Thursday, September 30, 2010

Interview with Smoky Trudeau

O met Smoky through the Vanilla Heart lists. She's one of my fellow writers there and writes both fiction and non-fiction. I think she moves from one side of her brain much easier than I do.

1. What's your genre or do you write in more than one?

I’ve published both literary fiction and nonfiction books. My passion is fiction writing; I have two novels out, Redeeming Grace and The Cabin. I’ve written two books specifically for writers, Front-Word, Back-Word, Insight Out: Lessons on Writing the Novel Lurking Inside You From Start to Finish and Left-Brain, Right-Brain: 366 Writing Prompts and Exercises. The former is based on my years of teaching fiction writing workshops; the second is daily exercises to keep your muse challenged. My most recent book is Observations of an Earth Mage, a collection of photos, essays, and poems about my experiences in the great outdoors.

2. Did you choose your genre or did it choose you?

A little bit of both. I started my professional writing career as a freelance feature writer, but I’d always wanted to write a novel. Redeeming Grace started out being more of a romantic novel, but the characters had different ideas. It ended up being a literary examination of the way the Bible can be misconstrued, misinterpreted, to the detriment of women. I had no idea this was what I was going to write about when I set out to write the book! But I’m very proud of the way it turned out, and proud of the statement it makes. The Cabin is more of an historical time travel novel, but I don’t consider it fantasy, like most time travel novels.

3. Is there any genre you'd like to try? Or is there one you wouldn't?

Even though there is science fiction I enjoy reading, particularly the science fiction of my youth—I’m talking Ray Bradbury and Robert A. Heinlein, at the risk of dating myself—I have no desire to write in that genre. Today’s sci-fi readers want much more action, much more technology than the sci-fi writers of old, and I simply don’t enjoy reading modern sci-fi as much. I’m not a big action fan. I think I’ll stick to my literary novels and my earth-centered nonfiction writing. That’s what most of my fans prefer, anyway.

4. What fiction do you read for pleasure?

My current favorite is Jose Saramago, the Portuguese Nobel-Prize winning author. Death With Interruptions was absolutely the best book I ever read. I also enjoyed his The Gospel of Jesus Christ—quite a novel take on the Jesus story, no pun intended. I loved Helen of Troy by Margaret George, and Nefertiti by Michelle Moran. I adored The Forest Lover by Susan Vreeland, the fictional account of the life of Canadian artist Emily Carr. I guess you could say my literary taste is wildly varied.

5. Tell me a bit about yourself and how long you've been writing.

I was born and raised in the Midwest, and started out studying to be a clinical social worker. When I was thirty-two, I was struck by lightning and nearly killed. During my long recovery, I started writing professionally for my hometown newspaper. Freelancing afforded me the opportunity to work when I felt well enough, yet enabled me to not work when I was sick and hospitalized with lightning-related issues. I’ve been writing professionally now for about twenty years! I was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2003, for my short story, “The Last Flight Home.” I moved to California two years ago to help my daughter pursue her dream of becoming an actress, and a few months after my move, met my husband, Scott. Together we go on grand adventures throughout California, which I chronicle in my blog on Xanga ( Kimberlee Williams at Vanilla Heart Publishing suggested I compile my blogs and other nature writings into what became my latest book, Observations of an Earth Mage. After three nonfiction books, however, I’m ready to return to fiction writing, and am just now starting to write my third novel.

6. Which of your characters is your favorite?

That would have to be Cora from The Cabin. Cora is thrown into the modern era from pre-Civil War Virginia, losing her husband and two children in the process. But she adapts, and through that adaptation helps orchestrate a daring plot to save her daughter and the man her daughter loves from a terrible fate, changing her family’s history in the process. Cora is the woman I would like to be: brave, intelligent, and quirky.

7. Are there villains in your books and how were they created?

Luther in Redeeming Grace, could be considered a villain. He is Grace’s father, and after the death of his wife and two of his children, he slowly goes mad. He becomes verbally abusive to Grace and physically abusive to Grace’s little sister Miriam, spouting Bible verses as justification for his actions. Luther is definitely evil, although Grace still has compassion for him. She remembers the kind and loving father he was before tragedy hit the family. And that, to me, is what makes an antagonist believable: they have to have redeeming qualities. There are good qualities in the most evil of people; Hannibal Lechter of The Silence of the Lambs, for example, murdered people and then ate them, yet he loved good art, good music good literature. Putting a glimmer of good, no matter how small, in your villains is always a good idea.

8. What are you working on now?

I’ve just started a brand-new project with the working title, The Madam of Bodie. I don’t want to say too much about it right now, because it is just in its infancy.

9. What's your latest release and how did the idea arrive?

Well, I already told you about my latest book release, Observations of an Earth Mage. I have a short story called “Breakfast at the Laundromat” in Vanilla Heart Publishing’s new Passionate Hearts anthology. I love this story and its characters. I got the idea at the laundromat. We live in a teeny tiny cottage with no place for a washer and dryer, so my husband and I have to take our clothes out to wash. We really enjoy people watching while we are there, and the story evolved from there.

10. Tell me about your latest book and how it came about. Enclose the opening of the book around 400 words.

I don't usually write—or read—romance novels. Somehow, they always seemed slightly silly to cynical me. People finding their soul mates—as if soul mates really existed! Really, give me a break ...

