Friday, December 31, 2010

Wow, Writing for 2011

This is crazy. It's so hard to imagine tomorrow is a whole new year. When I was a kid in the 80s I imagined 2010 being a lot different than it turned out to be. No flying car. No space colony. No exploration beyond our system.

But there is one thing I imagined as a kid in the 80s. There in my color striped socks, cuffed and ripped jeans, mousy brown hair and big blue rimmed glasses. I'd just come off the disappointment of not being able to become an astronaut due to my eyesight. I was just over the dream of becoming Optimus Prime or Bruce Lee.

What was left was FBI Agent and writing. Writing was something I just did. It's cliche, I know. I won my first writing contest in 2nd grade and knew I wanted people to read my imaginations on paper.

And now look. Here I am all grown up. Not an FBI Agent though my interrogation skills are excellent due to parenting, but I am an author. People have read my work. Some have hated it and some have liked it, but they've read my imaginations on paper.

So what's my plan for 2011? "We're going to take over the world, Pinkie."...heehee. Okay, not really (not yet). There are a couple writerly things I want to do in 2011.
  1. I just finished the rough draft of my second book in the Telomere Trilogy so I have to gussy that up.
  2. I have completed the outline and done a few thousand words of the last book in the Telomere Trilogy and have to complete that manuscript this year.
  3. I want to complete Damarion's Voyage. It's about 60% done, but I put it on hold to complete this series.
  4. I have two short stories, one in rough draft form and the other almost complete. I'd like to finish those up and get them out into some magazines. One I think is going to be an Asimov submission. (One of my life goals is to get something printed in the Asimov magazine.)
  5. I have a new series idea that I've been formulating. I'd like to outline the series and then start breaking down the books.
  6. And of course, I've got ideas I'd like to brainstorm and dozen of brainstorms I'd like to outline.

Overall, like any other writer, I have too many things I want to do and probably won't get it all done. But there's always 2012 and beyond.

What are some of your 2011 goals?

Happy New Year and good writing all!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Science Update

I've got some pretty cool stuff up today. Well, I think they're cool.

First up, bandages that change color to let you know your wound is becoming infected. How cool is this futuristic medical treatment? Expand this and you'll have patches, gauze, and medical tape that indicates...whatever. Maybe even blood pressure, heart rate, healing progress...It goes on. I've used some things similar in my current trilogy manuscripts. I've got the Med Patch that monitors a patients standard health points. I have a spray that sterilizes and preps torn skin for nano repair. And closest to this article, I've got liquid gauze used in the field that sprays on clear then whitens and tightens hold over a wound and changes color if the wound starts to go South during transport.

Next, the sad news that chocolate is going the way of the dinosaurs. Don't fret, it's not anytime soon but still, it gives pause for thought. When you're writing, what of today's commodities will not be around, in proximity, or evolved into something else? To tell the truth, I haven't really explored this concept in many of my works but it has intrigued by the ideas and will definitely infuse some of this in my next works. Thinking beyond just the fact that a yummy treat will be going away, we need to think of the full implications. Cocoa beans are a commodity that hold up several small countries, makes a living for thousands of business owners and workers. Anything going away can cause an infrastructure meltdown at many levels. This concept could be the basic setting for a story, backgrounds for characters, and drivers for conflict between antagonist and protagonist. OH! It could also be the barrier between love interests and/or friends. The ideas are limitless!

Okay, I'm starting to get too excited so I better hurry and get to the most exciting find. What we Sci-Fi geeks have been waiting for...Light bending camouflage. 'Nuff said. Check it out. I'm struck speechless and typeless yet again at this news. There's been work on military flight camouflage but this new metamaterial research is going to open up doors for all kinds of smaller scale ideas and more field battle uses. I imagine a futurist Patton play. Not just creating a false military site, but hiding our military posts, our men in the field, our ground vehicles, and our small reconnaissance flyers. My debut novel is set primarily is space and in military outpost planets, so my military concepts did not include the need to hide. It's just so easy in the vastness of space without camouflage technology. However, my current trilogy might benefit from this. I will have to explore it and see if it would fit without being one of those SF tech overkills. I like to make sure my SF tech blends into the background like one puzzle piece in the whole picture.

So that's my quick science update. I hope you enjoyed them. What have you all seen in the new lately that would impact the future and the way we SFRers write?

Good writing all!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Quickie: Writer's Moment

Out into the main battle of the holiday shopping season we went this last weekend. Hubby and I were geared up with our list and our patience. What does this have to do with writing you're asking?

Well, I went out for Christmas shopping and met a couple of my characters in my upcoming manuscript. (The one I'm starting next month, not this one I'm finishing).

I ran into the Essence Overseer in the coloring book area. She was wonderfully beautiful, radiating a maternal aura. Her skin was the rich color of dark chocolate and she had these beautiful tear drop earrings of brushed nickle and bronze. When she smiled at us and we spoke about the books I saw the excitement and love she had picking out dozens of coloring books. I imaged they were for her classroom children, who she was nurturing to become productive and caring adults.

At another store I met the introverted, secretive Genetic Research Physician. My first sight was her long, pen straight dark hair. When she turned, my breath was taken away at the sheer beauty of her naturally bronze skin and long, almond-shaped eyes. I thought Dr. Nequam would have light brown eyes. However, when I met her, she looked on me with these beautiful foggy blue eyes lined with a silver. Her smile was wide and long and showed the inner happiness and joy she tries to keep locked away from all but her adoptive son.

So, fighting the traffic and crowds -- which weren't as bad as last year -- I felt like not only did we conquer the main part of the kids wish lists...I succeeded in getting out into the world and drawing from it for my imaginative world. I guess that's part of being a writer. No matter whether you write fiction or non fiction, westerns or thrillers, you want to exude part of ourselves and our experiences into it. To draw our own outlook on who we are as people and as a community.

Good writing all!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Where Do You Write?

It's such a simple question. First it's, "Oh, you write. That's cool." Then it's, "What kind of books do you write?" and "Are you published?"

These are easily answered: "Thank you." "Speculative and Sci-Fi." "Yes."

I've even laid out my plan for speaking about my upcoming debut novel. (See Fumbled It for details on that "AR Moment".) But, what do you say when someone flips a 180 on you and asks, "Where do you write?"'s a great question. One that shows interest and not just the polite reply. I know some writers are very rigid about the where, when, and how they write. I had to think about it before I realized....anywhere.

I'm truly not picky. I do try to have two "writing sessions" a week where I lock myself in the backroom and write uninterrupted. Uninterrupted in my household is defined as less than 4 knocks on the door for something or another. (Trust me, this is an amazing definition considering I'm married with 4 kids, 2 dogs, and a cat.)

Other than that I spend the hour to hour and a half in the evening putting the kids to bed writing. They lay in my bed watching their calm down show while I sit with the laptop and write. I sit at the couch and write while the 4 kids are playing by themselves, their friends, or each other. And I'll write on my lunch break if a scene is giving me problems. I've even jotted down things waiting in the car while my husband runs into the store for something.

150 words, 300 word, 1000 words. It doesn't matter in those mini sessions. The important thing is it's 150, 300, or 1000 I wouldn't have had if I'd only stuck with my formal writing sessions. The important thing is that I'm writing.

So, where do all you writers write? Are there just scenarios where you can't focus?

Good writing all (not matter where or when)!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Enjoying the Details

The last two weeks I've been wading in the Revision/Editing Phase...more the Revision and not yet the pure editing. Part of me would like to say that I'm battling it out and struggling with creative restraints, or otherwise not enjoying what some can see as the "boring" part of the writing process. True, it can be boring. This is especially true the more you get to the Edit side.

