Mar 29, 2012

Favorite Sad Songs

This Blogfest is hosted by L. Diane Wolfe of Spunk on a Stick.

Melancholy tunes I love listening to over and over.

This song by Gotye brings tears to my eyes every time I hear it. This guy on the radio requested it a few weeks ago. His girlfriend had just passed from cancer. Sniff. Yes, I'm a major sap that way. Somebody That I Used to Know.

Bush, Letting the Cables Sleep

J'adore the always moody and complex Radiohead. Fake Plastic Trees.

It's a Mad World. The original Tears for Fears was quite moody, but Gary Jules makes it even more melancholy.

J'adore Cat Power. She's awesome. The Greatest.

I hope you're not too depressed now.  There are plenty more sad songs I love to listen to, but I decided to feature ones that might not be so well known. Shrug. Maybe they are.

 Have a great weekend everybody. Monday begins the AtoZ challenge. :-O I'll be posting on Monday, Wednesday and Friday all of April, doubling up my letters.

Mar 26, 2012

Improving the Craft, Things Writers Can do to Continue Their Education

No matter where we are in our writer careers, we should be constantly striving to improve our craft. Whether we go back to school, take workshops, or read books, this is something we should schedule in on a regular basis.

I confess to being guilty of not doing this as much as I should lately. I do attend the local monthly Guild meetings of which I am the blog director and for which I am giving the presentation next month [on the author platform and building a blog].

I also meet with my local critique group every three weeks. Reading and critiquing their work, as well as receiving feedback on my scribblings, are valuable lessons. I confess it took time to learn to really sit and listen and not get all defensive. It took time for everybody. We have a great group now that's really constructive and productive. We've been together long enough that we're not afraid to be honest. No holds barred at this point. They make me better. That's the place the critique always comes from, to make each other better. So, thanks Word Herd! That's what we call ourselves.

Another thing I do is get together with a bunch of other awesome writer women for lunch about once a month. Several of them are contracted and making a living at writing. It's great to have such experience to learn from and to talk to about whatever is plaguing me at the moment--pricing, commas, real world marketing, etc... Thanks, Coffee Klatch.

I have many books on craft which I have only partially read or not read at all. So, that's something I'm going to fix. I will take a chapter a week and practice what it's teaching. Even if I think I know it, I will take the chapter as a lesson.

I signed up for a workshop given by a local editor in April. Whether I think I need it or not, I just might learn something if I open myself up to it. The price was cheap. Only $10 for Guild members, so I'll go and see what I can learn.

Because I should always strive to improve my writing. Even if I become as big as JK Rowling. What do you do for your continuing writing education?

Mar 22, 2012

Seven and Author News

I was tagged with the Lucky Seven by Madeleine Maddocks of Scribble and Edit

The rules:  
1. Go to page 77 of your current MS/WIP
2. Go to line 7
3. Copy down the next 7 lines, sentences, or paragraphs, and post them as they're written.

Well, I'm not up to page 77 in The Renaissance of Hetty Locklear yet. That's what I'm writing right now. I'm also editing The Backworlds, which will be done by end of next week. Then I start formatting. So, I'll give you an excerpt from The Backworlds: (release date: May 7, 2012 :D )

“Do we have a plan?” Craze asked.
“When we took the ship to the docking facility, after loading up our cargo,” Talos said, “First Officer Lepsi ‘n I were fortunate to spy a spacecraft with black smudges painted on the aft panels. I went to examine closer ‘n noticed the contours of the Fo’wo symbol underneath.”
        Craze took cargo to mean the aviars had the chocolate bars stashed on board. “An actual Fo’wo vessel?”

Want to read more? You can read chapter one HERE.

Madeleine is also hosting a bloghop on April 17th. To correspond with the letter P, she's hosting a Plotfest. Sign up to the linky and post your tips and secrets on how you plot your novels. Even if you are a Pantser rather than a Plotter, there must be some methods you follow when writing your stories. Or you can post about any aspect of plotting. SIGN UP

Suze of Analog Breakfast and Anna Smith of Universal Gibberish on the Versatile Blogger award to me. Thank you awesome writer women. Seven truths ...

