What's it Like to Live on Another Planet? #SciFi #Science

Exploration and discovery is what I love best about science fiction. I want to know what's out there, even if it's just our imaginations that take us there.

Earth and Moon from Mars

We have no idea what's out there, so we're free to imagine anything. Which is the most awesome part.

We've set foot on the Moon and we've sent robots to Mars and Titan (a moon of Saturn's). Otherwise, we've not actually landed on another world. Our species has a long way to go to get off this planet.

The machines, ships, and other technologies will certainly get us to other worlds. The biggest stumbling block will be our bodies and our minds. We have no idea what prolonged stays in space will do to us, or if it's even survivable. Humans are adapted very well to survive on Earth and nowhere else. In the Backworlds, I changed our biology to make us more adaptable. Either that or a suit, or nanites, or a vaccine, or a combination will be necessary for our kind to thrive off Earth.

If we do leave, there's no guarantee we can come back. Mars is 1/3 the gravity of Earth. We might lose too much muscle, bone, and whatnot to survive a return trip.

And what would it be like to be the first human settler on a world we're not made for? How would we go about it?

Mars, on NatGeo, gives us a taste of what it might be like. It's an excellent blend of drama with documentary. WARNING: it's addictive.

Intriguing as it is for me, I know I'd make a poor settler. I enjoy electricity, running water, internet, and convenient groceries too much to like being a settler. I learn this during every storm, and we've been getting hammered in the OR.

And, as I write this, we're getting more snow on top of the two feet we already have. They haven't plowed. And we're supposed to get freezing rain and snow all week.

Husband Unit was driving, not me

That's my car buried back there

But we have my new book to cheer us. FreeFall is now available at all ebook outlets. It's the best book I've written yet. Enjoy!

AmazonFR / IT / ES / NL / IN / JP / BR / MX

The first shot of a new war echoes through the galaxy. Craze has high hopes for what the alliance with an old enemy, the Foreworlds, will do to defeat a worse enemy, the Quassers.

The test of a highly-advanced weapon, created by the efforts of the alliance, pushes tensions over the brink and kills thousands. To make it worse, the Foreworld ambassador is keeping secrets.

Conventional warfare against the Quassers isn’t working, and if the alliance ends, Craze has become the most hated man in the galaxy for no reason.

With nothing left to lose, Craze sets in motion one last chance for survival.


Reading Challenges

It's the time of year when eager readers jump into reading challenges. I've been doing the Goodreads challenge for a few years now. Every year, my goal is to read and review 100 books. (I'm a fast reader!) Before I had my son, it was easy to achieve. Now that I have a kid, I include books I read with him. Children's authors deserve reviews too!

There are all sorts of different challenges. There are genre specific ones, ones that help you read more diversely, ones to read banned books, and ones to re-discover the classics. You can do a little from each one or just try to clear your TBR pile.

Yet there is one challenge I think everyone who loves to read should take on: getting other people to become readers. I see folks all the time just surfing the net on their phones or playing games, and they have not read a novel in their adult lives. 27% of the adult population didn't read a single book last year.

Reading books is much easier these days too. You can get apps for your phone and tablet, or you can listen to audiobooks. Many folks have a commute. What a perfect time to listen to a good story!
If talking excitedly about your favorite books to people doesn't work, tell them that reading helps increase brain function, sharpens focus, expands imagination, and reduces stress. People do sleep better if they read a little every day. Well, if they get hooked on the book and want to keep reading, they do lose sleep!

If we can all convince one non-reader to read a book this year, we all win.

You can tell them they don't even have to pay for a good read!



Book Review: CROOKED KINGDOM by Leigh Bardugo

Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn't think they'd survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they're right back to fighting for their lives. Double-crossed and left crippled by the kidnapping of a valuable team member, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz's cunning and test the team's fragile loyalties. A war will be waged on the city's dark and twisting streets―a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of magic in the Grisha world.

Cathrina's Review:
CROOKED KINGDOM is the sequel to SIX OF CROWS which I reviewed on March 18, 2016. Here's the review if you wish to read it: http://untetheredrealms.blogspot.com/2016/03/cathrinas-review-of-six-of-crows-by.html

I had loved SIX OF CROWS and was eager to read the sequel. I must say the author Leigh Bardugo didn't disappoint me. CROOKED KINGDOM is a wonderful speculative tale. I fell in love again with Kaz Brekker and his thugs. Whereas I loved this action-packed story with its twists and turns, the author brings the reader back in time with each character throughout the book. While the writing is excellent, some of sections had begun to get drawn out. However, the background shaped each character and helped you to understand why and how they ended up with Kaz.

If you like speculative, YA novels full of suspense, action, and twists and turns you'll love CROOKED KINGDOM.


Happy New Weird 2017

Changing from one year to the next brings with it some things we can't resist as human beings. One thing, in particular, is the need to reflect on the past year, the accomplishments, the failures, the drama, the losses, and gains.

We... take stock.

We, here, at Untethered Realms would like to invite you to share your thoughts as you reflect on the past year and look to the new.

I, personally, have to admit that 2016 was filled with lots of game-changing moments. If I were an alien, I would have my "visionware" tuned in to the Earth channel with lots of popcorn on hand to see what exciting, jaw-dropping, heartbreaking, or soul-inspiring events would happen in the episodes of 2017.

Since I'm an earthling in the here and now - and this isn't a reality show but real - for real - life, I'd like to wish everyone a very Happy New Weird as our journeys continue in 2017.
 - Let your imagination expand, grow and soar. Talk about fun!!
 - Try that new recipe you held back because you weren't sure who would eat it. Maybe it can be a fun experiment just for you.
 - Take a chance on something different: yourself. You're worth it.
 - Read that book with that weird title and discover something new. You never know what you like until you give it a try.
 - Grab that new story idea by the horns and give it some life, even if it is a little weird for you. It may start you on a fantastic writing voyage.

