. She graduated from the Odyssey Writing Workshop in 2005 and earned her M.A. in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University in 2009. She credits the year she spent in Northern Ireland as one of the best years of her life and a daily inspiration and motivation in her writing. Her debut YA Fantasy novel Mabel the Lovelorn Dwarf placed First in the 2014 Writer's Digest Self-Published e-Book Awards in the Middle Grade / YA category. She is also the author of the non-fiction book Silencing Your Inner Saboteur is available. Both books are available in e-book and paperback formats at Amazon and Barnes & Noble, all major online e-book retailers. For more information on Sherry Peters, please visit her website at

Sherry's Books:

Mabel the Lovelorn Dwarf (Ballad of Mabel Goldenaxe Book 1)

Mabel the Mafioso Dwarf (Ballad of Mabel Goldenaxe Book 2)

Mabel the Notorious Dwarf (Ballad of Mabel Goldenaxe Book 3)

Sherry's Link:


James M. Corkill
James M. Corkill

Bestselling and award-winning author James M. Corkill, is a Veteran, and retired Federal Firefighter from Washington State, USA. He was an electronic technician and studied mechanical engineering in his spare time before eventually becoming a firefighter for 32-years and retiring. He began writing in 1997, and was fortunate to meet the famous horror writer Hugh B. Cave, who became his mentor. He now lives in the Appalachian Mountains of western North Carolina.

James's Books:

Gravity: The Alex Cave Series Book 4

Pandora’s Eyes: The Alex Cave Series Book 5

DNA: The Alex Cave Series Book 6

James's' Links:


From Today's Program: Saturn's moon Titan has molecules to make cell membranes.

Thursday, September 21, 2017


When it comes to doing research for your writing, I say you can never do too much. What you shouldn't do is show off how much research you have done by putting in things you learned but don't advance the plot of your story.

And often, having done good research will enhance the story.

For example: in my novel Agent of Artifice, there was a scene at the Huntington Hotel in San Francisco. This is a real hotel on Nob Hill.

When I first wrote the scene, my character, Michael Vaughn, escapes a battle between magical people that I call "adepts." He goes down an internal staircase to escape.

Then I had an opportunity to take a trip to San Francisco and my hotel was a block away from the Huntington. So I went and looked at the hotel and I found there is no internal staircase, but fire escapes on the outside of the building. I then knew I had to rewrite that scene.

However, it turned into one of the better scenes in the book and set up the climax. In the first draft, he simply escaped. Rather boring. But in the rewrite it became this scene:

Down the hall, on the left of the elevator, I found a window overlooking a very steep street more than two floors below.  The Huntington is on the edge of Nob Hill.  But here was the fire escape.

I hesitated.  On the fire escape, I'd be easy prey for that flying nightmare.  But it was busy eleven floors above me.  

I opened the window and it screeched as I did—a sound that seemed loud enough to summon a demon, or a pterodactyl.

Once it was open enough, I put a leg out, stepped on the painted metal of the fire escape, and then pulled the rest of my body through the window.  I was shocked at how cold it was and how far down it was to the steeply sloping street.  And I could see the lowest fire escape was far above the cement—farther than I wanted to jump.

Not knowing what else to do, I scurried down the steep stairs which vibrated under my feet until I reached the bottom platform.  Here I could see there was a ladder that reached lower than the platform so the jump wouldn't be so bad. I approached it and noticed it was in two pieces and it looked as if one piece would descend if I put my weight on it.  I was studying this, trying to determine how to work it when a rush of wind interrupted my thoughts.  I turned but too late: pterodactyl claws grabbed my torso, wrapped around my body like a fleshy vise, and pulled me skyward, the beating of the wings blowing down on me as the claws held me so tight I couldn't breathe.  I didn't know why it just didn't eat me.  I was sure it would hurt less than what its claws were doing to me and the way my head was hanging down with the blood rushing to it.  I tried beating its claws with my hands but it felt as if I might as well beat on hardened steel.

