Saturday, August 31, 2013

I really hate you...

No, no, not you. Sorry, that came out all kinds of wrong. I was talking to the characters in my head.

It's a love/hate thing and right now I'm in the hating kind of mood.

"You don't hate anyone or thing, AR... you just really, really dislike them/it."

Eh, no, I'm going with hate today.

This is by far the hardest story I've written. I don't know what it is. I've been struggling with it more than any other story. I go through periods of, "Yes! I got this shit!" to, "What the f is happening right now?"

Of course, it could be like the birthing phenomenon. You know, chemicals are released throughout the body that sets in a kind of physical and emotional amnesia at the true level of pain you felt during labor. Maybe it's like that. My brain (or characters) release a chemical in my head after each manuscript is done that makes me forget the struggles of each story.

Yeah, yeah, that's it. Has to be.

Okay, enough whining. I'm off to battle through my story, because I refuse to let writing barriers force me into giving up. The story is in there and I will get it on paper... even if I have to rip the brain bits out by hand and splat them on the damn screen.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Wow... Just wow

Sorry all, but Mommy Duties have dominated my week, happily. My eldest is heading off to the Marines Sunday and my daughter is turning 17 today. Hence, there was a lot of shit to do. 

Planning, crying, buying, crying, packing, know how it goes.

Today I'm revisiting my outline for Brotherhood and going to sit in the quiet of the house, since the kids are all asleep, to write a little. Normally I would be sipping coffee, nibbling walnut banana bread and writing at Starbucks but I feel the need to hang nearer to home.

Pfft, I wonder why? My first born is only leaving home for the first time, heading to boot camp, and then becoming a defender of our country... 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Tall strapping MMC... or just strapping MMC?

When writing the future, I often reflect on the past to help me create my "world".

Take, for example, the simple decision of how tall to make your characters. Most writers just choose what attracts them most. "The tall, strapping man glided in on his space bike to flash his dazzling, perfect smile at the tall, willowy ladies through the space port viewer."

But, who's to say that it's realistic? Health and physical stature is environmentally dependent.

Let's continue with the height thing. Height is a global indicator of environmental health. Men during the early Middle Ages were almost as tall as modern man today. Basically, people living 1 to 2 thousand years ago had it as good as us climate and social economic- wise.

Trippy... I know, right? They were in a warm period like we are today. They had room to both grow plenty of crops and keep away from other people's germs. Plus, they didn't have the social networking to deal with so they may have been happier, since FB studies have shown people are less satisfied with their lives after a FB session.

It is believed a "perfect storm" of social and climate factors hit when people began losing inches. These factors included the mini ice age, the increased trend of trading routes and the growth of towns into full-blown cities. Due to close proximity of this new urbanization, communal disease flourished and agricultural production -- which was already declining due to the colder weather -- was overtaxed.

We went from an average of 68.27 inches to down to an average of 65.75 inches by the end of 18th century.

It was only during the 19th century that height started to really return. The war had decreased the population pressures in many cities (cold, I know, but a fact just the same) and health care advancements and environmentally conscious thinking has helped to recover the stature of humans, which again, is a sign of a healthy world.

So, in writing what do we take away from this? Well, when world-building I always think through what kind of world/setting are the characters both in and from. Are they from a heavy industrial society or from an agriculturally driven world? Are they rich or poor (which can make up a difference of 1-3 inches against the average)? Are they from a city/crowded space port or a rural area? If from a city/space port, how is the health care in that society?

What factors do you all look at when designing your "people" in stories?

Saturday, August 10, 2013

The Writing River

Today, writing was like a river. A winding, damned up river.

It was humiliating to admit that dream last week threw my writing mojo off. Here I thought I'd evolved into a "mature writing business woman".

Blagh! So much for that.

After emotionally recovering from the dream like the baby I am, I'd lost the writing rhythm. Both blog writing and book writing. It was hard to even get my ass to the Saturday Starbucks writing session!

I resented myself. Resented my story. Resented my characters.

I sat pouting at my screen, throwing a full blown mental tantrum.

"You're not leaving here until you at least write two scenes, you little brat," I told myself.