But then ... I met my soul mate. And suddenly, romantic stories don't seem so silly to me. Oh, I'm not talking bodice rippers—I still have no use for those. But stories with a strong element of romance, or the possibility of romance, now appeal to me greatly.

Then my publisher requested that I submit a short story to their upcoming Passionate Hearts anthology, and surprise! I find I actually even like to write romantic stories!

Here's an excerpt from "Breakfast at the Laundromat."

“Damn!” She thrust her coffee into his hand, jumped up, and dashed to the end of the row of washers, where soap suds were oozing from the top and puddling on the floor like little cumulus clouds that had somehow gotten lost and wandered into the laundry. The machine was banging loudly and wobbling so badly he thought it would sashay right out the door. She lifted the lid; the wobbling and banging stopped. He could hear her muttering something as she reached in and started pulling out what looked like an enormous purple chenille snake from the washer. She’d pulled at least six feet of the purple viper out of the machine before he realized it was a bedspread that had gotten twisted and tangled around the agitator. He set her coffee on the folding table next to the Thermos, crammed the last bite of coconut donut in his mouth, and went to offer assistance.

“This is why I’m doing my wash here instead of at home,” he said, reaching into the machine and tugging loose a pulled strand of chenille that was wedged under the agitator. “Big chunks of material like bedspreads are too heavy to wash; I broke the agitator on my washer doing living room drapes. You have to send stuff like this to the cleaners when they get dirty.”

“Oh, pish-posh,” she said, untwisting the tangled spread, shaking globs of soapy bubbles loose from its folds. “I wash mine here at least every couple of months. You just have to rebalance the load in the machine every so often while it’s washing.”

She crammed the bedspread back into the machine and shut the lid. After a moment, it started spinning again, this time with a minimal amount of banging and wobbling on the machine’s part.

He picked his way among the clouds of suds that had escaped from the washer and returned to his chair. He assumed she was right behind him, but when he turned he saw her bending over the piles of suds and scooping them up in her arms as if they were piles of autumn leaves. Using her backside to push open the door to the parking lot, she stepped out of the laundry and let the suds fly in the breeze. She slipped back inside, once again marched over to the washer, again scooped up a pile of suds, and again sent them sailing outside. By her fourth trip to the parking lot all that was left of the suds clouds on the laundromat floor was a tiny ribbon of water inching its way toward the floor drain, and the clouds themselves whirled through the air above a shiny new Lexus convertible and a rusty green pickup truck in the parking lot. She whirled and danced among the suds clouds until they drifted off toward the street.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Characters - Astrology - Saggitarius

Here goes with character traits for Saggitarians to help develop characters.

Saggitarian Sun or the inner person --These people are jovial, bright, hopeful and generous. They are generally self-reliant and out-spoken. There frankness can lead to problems. A Saggitarian heroine or hero is ambitious and not easily discouraged. They like liberty and out-door activity. Their strong will can present problems for they will not be driven.

Ascendant - Outer self. This is the face shown to the world. The Saggitarian hero or heroine is very independent and will not be ordered around. They can be impulsive and out-spoken. The hero or heroine can be found with their foot in their mouth. He or she can be nervously energetic and quick to make decisions. They have foresight especially in regards to business. He or she can appear blunt and abrupt. They can be high-strung. This hero or heroine likes animals.

Moon -- the emotional nature. This character can be benevolent and humanitarian. He or she can be sociable and loves to travel. They often change their residence frequently. This is a quick worker who may find themselves in the public eye either in a positive or negative way. The hero or heroine can benefit through women.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Inspiration day -- More on Vogler

Vogler's second step on the journey is the Call to Action. What reading his book has done is to make me think about what I do either instinctively or by careful planning. I do work on several levels. To me this call is a trigger. What triggers my hero or heroine or both to take a step toward a goal and why they want to reach that goal. What triggers them to move. Is there a new man or woman in their view? Is there a problem that must be solved and are they the right ones to solve them? This sort of thing is what I use when I do the two sentence synopsis. A simple question stating the goal and can it be reached.

I'm very glad I dug this book from my shelves and I'll continue to look at the steps on the journey and see how they go with my own writing. Take the time and see if they fit into your writing ideas.

Monday, September 27, 2010

My Writing life

Another interesting week. On Friday I signed the contract for Quests the third in the Henge Betrayed series. That makes four contracts in three months. I had a dry spell before so the last part of this year is productive. The signing of this contract means I have to get moving on the final book of the series. It's about 2 fifths done and hopefully before the end of the year I'll write finis.

Started a new bit on this blog on Saturday. This is the two sentence synopsis, something I do before I begin every book to help me stay on target. For me it works and hopefully other people will see that it might help them.

On the personal side, granddaughter has come for a visit and hopefully a stay with getting back to school and life in order. She's a Gemini with a multitude of talents and has a bit of trouble deciding what she wants to do with her life.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Six Sentence Sunday

Continuing with sentences from Confrontations my current work in progress. This introduces the second of the focus characters.

With a chiding voice ringing in his thoughts Val signaled his three companions forward. He closed his mind to the muttered complaints of the youngest member of the quartet. Why me? Since he was a year older than the other halflings, he'd been chosen to ride herd on the most impetuous of the Fire affinities. When Ky's courser sprinted into the lead, he groaned.

"We're off at last," Ky shouted.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Challenge for writers

There's somethng I do before starting to write a book that usually keeps me focused on the story. Note, I say sometimes. There are times I've been diverted from the story and that's usually because as what I've set out to do has evolved into more than one story.