The beast swooped upward and I noticed people on the street looking up in horror.  It was amazing how well I could see their faces despite our gaining altitude.

The pterodactyl swung in a tight arch in the narrow space between buildings, and headed for the Huntington's roof.  It skimmed over the edge so close I thought it was going to smash me into the tiles of the sloped part of the roof that was around the flat top of the building.

Without warning the animal stopped in midair with a horrible sound of twisting metal and its painful screams.  It dropped me, luckily only a few feet to the roof, but I landed on my hip and the pain shot through me.  I looked up to see the pterodactyl entangled in the Huntington's neon sign and the metal supports holding it.  As I watched, the sign—broken glass tubes raining down—started tilting back on the beast.

I ran, ignoring pain in my chest and legs.  The animal and the metal crashed into the roof mere inches behind me it seemed and the pterodactyl screamed, answered by shattering glass in buildings near the hotel. Bells rang in the towers of the cathedral across the street in resonance with the unearthly sound.

And that was a much better scene.

So do your research!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Huskies are 3-0, Start Conference Play Next Week

Last night the University of Washington Huskies defeated the Fresno State Bulldogs by a score of 48-16 at Husky Stadium. This is the Huskies' last non-conference game.

Fresno State is an FBS team (in the Mountain West Conference) unlike last week's opponent, Montana.

Didn't seem to matter. For the first half, the Huskies dominated. Fresno was able to make a touchdown and the Dawg's place kicker missed a point after touchdown, but by the end of the half the score was 41-7. One of those touchdowns was a Dante Pettis punt return tying him for the NCAA record for punts returned for a touchdown and games in a row (three) with a punt return for a touchdown. If he can get a punt return to a touchdown next week, he'll break both records.

Early in the third quarter the Huskies scored again. It was the last time they would score as starting quarterback Jake Browning was taken out and second stringers went in. The Huskies never scored again. Fresno got three field goals for the rest of the game.

At one point it was 4th and goal for the Huskies and Coach Chris Petersen decided to go for it and the first stringer Bulldogs were able to stop the second stringer Huskies. If they'd simply done a field goal, instead, the Huskies would have had 51 points to end the game. Which, to me, would have been more impressive for the AP poll voters.

The game was pretty boring and not very exciting once the second-stringers were put in.

Next week the Huskies travel to Boulder to take on the University of Colorado Buffaloes. This is being billed as a replay of last year's Pac-12 championship game. But the Buffs aren't nearly as good as they were last year judging from the AP rankings. I think their star quarterback graduated and he carried the team a lot last year.

The Buff are 3-0, also, so one of these teams are going to come out of the game with their first loss. Let's hope it's Colorado.

And, ironically, right now the Washington State Cougars are on top of the Pac-12 North because they are the only team in the North Division with a conference win (they beat Oregon State last night). One sad thing about that game was the OSU quarterback, Jake Luton, took a big hit and was knocked unconscious. He was carted off the field and taken to a hospital. The latest news is that he was discharged from the hospital last night. No word on what injury he suffered. But it looked bad.

The Polls

The AP Top 25 Football poll comes out on Sunday morning at 2:00 PM Eastern Time (except for the first week of college football, it comes out on Tuesday after Labor Day).

Washington dropped one from #6 to #7 (should have gotten that field goal, I tell ya).

USC dropped one to #5 after their triple-overtime win over Texas.

Washington State climbed to #18.  Utah (#23) and Oregon (#24 and boo hiss) both made it onto the two 25 this week. That means five Pac-12 teams are ranked, or almost half the conference.

UCLA lost to Memphis yesterday and that dropped them out of the poll (they were #25 last week).

Stanford also dropped off the poll from #19 last week after losing to San Diego State (who are now at 22 after not being ranked).

Friday, September 15, 2017

The Speculative Fiction Cantina with Brad Abraham and Susan Kite

Today on the Speculative Fiction Cantina we are happy to welcome writers Brad Abraham and Susan Kite.