But, there's a creative skill that happens in this part of it too. Imagine the clay artist. He takes his chunk of clay and molds it into the general form of his vision. This to me is the straight writing phase. Getting it on paper. The Revision phase puts the details in. The curves, the depth, and the texture. No, it may not be that free, open session...but it refines the vision in a way only your creative mind can do. It add your writing "signature" that can only be you. Anyone can dump a rough draft if they have enough time and interest to do so. It takes a true artist to emote something from the basic form.

So, I'm busy refining my mold. I'm taking the dragging scenes and parring them with my molding knife to be the reflective moment of the character to his/her surroundings and journey. I'm taking the 4 chapters of straight action and adding depth to showcase the character dynamics and emotions developing through the chase. I'm taking that heated scene and adding texture to allow the characters to fall in love and not just lust.

Now, I'm not claiming to be a Salvador Dali...but I think I can be a pretty successful Street Artist. We'll have to wait and see what you all think in June when the debut novel comes out.

Good writing (and refining) all!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Fumbled It

Now that my pride as settled a bit, I can tell you a writing related story that happened to me about a week ago. It was a bit embarrassing, but taught me a valuable training-wheels lesson before the big release of Duty and Devotion next June.

Hubby and I were at a coworkers house, dropping off some holiday crab we'd caught at the beach that morning, when she turned to her son and daughter in-law and told them about my upcoming books being published.

Well, her son turns to me and asks, "I love to read, what's the first one about?"

And here my brain stopped working. Completely stalled and died. Sucked into a black hole never to be seen again. I blushed and tried to think of my blurb, my themes, my concepts. Nope. Nada. Nothing.

Absolutely NOTHING.

I fumbled it completely, stuttering something about two sisters, a war, difficulties...oh, a bunch of nonsense blubber. Finally my coworker and Hubby stepped in and filled in the babble with some semblance of the story and made it sound like the interesting story it was...but I fumbled it big time.

Then it hit me. Beside my few close friends -- who've been sounding boards as I've developed my story -- I haven't really promoted my book in person. Here yes. Of course I've got edits, revisions, and privacy to put together legible discussion here. Forums? Chat groups? Facebook? Yes, there too, but all are the same set up.

So, after my big fall from my promotion training bike, I sat with Hubby and developed a plan to be ready the next time...because there will be a next time. Here's the action items I did:

Reviewed the Synopsis
Reviewed the blurb

Wrote 2 sentences on the major theme of the book
Wrote 2 sentences per sister on their story
Wrote 3 cool SF technologies I used in the book
Wrote 1 sentence why my book is important to read for both SF nuts and Romance nuts I wish someone would ask me about my book, because I would WOW them. (Yes, all in caps kind of WOW.)

Good writing all! (And watch those promotion bumps along the way.)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Some Perspective on the Journey

Hi all.

I just read a wonderful post by a blog friend, Michelle Davidson, titled Taking Offense at Others' Success on her blog The Innocent Flower. Knowing I feel this way sometimes and that many of us do at some time or another, I thought I'd pass it along.

I've been following Michelle's blog for a while now and am always pleasantly entertained by her insightful posts and outlook on life. If you have a moment, stop by and read. It'll put you in a great frame of mind.

Good writing all!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Excerpt: Duty and Devotion

Alright, here's my first excerpt for Duty and Devotion, which will be released by Desert Breeze Publishing June 2011. Duty and Devotion is about sisters, Nettie and Rinny Matterville, who head off to war. Along the way they discover true love can be found even in a time of conflict. Nettie learns true love isn’t always obvious; sometimes it’s right in front of your face. Rinny learns that love at first site can and does happen, but the real challenge is keeping it.

Just a reminder: The following excerpt is unedited and will vary upon edit and publication.


Sitting down to her music, Rinny meditated a few moments on her mood and decided upon upbeat and romantic. She pulled up a retro-romanticism Mendelssohn composition, one full of drama and energy. The notes flowed from her lips easier than any words ever could. All the passion and sensuality she buried during her average day released through her body and out the trumpet. Rinny displayed a depth of emotion and innermost truth through the composer’s musical elements and harmonies.

On the last note, she leaned back in her chair and enjoyed the moment of accomplishment. She’d booked the room for two hours. It was a great space in the arts and entertainment wing, which used to be part of the civilian city. Since it was a temporary take-over, the militia left it as-is. The owners continued to run it for soldiers on off-duty.

She looked up through the glass wall to see Lieutenant Gubvre. He gestured to the handle with an inquisitive expression. She sat the trumpet down on its holder and waved him in.

“You and I shouldn’t keep meeting like this,” she joked.

He smiled and shrugged, then clasped his hands behind his back. She realized this was a habit of his and for some reason it was appealing. The height of him was refreshing to someone who was always taller then everyone. From her sitting position, the feeling was exaggerated. By his posture, she could tell he came from an upper class family. Not from the Earth region, like her, but somewhere more exotic by his accent. Possibly the Saturn Rings.

“Yes. Well, I was passing through to see the painters and spotted you.” He released a hand long enough to gesture towards the music sheets. “I didn’t realize you played. You play well?”

A sound proof room, he wouldn't have heard her. Rinny patted the chair next to her. After he sat, she picked up the trumpet, pressed for another musical piece, and started playing. After the first few bars, she closed her eyes and continued. She relished the feeling of power that rose in her as she made what so many couldn’t. Felt from it what so many weren’t able too. The notes created a whole world just for her and a select few. She’d loved playing in the concert group and suddenly realized she’d missed it.

Halfway through she stopped, opened her eyes, and looked at him with a grin. It died on her lips. The intensity in his eyes flared the heat in her system. She lost her breath as she watched him look towards her lips and then back at her eyes.

“Don’t stop,” he whispered. “Please.”

Unable to trust her words, she picked the song back up. She closed her eyes again, but this time to keep her concentration. His gaze unnerved her, sending the attraction she felt into overdrive. She felt him draw his chair closer, his knee lightly tapped hers. Only years of experience enabled her to finish the song. For a moment, she kept her eyes closed.

They fluttered open when his fingers lightly grazed along the side of her face. Her breath caught and started again, more shallow. They stopped at her chin before sliding to the back where he grasped the nape of her neck. He looked over her hair, her face, her eyes, then at her mouth before drawing in. The kiss was soft, exploring, and perfect. Rinny let the breath seep out as she leaned in and it deepened. Then it was over and he stood.

“I’m…this…” he seemed to search for words. Stumbled over himself. His hands gestured. His eyes looked a little wild. Rinny stood, turned to put her instrument up.

“It’s okay Lieutenant. It was unexpected. No one needs to know it ever happened.” She turned her head back towards him, where he stood rigid. “Our little secret.”

Matterville, this would just be impossible. War is not a time to start a relationship.”

The anguish on his face softened her anger. He meant it, and she knew it was the right decision. “I know. It’s okay.”

She took his hand for a fleeting second, squeezed, and then released. He nodded awkwardly and left.


Okay, well there is my first excerpt to you all. Hope you liked it. This has been such a fun journey getting to publication and I can't wait to see it all together and released. If you'd like to know more or to see other books by Desert Breeze Publishing, click on the link below:

Desert Breeze Publishing:
Author Page:

Thursday, November 18, 2010


I've hit that familiar wall and soooo at the wrong time.

I've committed myself to NanoWriMo. I'm 10K from finishing...and I've hit my last scenes of Echoes of Regret. Since I'm a layering writer, this happens to me every time. I get to the end and cannot write it out until the other layers are put on. This wouldn't be such a problem, if I hadn't already started the manuscript (about 15K in). Now, if I were to start my layering fills, part of my NaNoWriMo word count would be in word count I did before NaNoWriMo began.