1.  I spent most of my childhood in a stable. I rode Western. One of the few cowgirls on the east coast.

2.  I dreamed of a crawfish invasion the other night. What was that? My college roommate was in it, too. She drew some crazy cartoon of a rabid dog. For some reason it was very important, but I had lost the cartoon, and I didn't want to tell her. Please forgive my carelessness, Valerie. I blamed the crawfish.

3.  I am highly sensitive to caffeine and had to give it up over the summer. :-(

4.  Husband Unit and I have been together 21 years, married for 17. We met in a bar. I hit his car on our first date. I was pretty convinced he'd never want to see me again... I almost didn't get out of the car.

5.  I had never looked through a telescope before starting work at Pine Mountain Observatory five years ago.

6.  I lived through the Blizzard of '77 in Buffalo, NY. The house was literally buried under a snow drift, a two story house. I've only seen more snow on the high peaks of the Cascades. Not this year though. We've not had much snow or winter.

7.  My favorite book as a kid was Man O' War by Walter Farley. I read it a few hundred times or more.

Tara Tyler--A Picture Paints 1000 Words Blogfest, March 26th-28th.

Here's how it will work:
1. Sign up in Mr. Linky below.
2. Tell your friends any way you want and send them over to sign up for the party.
3. Choose a picture to inspire your short story (the story can be about what you see in the picture, or just something that it sparked in your imagination.)
4. On Monday-Wednesday (March 26-28), post your story of 1000 words or less and go around to visit the other participants. You may want to post early, see below.
5. The four of us at UB will do the same and pick our four favorites to post links to on Wednesday night.
6. On Thursday you get to read the four and vote for your favorite.
7. The winner will be announced on Friday. They will have a choice between a first chapter critique from those of us at UB, or a $20 gift card to Amazon (courtesy of me).

Congrats to:

Nancy Thompson, who signed a contract to have her suspense/thriller published. Wooot! I can't wait to read it.

Ciara Knight, Rise From Darkness

Alexander Lorre gives new meaning to the term “tormented teen”. He’s a newly fallen angel, which means he has the self-control of a three-year-old, the hormones of a teenager and the strength of an angel. When he rescues Gaby Moore from drowning, the chemistry between them is undeniable. With a local demon threatening Gaby’s life, he struggles to find a balance between remaining close enough to protect her but distant enough to control his desires.

As danger draws closer, Gaby uncovers shattering secrets that will lead to an ultimate choice. Will she fight alongside her father, an earthbound hunter killing fallen angels and demons, give into the demon blood coursing through her veins and join the demon world, or save the man she loves from both? The first two choices damn her, but the last one could destroy them all

 Weapons training and winter formals… a deadly combination

All Mia ever wanted was to fit in at Whispering Woods High. But being a portal-finder who dates a guy from another dimension sort of makes it hard. A month ago her brother disappeared, and agents from the IIA began policing people’s movements through dimensions. She’d trusted Dr. Bleeker from the local university when he’d told her the IIA were the bad guys. But even a girl with an extraordinary ability to sense things can make mistakes.

Now two people are dead, and as a portal gatekeeper for the IIA, Mia needs to find Dr. Bleeker before he hurts anyone else. And her boyfriend Regulus, an Agent for the IIA, carries secrets of his own. Between learning about weaponry, finding the perfect dress for the winter formal, and catching bad guys, who has time to fit in?

Homesick upon the SS Perseid, Linia, a young linguist, thinks she signed up for a mission of peace, but her crew members have another plan: attack the planet Medusa.

Bored with his dying planet, Alezandros, a space cruiser pilot, joins the Medusan army in his quest for adventure.

When the SS Perseid clashes with the Medusans' cruisers, Alezandros and Linia's lives intertwine. Sucked through a wormhole, they crash upon a post-apocalyptic Earth and are captured by cannibals. In adjacent cells, Alezandros and Linia cast their differences aside for a common bond: escape. But when romantic feelings emerge between them, they might do the unthinkable because for a Medusan and a Persean to fall in love, it would defy gravity.