"No, I refuse."

"Fine, sit there staring at the screen like the idiot you are, then," I scolded.

And I did, for a good twenty minutes, until I knew I was serious with myself.

"Fine, I'll write ONE scene you jerk."

"No, two, but you can start with one."

(I can be a smartass sometimes, even with myself.)

Four scenes later I sat pissed off because my keyboard's battery died and I couldn't continue.

Man, I'm such a know-it-all. And let me tell you, that disease only grows when I'm right. After huffing over the loss of keyboard power I sat calmer and more mentally focused than I had been since the dream.

I needed to get back on the fictional kayak, cruising the writing river. It really is odd sometimes how we fight ourselves and our nature. Even when we know something will be good for us we try to do what we think will be easier and less accountable to ourselves.

Well, I must scour the house for a battery so I can continue writing this evening. For now it's housecleaning and mommy time with the kids. (They should be awake by now.)

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Terrible Dreams = Great Storylines

I'm going to tell this from the completely immersed POV.

Last night I feel asleep and woke up in a parallel dimension. I didn't immediately know this as it was my own bed in my own house next to my own husband. However, I learned quickly when he woke an nearly had a heart attack. Then, in answer to his loud voice of surprise, the kids came in equally shocked.

See... I'd died curing my 2011 craniotomy in this other dimension.

I spent the whole day with my kids and husband, learning their griefs and struggles. Seeing how much they love me. Something I don't think I allow myself to see in the everyday life of normality.  The joy in them was so pure and the sadness at what my death had put them through shred through me.

Then I went to sleep and woke in the middle of the universe, facing the Great Engineers. A supreme cohort of master planners whose job it was to create, manage and monitor the dimensions and all their universes within.

Basically their statement was a big fat, "Oops, our bad."

The dream state is the tricky period where folks can slip into other dimensions if not carefully monitored. It was then left to me to decide. Stay in my appropriate dimension, or stay in the dimension I awoke to. No chances to say good bye to either.

Just leave one to wake to a missing mother or leave one to relive the grief of losing their mother all over again.

What kind of decision is that? They are both my legitimate family. Then as horrible dreams go, I really woke up. And I cried. (I know, I know, totally sissy of me. Sorry.)

"That is a decision that no mother should face, even in a fictional setting," I thought to myself in the wee hours of this morning.

But, that is exactly the kind of decision a mother should face in a fictional setting. We have to torture our characters and push them to the limits that no real human should face, because that is what allows us to exam and confirm our definition of humanity.

So, now I sit here writing in Starbucks, stuck in the emotional turmoil of the experience. I haven't been this... I don't know quite how to explain it in words to truly convey my feelings to you all. Imagine that, a writer with no words. Some author I am.

Anywho, I'm signing off with one last conundrum of the over imaginative mind of AR... Was it really just a dream, or did it really happen in the fantastical world that is this amazing, mysterious existence?

Monday, July 15, 2013

Turtle Humans?

Genetic engineering techniques began in the 1960s. When I think of genetic engineering, I always imagine a mad scientist "sucking" DNA fluid out of a test patient, mixing it in a cylinder with all sorts of nefarious chemicals and animal DNA and then "squirting" it back into the test patient wherein the patient would convulse and change into a half wolf or duck or something... ooh, maybe a Human Turtle? (My TMNT fantasy come true?)

Reality, unfortunately, is more pragmatic than the mind of AR.

There are over a dozen techniques involved in genetic engineering of the some 70k genes in the human genome. And none involve animal/human hybrids of my mind (that's public anywho).

Now, as you all may or may not know, in my latest Interstellar Intelligence Agency the concept of genetic engineering has reached its pinnacle with "species terraforming" that allow humans to live and thrive throughout the galaxy. (And, yes, I know terraforming is the change if land, but it seemed appropriate enough in this setting to steal from.)

The latest story, Brotherhood, will delve further into the genetic engineering science, so as a responsible SF writer, I researched details of genetic engineering to get terms and usage right.