What to do? What to do? I could force the end, but I know it won't work. I've got too many already identified plot holes I know will affect the ending too significantly. I hate inefficiency and wasted effort.

I guess I could put on track changes and copy/paste into a side document at the end of each writing session. It's cumbersome, but I think the most plausible plan that fits my writing style.


Good writing all!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Author Interview: Stephanie Burkhart

Okay crew. I'm so excited about today's post. It's my first author interview. Stephanie Burkhart is a contributing author to Desert Breeze's newest SFR release, Borealis II. I thought I'd interview her about writing the anthology and about her story, Shadows and Light. Ready? 5, 4, 3, 2, 1...

Steph: First, I'd like to thank Amber for having me here today to talk about the Borealis II Anthology and my short story, "Shadows and Light."

Just a little about me: After being raised in New Hampshire and growing a wicked New England accent, this Patriot fan joined the US Army for a great adventure. I spent 7 years in Germany and I miss Lullusfest, a weeklong bonfire festival in Bad Hersfeld that has really hot cinnamon schnapps. In 1991 I married a fair-haired California boy and in 2000 we settled in Castaic, just north of LA. I now work for LAPD as a 911 dispatcher, and my wicked England accent is practically a whisper these days.

Amber: Before we get to your specific story tell us a little about the anthology and how you became a participating author.

Steph: Author J. Morgan was chatting to Gail Delaney, Editor-in-Chief, Desert Breeze Publishing, and said, "Wouldn't it be cool to write a science fiction anthology?" Gail ran with it. There are 3 stories in the Borealis II anthology, each centered around a backdrop of a space station.

One day at lunch, Gail mentioned it to me, and I told her I'd be interested. She kept me in mind. A couple weeks later she came up to me and asked if I wanted to write a story. I said sure. I had never tackled science fiction romance before so I was excited to try my hand in it.

Amber: Tell us a little about Shadows and Light.

Steph: Sarina, (from Gail's story in Borealis I, Forgive us our Debts) asked my heroine, Persephone Talon to investigate the Uudon Trade on the Borealis. Elijah Kess, also a member of the Rebellion, is there undercover. Soon, they start stepping on each other's toes. Persephone provides the shadows, Elijah provides the light in the story.

Amber: What was your inspiration for the story?

Steph: I was given a basic plot so I took inspiration in the little things. Casting my characters gives me inspiration, so I cast Frieda Pinto as Persephone and Kellan Lutz as Elijah. With Persephone's name and the cast of characters that support her, I turned to Greek mythology. Nirvana's "Smells like Teen Spirit," inspired Persephone's bar, Korn.

Amber: What kind of research did you do for the story?

Steph: I just called on my love of Star Trek for my research. There's a little Savvik in Persephone. (She's telepathic and telekinetic) DS9 let me picture a space station in my mind.

Amber: What do you enjoy most about writing science fiction?

Steph: The creativity it allows an author to use.

Amber: Can you tell us more about your other published works?

Steph: "The Hungarian" is a paranormal romance about a werewolf who falls in love. It takes place in 1901. "The Giving Meadow" is my children's book with 4RV Publishing. It's about a caterpillar who travels through a meadow making friends and learning to share.

Amber: Any upcoming projects:

Steph: My next release with Desert Breeze is "The Count's Lair" and it's about Anton and Amelia from "The Hungarian."

I have a Christmas sort story coming out in a "A Christmas Collection, Stimulating" from Victory Tales Press on 15 NOV called "Christmas in Bayeux." Aiden reconnects with Noel on the Beaches of Normandy.

My horror short story called "The Scorpion Temple" will be released in issue 12 of the Ethereal Gazette in DEC 2010 with Lake Fossil Press. It has a Lovecraftian influence, and will be under my pen name, SG Cardin.

Amber: Where can we find you on the web?





Here's a link to the Shadows & Light Story Teaser on You Tube:

Apollo and Dan walked out. Persephone used her telekinesis to exit through the access hatch. She moved with elegant grace, like a panther through the tunnels until she climbed out through a hatch in the hallway near the lift that was next to the space dock. Civilians mulled about, not giving her a look. It was best for a civilian to mind their own business, especially in this area of the station.

Persephone waited next to the lift door, arms crossed. Adrenaline spiked through her body when the lift hummed to life. This was it -- the reward of the pursuit. This was where the rush of the thrill took over. It was a sensation she gave herself completely over to. Instincts, raw and powerful, were the only things that would save her and Elijah and get them off this Hades- forsaken station.

She stepped in front of the lift. The door slid open with a cold, metallic hiss.

Elijah stood between of two TPP enforcers, his eye still swollen, his lower lip cracked with dried blood. She marched into the lift and lashed out, striking both the enforcers in the stomach with her fists. They crumpled over, reacting as she expected them to. She shoved an elbow into one enforcer's back, forcing him to his knees. Her leg surged up, kicking the other enforcer in the jaw. He tumbled backward, struck his head on the sidewall, and fell unconscious. She spun around and saw the second enforcer fumbling for his pistol on his belt. She swung, her hand connecting with the side of his head. He fell over unconscious.

Elijah looked at her, his back against the wall of the lift, looking winded. "I thought you'd never come."

She pulled out a sim laser from her belt and motioned for Elijah to move away from the wall. Carefully, she used the laser to break the metal links of his cuffs. They fell, clanking to the floor.

"You needed a good sweat."

Elijah bent down, a little unsteady, and took the pistols from the unconscious enforcers. "I take it you have a plan?"

"Yeah, but it involves walking through Hades."

"You shouldn't have."

She grabbed his arm and looked directly at him. "Just point and shoot when we get to the space dock."

His lips curved into a small smile. "A woman after my own heart."


Goodie Time: Leave a response and I'll be back tomorrow, 10 NOV to pick two people to receive an autographed postcard of the Borealis II cover.

Answer this question: What's your favorite Star Trek series? How has Star Trek resonated with you? I'll pick a winner to receive a $6.00 GC to Amazon.

The Borealis II Anthology is available for Kindle, Nook, Sony Ebook Reader, All Romance Books and at Desert Breeze Publishing.

Here's a link to the Borealis II Anthology on the Desert Breeze Site:

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Knowing and Understanding Limits

All is going well. Just finished a fun filled family day and now hitting the laptop for my daily NaNo word count. So far, NaNo has done three things for me.
  1. Confirmed I do have a very healthy writing habit that is consistent and productive
  2. Proved my plotting method really does work in streamlining and emphasising my creative flow
  3. Proved I could double my productivity without impeding on my family or stressing my creative boundaries
As a result, I will be adjusting my normal word count to increase my monthly goal. That is, NaNo aside, I commit to write 6K a week (two 1500 word count sessions during the week/one 3000 word count session on the weekend). Now, I will be committing myself to four 1500 word count session during the week and one 5000 word count session on the weekend. My new weekly writing goal will be 11K.

Of course, this will decrease when a manuscript is complete and I engage in my editing/revision phases. We'll cross that bridge when we get to it.

Good writing all!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Guest Blogger: Vijaya Schartz on Writing The Chronicles of Kassouk

Please welcome Vijaya to the blog. I've been reading her series, The Chronicles of Kassouk and have fallen in love with the sci-fi behind the whole concept. So, I asked her to come on and tell you all a little about it. I'm telling you, it is well thought out, realistic, and...well...REALLY COOL! Without further ado, Vijaya!