1. Receive assignment.
2. Save a life.
3. Sleep.
4. Repeat.

Protecting humans from dangerous magical creatures is all in a day’s work for a faerie training to be a guardian. Seventeen-year-old Violet Fairdale knows this better than anyone—she’s about to become the best guardian the Guild has seen in years. That is, until one of her assignments—a human boy who shouldn’t even be able to see her—follows her into the fae realm. Now she’s broken Guild Law, a crime that could lead to her expulsion.

The last thing Vi wants to do is spend any more time with the boy who got her into this mess, but the Guild requires that she return Nate to his home and make him forget everything he’s discovered of the fae realm. Easy, right? But Nate and Vi are about to land themselves in even bigger trouble—and it’ll take all Vi’s training to get them out alive.

One by one, Laura Armstrong's friends and adoptive family members are being murdered, and despite her special healing powers, there is nothing she can do to stop it. The killer haunts her dreams and leaves cryptic notes advising her to use her powers to save herself because she's next.

Determined to find the killer, she follows her visions to her hometown and the site of a crashed meteorite. There she meets Ben Fieldstone, who seeks answers about his parents' death the night the meteorite struck. In a race to stop a mad man, they unravel a frightening mystery that binds them together.

But the killer's desire to destroy Laura face-to-face leads to a showdown that puts her relationship with Ben in jeopardy and her pure spirit to the test. With the killer closing in, Laura discovers her destiny is linked to the stranger and she has two choices – redeem him or kill him

 OK. That was more to get through than I thought. Congrats to Nancy, Ciara, Brinda, Cherie, Rachel, and Donna.

What are you up to this weekend? I'll be writing and editing. One of my local author friends is having a signing at B&N on Saturday. So, I'll be going to that and meeting up with a few writer friends. So, congrats to Karen, too!

Sometimes I think it's so weird that I now hang out with writers, and that doing stuff like this is just normal. It's so cool. I may get paid crap, but this is an awesome job. Have a great weekend everybody! :)

Mar 19, 2012

Future Hybrids

Welcome to my guest, Catherine Stine, today. I didn't realize it, but it seems 2012 is the year of bioengineering for me. Pretty much all of my stories this year have to do with this branch of science. So, I was happy to get Catherine to come over and write this post.

Flyfish Hybrid, Illustration, copyright 2011 Catherine Stine

M Pax, thanks for inviting me to guest post. I’m thrilled to close out the Fireseed One tour on Wistful Nebulae. Today, I’m talking about hybrids.

In Fireseed One, my illustrated YA thriller I had fun inventing plants of the future. For instance, Flyfish was a transgenic pairing of Northern Perch and rust-free grapes. Given the premise that the ocean in 2089 would likely be full of acidic toxins (from melted underwater peat bogs) and invasive plants that drifted north after Arctic ice had melted, I figured that if farmers wanted fresh fish, they might grow them up on vines in floating warehouses! This is the fun of speculative fiction—speculating on a future world that hasn’t quite happened, but is well on its way.

I had Varik’s father, Professor Teitur, a marine biologist, devise a concept plant called Fireseed that could withstand the punishing 160-degree heat and lack of water in the Hotzone, south of Ocean Dominion in what’s now the USA. What genome might Professor Teitur combine to create an almost magical plant like this? Skin like cactus only tougher. Add a gene that allowed it to breed like a nympho to factor in how many plants would perish, and install a specific gene so the plant could generate its own water. Impossible? Perhaps. After Varik’s father drowned under mysterious circumstances, not even his own son knew if Fireseed, or Fireseed One, as the concept certification form denoted, had ever existed off the drawing board.

In doing research for this project, I was blown away by the transgenic plants that are already in existence! There is rice with DNA from human saliva, created to feed infants in Third World countries. The hope is to strengthen infant immune systems against fatal diarrhea. There are strains of tomatoes with fish DNA to create veggies that don’t blight with excess rain. What happens to the soil in which these GM crops are grown? Pharming, as it’s called, can get worrisome. One can keep proposing “What Ifs” until things get quite freaky.

