Saturday, December 18, 2010

Looking for Sci Fi by Women Authors?

This cat sculpture
by Sue Lannen
reflects the several
sci fi cats
featured in the list.

This book list of YA science fiction features women authors. The types of sci fi ranges from military to romance to coming-of-age to epic to mixed types. Although suitable for YA, many are stories good enough for adults to enjoy, too.

Enjoy a good read. Then give the book to a teenager.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Courtesan Prince by Lynda Williams
A Book Review by Valerie Coskrey

I recently discovered a new science fiction universe to explore. The deftly built Okal Rel Universe is visited through the books of the Okal Rel Saga by Lynda Williams and her proteges. The central character of the saga is introduced in The Courtesan Prince as Von who is, well, a popular gigolo of the royal ladies of the court. He is also a young man who was stolen at birth and is just discovering his specialized genotypic heritage. He is, unbeknownst to anyone, a Sevolite, genetically engineered and of royal descent.

In a society with legal prostitution, courtesans are used openly by society's elite. This is the story of how one such man becomes a popular lover, a valued friend, a protector of children, and a spaceship pilot. It is the story of a society in chaos and of its promise of better days with a new leader. It is a story of how contact between planetary societies is reestablished after centuries of mutual avoidance following a destructive war. And, finally, it is the story of the relationships that are possible when society sets artificial taboos on who is allowed to love and what types of sex are permissible.

It is not a story rife with explicit descriptions of sexual acts, but there are numerous sexual encounters and the development of a few romantic-love relationships. There is an underlying theme of the consequences of abuse and the victim's emotional growth needed to cope with an abusive past and present. The book has numerous characters allowing for a variety of stories to be told and relationships to be examined, from both homosexual and heterosexual perspectives; from the ugliness of abuse to the passivity of prostitution, to the passion of infatuation, to the caring of friendship and the love of mates.

Lynda Williams builds a cohesive universe populated with real people in real, slightly dysfunctional societies, with believable interactions and adventures. It is an action-packed adventure with sword fights, politics, murder, spaceship battles, justice and betrayals.

I enjoyed it and plan to read the others in the series. The Okal Rel series spans about 15 books to date, including some written by proteges of Lynda Williams. They can be purchased through; but to get the list of all books available, visit the Okal Rel Universe website.


Much of this text is also in my blog Dirt Poor Books. Note: I updated the Amazon links and added labels to this post in July of 2014. Lynda Williams had written several books since then, and has greatly advanced the saga.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

My Article on Robert J. Sawyer and his Books Wake and Far-Seer

I have posted an article on Robert J. Sawyer, science fiction author, on the RFF Reflections blog. I invite you to read it. He writes exciting tales of aliens and of computer networks.

Of his books displayed on his website, these are the ones I want to read first.

. .. Then I would want to read Calculating God followed by Illegal Alien. Then I would want to finish the trilogies and maybe start on the Hominids series.

I suspect that the ones listed above will be suitable for teens. Far-Seer has been reviewed as a YA novel.  Wake's main character is 15.

Check them out and tell me what you think.

My Book Review for Krysia Anderson's Misfit Leaves Home

Today I posted a book review for Misfit Leaves Home, a sci fi novella in Lynda William's Okal Rel Universe and written by teenager Krysia Anderson. The book review for this charming YA and middle school novella can be found in the Reading for the Future Reflections blog. Check it out.

The book is hard to find and must often be specially ordered even at the larger bookstores Barnes & Noble and Borders. But you can get it here!

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Noah's Ark and Climate Change

© W. Sterling
Centuries ago, the Bible reports, Noah was told by God to get ready for a severe climate change. He was instructed to use technology to save himself, his family, and a boatload of animals from the ravages of an impending flood resulting from an extended period of excessive rain. Yes, he was told to prevent the disaster of drowning by building a huge boat. This is technology in action. Technology that can save man from a natural disaster.

Today we can use technology to save ourselves from the ravages that will result from climate change. Let us plan and implement solutions soon.

Other titles to help us understand:

Storms of My Grandchildren: The Truth About the Coming Climate Catastrophe and Our Last Chance to Save Humanity

Climate Change: Picturing the Science

Friday, November 12, 2010

An Example of an Online Library Resource

I was given the opportunity to share this passage with you since I am an affiliate. I figure all students need access to a quality library online. Hence I collect merchants to advertise that meet this need. That said, enjoy learning about a religious symbol or two.
And do not forget about the affiliate disclosure in the side panel!