Amber, thank you so much for inviting me to your blog.

Since the third book in THE CHRONICLES OF KASSOUK, BLACK JAGUAR, is out this month from DESERT BREEZE PUBLISHING here are a few points that make this series so special.


Each story in the Chronicles of Kassouk stands on its own, but reading all the novels in the right order allows the reader to perceive the evolution of the various societies I created for this series. The entire concept of the series is based on the contrast between people at different stages of evolution. What happens when an advanced galactic race decides to take advantage of a less developed population?

In Book One, WHITE TIGER, powerful aliens are worshiped as deities in the temple when their galactic enemies attack, and the Human population, at a medieval stage of development, is caught in the middle. In Book Two, RED LEOPARD, a Hybrid race of Mutants rules the planet, but forbids Humans to develop or use technology. And when their galactic Fathers return, the Mutants are divided. Again, the Human population is caught in the struggle. And in BLACK JAGUAR, Humans are exploring the other continents and find themselves as the high-tech race, compared to the natives... until they discover a scheming galactic interloper...

But in all these stories, although technology is powerful, Human ingenuity, courage, and will power usually triumph in the end, even against impossible odds. I am partial to good endings, where the villains get their due and the heroes their rewards. That’s why we read fiction.


Because the Human population of Kassouk originated from the crash of Noah’s Ark, a science vessel from Earth, meant to seed another planet with animal life, many familiar species are found on New Earth, and large felines abound. After the Human technology was destroyed in the harsh conditions of the frozen planet, the knowledge was lost over generations in favor of survival skills, like hunting. Eventually, a new low-tech society emerged, and only legends tell of their origins.

But the Humans of Kassouk have learned to tame wild felines as pets (a kitten is a kitten after all, no matter how big) and they enjoy a special bond with them. They also train them for battle. These fiercely loyal companions are found throughout the series, and Human warriors like to take feline battle names. Each title in the series is the battle name of a warrior (male or female). The animals risk and sometimes sacrifice their lives to protect their Human masters. A few special characters, like Tora in White Tiger, and Talina in Black Jaguar, can even communicate with them, mind-to-mind.


I always loved sci-fi, but as a woman, I often missed the feminine element. I remember my mother saying "I don’t like movies with no women." Later I understood that what she missed was not just the women, but the interaction between the two genders, and the complications, romantic or otherwise, that derive from their being thrown together into some kind of conflict.

Early on, while writing straight sci-fi, I joined Romance Writers of America, because they offered sound guidance and professional advice for new writers. Then I realized that what was missing in most Sci-Fi stories was the romantic element. So, I decided to write sci-fi romance, a complete science-fiction or fantasy plot, cool aliens, lots of action, with a love story, emotional conflicts, and sensual scenes throughout, all the elements I love. Unfortunately, at the time, no one was publishing sci-fi romance. Until a few gutsy small publishers launched this new genre, and it has been growing exponentially ever since. Thanks to them, sci-fi is now open to the female market.

Find out more about all my books at:

You can also find my books on Amazon at:

And at Are (All Romance eBooks) at:

Hope you enjoy burying yourself in the CHRONICLES OF KASSOUK. I’m presently writing book Four, titled BLUE LIONESS, and scheduled for release in August 2011. Noah’s Ark, the prequel and last book in the series, will follow in April 2012.

Thanks again, Amber, for the chance to appear on your wonderful blog.

Vijaya Schartz

Thank you, Vijaya, for giving us an insight into your series. I would recommend this series for anyone interested in SFR with equal doses of SF and R. Top quality writing and top quality world building.

Good writing all!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Coming Attractions

Hi all! I just wanted to let you all know about some exciting coming attractions this month. Sprinkled in with the chaos of NaNoWriMo, I'll be blogging about the following groovy things:

Wednesday, November 3rd: Guest blogger, Vijaya Schartz on board talking about the science fiction concept behind her series Chronicles of Kassouk.

Tuesday, November 9th: Author Interview with Stephanie Burkhart talking about her short story, Shadow and Light, which appears in the newly released Borealis Book Two Anthology.

I'll also being doing two book reviews this month. Jack McDevitt's The Devil's Eye and Dean Koontz The Taking. Last but not least I'll be posting my first of many monthly conference debriefs. This first one is on marketing materials and tools I learned about. I might throw in a resurrected Science Update too...but we'll see.

Oh! And I'll be giving my first ever excerpt for Duty and Devotion (due out June 2011) towards the end of the month.

Alrighty, I think that's all the coming attractions for November.

Good writing all!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

When No Progress Equals Progress

Okay, I'm coming up for air and catching up with my blogging buds. Progress is going very well with Echoes of Regret...okay, not so much the writing. I hit a big snag and now put myself in a tough corner.

So how can I say progress is going well? Because -- for me anyways -- I think snags make for a better story in the end. Doubts creep in when I breeze through a story with few to no bumps. Did I challenge myself enough? Did I challenge my characters enough? Did I push the boundaries of my themes? Did I give the depth the story needed to match my vision?

With a few exceptions, my doubts are usually validated when I've reopened manuscripts where the stories just"flowed out" with no major glitches. I found the wrong answers to those questions. And, I have to reopen the manuscripts because those stories were never accepted for publication, because in the end, they just weren't good enough.

So progress on Echoes of Regret is going well because I'm using the tools of my writing trade to work through some big barriers, which in the end will hopefully give a truer result to my vision.

Good writing (and progress) all!

(OH! And I gave my first interview over at my publisher's blog, Desert Breeze Blog. It was a lot of fun answering the questions. Feel free to drop by and snoop me out over there!)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Annnd Its Hit

Oh boy has it! I usually go through some sort of new date sort of thing with my stories. Because Echoes of Regret is a continuation in The Telomere Trilogy I got a heads up. Unfortunately, the new characters were a bit shy and the POVs were heavily on the Book 1 characters. Then it hit.

Driving towards the grocery store for the rest of the birthday supplies and Freddy started nagging about her guilt. Damani started crabbin' about the changing ways of his calling. Piper, well, piped in about her distant and cold relationship with her mother. And Jace. Okay, Jace has been easy-going, busy worrying about his sister.


They got very loud in my head all through the aisles. I kept having to look at my list to make sure I wasn't missing anything...having to backtrack twice to go back for stuff. I argued yet again with the self checkout due to my lapse in attention.

Finally getting home my characters were near anarchy as they found out I had to bake cakes first. Now, finally I'm on my laptop. The boys are watching they're chill out show. I've opened my manuscript.

"See that characters? Happy now?!"

Good writing all! (And if anyone has virtual duct tape for times like these, let me know.)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Gone and Done It

Well, I've gone and done it. I've signed up for my first NaNoWriMo.

The whole month of November will be dedicated to completing 50,000 words of Echoes of Regret. I will have to complete an average of 1,667 words a day to meet this goal, which is 8,333 a week. I'm used to writing 6,000 a week, so this will be a nice challenge.

I think I'll be fine. I've got my outline pretty fleshed out and my characters well developed. The only downfall will be the month itself. November is the start of our family's "birthday season", my favorite holiday (Thanksgiving), and Xmas shopping time.

Of course, I'm the one who wanted to become a published author. No matter what the month, I have to be able to focus my writing energies and creative outputs to create a manuscript in a reasonable time frame. This will be a great method to continue that career development.

Any of you participating in the NaNoWriMo? Any tips from you NaNoWriMo veterans?

Good writing all!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Telomere Trilogy has a Home

I heard earlier this week that my series is being picked up by my publisher, Desert Breeze! I sent them the first manuscript in the series along with the series synopsis and they wanted it.