I won’t reveal the strange twist at the end of Fireseed One. You’ll just have to read it. But it does have to do with extreme DNA mixing. 

Now, let’s play a game. Get creative and think up some wild transgenic future mash-ups! The most creative, judged by M. Pax and myself, will be featured (with a link back to your blog with a suggestion to follow you) on my Idea City blog, in another rant about hybrids. You can make it funny (Sponge Bob, Square Pants with P Diddy for some hybrid Sponge Bob street cred), or out-there (bananas with batwing genomes for flying yellow fruit) or get more serious (rats with neon genes so you can spot them in the dark).
It’s all good!

Liking the Fireseed One Facebook page, following Idea City and following Wistful Nebulae (if you don’t already) will get you extra Brownie points. Have some pharming fun!

What if Only Your Worst Enemy Could Help You Save the World? Fireseed One, a YA  thriller, is set in a near-future world with soaring heat, toxic waters, tricked-out amphibious vehicles, ice-themed dance clubs and fish that grow up on vines. Varik Teitur inherits a vast sea farm after the mysterious drowning of his marine biologist father. When Marisa Baron, a beautiful and shrewd terrorist, who knows way too much about Varik's father's work, tries to steal seed disks from the world's food bank, Varik is forced to put his dreams of becoming a doctor on hold and venture with her, into a hot zone teeming with treacherous nomads and a Fireseed cult who worships his dead father, in order to search for a seemingly magical plant that may not even exist. 

Fans of Divergent and Feed will likely enjoy this novel, as well as those who like a dash of romance with their reads. With nine illustrations by the author. 

Fireseed One is available as an eBook for $2.99 on NookKindleiTunes, and Sony ReaderThe paperback is available on Amazon for $7.99.

Mar 16, 2012

Happy REAL St. Patricks Day

I made a kind a 'squee' type announcement this week. GO SEE in case you missed it.

Now onto my Got Green? bloghop contribution. Hosted by Mark Koopmans of Aloha! Mark Koopmans says hi from HI.

Followers of this blog know that I celebrated St. Patrick's Day a month early this year. I was so bogged down in January and February that my thoughts started jumbling. So last month I thought, "Oh, it's almost the 17th. I always forget St. Patrick's Day. I won't forget this year." I made my list for the grocers which included corned beef fixings. Days passed, I did not realize my mistake.

On February 17th I started making the corned beef. I had a guest post up on Melissa's Imaginarium that day and thought, "I should have wished everyone a Happy St. Patricks Day in the post. Damn." Then I started to wonder why no one else on the interwebs had mentioned St. Pats.

"That's odd," I thought. It finally occurred to me that it was because it was February and not March. When Husband Unit came home I said, "Happy Not St. Patricks Day." He'd also had a brutal week and absently replied, "Happy Thanksgiving." So, Patsgiving has been born, and next year we will celebrate again on February 17th.

Happy REAL St. Patricks Day everybody.

Mar 14, 2012

Closer to a Star Trek World and Spell of Entrapment

Five Star Trek technologies that we already have or are on the verge of acquiring. I'm guest posting for Maurice Mitchell at the Geek Twins today. Pop over and learn about how we move closer to a Star Trek reality.

My Got Green bloghop post will be up on Friday.

I have a special guest today, Jeffrey Beesler on his Spell of Entrapment blog tour. It's great to have you here, Jeff...

Interview with Embekah

Jeffrey Beesler: In Spell of Entrapment, Sorceress Embekah Mare finds herself magically bound inside a house alongside her sworn enemy, Sir Patrew of the Royal Army of Trava. Today, I shall interview Embekah in the hopes that she might shed some light on a few things. Thank you for agreeing to be interviewed today, Embekah.

Embekah: You’re welcome.

JB: Tell me, have you any idea why this knight, Sir Patrew, is out to get you?

Embekah: I really couldn’t tell you. I’ve lived in exile for the past twenty years. Before that, I was a part of a thieves’ guild, but that guild went bust some time ago. I didn’t even steal so much as a loaf of bread back then.