When I started writing, I came across a book by Dwight Swain that was a great help while I struggled with learning to form my ideas into stories. I wish I had the book but I loaned it to someone and haven't received it back so I'll try to explain in my less that wonderful way and issue a challenge to fellow writers.

What one does when the ideas and characters are bubbling in the thoughts is to write what your story will be in two sentences. One is a statement and the other is a question. This is sort of a synopsis in two sentences. Here's the one I wrote for one of my latest releases, The Warrior of Bast. This was done before I began the story.

Statement - On the run from she sister's killers, Tira reads a flyer offering an escape and a chance for her to fulfill a dream.

Question - As a warrior of Bast with the help of Kashe, a warrior of Horu, can she find the missing symbols of an ancient Egypt and defeat the priests of Aken Re?

The challenge is this during the next month, write your own two sentence synopsis of the story you're working on or one you plan to write and post it on your own blog or put it in the comment section of mine. For blog followers, there may be a surprise.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Writer's Tip - Characterization

Without characters there would be no stories. I suppose one could use an object to tell a story. Tried that once with a park bench but those were in the days when I was finding my way as a writer.

Often rejections speak of the poorly developed characters, or that they are cardboard. How does one solve this. There are four areas to help in developing a character.

Social - There are universal traits. Is the character male or female, child or adult. There are certain things common to each of these areas. Where was the character born? This country, another country, in the city, a small town, a rural area. There's a difference between characters who were born in NYC, in the Kentucky mountains, or a Texas ranch.

Intellectual traits - What kind of education did the character have? Are they curious or not? Where did they go to school? Did they drop out, have a dozen degrees. Do they have a profession and how did they choose it?

Emotional traits -- How does the character react to a situation. Wgat are their feelings about where they live, about their looks. How do they react to pain, to pleasure, to friends and enemies. These traits are sparked by the emotions.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Interview with Kim

Kim is another of the obscure young adult writers. I've met her on line in this interesting collection of writers.

. What's your genre or do you write in more than one?

Right now I’m a YA author. Both of my books are YA. My third book NO GODDESSES ALLOWED is a lighter YA.

2. Did you choose your genre or did it choose you?

When I started writing EARRINGS OF IXTUMEA, I saw a fourteen-year-old girl struggling with her Latina heritage. At the time I was a bilingual teacher and searching for my own Mexican roots. It just seemed like a good match.

3. Is there any genre you'd like to try? Or is there one you wouldn't?

I’d love to write a historical romance that is kind of steamy. But not over the top. My favorite author is Diana Gabaldon. Love, love her writing.

I have to say gory, over the top violent books are not my cup of tea. Same with overly graphic sexual books that don’t leave anything to the imagination.

4. What fiction do you read for pleasure?

Anything by Isabel Allende. Also love Diana Gabaldon. Plus YA paranormals, fantasies, and multicultural books

5. Tell me a bit about yourself and how long you've been writing,

I’m a former bilingual teacher and currently homeschooling my son. I’ve been writing since I can remember. Wrote for all my school newspapers and even was a journalism/communication major.

6. Which of your characters is your favorite?
So far my favorite character has to be Stephanie in CROSSED OUT. I had the same ‘tude as a teen. But not her ability though the women in my family are sensitive to the whole paranormal. Yes, some of my relatives have reported seeing a ghost or two.

7. Are there villains in your books and how were they created?
Concha, Lupe’s mother, is a big villain in EARRINGS. I wanted her to be tormented at her decision to leave Lupe when she was a child but still be willing to hand her over to her lover, Malvado in order to both gain immortality and be with him.

8. What are you working on now?
Right now I’m working on the sequel to CROSSED OUT. I hope to have the first draft done by December. I’m thinking I’m going to have to have a writing fest in the next couple months to achieve that goal.

9. What's your latest release and how did the idea arrive?

CROSSED OUT is my latest book. The idea came from my husband who asked what if it was the job of someone to make all those crosses you see on the side of the road. From there I used a personal experience I had from my murdered sister. The rest is history.

10. Tell me about your latest book and how it came about. Enclose the opening of the book around 400 words.

I couldn’t deal with Mom and her holier-than-thou attitude about decorating crosses. If she had any clue why I needed to do this, maybe she’d back off. I pushed my hair aside and looked down at the wooden beams. My box of paints and Sharpie pens lay close to my side. I had to get the design just right. Roses, or something plainer? It didn’t help that it was so cold in the garage.

Why was it so hard to help the dead go to the other side? It’d be a whole lot easier if they told me what they wanted on their crosses. Dead girl comes, asks for help, and tells me she’s into pink roses. Yes, that would make my job a lot easier.
But one thing I’ve learned is, life isn’t easy. Cliché, but true.

Figures, this was how I’d spend my time on a Saturday – sitting cross-legged on the floor in our garage, worrying about finishing a cross for some dead girl. In a few hours, Mom would drag me to Mrs. Swanson’s house for a sleepover. I didn’t really have time to decorate a cross.

And each time I tried to sketch, thoughts of the meeting drove any thought of the design out of my mind. I mean, how could I even think of helping others – albeit dead ones – when my own life was such a disaster?