The Telomere Trilogy Book One: Revelations of Tomorrow will be released October 2011 with the next two books coming out in 2012. I'm so excited I had to dance a little bit...and might have squealed. (Most likely.) Here's a little bit about it:

"After a load capsule careens into Captain Noah Bonney's interstellar vessel, she must face her inner demons and the sins of her people if she's to open her heart to the love of both her daughter and her lover.

The crew of Daring Star salvages the load capsule and find the beaten body of Jetta McCree. Jetta's discovered her employer developed a biochemical droplet and contracted with terrorists to manufacture on a large scale. Noah fights off corporate security forces, her ex-husband's pirate fleets, and carnivorous beasts to keep the young woman safe and get her to the safety of the Imperial Home Port.

But the adventure brings to surface demons Noah's been suppressing and secrets from her people's history she's tried to forget. Now, she must face them if she's to reconcile with her daughter and keep the love of her life from leaving. With over four hundred years under her belt and nothing but eternity ahead of her, she's built a thick shell…one she's not sure she can break. "

I'll keep you posted on the progress of all this as it goes along.

Good writing all!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Keepin' on Keepin'

Just wanted to drop in some various updates. Let's see...

I switched up my header menu a bit. Now that I'm dedicating more of my time to novel writing versus short stories, I've deleted my Completed Works section and replaced it with a Free Reads section. However, you can also access free material if you check out my Published Works section where several of my works appear in free e-magazines.

I uploaded a new free read titled Maka's Quest through Smashwords. I'm sure some of you remember it. It's my Native American inspired SF story. Please feel free to download it and --hopefully-- enjoy. Let me know what you think either here or in the review section on Smashwords.
Pill Hill Press' anthology, Bloody Carnival, is out with my contributed story Sorcerer's Carnival. Sorcerer Barabin, trapped for centuries, is working to gain the power to free himself from his dimensional prison...and he's only got two more souls to go. A fun evening at the carnival turns dark and dangerous for Lilia and James when they find out they're Barabin's final selection.

My Publisher (heehee...that's still neat to say) has their October releases up and it includes an awesome SF up, Borealis: A Space Anthology, which includes great SF writers, PI Barrington, J. Morgan, and Gail Delaney. Head over to Desert Breeze Publishing and check it out if you have a moment.

What's next...oh, I'm fighting off the need to chew my nails away from nervousness. My first book in the Telomere Trilogy, Revelations of Tomorrow, is still in submission review. I'm not sure what happens to time...but slows when you've got a big submission out. And now that I'm not actively submitting shorts, it's the only submission my anal brain has to focus on. Ah! The joys of authorship!

Good writing all!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Developing a Series: Closing Post

I want to again thank Jennifer Hartz and Tami Dee for such wonderful articles about both their approach to writing series and their latest releases. I hope you all enjoyed the week's theme too.

There are a couple great things I pulled out from their experiences I think I would like to try with my own writing.
  • Find the time to daydream: Sometimes as writers we focus so much on the need to write, we forget to just let our minds wander. Jenn really illustrated -- through her use of time during her commute -- that just mind-wandering for a little bit can really help you work out your story. And Tami Dee sits down at her computer and just goes with it. So, I'm going to try and not focus so much on my technical tools and just try letting myself brainstorm freely.
  • Plot the whole idea: I know a lot of people are not Plotters. I respect that and admire the freedom. As you can see from Tami's success it's not a requirement. However, I do think -- at least for me -- that for a story that crosses over books, plotting is a very important key to success. It doesn't have to be detailed, but at least a simple outline. Along with the plotting, using Tami's idea of a spreadsheet is a great way to track all the details. We're not talking'll be 240K or more.
  • Allow the seed to grow...don't stifle it with your original idea: Things won't always lead the way we thought when starting out. Don't go all willy nilly in every direction at a whim...but really think about the direction if it's just not working. Both Jenn and Tami showcased this aspect from their own experience writing their series.
  • Be diligent: Take whatever time you can to write...even if it's only a few minutes.
  • Make each book in the series strong enough to stand alone: Tami Dee really illustrated the point well, when she spoke about giving the reader enough finality to not feel open-ended between books, but still enough suspense to have them wanting to read the next.

I'm so happy I decided to try this exercise on the blog. In the process of completing the first book in my trilogy and starting the second, I realized some things I'm doing well, some things I need to correct before it's too far in, and those things that'll make it easier overall and going forward.

Good writing all!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Developing a Series: Tami Dee Guest Blogs

All right! We're continuing the discussion regarding developing series. Please welcome SF&F writer, Tami Dee. Tami is the author of the "Mists of Time Viking Series". Her latest release, "Beyond a Viking Horizon" was just released in August. Read on to check out how Tami approaches her series writing and then enjoy an excerpt from her latest book. (As with Jennifer, Tami's books also have amazing covers.)

Hello, Amber thanks so much for inviting me to your blog!

The first book of my Mists of Time Viking Series is Under A Viking Moon, a Time travel, romantic adventure.

I am not a plotter, at all, and as a result of that fact when I began this book I had no idea that my hero, Leif, would have three brothers, or that I would be compelled to give each of those brothers a story of their own.

Oddly enough, my story ideas begin with a title. The story, plot, and everything that comes after is a direct result of a title which I thought up at an odd moment in time, like washing my hair or driving to work.

The youngest brother, Davyn, is the hero of book two, Dawn of A Viking Sunrise, and book three, Beyond A Viking Horizon features Balmung. The last book, Through A Viking Mist with the final brother, Ofeig, will be released March 2011,

You asked me to relate a bit about my latest release, Beyond A Viking Horizon.
Iris is a widow, raising four young children in the year 1930. Circumstances bring her family from Chicago to Denmark where they learn to earn a living off of the land.

Iris is much more grounded than Kat from Under and Rosie from Dawn, even though, in truth, she is around the same age as her counterparts. Yet having been married and raising children, her bravery and courage are displayed in much different ways than the other heroines.

Balmung is a hero who I think any woman, modern or otherwise, would adore having his love and loyalty. He is a farmer, attached to his land and content with the life he choose for himself. His brothers, Leif and Davyn, had both found the love of their lives with the assistance of Time itself, yet Balmung is determined to not be a pawn in Times hands. If he chooses to find love, he will do so on his terms and on his land. Perhaps he should qualify that statement to include ‘in his Time.’
One look at Iris and her children have him accepting that Time has his best interest at heart, and he is determined to win Iris trust and heart.

It is really important to me that each story be unique and memorable. My writing is character driven and as such, I can really say that the books pretty much write themselves. Signing a four book contract, with only two books completed, could have been intimidating.

But, honestly, as I said earlier, the stories are character driven and once I sit down, it’s as if I am transported to another place and Time and I just write. When scenes come to me while I am at work, I will send myself an e mail with a quick thought and hope I can recapture the nuance when I am able to get back to my laptop.

I like action, and have to remind myself to slow down while working my way to the big moments. After all, it is those small moments leading up to the action that are the heart of any story.

I can’t say if having books in a series that are stand alone or not stand alone is good or bad, I guess it just depends on what the author wishes to do. It is really hard for me to know if my own books are stand alone or not.

It is good to remember that when a reader knows they are going to be reading a series, they will want to be able to clearly identify what book they are picking up first. And a lot of readers will wait until the series is complete before picking up any of the books. Sometimes the wait time between books can be a bit lengthy, and by the time the much anticipated second or third book comes out, they have read so many books in between that they have trouble picking up where they left off.

My advice to anyone who is considering writing a series would be to keep a spreadsheet of what year you are writing in (or years in the case of time travel) names, ages, eye, hair color, etc.