Brad Abraham

Brad Abraham is writer whose work includes the feature film Fresh Meat, the SyFy Channel thriller Stonehenge Apocalypse, and the miniseries Robocop Prime Directives. He is creator of the acclaimed comic book series Mixtape, and has written for such publications as Dreamwatch, Starburst, and Rue Morgue. A native of Ottawa Canada, he makes his home in NYC.

Brad's Works:

Magicians Impossible

Mixtape (comic book series)

Fresh Meat (film)

Brad's Links:


Susan Kite
Susan Kite

Susan Kite was born in Indiana, but moved extensively during her growing up years. The library was the first place she found after a move, avidly reading the works of Andre Norton, Anne McCaffrey, and many others. In her teens, she dabbled in writing, but with college and marriage, writing was mostly put on hold.

That changed about fifteen years ago when the writing bug bit again. A visit to the Mission San Luis Rey in California in 2001 and subsequent research became the catalyst to write her first novel, My House of Dreams.  Subsequently she began writing sci-fi stories and fantasy and The Mendel Experiment was published in 2014.

The author earned her degrees in English and Instructional Media at Utah State University. She worked in public school libraries for thirty-five years, and retired in May. Ms. Kite has been married to the love of her life, Dan, for almost 40 years. She has two children and 7 grandchildren and is still owned by the opinionated bossy cat and Chiweenie terrier.

Susan's Books:

The Mendel Experiment

Blue Fire

Power Stone of Alogol

Susan's Links:


From Today's Program: Cancer-fighting Research Happening in Space.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Time Hopping

A while back I tried to watch the Discovery Channel's docudrama on the Unabomber. I watched two episodes and gave up. Why? Because the thing time-hopped all over the place. It went from before the Unabomber was caught, to after he was caught, to trying to catch him, to trying to get him to plead guilty, etc. It was a confusing mess. Whoever green-lit it to be presented that way needs to have their head examined.

For me, in a narrative, you need to be careful about non-linear time hopping. I have done this once in a novel. In Forces, the novel is divided into three "books." Two of them, the first and the third, are in time order and close together. The middle book takes place 150 years prior. And, because of relativistic time dilation (travel close to the speed of light, time slows
down for you), there are many of the same characters in all three sections.

One beta reader said she found this confusing. But that was only one so I kept that structure. Haven't had any other complaints. 

In an early draft of Hammer of Thor, alternate chapters took place in 1932 and 1950. But I decided to change the structure and make it linear. The first section of the book is 1932, the second section is 1943, and the last section is 1950.

In my novel Agent of Artifice, the first chapter is set in 1963, then it goes back to 1959. There's one chapter in the middle in 1963 (just to update the reader on what's happening then), and the rest of the novel is linear, catching up to the events in 1963. Again, I've heard no complaints about this structure.

So if you're thinking of time hopping non-lineally, I suggest you really think about it and if it'll confuse the reader. As Nathaniel Hawthorn said, "Easy reading is damn hard writing." Make sure your reader can easily follow what you're doing.

Monday, September 11, 2017

The Huskies are 2-0

Photo Credit: Lynn D. Townsend
Instead of my usual practice of watching my beloved University of Washington Huskies play football on television, I actually went to the game at Alaska Airline Field at Husky Stadium (yes, that is the full name). I hadn't been to Husky Stadium since its remodel in 2013 and wanted to see it. Plus I wanted to go to a game. I picked an early game (their first game at home) hoping the weather would be better than a  game later in the year.

We had very good seats on about the 35 yard line, 8 rows up from the field. I felt like I was within spiting distance of the visiting team's bench.

The distance between the 10-yard markers seems a lot shorter from that position than on television. Also, it was as if everything happened faster. I'd watch a play, take a moment to relax, and the next play would happen.

Getting to the game was a bit of a hassle. Construction on Snoqualmie Pass led to slow traffic. And then getting 68,491 people to the game caused stop and go traffic in Seattle. I was having Madras, Oregon flashbacks (although it was really not nearly that bad). We had to park about half a mile away from the stadium and walk there. They charged $40 for parking so the University probably made a killing on parking fees (there's really no near-by parking except on University property).