JB: Yet Patrew obviously sees you as a threat. Are you?

Embekah (shrugging): I suppose I could be, if you can call studying sorcery a danger to Trava’s security.

JB: You mean you haven’t mastered sorcery yet?

Embekah: Sorcery isn’t something you master, my dear. It takes commitment, dedication, and an intense understanding of both the natural and mystical forces at work in our everyday lives.  You can acquire skill, sure, but not all magic is meant for us mortals to command. I speak, of course, of the darkest spells, the ones that transcend even the permanence of death. You could really ruin all of existence by playing around with things beyond your comprehension.

JB: So tell me a little bit about your life prior to Patrew showing up at your doorstep.

Embekah: Well, let’s see. I’ve lost contact with the few friends in the guild I did have. I’ve been studying mycology a lot lately. I’m particularly interested in exotic mushrooms that can only be found on the far side of the kingdom. As far as companionship go, I’ve had my pet toad, Halscrad, for about five years. At least he gives me an outlet for when I’ve had a rough day evading the army.

JB: Do you think the army will ever stop hounding you?

Embekah: They might. Sometimes I think only that buffoon, Patrew, has any real interest in my capture. Every time I turn around, he’s always there with his fellows.

JB: Thank you for your time today, Embekah.

Embekah: Time is all I have these days.

Spell of Entrapment

Blurb: When a knight, Sir Patrew of Trava, infiltrates sorceress Embekah Mare’s home, a magical backlash renders her unconscious. She awakens to discover a spell of entrapment binding them both inside the manor’s walls. Now forced to live with him after twenty years of solitude and exile, she must navigate her way through alternating feelings of distrust and attraction.

As the weeks pass with no end in sight of the hex, a shape-shifting spirit arrives inside the magical barrier’s walls to target Embekah specifically. When she seeks out Patrew’s help against this new threat, she uncovers a secret in his past that could very well destroy her future. With the help of her trusty toad Halscrad, Embekah must see through the deceit and find something long lost to her. 
But not everything is as it seems. With lies all around her, Embekah finds the truth to be more elusive than the freedom right outside her manor. Can she survive long enough to figure out what’s real and what isn’t?

Bio: Jeffrey Beesler was born on May 2nd, 1978. In addition to self-publishing his debut novel, Spell of Entrapment, he has had a short fantasy story published in Abandoned Towers #4, The Broken Pipes of Drei City. He is a graduate of the LongRidge Writers Group correspondence course, Breaking into Print.

Jeff blogs at Jeffrey Beeslers World of the Scribe.

Mar 12, 2012

Finding Inspriation in What Ifs and BloggaMonsta

I have my BloggaMonsta contribution after Annalisa's article. My post for the Got Green bloghop will appear on Friday.

I have a special guest today, the lovely and talented Annalisa Crawford. She blogs at Annalisa Crawford - Wake up, eat, write, sleep.

What if my parents decided they hated me and sent me to live with a long-lost aunt? What if my sister ran away from home and only I knew where she was – would I tell or just move into her bigger bedroom? What if I walked into school one day, and everyone had disappeared?

Hi. I’m Annalisa, and Mary has kindly invited me over to take over her blog today. And that first paragraph was a small insight into my head aged 8 and a half. Actually my parents always loved me, and my sister never ran away from home. I did however once walk into school and everyone had disappeared – turns out I’d arrived during a fire alarm and everyone was on the playing fields. It really freaked me out for an hour or so.

From being very young, I’ve always had these ‘What if…?’ thoughts, and one day I panicked. I wondered, what if these ‘what if…?’s came true! It would all be my fault that my parents got abducted by gorillas on mountain bikes, or that a plane crashed into my next door neighbour’s house.

So I started writing my thoughts down, and they became stories. It’s how my novella Cat and The Dreamer came into being, many years later. Aside from the fact that Julia, my main character, also has a vivid imagination, the story also started with a ‘what if…?’ What if I survived a suicide pact and my best friend died? What if men really did like shy, plain girls rather than pretty and outgoing ones?