I didn’t want to go. But Mom was using the whole sleepover as a way to get me to be around Hillary, whom she thought would be such a good example for me. But I couldn’t tell my mother the truth – I hated Hillary. Yes, we’d once been close, but it wasn’t as if we were BFF anymore. No, Hillary made sure of that when I’d been stupid enough to trust her with my secret. A secret that was better left hidden. No one believed the dead could talk to you.

According to my last counselor, the only way that could happen is through serious Steven Spielberg special effects..

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Astrology -- Scorpio characters

The hero or heroine with a Scorpio Sun is shrewd with keen judgment. They can be critical, suspicious and skeptical. An enterprising nature that is reserved, tenacious and secretive. This hero or heroine is fond of luxuries bur is also economical. They can be plain spoken and bitingly sarcastic. There can be a tendency to be aggressive. At their best they are original, dangerous and creative.

With the face they show the world, Scorpio rising brings a reserved person who is inclined to be suspicious. They are quick witted and can deliver sarcastic remarks with ease. They are quick to take action and are positive and can be blunt. They are fond of a good fight. They make staunch friends. Scorpio rising brings and willfulness to the nature. This hero or heroine can hold fixed views. When proved they are angry.

The Moon shows the emotional nature of the hero and heroine. With Scorpio in this spot, the character is capable of vigorous activity. They have a firm self-confidence. With a Scorpio moon, the character will take care of their own. They have a fondness for pleasure and comfort. They can be forceful and masterful. They do not tolerate imposition. There is a great attraction to and from the opposite sex.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Inspirations - The Writer's journey

Years ago, I bought The Writer's Journey by Christopher Vogler and started to read it but for some reason I put it on the shelf and didn't finish it. While doing these things to inspire people in their writing I pulled it off the shelf and started to read.

He maps out a sort of 3 act arc. This begins in the ordinary world. This made me think about the ordinary world. This is different for each character one creates and this means one has to build a bit of the character's world before the story begins. For me this means that after I've decided what my story is going to entail, I have to think about what is going on in a character's life and what makes them want to leave this world that may be comfortable or uncomfortable. He talks about :The fish out of water." Sometimes I've used this but sometimes I've made the fist be in the water and the changes that come from without. Mrs. Miller in the first two stories of the mystery series is in her world and her world is threatened. In the third and fourth books of the series she does step out of her world and I think when I get to the fifth, she will again leave her world and in the sixth she will return to her world being disturbed by events. So reading just a few paragraphs has made me think about the stories I've written and the ones I'll be writing.

Monday, September 20, 2010

My Writing Life

The Henge Betrayed Confrontations is moving forward and I am close to two fifths done. Hoping to finish before the end of the year.

Decided to do the Six Sentences but I can't post to the person running the thing unless I change my stuff to Outlook. I'm happy with my default for things and have had no problems. So I will post when I remember.

Am working on a challenge for writers and I do wish someone who borrowed one of my books Dwight Swain's because he explains it better than I can but I will get to this on Saturday.

One bit of almost good news but I should know more later. The Henge Betrayed Refuge is tentatively scheduled to be released in October.

The idea for the final of the Seduction series is mulling in my head.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

My Six Sentences even though they're not in the mix

Wanted to do this but had no desire to switch my email delivers. But here goes.

The time has come. Ash bolted upright. Her heart pounded with the beat of a mad drummer. Her gaze swept the room and she saw the seven other young women slept. Had someone spoken on the winds or had the words been part of a dream she couldn't remember? When her racing heard slowed she cautiously opened her senses to read the winds of the keep.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Writing tips -- action

Just what is action? Any time the characters are talking or moving is action. This is shown by developing a scene giving the reader a chance to identify with the characters. Scenes are used to characterize and there are large scenes and small scenes. Scenes are developed when an event is interesting, important or exciting.

A large scene is used when conflict occurs. There is a pattern. A meeting, an exploration of the conflict, a suggestion to the result and the result which may solve or deepen the conflict. This can be dome by showing the characters in movement, in movement plus dialogue or by dialogue only. In the conflict the opponents must want to eliminate, win, outlast or pacify the other party to the conflict. These large scenes can be used to show major or minor conflicts.

There's nothing worse that reading a story where what could be a major conflict is told rather than shown.

Minor scenes are used to characterize. to convey information the reader needs to understand the story and where needed to advance the story.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Interview with Tracey Kitts

Tracey and I share one publisher and she's been kind enough to allow me to post some excerpts on her group.

1. What's your genre or do you write in more than one?

I write paranormal, sci-fi, and fantasy romance. Usually my books are a combination of all of the above.

2. Did you choose your genre or did it choose you?

A little of both. I write what I enjoy reading. I honestly don't know if I could write anything "normal" if I tried. lol

3. Is there any genre you'd like to try? Or is there one you wouldn't?

Hmm. Good question. I wouldn't want to write historical for sure. Although I enjoy reading them, I couldn't begin to imagine the work that goes into a historical. To me it's above and beyond what I have time for. Hats off for those who specialize in historical romance.

4. What fiction do you read for pleasure?

It all depends on what mood I'm in. Most of the time I end up reading YA novels.

5. Tell me a bit about yourself and how long you've been writing.

I'm never sure how to answer about myself. It's not that I'm complicated, I'm just odd. Ha. Ha. I've been writing for my own entertainment since I could pick up a pencil. But I wrote my first novel in 2007. It was Red, book one in my Lilith Mercury series. I've been published for three years.