The Game

The Huskies were playing the University of Montana Grizzlies. The "Griz" are an FCS team (too small a school to be bowl eligible) so this
68,490 of my closest friends
was supposed to be a warm up game for the Huskies, apparently. (I have issues with FBS teams playing FCS teams but most of them do it.)

It turned out to be a complete mismatch. The Huskies dominated the Grizzlies and ended up winning 63-7. The two highlights for the Griz were an interception early in the first quarter that was run back in for a touchdown, and a blocked field goal attempt. The Griz often went for it on fourth down and only failed to convert twice out of five attempts. This surprised me. The Huskies went for it once on a fourth down late in the game and converted.

The Huskies looked much better than they did last week. Quarterback Jake Browning connected with his receivers and scrambled a couple of times to pick up yards, once getting a first down. Dante Pettis broke the Pac-12 record for punts returned for a touchdown by doing his seventh.

In the fourth quarter the Huskies put in backup players and even then scored two touchdowns. By then a lot of the people in attendance had left.

While rain was predicted, it only sprinkled a little and wasn't even very cold. I took my Husky pullover and never wore it.

After the Game

Traffic leaving the game wasn't nearly as bad. About like around the university at rush hour. A lot of people left early and by the time we got back to the car, the really bad traffic had mostly cleared out. As we we got to Highway 520 and the bridge over Lake Washington, there was almost no extra traffic.

For some reason that half-mile hike back to the car seemed longer than the same distance to the stadium. And we were gong downhill on the return.

The Polls

The AP top 25 poll came out yesterday. The Huskies moved up one to #6. Southern California (USC) moved from #6 to #4 after beating Stanford (who dropped to #19 from #14). Washington State, even after beating Boise State in triple overtime, dropped one spot to #21. And UCLA entered the poll at #25 after beating Hawaii.

Next week the Huskies take on the Fresno State Bulldogs. The Bulldogs lost this week to #1 ranked Alabama. Fresno is an FBS team so should be more of a challenge for the Huskies. That game is at 6:30 on Pac-12 Network. I'll be home in my recliner.

Friday, September 8, 2017

The Speculative Fiction Cantina with Lisa Diane Kastner and Rick Karlsruher

Today on the Speculative Fiction Cantina we are pleased to welcome writers Lisa Diane Kastner and Rick Karlsruher.

Lisa Diane Kaster
Lisa Diane Kastner

Lisa is a former journalist and instructor.  Her short stories have appeared in multiple magazines and journals. She is the founder of Running Wild Press.

Lisa presented at a TEDx in Seattle on The Power of Connecting. And presented at the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) on the “You Sent Us What?” panel.

Born and raised in Camden, New Jersey she migrated to Philadelphia in her twenties and eventually transported to Los Angeles, California with her partner-in-crime and ever-talented husband. They nurture two felonious felines who anxiously encourage and engage in little sparks of anarchy.

Lisa's Books:

Lisa's Links:

Rick Karlsruher
Rick Karlsruher

I have led an usual life. Over the years I have managed and produced some music, created promotions, done international marketing and more.

Shortly after graduating from college I decided to be a writer. After several years of trying I thought I was on my way only to find it would lead to a Homeric odyssey.

The impact of those two years took me away from writing for more than twenty years. After much cajoling, I succumbed to literally hundreds of requests to write my story that became A Story Almost Told. 

Doing so has led me back to this passion.

Now comes Standoff, How the Cold War Really Ended. If you thought you knew, you were wrong. A simple detective story morphs into a spectacular satire on power and arrogance. 

Paying homage to Jonathan Swift, Dr, Strangelove, Rowan & Martin and Jon Stewart, Standoff will inform you and create laughter. 

I am a graduate of Wake Forest University.

Rick's Works:

Standoff, How the Cold War Really Ended (political satire)

Finding Home (film script- dramedy)

Rick's Links:

From today's program: Satellite Repair Service Coming.