If you’re ever struggling for inspiration, all you need to do is look at current news stories (what if I’m a British banker and I’ve just been told I’m not getting my £1million bonus?), sit in a cafĂ© and watch people interact (what if that couple in the corner are working out the best place to bury the body they’ve got stashed in their car?), or let your mind wander when your fingers are poised over your keyboard (what if the doorbell rang now and I was presented with a winning lottery ticket by a stranger?)

Out of the most outlandish ideas comes something real and solid and perfect, just when you’re least expecting it. Try it now. Let your mind wander, and see what happens. I’d love to hear what you come up with!

Cat & the Dreamer

As a teenager, Julia survived a suicide pact, while her best friend Rachel died. Julia’s only escape from her guilt, and her mother’s over-protection, is her imagination. When Adam arrives in the office, Julia’s world takes a startling turn as she realises reality can be much more fun than fantasy. Finally she has someone who can help her make the most of her life. But can she allow herself to be truly happy? 

Available from:
Vagabondage Press (PDF Version)

Obviously, Annalisa has a great imagination. What, 'what ifs' have you been toying with lately? 

And now for something completely different...

For Laura's blogaversary on the Daily Dodo my BloggaMonsta entry: 

Mar 9, 2012

I Appreciate You

First I want to thank all of you awesome folks for helping me out with my blurbs. I redid them. You can read the revisions HERE. I'm probably not quite done with them yet...I'll probably still change words now and then. Applause and more applause for you guys.

Have you checked out my other blog lately? Recent topics include End of the World as We Know It, Full Metal Jousting, Sliding Doors, and What is a Nebula.

I was given the Kreativ Blogger award and tagged by Leslie Rose. Thank you, Leslie. Stop by and say hello.

What book(s) have stayed in your head?
All by Jane Austen, Steppenwolfe by Hermann Hesse, anything by the Brontes, Galapagos by Kurt Vonnegut, Dune series by Frank Herbert, the Provence books by Peter Mayle, Snow in August by Pete Hamill, 2001: A Space Odyssey, other novels and several short stories by Arthur C. Clarke, anything by Margaret George...the list goes on and on. I still think about Gateways by Frederick Pohl and Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Adams, too. And some stories by Jack Finney.

What kind of books do you like best? Science fiction, classic literature, historical fiction, speculative fiction. I like some poetry now and then, too. And, I read nonfiction: anthropology, Sumer, archeology, physics, astronomy, science, mythology...and whatever I'm currently researching.

How much do covers influence your buying a book? They rarely do. I buy authors I like, regardless of cover, books for research, books I’ve heard were good, great literary works, and, these days, I mostly buy books by writers I know.

I end with a few photos from a trip Husband Unit and I took last summer to the Painted Hills. A stunningly beautiful place in the middle of nowhere Oregon. The striation of color was made from volcanic ash a really, really long time ago. If you ever go out there, make sure you have a full tank of gas. Luckily, we've lived here long enough to know that rule--do not leave town without a full tank of gas. Clicking on any photo will give you a larger view.

 Have a great weekend everybody.

Mar 7, 2012

OMG, I Did What?

I stepped out of my comfort zone, and volunteered to give a mini workshop for my local writers guild. So, they slotted me in for April's meeting, and started advertising in the local papers, etc... My topic is the author's platform and building a blog. The only thing I'm slightly nervous about is a lot of my audience isn't very computer savvy.

Oddly, I otherwise have no jitters over doing this. All those Second Sundays I did at the local library with the open mic reading my stories, helped a lot. All the summers I spend up at Pine Mountain Observatory teaching people about stars and the universe, also helped. Maybe there is something to be said for learning to speak to a bunch of strangers in the dark. It's not so scary if you can't see them.

My cats make a great test audience, too. If I don't read with enough spirit, they go back to sleep. If I read with verve, they pay attention with their cutie faces. If I flub a word, they frown and twitch their ears in disapproval. They're a very discerning audience.

So, my advice for nerves: go out and practice. You'll get better. Eventually, you'll slay it.

