Reality Skimming

Reality Skimming

Reality Skimming promotes optimistic SF -- stories that inspire us to fight the good fight for another day. Committment to larger projects, the writer's sense of mission, joy of reading, the creative campfire of the SF community and the love of deserving protagonists are celebrated. We believe in heroes and striving to be what we believe in. It is also a news hub for content related to the Okal Rel Saga written by Lynda Williams.


Meet the Relatives – Post 6

Meet The Relatives by Lynda Williams, is the touching story of very Demish Dela's adventures in Red Reach. Illustrations are by Richard Bartrop.

The "Cousin"

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At the same time, his thumb stroked the side of her breast under her arm. He did it absently, as if it soothed him as he dwelt on whatever preoccupied him in such a hair-raising, unusual manner. Normally, Vras didn't have much of an attention span for deep thoughts.

Normally,Vras didn't have much of an attention span for deep thoughts.

Sert waited beyond the second airlock. There was another, fierce looking highborn beside her. A male one. And a Vrellish highborn unknown to the court Dela had come from, which considered every one of them dangerous. "W-who is that?" Dela whispered, clutching Vras by an arm.

"Harn," he said. "A cousin."

Vras had told her before, in bedroom conversations, that cousins were anyone who smelled too closely related for sex. When pressed for details about what one called actual cousins, Vras had just shrugged. By which she concluded that the limitations of Vrellish record keeping were unthinkably huge. Apparently, if no one could remember what relationship obtained between two people, but their noses said there was one, they were 'cousins'.

Dela did her best to smile at Harn's stony expression without earning the least response.

It could be worse, she thought. He could be female.

She didn't need any more competition.

"Ready?" Sert asked Vras in her deep, steady voice.

He answered her with a nod, a spring in his manner once more as if a weight had lifted, or he'd simply decided to set it down.

Sert, Vras and their 'cousin', Harn, began to run, trailed by the pack of six nobleborns.

Vras and Harn Post 6 - Richard Bartrop


Interview with Gordon Long


After 30 years of teaching, 40 years of theatre, and 20 years of playwrighting, I think I’ve paid my dues, and it’s time to become a novelist.

I also adjudicate Speech Arts Festivals, and direct two different Seniors’ performance troupes. Sometimes I teach ESL in Korea. My latest fun job was supervising the medal ceremonies in Speed Skating for the Vancouver 2010 Olympics. I crew on a 32-foot racing sloop called “Planet Claire” out of the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club, and I’m starting to compete in Agility with my Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, Josh. (Actually, he competes. I run around and look like I’m contributing).

What constitutes "young adult" fiction for you?

The YA genre was created for two separate reasons. The first and simplest one is the decency rating. Just like for movies, parents and librarians and other censorious types want to know that their children aren't corrupting their minds with nasty stuff. So a YA novel is supposed to be sort of a "PG13" rating. Nowadays, of course, it's more like "PG16" or more.

The other reason is for marketing, and this one falls down in an even bigger mess. In fact, the reading abilities and preferences of teenagers vary so widely it's hard to pin down what the group is reading. As a writer, targetting these people is a very chancy affair.

In general, I suppose you could say that teenagers are less sophisticated readers, so they will probably like a straightforward plotline, lots of action, and usually simpler characters. As do a lot of adult readers.

My observation of young people is that they seem to like stories about people about two years older than themselves. Remember how in high school you always knew all the kids in the grades above you, but you didn't care too much about those below? That applies to the main characters in YA books as well.

Marketing-wise, you can always look at what's selling, and try to jump on the bandwagon. Paranormal is big right now, but it will go the way of the hula hoop. Probably too late to jump on that one.

I wrote "A Sword Called…Kitten?" with YA in mind, but I know from talking to customers that one of my main markets is mothers and grandmothers picking up presents for younger members of their families. Who knew?

As an author, I think you're much better off just writing a good book in your specific genre. If it's a genre that teenagers are reading, they'll pick it up. Unless you're the kind of genius that knows what the next hula hoop is going to be, and can get everyone jumping through yours.

Gordon A. Long  

Read about A Sword Called... Kitten?

Purchase A Sword Called... Kitten?  


ORU Artifact #34 – Books on Display

The Okal Rel Universe has inspired many beautiful, curious, fun and touching moments, objects and re-mixes or interpretations over the years. This page celebrates them one by one. Found one that should be here? Tell us about it for the finder's reward of the month. Send your discovery to [email protected]

Books on Display at Edge Science Fiction & Fantasy Publishing booth

Books AT Con

This display of books was at the Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing booth at a con sometime in 2009-2010.


Interview with Angela Lott

Interviewed by Sarah Trick


Angela Lott is the middle child of Lynda’s three daughters. She did two years of Business schooling at the College of New Caledonia and is now working as a receptionist at her local FYiDoctors. In her spare time she enjoys writing, video blogging, reading and watching very nerdy TV shows.

Your story "Diff the Dragon" begins with a dedication to "Alivda, who never got to have her story told." What inspired you to want to fill in this gap in the canon? What attracts you to the character of Alivda?