6. Which of your characters is your favorite?

The one I'm working on at the time usually. I love good guys who are just a little bit bad too. I like flaws. One of my all-time favorites would have to be Nicholas from Bitten. He fits the description quite well.

7. Are there villains in your books and how were they created?

I've always said that a story is only as good as its villain. So, there usually is one in my books. Honestly, they're the most fun to create. My villains don't come about as a result of my dark side or anything like that. But they do occasionally channel my frustrations. I think everybody does that sometimes.

8. What are you working on now?

Right now I'm working on a paranormal romance called The Invitation and having such a blast. I just wrote what was supposed to be the bad guy into the story, but I like him too much to make him evil. *smiles*

9. What's your latest release and how did the idea arrive?

My latest release is called Sex Symbol and will be available October 6th from Ellora's Cave. The idea came to me when I realized how interesting it would be to have a werewolf move in next door.

10. Tell me about your latest book and how it came about. Enclose the opening of the book around 400 words.

I've always loved the story of Beauty and the Beast. This plays off that idea just a little bit.

My next door neighbor was the hottest thing on two legs. No, really. You should see him. There is no way to accurately describe a man like this, but I can give you the basics. He’s around six foot four with short, shaggy brown hair and a body that could cause heart failure. I didn’t know anything about him except the way watching him each morning made me feel.

Our small, sleepy little community was what I’d always categorized as “dead”. That is, until three weeks ago when he moved into town. The house next door to me had been vacant for two years. No one was murdered there or anything sensational. The real estate market was poor and no one had been interested. Most people didn’t want to live in the middle of nowhere. There were two kinds of people here—the kind who were born here and the kind looking to escape from something somewhere else. I was born here.

Please let me know if you need anything else. Thanks so much for having me:)


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Inspiration -- What inspires you?

I've finished gleaning things that inspired me from John Gardner's Becoming a Novelist choosing things I read many years ago. This week I was going to start writing about Bird by Bird and found I loaned my copy to someone. I don't remember who and so instead, I've decided to ask this question. What or who inspieres you?

I do receive inspiration form many other places than in books and I still have a few more to explore with you as sources of inspiration. But I thought of other people I'd like to speak about. Jane Toombs a co-author for one book and probably a second. This one is not non-fiction. Jane sold my first book in a long dry spell, take ten years when she spoke to her editor about an older woman book I had come up with. The editor liked the idea and asked for a synopsis an. And bought the book on a one page story line bit. Another person who has inspired me is Karen Wiesner who runs a promo group I'm in and has edited several of my stories for anthologuies. Karen has a lot of books under her belt and has some non-fiction books with Writer's Digest.

Other sources of inspiration are my writing groups, critique partners, the online groups I belong to and there are more of those than I care to count. Also I have to count several editors who like everything I write. So who and what are yours?

Monday, September 13, 2010

My Writing Life The week in review

I'm busily working on Confrontations the YA fantasy that will finish that adventure. Have four sections in the works and soon I'll have all the segments in order.

Saturday was a big day mostly good but little writing achieved. I started the morning by reading the following email. Started my day off with a smile.

Dear Janet,

I wanted to let you know that I finished reading Warrior of Bast and loved it! It was great fun to read about this very different world. Their struggles with little food and the harsh desert environment helped create a world I was drawn into from the start. Of course I wanted the Hero and Heroine to get together a little quicker, but I understand why they couldn't — added another level of tension to the story! I really enjoyed the section when they are in the Valley searching for the symbols. It had a very cool Indiana Jones sort of feel to it with the hidden snakes and scorpions. So fun! Thanks for the great read!

Heather Thurmeier

It's so nice to read when someone likes what you've read. When Heather sells I'll be right in line to buy her books. That's one of the ways it works.

Back to Saturday. Was meeting day for HVRWA and it's always great to meet writing friends. Had two new people, one published and one not. Hopefully the group will continue to grow. After lunch with some of my friends from the group I went to Home Depot to order the front and side doors for the house. Arrived there at two thirty and never reached home until a bit after four. Don't ask but frustration was a bit much. Then I went on line to research some ISBNS on two books and found The Mistress of The Moons was already up for the Kindle and also I believe the Nook. Rather got sideswiped there but I really love Vanilla Heart as a publisher. Have some other books I want to send them but I must write them first. I need seventy hours in every day. Does anyone know where I could find them?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Writing Tip - Using Narrative

When writing, narration and action are two vital ingredients. So just what is narration? Conveying in few words a period of time only suggesting what happened during that time. Rather than giving a minute by minute description of what happened during a time when little happened such as itemizing a person's day use narration as a short cut. This can keep the story moving forward. Narration can be used to characterize. If you must speak of an event that seems unbelievable using narration can help give a sense of believability. This can be useful when a character is acting differently than the way he is expected to behave. Because narration should be short this is a good thing to use when you must reach into the past. A fleeting thought can tell a lot and also remind the reader of somthing they had read before.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Interview with Gloria Oliver

I've met and smoozed with Gloria at EPICons several times. She's a fascinating person and writes some very interesting fantasies. I've read and enjoyed a few of them. We've also competed in several constest.

YA Group Questions – Gloria Oliver

1. What's your genre or do you write in more than one?

I’m what is called a Speculative Fiction Author. Meaning that I write fantasy/science fiction/horror/paranormal. So far, however, all my books have been catering to the Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy genres.

