fiction

Reader’s Corner

Girl Reading Book, Lynette M BurrowsToday I’m starting a new series that I hope will be entertaining and informative. I’ve created a questionnaire for readers to complete and will post the results here. Which readers? Anyone who enjoys reading. Doesn’t matter whether you read, fiction, nonfiction, comics, or graphic novels–it all qualifies. If you read, I’d love for you to participate. See the downloadable form and instructions below.

So on with the Interview.

I’m pleased to introduce . . . Myself. You’ll find my bio here  and my debut novel blurb here. Welcome to my website, my blog, and my first reader interview.

Reader Interview

(with a tip of the hat to Inside the Actor’s Studio)
  • First Name: Lynette
  • Gender: Wonder Woman
  • Age Range: Not dead yet
  • Occupation: Writer and about to be retired pediatric nurse
  • What occupation (other than yours) would you like to try? Singer (if I could get over the stage fright)
  • What sound or noise do you love? A child’s bubbly laughter that you hear and cannot help but smile
  • What sound or noise do you hate? Whining
  • What is your favorite word? Starts with f and rhymes with duck—well, it’s not really a favorite, but it’s one I use way too often!
  • Fiction or Nonfiction? Both
  • Genre? Make me care about the characters and I will read anything. I tend to prefer thrillers. If it’s a thriller space opera, that’s about perfect!
  • Ebook, audio book, or physical book? Physical book
  • What makes you choose a book to read? Author? Cover? Blurb? Recommendation? Any of the above, though most often it’s by a recommendation I’ve gotten from a friend or trusted website.
  • What makes you put down a book? Characters with nothing at stake, characters whose only purpose is to fulfill stupid plot tricks, the story wanders vaguely around events that don’t mean much, or the description or info dump goes on for paragraphs and on for pages.
  • What book did you just finish? A YA Paranormal called Shattered Seam by Kathleen Groger, an Immersion Sister. I read a small portion when we went to a Master Immersion class together. I’m sorry I took so long to get around to reading it. It’s so GOOD! I also read a nonfiction book called The Unfit, History of a Bad Idea by Elof Axel Carlson.
  • What are you reading now? Story Genius by Lisa Cron,
  • Do you re-read books? Yes! Why? I love the experience, the journey, of that particular book. Usually it’s specifically the characters’ journey, but it can also be the world building.
  • All time favorite book? Oh, boy, this is tough. Little Women, A Wrinkle in Time, Dune, Seventh Son, Gone with the Wind are all favorites. I have many but I re-read Little Women until the pages fell out.
  • If heaven exists, what would you want St. Peter to say? What took you so long? (interpret that any way you wish!)

~~~~~~~~~

I hope you enjoyed the interview.

What other questions would you like to ask readers?

Would you like to answer the questions and be featured in an upcoming blog post? You can download the questionnaire and fill it out.

Click here to download the Reader Interview

Email me your answers and I’ll let you know when your answers will be featured on this website.

Thank you so much for spending time with me! If you’ve taken the time to download the questionnaire, or to comment below, I am delighted and honored.

 

Going to Mars Word-by-Word: the Landis Way

Lynette M. Burrows, Science Fiction Author; Lynette M. Burrows, action-suspense science fiction

The next stop in our Going to Mars Word-by-Word tour is Mars Crossing by Geoffrey Landis. Published by Tor Books in 2000, this is a first novel by an experienced and award-winning short story author. It was nominated for a Nebula and won the Locus Award for best first novel in 2001.  Hop aboard for a gritty, near future science fiction tale of what the exploration of Mars just might be like.

WHAT IT’S ABOUT

By 2028, two missions have been sent to Mars. Both the Brazilian and the American expeditions met with catastrophe and death on the Red Planet. A NASA-private venture hopes the third mission to Mars will be the first to return. Their plan relies on a return vessel sent to Mars years earlier, capable of manufacturing fuel for the return trip from the Martian atmosphere.

The mixed-gender, multi-national crew of six lands on Mars successfully but their celebrations are short-lived. A catastrophic failure kills one of the crew and causes irreparable damage to the return ship. And there is no hope of a rescue mission coming from Earth.

As a last ditch effort to survive, they set out to cross 4,000 miles of Mars to the north pole in the hopes that the abandoned Brazilian vehicle will be operational. Limited supplies and equipment, alien terrain, the ever present dust are only a portion of the hazards they face. The Brazilian vehicle can only carry two.

Using alternating viewpoints and flashbacks, Landis slowly reveals each surviving astronaut has a painful secret from the past. The isolation and desperation of their trek, combined with their secrets, creates tension and intrigue on every step of their journey. And one of the crew is willing to commit murder to ensure a place on the return trip to Earth.

HOW THE RED PLANET IS PORTRAYED