Genetic engineering techniques can be anything from simply delivering a gene into a living cell (Gene Transfer) to finding a certain gene in a genome (Shotgun) to creating a gene from scratch (Gene Synthesis).

The various techniques are combined for complex genetic engineering applications, such as insulin development, human growth hormone, cystic fibrosis and genetic disease therapy.

Of course there is the scary side of genetic engineering like germ-line therapy and bio warfare. And there is the gray area of human cloning and species altering for interplanetary expansion. But, it is within genetic engineering that illness and diseases, such as cancer and HIV, will find cures.

And the truth is humans have been "genetically altering" for thousands of years. The Native Americans changed corn where it is almost unrecognizable today from its beginning state. And horticulturists have created whole new plant species with their work in cross-species slicing and binding. We've even unknowingly changed our own species by mate selection and self-designed environments over the generations.

Genetic engineering is just a more in your face and finesse approach to the subtler, slower natural process.

Like nuclear technology, there is a fine line between the benefits and danger of genetic engineering, but I'm willing to take the leap... at least for now and with the hopes it won't be too late if it goes too far.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Refueling Creativity

Realization came as I sat there at the beach the second day of our family camping trip. The fog-laced wind blew slightly, cooling the heat basking my skin. I looked to the right and saw that fog pushing into the already cloudy-but-warm day.

The wave took one of my younger sons along with it as he held the boogie board for dear life. (How he could stand that cold Pacific water, I still have no clue.) The waves and he roared with the success of the joint venture when both hit the sandy shore.

My husband and youngest son stood a short distance away in companionable silence, fishing
poles in hand. (Even though my hubby was in extreme pain from a pinched nerve.)

My two eldest children were headed off towards the cave around the bay's bend. Well, children in the maternal sense. With the eldest being an adult now and heading off to the Marines in a few short weeks, it gets harder and harder to keep calling him a child.

This feeling of contentment washed over me. I know, I know. Totally cliche, but it's how it happened. (Which is probably why it became a cliche, right?) With that came this influx of renewed creativity. Anymore and I would've plumped up like that girl in Willie Wonka.

With that new creativity I realized I was churning a stale sub plot. A fresh idea smacked me as it danced in my mind. I saw my MFC in a depth I'd yet to see her. It saddened me. My MMC confessed how frightened he was of himself. I empathized in a way I'd not done before. I even felt for the killer. Actions aside, the reasons were pure and in line with their beliefs.

Sometimes your creative well is empty and you don't even know it. The car's out of gas and your still rolling down the hill, not knowing your engine's not running. Or you're moving your space vessel pilot joystick without realizing the system's reverted to autopilot.

Okay, okay... enough analogies, before I start puking them out.

I've been really into it. The writing thing, I mean. It's been freakin' fantastic. My creative juices have been heated up like a jacuzzi for Mental AR, the slight irritation of starting in the wrong place aside, of course. Though, even that was exhilarating in it's own perverse way. The fact I even had time to face a challenge such as that has been a long time coming.

My inspiration from renewed dedication to writing had been sucking my creative juices too fast. That jacuzzi had turned into a sauna without me knowing, and that sauna was out of water.

But, in that moment my sense of family and motherhood was renewed, my creativity was renewed as well.

Isn't it odd how that happens sometimes?

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Enchanted Inspiration

What is sometimes the most inspiring in my writing, is reading other genres. Truth be told, if I hadn't harbored a love of Agatha Christie or James Patterson, the Interstellar Intelligence Agency Series would never have been born... okay, okay, Caves of Steel also had something to do with it.

Wait, now that we're discussing this, I think Caves of Steel peaked my interest in investigatory fiction like Agatha and James' works... Okay, now we're delving deep down the Hole of Distraction.

"Pull out of that dive, AR! Pull out of the dive!"

Reading other genres, like reading in general, provide insight to a writer. Like an anonymous forum. Author So and So published this work about This or That. I've always had an idea about This or That, but in my head it went There and then There. Author Other Man published this about Gidget Widgets... I didn't know Gidget Widgets did That. I wonder, if they did That, with this other villain archetype, maybe they could do This. Doing This could then lead to There.