I'll wrap up by making a few shoutouts today:

Christine Rains has a short story out on A Twist of Noir. Lady Blood. READ HERE

Laura Eno has a new book out, Immortal Desires. For links to Kindle, Nook and Smashwords, see Laura's blog HERE. Here's the exciting description:

After being dumped at the altar, Deanna Cameron seeks a fresh start in life. She gets more than she bargained for after accepting a new job, when an Immortal Guardian sends her five hundred years into the past. She can’t return home and a magnificent highland warrior accuses her of being a spy. Ian Mackay knows the beautiful woman that appears in his castle must be a spy. After all, she’s a Cameron, a clan he despises. The powerful magic surrounding her obstructs his Druid senses, plus he finds he can’t stay away from the temptress. But loving Deanna could come with a price too high to pay. Will she be the downfall of his clan—or its salvation?

Mark Koopmans of  Aloha! Mark Koopmans says Hi from HI is hosting the Got Green Bloghop on March 12-16th. St. Patrick's Day inspired posts -- traditions, meals, stories.

Laura of the Daily Dodo is having a One Year Blogaversary Party. Comment on this post, then on March 13th, post the badge with a photo of a clothed body part. Fab prizes will be awarded.

Thanks to Alex J. Cavanaugh for IWSG--Insecure Writers Support Group. It's not too late to sign up and join your fellow insecure writers on the first Wednesday of the month. Have you heard his second novel, CassaFire, is out? :)

So, have you done anything lately to shake up your comfort zone and increase your visibility? Platform exists outside the internet.

Mar 5, 2012

A Call for Your Great Minds

I'm calling on your great minds today to help me perfect my blurbs for The Backworlds and Stopover at the Backworlds' Edge.

I did meet my deadlines for finishing the third draft of both projects before the end of February. Yay! I took my day off with a beer over the weekend. Woot!

And it's back to work. I've begun the Hetty Locklear story to go out prior to the novel. Did a rough outline and started writing it. As of yet, no title. I'm editing The Backworlds, too, and will soon begin formatting. Tended to some writing business stuff, and organized my google reader. Thanks Alex, for that tip. It's so much easier to keep track of you all now. So, yeah, there's another AtoZ tip for you all. Before April rolls around, organize your google reader.

The Backworlds is already back from its talented editor, so I set a release date. I would prefer April, but the AtoZ is sort of in the way. So, I will delay the launch until May 7th, 8th, and 9th. I'm hoping you all will help me launch this novella [nearly a novel]. It'll be a free offering, but I'll still need help getting the word out. I'll have a linky link up in April.

I couldn't help myself and redid the cover for The Backworlds. It was sort of a reward for all the hard work. I find doing little art projects in my paint program somewhat therapeutic. I also made a promotional badge for it, which you probably noticed prominently displayed at the top of my sidebar. I'm really, really excited about the release of The Backworlds. I think it really, really rocks. I may be biased, but I'm proud of it.

Stopover at the Backworlds' Edge is with it's editor as of today. I was going to start redoing its cover [because I'll be doing paperback, too], but saw I needed a page count for the cover size [for the spine], so will have to wait. The cover won't be much different, just need to redo it adding in a back and a spine. I am looking at a mid-end of July release for it.

At any rate, I'd appreciate any feedback, comments, or otherwise on improving the blurbs for the Backworlds series.

The Backworlds

In the far future, humanity, bioengineered to deal with different environments, has spread out to other planets in the galaxy, called the Backworlds. After the war with their creators, Backworlders are scattered across scant pickings. Scant enough that Craze's father hoards his fortune, branding Craze a threat. He steals Craze's gal, and manipulates the council to ostracize and exile Craze. Stripped of family and friends, with little money and even less knowledge of the worlds beyond his own, Craze faces an uncertain future. Boarding the transport to Elstwhere, he vows to find success and make his father pay.

Stopover at the Backworlds' Edge

In the far future, humanity, bioengineered to deal with different environments, has spread out to other planets in the galaxy, called the Backworlds. Craze's Tavern sits on the fringes of expansion. Last stop for one hundred fifteen light years.