Mars Crossing conveys an authentic, fully-realized Martian landscape. The terrain crossed in the story includes familiar landmarks and a few surprises. Landis describes a place of beautiful desolation and isolation, a harsh and unforgiving land. It feels accurate. It feels real. And it’s no wonder, the author is in the know about real Mars exploration.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Geoffrey Landis wears many hats: He has published more than 80 short stories, nearly 50 poems, one one science fiction novel, and more than 400 scientific papers. His short fiction has numerous awards including a Nebula and two Hugos. See his bibliography here.

Landis can write authentically about Mars because he is a physicist at the NASA John Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio. He is a member of the science team of the Mars Exploration Rovers mission that landed rovers Spirit and Opportunity on Mars. Opportunity is still working after nine years! Landis also worked on the Mars Pathfinder project. You can read more about the projects he has and is working on here.

CONCLUSION

For me Mars Crossing has a nice balance of characterization, science, and drama. The novel has been compared to the greats of the field. The most fascinating part of it were the intriguing questions it posed about sending humans on  interplanetary journeys:

Would you take a trip to Mars knowing that the two previous missions failed?

How would you decided who could go home and who would face certain death on the Red Planet?

What would you be willing to do to secure a seat on the trip home?

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. Have you read Mars Crossing? Won’t you share what you thought of it? If you haven’t read it, will you?

This is the final novel I had planned for this blog series. Yet there are many more novels I could explore. Tell me, would you like this series to continue?  If so, what novels or stories about Mars would you like for me to cover over the next few months?

Hooked

Lynette M Burrows author, Lynette M Burrows science fiction author, Lynette M Burrows action-adventure science fiction author

Courtesy of kbowenwriter and WANA Commons on Flickr

Once upon a time

. . . it was tradition to begin a story with those words. Today’s reader will accept that opening only for a certain type of story. Regardless of the genre or style of fiction, the beginning of the book is critical.  Often readers will open a book and read the first few paragraphs before deciding to spend their time on the story. If the first lines of the book make the reader go ‘bleh ‘ the book is put down and never opened again.  If the opening lines hook the reader, the reader is entertained for hours.

First Lines

Arbitrarily define the opening of the story as the first 100 words, here are the hooks of two of my favorite books.

Dune by Frank Herbert, Ace Books 1965

In the weeks before their departure to Arrakis, when all the final scurrying about had reached a nearly unbearable frenzy, an old crone came to visit the mother of the boy, Paul.

It was a warm night at Castle Caladan, and the ancient pile of stone that had served the Atreides family as home for twenty-six generations bore that cooled-sweat feeling it acquired before a change in the weather. The old woman was let in by the side door down the vaulted passage by Paul’s room and she was allowed a moment to peer in at him where he lay in his bed.

In three lines of Dune, Herbert has given us a location, a life-changing event, a main character, and a mysterious presence. He created tension, a sense of foreboding, and a sense that something momentous is about to happen.

Notice the rhythm, the cadence of his words. Notice the sound and feel of the words: Arrakis, scurrying, crone, Castle Caladan, ancient, Atreides.

Notice it’s final scurrying and unbearable frenzy. Did you catch the references to change? Are you hooked? I sure am.

Okay. Let’s try another passage from another book.

Seventh Son by Orson Scott Card, Tor 1987

Little Peggy was very careful with the eggs. She rooted her hand through the straw till her fingers bumped something hard and heavy. She gave no never mind to the chicken drips. After all, when folk with babies stayed at the roadhouse, Mama never even crinkled her face at their most spetackler diapers. Even when the chicken drips were wet and stringy and made her fingers stick together, little Peggy gave no never mind. She just pushed the straw apart, wrapped her hand around the egg, and lifted it out of the brood box. All this while standing tiptoe on a wobbly stool, reaching high above her head.

In this 108 words by Orson Scott Card there is a strong sense of character, of the roadhouse, of the society in which little Peggy lives. I already know I like Peggy. Do you? Do you want to know more about her? Can you feel the straw and the sticky eggs? Can you see the wobbly stool with little Peggy reaching for the nests? Do you want to know what happens next?

Hooked

Great openings hook the reader, but the story must continue to deliver the same great content. In my opinion, the two books listed above do just that. Strong characters, interesting situations, a hint of a problem that promises to grow larger, and a setting that fascinates create compelling first lines.

What do you think? Will you read past a so-so beginning? What books hooked you? Was there a particular part (character, setting, problem) that drew you in?

I love to hear from you. And you know my TBR pile can always use a few more books. Won’t you tell me about your favorites?