Believe me, once you get into the heart of the story, or your second or third book in the series, having these types of details easily accessible will be invaluable. It is also important to write what you love to read. Don’t worry about what is trendy, and don’t get so caught up in the ‘rules of writing’ that you lose your voice and story, or worse, think you will never be able to follow all the rules and stop writing all together.

That’s all I can think of for now, Amber.

Again, thanks for the invitation to your blog, it has been a pleasure.

No, no. Thank you Tami! What an amazingly free way to approach story writing. I will have to take a chapter from your book and allow my characters to tell me their life. To my blogger buddies, please check out below for contact information, links to buy her new release, and an excerpt from Tami's newest book.

Tami's Website:

Buy Links for Tami's latest Mists of Time Vikiing Series: Beyond a Viking Horizon
Desert Breeze Publishing:


"Good sleep, Iris."

Balmung tucked a gentle finger under her chin and tilted her face as he lowered his lips to hers. Sweet heat seeped through her as she returned his kiss with an urgency that left her breathless. His lips were firm yet soft, demanding as well as accepting. Her skin broke out in goose bumps when his big hands skirted over her back, then moved to her waist, caressing, stroking, easing their way over her ribs with tenderness and passion. They stopped just short of her breasts, a brief hesitation, as if waiting for a sign from her that they could continue their exploration. She briefly thought of her children sleeping just on the other side of the door, yet her body yearned. Yearned for something which she had taken for granted for so long, yet had ended so suddenly, so unexpectedly, so completely, when Noah had died.

She didn't realize that she was crying until he pulled his lips from hers and moved them to her damp cheeks. With a gusty sigh, he dropped two light kisses onto each of her closed lids, then tucked her under his chin and hugged her tight.

"I want you, Iris," he said, his voice thick with need. "And it is clear that you want me, also. But when we share a bed, it will be only you and I in that bed."

She gasped, jerking her eyes open to stare at him.

He gave her a soft smile. "It's okay, Iris," he soothed. "I can only imagine how difficult it is for you to have once loved so completely, knowing that you were loved so completely in return, and then suddenly find that your body can hum for another man. That you can have feelings for another man."

He trailed a finger down her cheek, following the path of a fresh tear. "I respect what you and Noah had. I will not ask you to try and have the same bound with me as you did with him. But I do want a part of your heart, and your body, Iris, a part which only belongs to me."

He sighed, pressing his forehead to hers.

"When you're ready, I will be waiting for you."

He pulled open her chamber door and, with a hand that shook, gently guided her inside, closing the door quietly behind him. Leaning against the thick door, she listened to his retreating footsteps, heard those of her guards as they took their positions at her door.

Iris' body still hummed even as her mind whirled. She woke the nursemaid, and with a soft thank you, sent her to her bed before taking off her dress and slipping into a warm linen gown which she found neatly draped at the foot of the bed.

Her tears flowed unchecked as she climbed onto the bed, curled up in the middle of her children. Pulling Lissie close to her breast, Iris drifted off into a dreamless sleep.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Developing a Series: Jennifer Hartz Guest Blogs

Hi all! Today I'm excited to welcome my first guest blogger, Jennifer Hartz. As you all know, this week I've dedicated my blog to the development and writing of a series. Jenn is a fantasy writer and has a new series out, "Future Savior Book One: Conception". I'm happy to have her here. Please read on to see how she started writing and her approach to developing a series. She also has a treat at the end...a excerpt and her beautiful cover! No joke, the cover is amazing!! (Yes, double exclamations. Stop me if you can. Hee hee!)

While having a conversation with one of my students, I said something that would make my already busy life a heck of lot busier! We were discussing The Twilight Saga. As you know, most teenage girls love Twilight, I really enjoyed the books too, but we talking about how we were slightly disappointed with the forth book in the series. I eventually said, "I certainly can't judge Stephanie Myers because I haven't written a book let alone a bestselling mega smash series." This got me to thinking. I have always wanted to write a novel – it has been a lifelong dream – why not give it a shot. That day, while driving home from work, I started thinking about all of the books, movies, and TV shows I loved. I pulled out elements from all of these things that really captured my attention and slowly they morphed into my own fantasy realm.

For three months my daydreams continued as I drove back and forth from work. I have an hour and a half commute – three hours a day in the car – so my fantasy story really grew, and grew quickly. The story lines became more and more intricate and the personalities of my characters really started to take on lives of their own. Finally, summer rolled around and my fingers finally met the keys. Writing was the easy part since I had such a structured skeleton to work with. In the two and a half months of summer break I was able to write the entire 78,000 word novel that is now Future Savior Book One: Conception. I have the other four novels of the series completely mapped out in my head.

So what tips and tricks can I provide on how I plan to develop and write the remainder of my series? Well, I'm a big time "Plotter"… BIG TIME! There are two types of writers out there, Plotters and Pansters. Plotters are people like me who have to know exactly where the story is going. They plot and plan the entire novel – or in my case the entire five book series – before they ever touch a computer. Then there are pansters. These people have a basic idea of what kind of book they want to write and they sit down and write "by the seat of their pants". I guess the question you have to ask yourself is, "which kind of writer am I? Plotter or a Panster?

If you’re a plotter, like me, the best advice I can give is to complete your thought. As you start to dream up your story and you follow a plot line, follow it as far as it goes. Does it work? Does it make sense? Is it interesting? Do all of the loose ends tie up? If not, you've got to go back and take your story down a different line. As a dreamed in my car for three months, this is exactly what I did. My original daydreams about Future Savior were just awful ideas! The plot lines were weak and the characters were garbage. There were some sprinklings of good things even in those early days… those things are still in Future Savior today, but the rest was trashed and I followed my story down a different line until I got it right. Now, with the completed plan in my head, I couldn't be happier with the intricate story I've developed, the awesome fantasy world called Meric that I've created, and the characters I've grown to love.

So how do I plan on moving ahead with the rest of the series? I need to be diligent. I have a very busy life. I know that many people do, but my days are insane! Like I said, I'm in the car for three hours every day so right off the bat my hours are seriously severed. I teach, coach sports, volunteer at my church and, most importantly, I have a husband and a two year old son. So when I do find a few free moments I need to spend them writing. Not only do I have the Future Savior Series to complete, but I'm really excited about a new YA series that my brain has conjured up.

Here are some links where you can find out more about me and Future Savior:
Jenn Hartz' website –
Twitter link –
Facebook link –!/profile.php?id=100000624983529

Buy Links
Desert Breeze Publishing –
Amazon –
Barnes & Noble -
Find some other buy links here –

Please enjoy the following tiny snippet from Future Savior Book One: Conception, the exciting Epic Inspirational Fantasy by Jennifer Hartz.

"What about you? Are you married? Girlfriend?" I smiled at him with the pretense of easy conversation, but really I was terrified to learn the answer. What if he was married?

"No," he replied, "As a Watcher, my life revolves around the people I protect."
"I'm sorry. You've sacrificed so much just for me."

"Don't be sorry. This was the life I chose when I agreed to work for your father. I could have stayed a soldier in Commander Glontor's army, but now my work is exceptional. I get to protect the Savior of Meric." He gazed into my eyes for a long moment, squeezing my hand again.

I studied him even after he looked away. He was such a remarkable man, and yet there was still so much about him that I didn't know. What I did know had me completely enthralled. I was amazed that he would give up his entire life to look after me.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Dropping the Bomb

The Blood Red Pencil has been blogging about the different opinions of curse words in literature. It has been engaging and each post this week as come from a different angle and received quite a discussion via comments. Here's the latest blog post, which I feel best ties with my opinion of using profanity in writing.