When I decided to write an Okal Rel story for my mom for Christmas last year I knew right away that I was going to write canon and it was going to take place in the time gap between books three and four. I had two stories come to mind right away; one was Alivda’s story and the other was Erien’s. I tried to start writing both for a few weeks and eventually found that I wanted to write the Alivda one more. It just felt more natural flowing from my mind to my fingers and onto the computer. I found it got easier and easier to write and I wanted to write it so I stopped writing Erien and finished Alivda. I didn’t put much thought into why this was until I read your question. I think what attracts me to Alivda is that though her character was loosely based off of me when I was a toddler, now, as an adult, I admire her. She is all the things I am not, or at least that is the way it feels. I always thought her relationship with Amel was unique and have a special place in my heart for parents who raise and love others' children as if they were their own.

Both your writing and your vlog show a real gift for humour. Did you have to develop your sense of humour, or was it always there? What is the value of humour in storytelling?

I am really glad that I have a sense of humour in my writing 'cause in real life I am not funny. And when I say not funny I mean it. I have discovered that I am really only great at humour when I get to control what is said and what is said back. When you can control the situation you can work the humor in and see if it fits then you can change it around till it works perfectly and is hilarious! Same with writing a script, I can control everything so I am not totally dull. I think whatever sense of humour I have was definitely developed over time and I think humour has great value in storytelling. If there is no humor in a story, no laughter, it doesn’t feel right to me. Even Sci Fi, Fantasy and Action almost always have some humour. It gives a story life in my opinion. I am very fond of laughing and would recommend it to anymore. Laughter is the best medicine.

Your vlog (video blog) talks about both your love for the ORU and your experiences as a nerdfighter. For the uninitiated, what on earth is a nerdfighter? And what does the T-shirt on your wall mean?

Ah yes… Okay, how to put this….

Let’s start with defining the word Nerdfighter. For starters we don’t fight nerds. Think of it as a freedom fighter; do they fight against freedom? The technical definition of a nerdfighter is someone who, instead of being made of muscles, organs, bones and skin is made of awesome instead but as that definition doesn’t tell you much I will elaborate.

In 2006 a guy John called his brother Hank and was like “Hey, I never see you, we live super far away and I want to reconnect, let's vlog at each other every day for a year.” Now Hank knows his brother has a really great random idea every 45 minutes that never pans out so he agrees. They both go and buy cameras, and starting January 1st 2007 on the youtube channel vlogbrothers John and Hank Green started vlogging at each other every weekday. Most of the early vlogs don’t have much to them since the brothers only intended it to be seen by each other, but within half a year they have 10,000 people watching them. By the end of the year they didn’t want to stop so they kept going. Just recently they celebrated their six-year anniversary at Carnegie Hall. They have published over 1,000 videos featuring everything from the top ten weirdest diseases, to showing what their charity work did in Africa, to advice and thoughts about the meaning of life. The main goal of Nerdfighteria is to decrease world suck which is just what it sounds like. All these accomplishments, in my opinion, stem from creating a community where it doesn’t matter where you live, what race you are, or what you believe, you can be part of it. Part of a community that is made of awesome.

As you can probably guess, I can go on about this community for hours but I will stop there. I think that is the gist of it. What am I missing? Oh right DFTBA! That not surprisingly means Don’t Forgot to be Awesome.  There is a rap:

There is also a video where they answer all your questions:

Within Nerdfighteria there are a lot of inside jokes that sounds really weird to other people.

So Jokes = So cool!

ftl = French the Llama

p4a = project for awesome

DFTBA = Don't Forget to Be Awesome!

Tiny Chicken Disease = the common cold

CrashCourse and SciShow = ftl LEARNING

Decreasing World Suck and Increasing Awesome!

You chose to make a video blog rather than a traditional blog. What attracted you to this medium? What do you think are its strengths and weaknesses? What are your future plans for the vlog?

A traditional blog never really interested me. The only reason I started vlogging was to be part of the community I love. Nerdfighteria and the rest of the youtube community helped me so much I wanted to join them. Its strengths and potential are endless! I am sure it has weaknesses but I don’t know what they are. My future plans for my vlogs are yet to be seen. I hope I keep doing it and get better and better. I love creating things, I just haven’t done anything creative in a while and am hoping now that I am settled into my new job I will start being creative again. I want to do more funny video and convert a few more people to the ORU. My best success story so far is Ashley in my video Converted.

Judging from the poem your mom posted recently on the blog ("Alison is on the Phone.") you and your sisters weren't always as big fans of the ORU as you are now. How did the ORU turn from something of your mother's to something you can enjoy and participate in yourself? What is it that draws you to the ORU?