So what about you, what are some of your thoughts as you reflect on 2016? Do you have any hopes or aspirations you're working toward for 2017? And what if it turned out Earth and all the crazy that is us is actually a reality show for aliens in a galaxy far, far away?


Merry Christmas from Untethered Realms!

Cathrina Constantine

I'd like to wish everyone a Very Merry Christmas from my house to yours. I realize many people's holidays are busy, But, I pray your days are also filled with laughter, joy, and peace. 
Our Christmas Tree ~ 2016 

Happy Holidays to everyone from Kate-the-Great and me! I hope everyone's able to enjoy the season, spend some time with family, and enjoy a good book or two!! I'm really looking forward to digging into some awesome novels from the Untethered Realms cohort that I've been looking forward to for ages. What are you up to?
~ Meradeth

Merry Christmas, from me and my kind. Have a safe and joyous season. My season will be filled with memories of those no longer here as I create new ones with new friends and friends I've known awhile. It's not Christmas without some alien, though. Live long and prosper.  M. Pax

Catherine Stine  

I'm wishing everyone a fun Christmas or whatever winter holiday you celebrate. And I hope all of your 2017 is peaceful, light-filled and inspiring. In this season of political turmoil, two things that give me easy joy are nature and animals. So my tree this year is filled with decorations of creatures, from owls, to hedgehogs to a great Chinese lion. Above are some photos.

This is our Christmas tree before our cat, Thunder springs upon it! See those eyes! Happy Christmas from my house to yours.
~ Christine Rains

I hope everyone has a great holiday! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
- Cherie Reich

Here's to wishing you all a very Happy Christmas. May all your hopes and dreams come true, and may 2017 bring you much health and happiness.
~Gwen Gardner


Getting your indie books in bookstores, schools & libraries

I recently attended NCTE, the National Conference of Teachers of English, in Atlanta. A colleague who writes for the high school market convinced me to go, saying that it was where all of the teachers and librarians went, and where one could connect with them and talk about books.

My Fireseed series in particular, though a sci-fi thriller, has lessons on climate change and global warming, and teens should be aware now more than ever of their world in order to help it.

There was one thing I had to do first. Get the books published on Ingram Spark (used to be called Lightning Source) in order to offer the books at a 55% discount, and with returns. Amazon's Create Space does not offer this. For schools and libraries and also to get your books in bookstores, you need to offer your books at a 55% discount.

I have yet to know whether this gambit will paid off. It's too early to tell. But I will go to NCTE next year, because I did make great connections with teachers, who are hungry for good books with topical points for teens. You can see some of the discussion topics for the Fireseed series that are listed on my banner. I also offered free study guides, which drew people in.

Do you write for teens at all? If not, have you tried to get your indie published books into bookstores? If so, how do you do it? Do you offer a 55% discount?


Book Review: Huntress Found by A. A. Chamberlynn #amreading

Evryn’s got mad skills at playing hide and seek. She can find lost children, hack the most secure databases, pretty much anything. Except for the one thing she desires most: the knowledge of who her parents are, why they abandoned her, and what her special talent means about who and what she really is.

So, when a guy named Seeker appears quite literally out of nowhere, claiming to know about her past and offering her a job, Evryn can’t say yes fast enough. Even if it does mean following him to another realm. As in, mind-blowingly, not Earth. Apparently she’s part of an elite clan of Hunters descending from Artemis who can find just about anything in all of time and space. As the last of Artemis’ direct lineage, Evryn is her clan’s best shot at finding a lost city before rival clans do.

Not just any city, but the flying, realm-hopping city of Skye. Aboard Skye is the Artifex, a magical device with the power to create or destroy worlds. Everyone wants the device, and with Evryn’s super-powered lineage, it means everyone wants her, too. It’s hard to decide who she can trust, even within her own clan. After she discovers a strange, alluring connection to the Artifex, she’s not even sure she can trust herself. Worse yet, the only person who may be able to help her is the Timekeeper, the sadistic ancient being who created the Artifex. An interdimensional war is brewing, and Evryn is right at the epicenter of it all.

Let the hunt begin.
My review:
Evryn has always felt the pull of lost things when she's focused on them. She follows the Call to find missing children and save them from their captors. Until a handsome man named Seeker finds her. She is the Lost One, and once she finds out why, she wonders if she should have stayed hidden. Evryn has the blood of Artemis in her, the most famous hunter in history. Now as a Hunter herself, she seeks the most elusive target: an artifact on a flying city named Skye which can jump realms. This artifact is a powerful weapon. The realms are going to war to find it. And Evryn is the key to it all.

This is the first book in the awesome series, The Timekeeper's War. I was blown away by Evryn's tale, especially with all the twists at the end. Wow. With several realms and a great history, this was a massive task in world building, and it was done wonderfully. Never once did I feel bogged down by information. I reveled in the various realms from modern day Earth to medieval worlds and steampunk realms. Plus the flying city of Skye! The place fascinates me. I hunted it through the pages just as Evryn did.
Evryn is a strong heroine, and while she does have a lot of power, I didn't feel she abused it or that she was perfect. No, she has her flaws, but she also has a huge heart. Kellan is quite the match for her. Gorgeous (and he knows it), smart (and he knows it), and as good of a Hunter as Evryn (and he knows it!). They bring out the best in each other. The whole cast of characters is spectacular. From their clan to the power hungry king to the mysterious White Stag. And the evilness of the Timekeeper, whoa.

An incredible speculative fiction book with fast action, magical mysteries, and a nice bit of tension-filled romance. I'm hooked!