I use it, but sparingly and when appropriate. Duty and Devotion, which will debut next June, uses cursing by the characters. They're soldiers in war and it fits the dynamics of the situation they're facing...death, violence, and hardship.

However, I also include moments of hope, faith, and enlightenment. Again, they're soldiers in war and it fits the dynamics of the situation...loss, perseverance, and miracles (or luck by those not believing in miracles).

My opinion comes down to, is it a word that would be used by that character in that situation? And on the flip side, I decide the dialogue of faith and hope in the same manner. Would the characters be thinking/conversing this way at this moment?

I would like to think I got the right balance. Of course, the readers will be the judge next summer, so we will see.

Good writing all!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Revelations of Tomorrow is done! I'm excited. I'm relieved. I'm mentally exhausted.

This one ran at full speed. I didn't hit many road bumps, but the ones I did hit were huge and flung me around quite a bit. I was worried this would turn into another manuscript I tucked away. Instead, I found myself very happy with the characters, their story lines, and the evolution of the theme along the way.

It's the first in a trilogy. I started the second during my round of edits, but have decided to pause and break. I know the characters are in my head, tapping my skull to get going on their lives...but I really need to creatively recover, at least for a few days.

This will be my first attempt at a series, so I'm reigning in my excitement of a new endeavor. Next week I'll have two guest authors visiting to talk about their approaches to writing book series.

Okay, off to eat a salad for lunch...Oh, who am I kidding? We all know I'm going to grab a cheeseburger.

Good writing all!

Monday, September 20, 2010

To The Meadow's Edge Now Up

Hi all!

My inspirational short, To the Meadow's Edge, is now up at Bewildering Stories. Come check it out along with all the other great stories in issue 401.

To the Meadow's Edge was created initially over a lunch hour for a writing contest. After the contest was over I tucked it away, frustrated with the overall comments I received. When my ego and pride de-ruffled enough, I pulled it back out and looked it over...
...It was awful. Okay, not too awful, but enough I understood why the story hadn't worked. I put on my writer's mechanic suit, dived under the plot hood, and got to work. Over several weeks and many rewrites I had the story I originally visioned.

With a virtual hug, I tossed it into the submission ring and let it take its course. Bewildering Stories picked it up, gave some further mentoring on the story...and then picked it up. The result is something I'm very proud of.

Just goes to shows, not all stories (rarely any) are ready right off the gate. Most take work and rework.

Good writing all!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Inspired by Those Inspired


No, no. I really meant the title as written. One of the best things about artists of all forms and mediums is they inspire not only the public but others artists. Writers, like all artists, get inspiration from the world around them. We can look at the checker, the couple on the beach, or the lost puppy turning the corner and feel something. Our form just happens to be words. Those images grow words to sentences to paragraphs to stories.

But, sometimes we forget to look to the other artists as other artists look at each other. A painter will look at a sculpture and see in color what the sculptor saw in metal or ceramic. Just the same we should remember to look at the inspiration of others to find another source of inspiration for ourselves.

When I was still in school I learned this through a lesson the teacher passed out. She put down a stack of art magazines and had each student pick an image and write a short story. Mine was this cafe scene at night. There there was just the tender and a few lingering patrons. It was so fun to come up with the mystery story. One of the patrons poison the suited man's coffee. The police suspect all the patrons and it turns out in a twist ending to be the tender...

...Oops, diverted from my main point here. Getting back on track with my thoughts, try taking a look through some art magazines or better yet go visit some art districts or museum and see what ideas you come up with.
If you've already tried this technique, what great ideas have you come up with? I'd love to know.
Good writing...and imaging all!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

This, That, and the Other

Hear that screech of excitement? Yup, that's me. Revelations of Tomorrow is drafted. I'm now working through my editing phases. You know, adding the needed layers to produce a story that will accurately portray my vision. Some items I usually focus on in my first round edits include:
  1. Plot and story structure
  2. Character arch and consistency
  3. Cross-referencing my technical components for consistency, clarity, and plausibility (if not plausible, at least enough to suspend the readers skepticism)
  4. Major sentence and paragraph wonkiness
This will be several pass throughs and usually adds about 8-10K to my overall word count. I also know the ending is's usually the last bit I flesh out. I've already spotted 2 characters that really should be combined into one character and expanded on. With all these initial points identified, I'm adjusting my progress bar to add 10K. This visual will help keep me focused and reduce any procrastination risks.

The difference with this manuscript that I will be working out for the first time is the trilogy factor. I've already started brainstorming and sketching some plot ideas for book 2. My goal is to have book 2 and 3 outlined by the time book 1 is complete in December. To help me, I'm going to be interviewing some series authors to seek some of their tips and tricks.

Okay, that's all I've got for now.

Good writing all!

Friday, September 3, 2010

The 5 Senses

All we have as writers are words. Yup...swear to you-know-who. We don't have the visual of painters, the movement of movie directors, the tastes of chefs, or the touch of fabric makers.

Nope. But, like any true artist, our medium of paper and words can evoke anything we want...if we do it right. Admit it, you've read that scene where your heart hitched from the pain, you cried for the loss, or you laughed because the imagery those words created. The emotion. It evoked something.

Writer's who understand what they have to mold their words from, can do amazing things. Those writers who truly infuse the human experience into their work create a world that the reader gets lost in. What makes up a large part of human experience? The 5 senses. Those senses need to back up the scene. Sight, hearing, taste, touch, and smell. You don't need all in every moment, but try to get at least 2 to 3.

Don't just have the break up and the feelings that go with it. Infuse the world he/she is in as they're breaking up. Example:

Uh...okay. That's sad. But... that is much better. You've got the sights of the lake, BBQ, and the kids. There's the sounds of the water and laughter. There the tangible touch of her biting her lip. I didn't overload the moment with too many senses, just zoned in on what surrounding pieces of Joan's world would help evoke the feelings I wanted between Joan and Davie's dynamic. For instance, I didn't falsify the moment with a touch between the two who'd just broken apart.

Just a little spice goes a long way. So, go through your draft and highlight areas that could be detailed out. You'd be surprised how 3 dimensional your story becomes and it give the reader a chance to really step into the role of your characters.

Good writing all!
The roughness in his voice - telling her he'd fallen out of love - rung with the truth of it. Her vision blurred with tears. She bit her lower lip to keep it from trembling. The water lapped up on shore, out of rhythm with her breaking heart. Joan looked out, across the lake where the family BBQ continued. Her children ran along the muddy shore, laughing and hollering. How could she tell them? How could Davie tell her on this day, their anniversary?

Joan's heart broke when Davie told her he didn't love her

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Solar System, Galaxy, Universe, Oh My!

How do you decide how far out your sci-fi story is gonna go? (Totally assuming you write sci-fi…of course, we all know what assumption will make out of you.)

So far, I haven't gone out of the Solar System…well once for a short story, but it was a super quick reference and no more was said about it. In Revelations of Tomorrow, I've been trying out a world build where civilization has grown to plant themselves throughout the Galaxy. There are lots of references and people mingled in who've traveled in from other regions. Like The Black Rose concept. (It's the story where a couple of medieval men head off into the wild unknown of China to explore the wonders and mystery, only to return and have no one believe them.)

Even with this concept, however, the actual story stays within one region of the Solar System. (Think a slice of pie - or bit of crumb - within a slice of pie, if you will.) This is because the pure concept of a single story crossing throughout the galaxy is just so over-consuming it boggles my still Earth-based mind.