The interstellar portal opens, bringing in a ship that should no longer exist. A battleship spoiling for a fight. Yet, the war ended two generations ago. The vessel drops off a Water-breather, a type of Backworlder thought to be extinct. She claims one of Craze’s friends is a traitor who summoned the enemy to Pardeep Station. A betrayal worse than his father’s, if he lives to worry about it.

Anyway, anything you have to say on the blurbs is appreciated, including grammar and punctuation corrections.

Mar 1, 2012

What is the Creative Process?

I'm pleased to have author Toby Neal as a guest today, discussing creativity. Take it away Toby...

What is the Creative Process?
Different for everyone, sure. For me, it’s connected to daydreaming, and then making and doing stuff.
Yeah, real scientific.

Mulling, wandering, chewing a bit of grass as I kick a pebble on my walk with my (small/fuzzy/ridiculous) dogs, I think of a new scene.

Tilting my head to spot a flamenco dancer in the shape of a cloud. I take an Istagram pic of it (find me at tobyneal0)!

Chasing the aforementioned dogs away from a mysterious dirt patch in the middle of the ball field just the size of a body, I see a future crime scene for my novel. 

Dreaming of other lives connected to all the woulda-coulda-shouldas of my own life, a never-ending branch of dimensional worlds connected to choices that may or may not be realities—I jot a poem. It’s pretty bad, but there’s a germ of something there.

Creativity is connected to that glimmer, that flash, the ink of an idea spreading through the water of consciousness and tinting it something new. Writing is escape for me, and distraction, and renewal on so many levels, but in addition creativity’s been expressed in my life by spinning beads out of the hot honey of molten glass. Stitching beadwork so tiny and intricate it makes my eyes ache to look at it. Twisting and stringing jewelry out of all the elements I liked to create separately. 

Crochet: mindless dance of a hook among threads. My brain really floats with crochet. If only anyone wanted all those damn scarves and hats I’ve made here in Hawaii!

Painting: another passion that rears its head periodically with a longing for the brush, the  smell of the paint, the seductive blobs of color like molten jewels. 

Gardening: creating a feast for the senses with God’s help.
Dance: expressing stories within me through movement.
Working with children—playing, laughing, creating, crying, telling the stories of wounds and fear and ferris wheels too.

Creativity is not a finite supply of ideas. It’s a natural state of being in which one medium sparks another, one practice ignites another, an actual flow that is unending if you keep moving with it and allowing it to move through you. Today, think of one little fun, creative thing to do. No agenda. No potential sale. Just fun. 

Fun ignites passion, and passion creates great work. Give yourself permission to just have a little fun and see what happens. 

Hawaii is palm trees, black sand and blue water—but for policewoman Lei Texeira, there’s a dark side to paradise.

Toby Neal is the author of Blood Orchids:

Lei has overcome a scarred past to make a life for herself as a cop in the sleepy Big Island town of Hilo. On a routine patrol she finds two murdered teenagers—one of whom she’d recently busted. With its echoes of her own past, the murdered girl’s harsh life and tragic death affect Lei deeply. She becomes obsessed—even as the killer is drawn to Lei's intensity, feeding off her vulnerabilities and toying with her sanity.

Despite her obsession with the case and fear that she's being stalked, Lei finds herself falling in love for the first time. Steaming volcanoes, black sand beaches and shrouded fern forests are the backdrop to Lei's quest for answers—and the stalker is closer than she can imagine, as threads of the past tangle in her future. Lei is determined to find the killer—but he knows where to find her first.

Available from: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords

About the Author:
Toby Neal was raised on Kauai in Hawaii. She wrote and illustrated her first story at age 5 and has been published in magazines and won several writing contests. After initially majoring in Journalism, she eventually settled on mental health as a career and loves her work, saying, “I’m endlessly fascinated with people’s stories.” She enjoys many outdoor sports including bodyboarding, scuba diving, beach walking, gardening and hiking. She lives in Hawaii with her family and dogs. Toby credits her counseling background in adding depth to her characters–from the villains to Lei Texeira, the courageous and vulnerable heroine in the Lei Crime Series. Toby's Website