I always knew Amel’s name and I always knew mom was writing when she was hiding in the basement but it wasn’t till high school that I knew more than that. I don’t remember exactly when but at some point mom and I decided we were going to read Courtesan Prince together. She would read and I would sit next to her. We got through the first four books like that. And while that was happening Jennifer, my older sister, organized weekly readings on Saturday mornings where we read from books she had in her collection she thought we would like. Then when Jennifer started writing her own stories she started reading those and then mom joined in. And it became a Saturday tradition that mom made crepes and we all listened to Jenny’s and mom’s most recent chapter. I heard the rest of the books like this, one chapter at a time as they were written. Then I would read them again when they came out in print. It was a great environment to get feedback and helped us all a lot. Then when I started writing I started reading on Saturdays too. My little sister sometimes read her poetry and we even had guests sometimes. Friends who would come and join in. Sometimes they brought something of theirs to read and sometimes they just listened. It was a great motivator to keep writing. What drew me to the ORU is the same as what drew me to any story I love: the characters. It is a very character based story full of action, comedy, romance, politics, and culture. It is complicated and something you can really sync into.

Do you plan to write anything more in the ORU or out of it after "Diff the Dragon" is done? What are your next plans for creative projects?

As I said previously in these answers I also started an Erien story when I started Diff’s story. I may one day get back to that and finish it. And who knows one day I say start an Okal Rel story that is entirely different. I am a good way through a fantasy story I started last year that I rather like but am totally unsure where it is going. I may work on that. I also started a Sci Fi short story about a girl who becomes two of herself. There is also a very hardcore Sci Fi story I started which is about the end of the world by accident. So next projects are most likely those but you never know.


Interview with Kristene Perron

Kristene Perron

Kristene Perron

Kristene is a former professional stunt performer for film and television (as Kristene Kenward) and self-described ‘fishing goddess’. Pathologically nomadic, she has lived in Japan, Costa Rica, the Cook Islands, and a very tiny key in the Bahamas, just to name a few. Her stories have appeared in Denizens of Darkness, Canadian Storyteller Magazine, The Barbaric Yawp and Hemispheres Magazine. In 2010 she won the Surrey International Writers’ Conference Storyteller Award. Kristene is a member of SF Canada. Her novel, Warpworld, is the first in a five book adventure science fiction series, penned with her Texan co-writer, Joshua Simpson. The second book, Wasteland Renegades, will be published in July 2013. She currently resides in Nelson, BC, Canada but her suitcase is always packed.

Interviewed by Michelle Carraway

What would you consider your top three creative achievements to be?

The first is my co-written novel/series Warpworld, without question. I'm very proud of what Joshua Simpson and I have created, and the time and energy I have put (and continue to put) into this story borders on obsessive.

Second would be Birds Also Cry, a short story I wrote in 2010 that won the Storyteller Award at the Surrey International Writer's Conference. The award was nice but even better were the wonderful comments I received from judges Diana Gabaldon and Jack Whyte.

The last one is a bit strange but I occasionally do construction, as a "real" job, with my husband. When I have spare moments, I will write micro fiction on sheets of drywall, or plywood, anywhere that will be hidden from view. I love to imagine someone finding those mysterious scribblings decades into the future and wondering who wrote them.

How has science fiction affected your life?

I call myself a "child of Star Wars". I was seven when the film came out and it filled me with a permanent sense of awe. Star Wars was to me what the 60's were to hippies - you really had to be there. As a side note, back when I was still doing stunt work I would double for Lisa Ryder on the science fiction series Andromeda now and then, (she's a sweetheart and very talented, by the way). It was on that set where I fulfilled my childhood dream of flying my own spaceship with a good blaster at my side, just like my hero Han Solo.

What is your favourite science fiction author/book or universe?

No favourites. A cop-out, I know. Douglas Adams and his Hitchhiker books will always have a special place in my heart, though. Humour is underrated and doesn't get as much respect as it deserves. Conversely, Margaret Atwood's Oryx and Crake sent a chill down my spine from which I've yet to completely recover.

How did you first hear about the Okal Rel Universe?

I've been living the gypsy life for about ten years now, often hanging my hat in places with not even a library and sketchy Internet connections - so I've been out of touch. In 2009 I moved back to civilization but immediately launched into Warpworld and 8 -14 hour writing days. I've just come up for air and I'm thrilled to have time to read and discover new authors again. I found Lynda and the Okal Rel Universe when I was accepted as a member in SF Canada and I look forward to diving in!

What life experiences have contributed to your creative endeavours?

Too many to list? I've lived in Japan, Costa Rica, Mexico, the Cook Islands, etc, etc. I was a professional stunt performer for 10 years. I've made and lost (small) fortunes. I once rode through a white squall in the Bahamas, in a 25 foot fishing boat, with my husband...and my cat. Life really is stranger than fiction.

What is your greatest source of inspiration?

Everything, everywhere, every day. I'm a bit of an inspiration whore.

What advice would you give to fellow/aspiring writers?

Stephen King said it best "Read a lot, write a lot." I would only add "...and don't give up."

On Twitter: @kristene.perron

On Facebook:


ORU News – March 4 2013

 The Okal Rel Universe is pleased to welcome admin intern Dylan Thompson to the team. Dylan is a writer and an undergraduate student at the University of Northern British Columbia. He will be  facilitating the organization of the content on the website for the months of March and April and is happy to be a part of the distribution of engaging, positive  science fiction.
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