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