Artwork for Hot Flash

I am so excited that I can finally show off the wonderful artwork by Ginger Breo for my Athena’s Daughters 2 story, “Hot Flash”. Here is the art and story summary:


Beth Webster loved to spend cold days curled up with a good book and a toasty fire. But when the change ignited a fire inside her, she had to find a way to shed her excess heat.

Sound like something you’d want to read? You can preorder via Kickstarter!

Athena’s Daughters 2 – Guest Post from Tess Tabak


As part of the Athena’s Daughters 2 Kickstarter campaign, the authors and editors are doing a blog tour. Today I am delighted to be hosting Tess Tabak here at acubedsf.

Tess Tabak is a writer, filmmaker, and co-editor of The Furious Gazelle. She is a recent graduate of Purchase College, where she won the Ginny Wray award for fiction. She lives in Brooklyn, New York. Her most recent film, BEANED, recently premiered at the Williamsburg International Film Festival in Brooklyn.

Here she is to talk about writing science fiction and fantasy:

How is your story SF/Fantasy?

My story in Athena’s Daughter’s II, “The Miraculous,” has elements of fantasy because it is set during the zombie apocalypse.

Why did you write this story/do you write in general in this genre?

A lot of what I write is non-fiction, or satirical. If it suits the piece I’m writing, I’ll incorporate science-fictional or fantastical elements. It’s not something that I set out to do on purpose.

I started to write this story just by describing a place, and then before I knew it there were zombies there.

How did SF/Fantasy help you explore the themes/ideas you were trying to explore?

Aside from adding external pressure to the plot, zombies fit really well with some of the philosophic issues I wanted to explore in this piece.

Sounds intriguing!  I can’t wait to read it!

If you’re interested in following Tess, you can find her at:


If you’re interested in The Furious Gazelle (with a name like that, how can you not be?), you can find it at:

Web Site:



Note that the Athena’s Daughter 2 Kickstarter has a special incentive for those who back the project today (Friday, December 19) to see if we can get to 425 awesome backers by the end of the day.

Bryan Young, one of the founding authors of Silence in the Library and the editor of Apollo’s Daughters, has offered up his novel The Serpent’s Head as a gift to everyone who has backed this project by 11:59pm Friday, as long as that number is 425 or greater.

It’s a space western, and I’m looking forward to reading it. Here’s a little summary:

The man called Twelve is a hired gun, taking his laser pistol from planet to planet, hiring his services out to the highest bidder. He finds himself on Glycon-Prime, a new colony at the edge of space. On the hunt for work, Twelve blows into a small, frontier town only to find a massacre. The only survivors? A trio of young children, devastated by the murder of their families and hellbent on hiring the gunslinger to help them get revenge on the leader of the vicious mutants responsible, the man known only as “The Serpent’s Head.”

So, check out Tess Tabak, the Furious Gazelle, The Serpent’s Head, and the Athena’s Daughters 2 Kickstarter!

2014 Geminids

The 2014 Geminids were the best meteor shower I’ve seen in years.

I live in a suburban area with light pollution, so I knew not to expect the maximum number of meteors per hour predicted by the press.

When I went out Friday night (the night before the shower peak) to practice meteor photography, I saw 5 meteors in 37.5 minutes. That’s better than I’ve seen during the peak of some other showers.

When I went out Saturday night (the shower peak), I saw 35 meteors over 3 hours. That’s pretty good given that the clouds were coming and going and I spent some time inside processing pictures whenever the clouds got discouraging.

Two of the meteors I saw were pretty spectacular. Both had a greenish color to them, and one widened and brightened as it crossed the sky. Unfortunately, the camera was turned the wrong way, so I only captured the start of the first one.

Here are the pictures I captured (camera geek information below for those interested):

The first meteor with Gemini and Orion:


The start of one of the really bright meteors:


My last meteor picture:


To get these pictures, I used the following equipment and settings:

  • Canon EOS 60D in manual mode set at 4.0 F-stop, 15-second exposure, ISO 1000
  • Sigma 10-20 mm lens, set at 10 mm, manual focus at infinity
  • Intervalometer set to trigger a new picture every 18 seconds
  • Tripod

Because meteors are so fleeting, I needed to capture as much light as possible. So I started with the smallest f-stop to set the lens wide open. Then I wanted to have as long of an exposure as possible so that I would catch an entire meteor trail and not spend too much time on the overhead of triggering the next shot. I started with 30 second shots, but the ISO I had to use to not wash out the pictures was pretty low, and although I should have seen meteors in some of the shots, I didn’t. So I switched to 15 seconds with a higher ISO. I managed to capture some of the meteors that I saw, but not others. I think when I try it again I may go to 10 seconds and an even higher ISO.

Unfortunately, it looks like it’s going to be cloudy tonight, so I may have to wait until the next shower to try it out.

Orion EFT1 Mission


I got up early yesterday and again today to watch the launch of NASA’s newest spacecraft, Orion. This flight, Experimental Flight Test 1 (EFT1), is, as its name suggests, a flight test to check out critical Orion systems before we send it further away with people on board.

I cheered when it successfully launched this morning and did not get any writing done because I was too intrigued with the Orion TV feed.

Here were the thoughts I had while watching:

– I’m conditioned to watch Space Shuttle launches and know the event timing, and it was odd for me to watch a launch with different timing and steps. Shouldn’t the side rockets fall off after two minutes? Apparently, no.

– I saw some insulation popcorning off the Delta IV in the rocket cam video feed, but I didn’t have to worry about anything hitting Orion since it’s on top of the stack. That’s a big benefit to the top of the stack design.

– I was furious with the idiots who kept tweeting Orion had blown up.  Can I tunnel through the internet and terminate their connections?  Please?

– I cheered when we started getting good telemetry off Orion via its own communication system and the Tracking and Data Relay Satellites (TDRSs).

– I loved the views of Earth from the Orion cameras.

– I was happy when I saw the Orion animation showing Orion was passing the Texas Gulf Coast. Unfortunately, I hadn’t thought to use my screen capture program to catch it. And it was raining here at the time, so there was no point in going out to wave.

– Once Orion was up in its elliptical orbit, the view of the Earth was a tri-color Earth much like my tri-color Moon from my lunar eclipse photos: white limb, blue middle, and black in shadow. I need to figure out if that’s just an effect of the camera’s dynamic range because if not I want to capture the tri-color effect in the story I’m currently writing.


– Orion did, as expected, experience a communication blackout when the reentry plasma got too thick.

– The video of the landing and splashdown – from the Ikhana drone and Orion itself – were awesome. I loved the infrared point of the approaching Orion and getting to see all the parachutes deploy.

– It was great that NASA TV and ustream broadcast the entire mission, and I enjoyed sharing the event with the twitter community. I don’t tweet often, but this event seemed made for it.

I spent the whole morning watching the flight. What an awesome day!

Congratulations to the NASA and Lockheed Martin Orion teams on a flawless flight! I am such a NASA fangirl! Luckily for me, I work for a NASA contractor and occasionally get to do work for Orion. But today I just got to be a fan.  🙂

[1] Ground track picture from NASA Flickr.

[2] Tri-color Earth picture screen shot from ustream NASA TV feed.