2. Did you choose your genre or did it choose you?

Probably both. I’ve always loved all things Fantasy and Science Fiction so it honestly never occurred to me to write anything else. Regardless of all the other genres I may dabble in as time goes on, those two are my loves.

3. Is there any genre you'd like to try? Or is there one you wouldn't?

I’m open to anything. Mostly it’s the story screaming to be told that will determine what genre I use. Though all my books have been fantasy, I’ve written short stories in a lot of others. I’ve a short story I’m shopping around that’s part procedural and part fantasy. Being able to do a good Thriller might be fun.

4. What fiction do you read for pleasure?

The genres I read are all over the place. Though I mainly stick to Fantasy and SF, there are several mystery authors I love, some awesome historical authors and I’ve even thoroughly enjoyed some non-fiction. Just for fun I will go dig out a classic here and there and delve in the fiction that was entertainment back in the day.

5. Tell me a bit about yourself and how long you've been writing,

I’m an accountant/author. One pays the bills, the other my imagination. I was infected by the writing bug in my teens. Back then I would make up stories in my head as I waited to fall asleep and finally created one I liked so much I had to write it down. Then in high school I worked with some friends on our very own Soap Opera. That led me to grow an idea I’d had when looking up at a crescent moon and writing my first ever manuscript. So I guess that means I’ve been trying to iron out my skills in the craft for twenty plus years. Eek!

6. Which of your characters is your favorite?

Normally whichever one I am working with at the moment to be honest. I love them all as they each have a story to tell, but when I am done with it, I’m heading off to the next. Plus my memory is crap. I swear I’ve read over a chapter or passage while editing or doing a reading and thinking “I wrote that?”. Doh! (Okay, I give. Probably Miko, the undead geisha in “In the Service of Samurai”. She was just so much fun! Heh)

7. Are there villains in your books and how were they created?

All stories must have conflict, so normally there are villains. Though not all of them might be what we consider “Evil”. Sometimes the villain, or a secondary villain, has been the hero’s own self. Just like the main characters, any villains get built once I figure out their ins and outs. I make sure they have motivations and things that drive them just like the heroes do. The more rounded all the characters are, the more alive the story becomes, in my opinion. And villains can go a long way to making that happen.

8. What are you working on now?

Currently I am working on an urban fantasy titled “Inner Demons”. It’s about a young woman who finds herself inexplicably in the middle of a Houston street at night having no recollection of how she got there. Worse, she comes to find out she has three months of missing time and seemingly wasn’t idle during that lapse either. Her life has been turned upside down and she has no clue as to how it got that way. It’s almost as if someone else was living her life and going out of their way to destroy it. Heh heh. Now she has to figure out what the hey has been going on and why.

9. What's your latest release and how did the idea arrive?

My soon to be latest release is titled “Price of Mercy”. (Crossing fingers it will be out in early 2011. Was delayed from a 2010 release. *cry*) The idea for it came from a short story I’d written where I’d explored what kind of fate might be worse than death. It ended up being too much to be properly covered in five thousand words so I decided to expand on it. Was actually a lot of fun as for this book I decided not to follow the usual Medieval feel to the Fantasy but skewed it more to a 1500’s French look for the culture and clothes.

10. Tell me about your latest book and how it came about. Enclose the opening of the book around 400 words.

“Willing Sacrifice” is a Fantasy/Young Adult Fantasy. It is an exploration of ‘truth’ and how it can be shaped by different people to be different things. It is also a weird look at stubbornness as well as the beginnings of a blooming romance amidst chaos. It was that whole question of ‘truth’ and what it means depending on how you look at what you know that set me on this path. It’s not really as brainy as it sounds. Just a nice old adventure romp. 

The large undulating cloud spread across the fields, its hunger almost palpable. Food was near, food and entertainment. Thousands of them, all gathered directly in its path. Lightning flashed through the cloud from its eager anticipation.
Long tentacle-like appendages touched the tall city walls, as if caressing a lover, as the cloud glided upwards along its surface. The scent of prey was near.
A resounding gong filled the night as a lone foodling spotted it and called to others in alarm. Yes, make it ring. Call your brethren to the feast.

More foodlings appeared, some in their protective shells of metal and others not. It went over the wall, satisfied and reached out to begin the fun.
Screams echoed in the night as its acid touch ate through their shells to sear the flesh beneath. Ah, the smell of it. The eons it and its fellows had dreamt of this. Their time was finally here.

The foodlings’ attempts to foil its progress sent ripples of amusement through it. Their puny metal weapons bounced off its tentacles without effect. Those foolish enough to enter it screeched in agony and then were abruptly silenced—tasty snacks before the main meal.

The cloud did not slow, but flowed down the other side of the wall, expanding as it went. Like a wave, lights flickered on across the city as it engulfed the nearest homes, the horrified cries of those within waking those without who were still asleep. It could feel the panic rolling before it, frightened foodlings leaving their homes in a vain attempt to avoid its advance.
A lamp fell and shattered inside a shop and flames attacked the wood within reach.

The cloud was not bothered by heat or cold and enjoyed the extra fear the fire inspired in its fleeing meal.

The blaze and the hunger closed in about the city until soon there was nothing left but the taste of death.


La’tiera sat up, her eyes wide with horror. The green luminous aura surrounding her dimmed, shrinking back unnoticed to outline the birthmark of a closed eye on her chest. Her damp golden hair falling about her like a veil, she leaned forward, shaking, trying to catch her breath.