Get my confusing drift? That's okay, I barely hung on there myself. All I'm saying is reading, and reading outside your writing genre, can be helpful.

For example, I've been interested in attempting a SF-inspired fairy tale retelling. I know, I know, there are works out there already in the SF community that re envision a fairy tale. But, I'm still interested anyways.

Partly because of this I think, I spotted "Midsummer Night" by Freda Warrington in my local bookstore (aka AR's Crack House).

It was beautifully told. Freda's descriptions are masterful and I'm impressed by her writing. She actually made me feel the mist of the evenings and the powerful energy of the sculptures. I ached for the main characters back story. And I felt tugged and enchanted by the locale as she did.

The book itself is an urban fantasy, I guess. (I've never been good a labeling, unless it's Agatha or James or Isaac.) In the story, she explores the fairy world. It's almost SFey in the way she explains how the fairy realm and human realm are interwoven dimensions with "doorways" to each other.

This story really revved my creative juices to forge ahead with a fairy tale story. I just need to really decide which one now. I want to try and find one that hasn't been retold at nausea in novels and movies. That excludes Red Riding Hood, Snow White, Beauty and the Beast, and Cinderella. I think I also want to take on the more grimmer Grimm telling of the story and push my grittier boundaries.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Brainstorming Thursday: Put a Flag in It

What else do you think I would write about on America's celebration of independence? I am uber American, after all. Any more patriotic and you'd find it tattooed on my... *clears throat*


There are over 190 nations in the world. Most are members of the United Nations. (There's some disagreement on the exact number, depending on the various list criteria and political agendas.) In each of those countries there is some form of "Independence Day" or patriotic founding celebration.

Patriotic holidays are important to solidify a society's cultural identity and growth.

But - and here enters the brainstorming - what about when we spread out to the stars and growing pains start?

First things first, how will the expansion start? (It lends to the brainstorm further down, promise.) I see a few ways it could go.
  1. The United Nations (or other unity organization yet to be created) purpose expands and solidifies all the countries and forges into the stars as one human nation. This is very Star Trek-ish.
  2. Private entrepreneurs and corporations will forge into the stars with the fiscal support of the strongest nations. These nations will then lay claim to the space they conquer. Much more Firefly-ish
  3. Private entrepreneurs and corporations will forge into the stars with fiscal support of private and group investors and the government concept will become corporatism.
Eventually changes will be demanded after this first step into the solar system, either by the people or competing governments or corporations. The aftermath of this forced change will cause a new patriotic celebration created by the victors.

What will that look like? Most of the current patriotic celebrations involve a certain date, fireworks, gatherings, food, music and honorary speakers.

Hmm... most of those won't work in space. Okay, gatherings, food and music seem pretty workable. But how about the date? That'll be a problem in a civilization spread across the solar system. Fireworks. Okay, granted, that could work on open planetary settlements, but what about domed facilities, space colonies and life vessels? And honorary speakers. This hits the same issues as a date. The distance will make any live speaker broadcast difficult.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Sigh Factor to Start the Week

Okay, so for this post I'm going to put on my romance hat and try to keep my SF hat off. (Don't laugh at the heart bobbly on top of it. Remember, it could be the aluminum hat.)

Anywho. If you want the science behind kisses, you can check out the post I did HERE. What I want to focus on today is the emotions behind the kiss. And let's face it, the adrenaline rush you get not just when you give or receive a kiss but when you read or see one.

I know that when I read a good kissing scene, my heart races a little quicker and my face flushes in anticipation. The next thing I know, I can't wait until I see Hubby again to kiss him and feel the full force of that experience firsthand.