Now, Saturday night I had a weird dream. It was about characters in Revelations of Tomorrow, but the story itself was different. All Sunday morning I tried to push what I thought was a subplot into my plot line. No matter which way I worked it, molded it, meld it, meshed it, or mashed it, it just wouldn't fit. Then my Einstein moment (don't laugh…I can hear you) smacked me as smartly as a Dallas character.

It may have been the series discussion I was participating in with some of my publishing house author buddies, but here it is: I think I might have actually spawned my very first viable series!

Once that thought binged me in the brain my Muse was off and running like she O.D.'d on Red Bull. Being so excited about this series thing, I eased my timetable a bit to allow a little planning on my idea for a book 2. This will allow me to explore writing throughout the galaxy - who knows, maybe even the Universe - without over stressing about the feasible technology so much.

I think that's why sci-fi lends itself so well to series, operas, and mega books. The world is so huge, depending on the level you build (solar system, galaxy, or universe). I mean, just within our little solar system things are millions of miles apart…millions…with a longggggg S. We're not talking a plane flight from here to China people.

Things just can happen within a few Earth days. Imagine how bored you get in just a 4 or 5 hour flight? Keeping a story interesting during a travel multiplied by goodness knows how much and you got to have some serious skill.

Well, that's my tidbit of randomness for today.

Good writing all!

Friday, August 27, 2010

SFR Publisher Showcase

Hi all!

Just FYI, I did my first blog over at SFR Brigade. Well, Gail Delaney answered the questions and Laurie Green really put the final touches on and really snazzed it up. If you have time, head over and check it out.

Desert Breeze Publishing: Showcase

Good writing all!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Author Page is Up

Hi all! Super excited. Checked this morning and found my Author Page is up at Desert Breeze Publishing. Wow, this is getting more real every day.

I need a breath here...and a little less coffee in the morning.

Manuscript preparation is going well on Duty and Devotion. I should be ready to send it to my Editor by the end of August, maybe first week of September if things get crazy at the Norris household. (Most likely, things will get crazy.)

I'm also still moving on the revisions with Revelations of Tomorrow. It's going a bit slower, but still heading in a good timeline. I should have the first draft completed by beginning of November. Then it's straight editing time. I'm hoping to have the manuscript completed by January.

Okay, that's the update from this edge of space.

Good writing all!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Cover Image

I did it. I completed the publisher's cover art image input worksheet. It was a long 10 - might have been 11 - pages of my thoughts on the cover art for Duty and Devotion. It was grueling.

Not because I had no idea of a book cover, but because over the years I've had a million. There are so many ways a story can be portrayed visually. One thing I don't envy, the cover artist's job. She has to take a 200 page book and design a single teeny image that will convey the whole story and attract readers.


Now, I have to call on my patience - which left in the early 90s during the Nirvana phase - and wait calmly to see what Jenifer comes up with. If it's anything near the quality of the other books she does for Desert Breeze Publishing'll all be snazzy as a Sunday BBQ.

Good writing all!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

You Remember...Remember?

Decades. Duty and Devotion has been with me for decades. It started out the passionate whims of a teenager. The plot and characters nothing more than a preconceived idea of what adult life is like. Over the many years, it was rewritten several times, tucked away for several years, and reborn out of those childish dreams. What came to be was a story I'm both proud of and something I think will resonate with many readers. (Cross those fingers....Hurry! Hurry!).

I knew I'd done what I could and what would come of it was up to the Publishing Gods. Either it would stand on its own and sell, or fade quietly into my fondest memories. Well, thankfully it was picked up and will be shown to the world. It's one of my greatest prides. So, when I got my first editing tasks, I found myself feeling a little weird. Making the needed changes for the publishing house as been heartbreak. No devastation. Just...easy.

I'd moved on, and though I look at it fondly, my very being is no longer attached to the story. I gave it everything I could, and now it's a partnership between the editor, copy editors, cover artists, and I to polish the last bit of rough spots and send it out into the world.

It's not my toy anymore and I'm okay with that. I think it's a good sign for a writer to know when they are truly ready to reach that next step. When they realize that the final product is not just theirs, but a team effort.

Just my thoughts on it any-who. And now, I can look back at the story and point to my hubby. "You remember when this was THE story? You remember...remember?"

Good writing all!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Order in the House

The little Project Manager inside me woke up this morning and just about had a heart attack. Poor little guy saw the workload, dropped his coffee all over his new shoes, and keeled over faint. Once he regained consciousness, the little man got out his mental project board and started shuffling, panic still in his fierce little eyes.

He even created a list:

Publication preparations for Duty and Devotion. Lots of requirements sent over by the Editor in Chief (heehee, that's so cool to write/say). Author information sheet, cover art input sheet, manuscript preparation checklist, house style modifications, and banners and images to put on my Internet world. This all before the real editing phase begins and I cry a flood of tears from the Editors first scratches onto my work.

Completion of Revelations of Tomorrow. Halfway finished with round one revisions. I have two more focused revisions before the editing phase begins. This means I must prepare for and schedule two more rounds of research and several mini writer meltdowns.

Blogging. Blogging keeps me sane. Blogging keeps me on the path. Blogging is fun. I need to ensure I do a minimum of two blog entries a week. I've been really having fun with daily posts, but realistically I'll probably be riding near the minimum for the next six or so months.

Okay, three major headers with many activities in each. Project Manager created a worksheet.

First Column: Major tasks
Second Column: Subtasks
Third Column: Estimated hours/days needed to complete each subtask
Fourth Column: Date Needed by
Fifth Column: Completed Y/N

Now my little Project Manager is happy as a lark and my Muse can continue on with her business of creativity. And me? Well, I don't lose my mind.

Good writing all!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

I Did It!

OMG ( can add the valley girl accent 'cuss I'm geeking out THAT much).

I just got an offer on Duty and Devotion from a great epublisher. I don't want to give details until it's official and the contract is all signed, but I just wanted you all to know.

I'd banned myself from the Internet this evening to focus on Revelation of Tomorrow revisions. Yes, on my old laptop, which was making some weird noise...sounded just like a cough. (It was totally weirding me out ya'll.)

In walks my Hubby like a knight and shining armor, carrying my fixed laptop. Not only fixed but he surprised me with an operating system upgrade to the new Windows 7. I had to explore and check it all out....soak it all in.

I open up my email and there is the new message glaring on the screen. I was so happy I almost didn't open it tonight. As a writer you get a little jaded, hoping for the best but expecting the worst. It makes the process easier. I didn't want to ruin my good mood with a rejection.

But, I was happy enough to throw caution to the wind. There it was, an extended offer.

*WARNING: Cliche about to be written. Avert eyes if allergic.*

I had to read it a second time before I really believed it. Then a third before the delayed excitement smacked me in the face and tickled my eyeballs.

I'm a published novelist (or will be next summer)! I'll post details as soon as the contract process is completed.

Good writing all!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Those Darn Obstacles

Things aren't going well with my revisions. Am I having revision issues?? No. Am I having time constraint issues?? No

Then why aren't things going so well since Sunday evening? You might ask.

Because my laptop decided to hop on the crazy train. It has drunk the electronic kool-aid. I must now pull out my older laptop. But can I just dive in and continue on my happy-frickin'-way?

No, no, no.

My older laptop does not like my shiny new version and won't open the documents. So now, this evening, I must change my files to an older version. (Thank goodness I emailed them to myself when the new laptop started acting loopy.)

We all get obstacles. This one I can beat. If not, I'll take my mental explosives and blow it sky high. Or, if I want to be reasonable, I'll walk around it....nah. I like the boom part of explosions, even mental ones.

Good writing all!