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Using Literature to let the Abused know that You are Not Alone

There are all kinds of classic literature out there that people with problems can read and see themselves in the reading. Hopefully, this is therapeutic; hopefully it accelerates the healing process. There are modern novels out there, too, that serve such a function. I read one such book last week.

In a few pages it chronicled the stripping away of the ego of a victim in an abusive marriage. But this story, told here with her too-rapid acceptance of healing insights, is a bodice-ripper romance. Why should that matter? Maybe the book will be read by the women who might not read more classical works. Maybe the audience will be larger. Maybe it will catch the eye of someone who needs the reassurance that is really is not her fault; that there is a way out.

Ok, the insights and the ego-stripping techniques are textbook. But since the textbooks relate what is typical, then that in itself is a service.

Here's the book. Romance Readers, enjoy. Be prepared to shed a tear or two. And share it with friends. Maybe one in need will read it, too.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Wonderful Paper Dolls of Tom Tierney

Back around Labor Day on a visit to downtown Smithville, TX, during a family visit I discovered a store where the owner is Tom Tierney. Turns out he does paper doll books for Dover. That is he writes historical and factual commentary for the dolls and costumes that he illustrates. The books are published by Dover Publications.

I bought a paper doll greeting card from a set that is no longer in publication and he graciously signed the card for me. We talked for quite a while, as it is a small town and everyone quickly becomes acquainted; and he is a charming, interesting man. He gave me a signed set of his paper doll series on classical Hollywood actresses. He signed them all for me as I stood there.

Mom and Dad came in and we all chatted. He is 81 so he and Dad connected.

One of his booklet sets is from the 2008 presidential campaign, which adds to his U.S. presidents and their families series. He has one booklet each for John McCain and his wife and then Barack Obama and his wife and daughters. I had hoped to get the Obama book eventually. It is $10.00. His books are sold internationally, so a signed copy will be a collectible, I couldn't help but think.

He told me that he tries to sign all books sold in his store if the customer wants him to.

I went back this past weekend and found that the campaign booklet was sold out, but I purchased the book of fashions worn to date by President Obama and his family. Since Tom was gone for the day, I left the booklet with his great-niece for my promised autograph. Today, I picked up the book and had a pleasant visit with both Tierneys. I figure that after I have enjoyed the booklet for a time, I will give it to my granddaughter.

What makes his books so special? First, they are beautifully illustrated. From what he said and from what I discovered when I looked him up online later, he was once a fashion illustrator in Dallas and then in New York. His drawings are historically and technically accurate. His series of booklets range from Grimm's Fairy Tales and Disney characters, periods of European and American history, international historical costumes, movie characters, pirates and their heroines and cohorts as depicted in the movies, Sherlock Holmes, European royalty, U.S. presidents and their families, and other iconic figures.

Then there are the narratives that are also historically accurate in Tom Tierney's History of Fashion Collection, being well researched. Teachers would find the booklets useful for history and social studies lessons. Interactive bulletin boards and models for worksheets are other teaching ideas. And think of the role playing and stimulus for creative writing such booklets could be used to generate.

I have an idea that using paper dolls to generate conversation would motivate students to read books about a topic. It might spark questions that students could research for reports. Definitely the illustrations make historical figures more concrete.

Now if I could only get him to do fairies and science fiction characters from the universes of my favorite authors, which are all those listed in my website estore. Imagine the richly sensuous or the highly practical fashions of Lee and Miller's Liaden Universe on the actual characters as glorious 8" tall paper dolls. And what about Pax from Elizabeth Moon's series set alongside the warriors of David Weber's and John Ringo's military space operas and Moon's spaceship heroes and heroines. One booklet of warriors, since they tend to wear the same thing each day. And what about the characters of the Okel Rel Universe by Lynda Williams?

These wonderful writers all describe world's so richly that one lives in the Universe for a time. Wouldn't you enjoy making the characterization more concrete? Don't you visualize the fashions of these characters as you read their stories? Would this make students grades 5-12 want to read the books?

I think I will mention this to my friends at Reading for the Future; at least I should mention it on the RFF page on Facebook or the new blog "Reading for the Future Reflections."

If you are ever in Smithville, TX, look for Tom-Kat Paper Dolls on Main Street. Or get paper doll books from Tom Tierney on

You can also order booklets on eBay from Tom-Kat Paper Dolls.

For a short bio of Tom Tierney's earlier careers, visit his website:

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Book List for k-12 Designed to Motivate Reading using Science Fiction

 Last month I made a book list of award-winning authors and their science fiction or fantasy books written especially for youth. The list has books categorized by grade levels K-12.  I did this as a volunteer effort for Reading for the Future, which has since incorporated and is soon to be a non-profit organization. I used the Golden Duck Awards list, the Hal Clement Awards list and the Science Fiction Library as references for the book list.