She’d had another horrid vision—this one more vivid, more terrible than the last. Feeling cold at the memory, she quickly reminded herself it wouldn’t be long now—it wouldn’t be long before she would never have one of these troubling dreams again.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Astrology for character development -- Virgo

Now we come to Virgo and the traits to choose from for the inner person, the outer person and the emotional person

A Virgo Sun hero of heroine will have this sort of inner nature. They are modest, thoughtful, serious and industrious. They have a great desire for knowledge. They learn quickly and have a good command of language. They don't show their age which can be an asset or not. They have a quick temper but aren't fighters. They love order but can often get caught up in counting the trees and never see the forest. They are ambitious. They are given to worry. While idealistic they are also practical. They can be frugal and also speculative. There's a little bit of dichotomy in their nature.

Virgo Ascending - the face shown to the world. They come across as conservative and industrious. They desire wealth but have difficulty saving money. They aren't easily content. They learn quickly. Here is someone who often looks younger than they really are. They can be undecided and can lack self-confidence. They can be diplomatic and try to avoid drama.

Virgo Moon. With the moon in Virgo, the emotional nature shows someone fascinated with the occult. They have a good memory for details. They are quick and unpretentious. While talented they are quietly ambitious. They have many friends. They can have secret sorrows they keep close to their chest. In their lives, change is a constant.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Inspiration - The magic moment

There are times when writing you are drawn from anything around you and into the story completely. This afternoon I had one of those rare moments while writing a scene between two villains. When my son appeared at my study door and spoke, for a moment I wondered who he was and where I was. I had been so deep into the characters and the development between them the entire outer world was gone. These moments don't happen often but when they do one has to go with the flow. When the moment is broken it's hard to get the rhythm back. I once wrote the rough draft of a novel working 72 hours straight. When I finished and the moment dissolved I looked at what I had written. Was it awful, no. Was it wonderful, in spots. But that long moment allowed me to plot an entire book that later I was able to smooth out. I don't want any of the magic moments to last that long but I do appreciate them when they come. Have any of you experienced these moments when the house could burn down around you and you would be so lost in the story that the sound of the fire engines would startle you into the present?

Monday, September 6, 2010

My writing life - Reading habits

I've been reading for many years, actually since I was four. I have come to the conclusion I am a spree reader. I find a new writer I like and I want to read everything they've written. This can be costly since sometimes their back lists are hard to find. I also tend to read in genres when I do this. I remember reading all the Dick Francis mysteries, all the Mercedes Lackey fantasies, all the Nora Roberts romances I could find, one after another. I also have read all of Tolstoy, all of Jane Austen, all of Frank Slaughter. I also reread books, many times. Pride and Prejudice has been read sixteen times, When I began writing I was in a small town where the library had few books so I read Zane Gray, some not too bad. I also did a study on my own of early American fiction and read some interesting books. Shakespeare and John Donne for poetry, not to mention Robert Frost. What really bothers me is that there are so many books I haven't read and many more I haven't written. There are books I've read that I hate and would never care to revisit. There are also books on my keeper shelves that I've been rereading and wonder why I kept them. Styles of writing change. Hopefully in my own writing, I can continue to change and grow.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Writing Tip - Description

Description is used for a nymber of reasons. Using the senses makes the descriptions vivid and engages the reader's interest. Being sight oriented many writers forget there are other senses such as smell, touch, sound and taste. Using a full range of senses can make a character, a setting or an object come to light.

She ran her hand over the cool metal of the gun. The wind wove an eerie melody through the broken shutters. His meaty hands , roughened by weather raised gooseflesh.

Description can be used to show action and to move a character through a scene. The thud on the stairs matched the beat of her heart. She fled into the darkness. Branches like fingers tried to hold her back. How far to the road.

The key to using the senses in descriptions is to be precise, brief and imaginative. Long strings of adjectives can muddy the prose. Choosing three or four when one can do the job makes the reader stop and ponder which one they like.

Remember good description comes in the revision phase of the story. Getting the basics down and then you can decide how and where to use description. Verbs and nouns have the most powerful effects in description, adjectives come next and adverbs last.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Interview with Kathy Sullivan

Met Kathy through EPIC and have spent a few fun hours at the cons talking to her about writing and other things. I've read and enjoyed a few of her books. She's also one of the obscure YA authors.

1. What's your genre or do you write in more than one?

Hi Janet! Thank you for interviewing me!

I write young adult fantasy and science fiction.

2. Did you choose your genre or did it choose you?

A little of both, I think. I read a lot of my brother's and sisters' books when growing up - Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, horse books, teen romance, but it wasn't until I found my father's collection of science fiction and fantasy books that I found something I really liked to read and which in turn inspired me to write.

3. Is there any genre you'd like to try? Or is there one you wouldn't?

I've tried writing other genres, but fantasy or SF elements tended to creep in - a ghost here, an alien there - so science fiction and fantasy wins.

4. What fiction do you read for pleasure?

Science fiction and fantasy. I have several favorite authors such as Diana Wynne Jones, Janet Kagan, Michelle Levigne, Jennifer St. Clair, Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, Lois McMaster Bujold, C.J. Cherryh and James Schmitz among others. There are some mystery series I follow, but most of what I read is young adult fantasy or science fiction.