It may just be that geeky SF in me, but my fellow SFR authors have some pretty fantastic kissing scenes. Today I want to celebrate a couple of them. Warning, blushing may occur. Let's start with a good blogger buddy of mine, Allie Ritch. She puts the wow in wowser...
When she nipped his lower lip and played her fingertips over the rounded points of one ear, he groaned into her open mouth and took the kiss deeper.
Alien Sex 101 by Allie Ritch
Oy... okay... phew! Let's paused from Allie a sec and hop over to Jaine Fenn's Guardian of Paradise:
The kiss ended, and it was like the world ending.
Guardians of Paradise by Jaine Fenn
Now that tapped at the soft gooey sigh I get with Pride and Prejudice. Very lovely, Jaine, very lovely. Now, to keep this emotional roller coaster going, I'm hopping back to Allie for another hot hit of sizzle. (Kids, turn your eyes.)
Crushing her to him, he took her mouth and demanded entry. He let his hands roam wildly over her body, but he was very deliberate with the stroke of his tongue.
Mating Season by Allie Ritch
Geez, LOL, that borders on what I put on the blog here. Wonderfully heated and passionate. We gotta go cool things a bit again. Let's go to one of my stories with a sweet kiss.
He brushed her lips with his. Heat flushed along her neck and her heartbeat quickened. 
Revelations of Tomorrow by yours truly, A. R. Norris
Okay, now, I wasn't sure whether to end this with heat or sweet... oh, who am I kidding? Flame it up, baby!
The kiss burned its way through her body, whispering in tongues of flame, telling her everything.
Keir by Pippa Jay
Well, there's nothing much else to say to you all other than... you're welcome and Happy Monday. ;)

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Writing like I've never written before

Probably the most apt title EVER.

I grasp for the outline. I seek the order of the mental story unfolding that has always been there for me. Yet, the chaos that is these characters mock me and dance across the outline willy nilly, spinning wildly with reckless abandon. (Yes, I did just type up a cliché there... sorry.)

Sierra holds on and I write a few of her scenes, not knowing what the hell Galleon said earlier to cause her response here, or Aleron's flirtation sometime in an earlier scene that caused her thought there. Then Aleron chitters, takes hold and off I go back two scenes and then skip forward several scenes (including one of his) to another and the confusion starts again.

This must be a little what pantsers feel like, I'm assuming. And as a lifelong, hardcore plotter this is not working for me. I tried to tell myself to go with it.

"Go with the flow AR. Just go with it."

But the more I wrote the more off the story has been feeling. Oh, yeah, there were moments that I knew were right, but overall it's been crap. Yeah, crap.

I know my characters but not the driving force deep within my characters. No, not their regrets, motivations, or inner demons. I know the overarching plot of the series but not the themes of this particular book that causes its particular story to be told along the bigger picture.

I can't write if there is no REAL reason for the story. Yeah, some of the scenes read cool, but that's never enough for me to continue.

So there I sat, glaring at the screen mentally cursing it, blindly threatening to delete the whole damn thing and trying not to let Mental AR cry in the corner of her Asimov-inspired writing room. The characters laughed gleefully at the empty threat.

"Screw this. Screw you," I declared in proper dramatic fashion.

Then I walked away. The character still laughed, but less hard.

I went to my room and laid down. The characters tossed nervous looks at each other.

I put on some stupid reality show which shall not be named for fear of losing your respect. The characters started whispering incriminations to each other.

I then fell asleep.

When I woke I was still frustrated but something niggled in the back of my mind. Mental AR was off somewhere in the recesses of it, where she'd sniffed something out in my subconscious and sought to capture it.

So, there I stood in front of the microwave, heating up a frozen burrito, and *snap* it all became clear. I snickered in evil victory. My characters gulped, knowing their reign over the chaos was over.

I started the damn story in the wrong place and with the wrong focus. The series is Interstellar Intelligence Agency (IIA), not Quantum Investigation branch, yet here I was trying to keep the focus on the quantum kinetics when this story is being told by another division of IIA, the Science and Technology Advancement (STA) branch.

Face, say hello to palm.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Brainstorming Thursday: Plant People?

Who's to say that the intelligent alien we encounter is humanoid or insecticide, or canine, cat like or any other species that we consciously think of as "animal"?

What if the this intellectual being is actually, say, of the plant variety?

I know, I know, your mind is probably jumping to gigantic Venus Fly Traps... and singing one of the songs from Little Shop of Horrors. But I want to think outside the bubble of SF normality for a sec. Come, come with me my geeky buddies into the realm of Outside-Box Land.