Then I put the list on my other blog, Valerie's Memos. Do visit and download the list.  All are great reads. Teachers, you can safely use these books with children and young adult readers, even the ones not classified as YA when published.

Reference url:

Friday, October 08, 2010


What do you do when you post a page full of typos? Somehow, they do not always get caught. I would like to say it is because I was interrupted and posted before I remembered to proof, or I was busy and rushed to post, whatever. But I really do not know. I seldom reread my work once I post it.

Today I did, though. Oops! I just corrected several typos on the post .

My apologies to my followers.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Monday, September 27, 2010

Banned Books Week, a Celebration against Censorship

Librarians and others celebrate the freedom to read during the Banned Books Week, reports the American Library Association on its website. Mining the site takes one to the list of nearly 50 most challenged novels, with links to sources for a list of 100--and the reasons the books were challenged. The reasons span from foreign governments banning a book for political reasons to the inclusion of profanity or other unacceptable words, sex, or violence that would make the book unsuitable for high school library use. The 50 listed on the web page are, for the most part, American classics: To Kill a Mockingbird, Slaughterhouse Five, Animal Farm, etc. Surprisingly, Lord of the Rings is on the list, as is Call of the Wild.

Librarians and other groups and citizens fought to keep the books available in libraries, even high school libraries in many instances. So they are. It is the American way to read provocative, controversial books and to reflect on our lives and future through the lens offered by such amazing authors.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Let's Keep Moving Forward, America!

Election time is upon us. Since this blog is monetized with merchants that prefer not to be identified with political views, I wish to invite you to read the blog comments posted elsewhere.

I also post comments on Facebook.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Need for a New Grammar

I want to change the English language to make it easier for me to type. I want to spell Web as web; Web page as webpage; Web site as website; estore should be capitalized as eStore--as should all words with an e prefix that references something online; dates are more easily written as 23Aug10 or even 23aug10; caps should be seldom used; and sentences ending with URL's and email addresses should be allowed a space behind the .com . Think typing for the new age will change more than just the addition of emoticons?:)

While we're at it, why not put parenthetical info between comment tags so we can just cut and paste?<!- - why not? - ->

Sunday, August 01, 2010

You've Been Warned, a video on Facebook

I have strong opinions about lots of things, but this blog is not politically- oriented. However, I have taken a political stance. To that effect, I invite you to read the latest posting on Knee Jerk Reactions.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

A Global Warming Perspective for Today

Ga Oak at Sunset copyright 2006 Sue Lannen and Valerie Coskrey

I am watching the Documentary Channel (DOC) series Global Warming Solutions broadcast 4/4/10. I just had to stop and make these comments about the show.
  • It is an excellent show.
  • It presents great ideas.
  • It talks about prevention and fixing climate change.
  • It talks about green products.
  • It was first aired years ago.
Today I have a major shift in thinking. These are the points of the new outlook or paradigm.
  • Global Warming or Climate Change is here; it is too late to talk about prevention.
  • Solving the problems of Climate Change is now a matter of limiting the damage and attempting to reverse some of the effects.
  • We must now live with the new climate conditions.
  • We must anticipate the short-term effects of the damaged climate and develop responses to acute problems.
  • We must adjust our economies to the new realities.
  • We must anticipate the changes to ecosystems so new agricultural economies can be planned and implemented.
  • We must anticipate the stresses on societies worldwide and plan effective interventions to prevent famine and societal meltdowns.
Today we must learn to live with an array of different economic and social conditions.
  • New agricultural regions since the climate has shifted the boundaries of ecosystems and habitats.
  • New resource shortages as economies adjust to changes in agricultural regions and water sources.
  • New levels of class memberships: Increased poverty, struggling middle class, huge gaps between the wealthy and the middle class.
  • New industries and products that will change the traditional uses of energy and resources.
  • New politics that are pushed by multinational corporate interests in conflict with civil liberties and in competition to various problematic forms of government.
Tomorrow will be challenging, interesting, and surprising. I must trust that we in the USA will learn to cope and will make good decisions.

Whatever the politicians and deniers say, Climate Change is here and is already resculpting the biosphere's habitats, ecosystems and local climatic regions.

Friday, February 26, 2010

A Teacher Describes a Teachers Work

Read one teacher's description of a typical workday. This was written in response to the news about the teachers in Pennsylvania that were fired this past week. It seems that the 7 hour work day for which teachers are paid is only the beginning of the teacher's tasks. There is a reason why teachers are salaried. We taxpayers could not afford to pay them an hourly wage!