5. Tell me a bit about yourself and how long you've been writing,

I've been writing since I was 14. My first book, The Crystal Throne, was one of the books I wrote back then. Thirty years (and many rewrites later) I finally found a publisher for it. I had also written several short stories based on characters in that universe and those were published in zines over the years. I have also written some media tie-in stories for Big Finish in their Doctor Who anthologies.

6. Which of your characters is your favorite?

I don't have just one favorite; I’ve got several scattered across several universes. In The Crystal Throne universe there’s Elin, who is learning how to do magic. He resembles a large horse with gray and white spots and his people can talk. He loved tales of magic, so much so that his people cast him out of their herd because he was always talking to wizards and elves. And then there’s Peter Burns, who is a human twelve-year-old from this world who believes in science, not magic. I can always count on him to try to analyze how things work. Salanoa is also a wizard who has appeared in some of my short stories since she was eight and just had the ability to talk with animals, and then as an adult in both The Crystal Throne and Talking to Trees. Talking to Trees has Rafi, who is a six-year-old gryphon.

7. Are there villains in your books and how were they created?

There are definitely villains in my books. The Crystal Throne has three witches, and Talking to Trees has the Old One, a life-destroyer. They start out just as bad guys, but as I write the book I work out why they are that way. Of course they don’t think that they themselves are evil – it’s just that everyone else isn’t letting them rule the world/destroy the world.

8. What are you working on now?

Right now I’m working on two books. One is a young adult story set in a space colony. The other is a sequel of sorts to my interstellar agent stories in Agents & Adepts.

9. What's your latest release and how did the idea arrive?

The idea behind “The Rescue” came because every spring I like to watch the webcams focused on falcon, owl and eagle nests. It’s fun watching those tiny chicks hatch and grow into fuzzballs and then learn to fly. It can also be sad, too, because chicks do die. There are wildlife groups that watch the nestcams and there have been some rescues when some of the older chicks fall out of the nests. “The Rescue” is about the rescue of a very odd eaglet.

10. Tell me about your latest book and how it came about. Enclose the opening of the book around 400 words.

I had always thought The Crystal Throne would be a standalone book. Then I noticed more and more news stories about some of the blights and diseases affecting trees – chestnuts, Dutch Elm disease, the ash borer. I had written a short story years ago (“Heartsight”) about a wizard who was planting trees to hold an evil being imprisoned and then one day I had a way to connect the news stories and my wizard story. And it worked out that Peter and Jeanne (from The Crystal Throne) had to return to that world again. Only this time Peter’s sister Jody gets dragged into the world, too.


She looked over the devastated land, at the groves of trees buried by landslide, and leaned again into the embrace of her grandmother. “They can’t all be gone!” she sobbed.

“We are the only two remaining. The next strike will be soon.”

There came the rattle of small stones down the side of the hill, almost unnoticed in the pouring rain. Thunder growled like an angry voice.

Her grandmother lightly touched her hair. “You must go.”

Tears mixed with the raindrops streaming down her face. “I can't leave you!”

“You cannot stay. You must find help for us.”

Twylgalit stepped back, looking wildly across the wasteland outside their sanctuary. “How? Where?”

“Only a human can help us. I have spoken to the Watcher of Gates. He knows of our plight. He will ensure you will be sent to one who can help. Now come, give me a hug, dear twiglet, and I will send you on your way.”

Twylgalit fiercely hugged her grandmother. She felt the rough bark against her face for a moment, and then, suddenly, she was elsewhere.



Jody Burns saw the green-haired girl step out of midair.

At first she didn't realize that she had seen anything unusual--this was the mall on a Saturday, after all--but then it struck her that this couldn't possibly be some advertising trick. The girl had not been there a second ago. The air had suddenly rippled and she had stumbled through. She was dripping wet, her hair and clothing clinging to her. She looked as if she had been crying, and Jody could hear a half sniff/half sob as she glanced around at the crowded mall.

The girl shook her head and Jody expected to see droplets of water fly everywhere, but instead she only heard a faint rustle and the short hair suddenly looked dry, lightening to a sea green in color. The water beading her light brown skin and soaking her shirt vanished as if absorbed. The girl hugged her bare arms below the short sleeves and looked around as if she was searching for someone.

Jody quickly looked back at the window display before her. Summer pastels were such a relief after the gray winter drabs. She said as much to Amy Evans, but Amy was looking elsewhere. “Well, check out the new style.”

“Eww, seaweed,” Brittany commented.

Jody turned with the rest of the group. The green-haired girl was heading directly for them.

Astrology -- Leo Character development

Leo characters can be a fascinating read.

Sun in Leo - These characters have an active mind and generally a sunny nature. They are ambitious, independent and determined. When they have a goad people should get out of the way. They are quick to anger and are easily appeased and that's a plus. They can be outspoken and candid. The Leo character appreciates affection. They are fond of drama and often employ dramatic scenes to get their way.

Ascendant in Leo - The face shown to the world is one that is good natured and generous. There's an impulsive element and this can result in some outspoken comment setting off a minor war. They do have great hope and fortitude. Grudges are not held for long. They are conscientious and charitable and are loyal friends. Then have a need to be in a position of authority.

Moon in Leo- The emotional nature is generally sunny. Watch out beneath the sunshine lies ambition, self-confidence and self-reliance. This is a loyal friend. Leo moon gives a fondness of home a particularity in dress, a love of pleasure. Those with a Leo moon like and enjoy the opposite sex.