What triggered this thought is an episode of Morgan Freeman's Through the Wormhole titled "How Do Aliens Think?" (LOVE that show by the way.) It put a challenge to watchers about what aliens would actually be when we met up with them. Part of the episode delved into the cognitive processes of plants.

Did you know that plants have several "intellectually charged" behaviors. They are just so much slower, quieter and differently executed than us. They can smell, touch, taste, and possibly hear. Researchers believe they might even have a form of "talk".

For example, there is a problem-solving vine. They don't have roots and they don't thrive through photosynthesis. These ropey vampires attach to other plants and suck the life out of them. To find their next food an "offshoot vine" searches and grows until it finds its next host, smells to detect if its healthy and then begins its feast.

Oh, oh! Then there are plants who can release an odor to call for help from insects to ward off pests. This scent/odor then communicates the dangerous situation to other plants who respond by releasing their own defensive odors.

Now, of course, that doesn't mean they are intellecutally conscious as we mighty humans define it. That takes the special "self-awareness" aspect that seems special to only us. But, wouldn't it be fantastic if plants on another planet had developed self-awareness? What if they had little families, dreams and aspirations, and a sense of community.
There could be dynamic communities of plant "races" and "species" trying to live and exist peacefully together. They could have a partnership with an alien insect that pollinated their community... heck could even be protectors like the wasp when a caterpillar tries to start munching on a plant's leaves.

What do you think? Too farfetched for today's "mature" SF? I know they had killer plants and whatnot in the pop SF of the early days but it seems to have trended away.

On a slightly side note, this post reminded me of a scene I did for Echoes of Regret (Telomere Trilogy, #2). Here it is for the fun of it.

* * * * *

"Beautiful," she (Brenda) whispered then blushed when she realized Captain Yourimoc overheard her and smiled.

"Yes, I agree. Look, all the flowers."

"You notice the beauty? Most men wouldn't," she commented, pleasantly surprised.

"I notice beauty in all things," he said, regarding her with a direct stare for a long moment.

She forced herself to meet his gaze. He grinned and then returned his attention forward. To calm herself, she took in the flowers he'd gestured toward. Vibrantly showcased by the green forest, the flowers posed. Purple blooms with narrow bodies and three petals spun up and then out at the tips. Pink flowers, with tightly packed petals, grouped along the ground. Blue ones, similar to roses, rested on vines, wound around and along the trees. Yellow flowers, soft and puffy like a ball of cotton stood tall and stiff near rocks.

Brenda peered into the trees and spotted a huge blossom growing on the branch of a tree. Folded downward, she only saw a single petal, soft blue with muted purple veins streaked from the base, curved along the body of the petal and accentuated its curves and dips.

The petal vibrated and the purple shimmered. Slowly unfolding, they revealed a petite form curled underneath. What had been mistaken for a petal was in reality a wing, one of two attached to a body of light dusty pink.

"Captain," she whispered. She touched his forearm with one hand and raised her other for the group to stop. She then pointed. The captain's body stiffened, tensed. What power underneath, she couldn't resist noticing, even in the moment.

The creature, skin smooth and shimmery like the wings, stayed in its curled position as the wings unfolded to its sides. The move revealed arms infused into the wings, hands with extremely long fingers extended out at the top corner edge of the spans.

A small head lifted to stare at the group, bright purple eyes stared intently. Ears, long and willowy like petals, rested high on the sides of the head. With no eyelids or eyelashes, the face was round without cheekbones or apparent nose. Small lips indicated a mouth, which seemed to purse together. Cocking the head to one side the creature took on an almost human characteristic, curiosity.

Its lower half, originally tucked down, slowly straightened to show long lean legs and claw-like feet. What had seemed like a small creature was in actuality a very long creature, with more leg than torso. Its chest had no breasts, nipples, or belly button. There was no distinguishing gender.

* * * * *

Purchase Links: All Romance, Amazon, BN

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

And the Blog Hop Winners Are...

Ola amigos and amigas!

Happy, happy, Wednesday the 26th. Oh, the 26th, you all know what that means... prize announcement time for the SFR Brigader's Midsummer Blog Hop!

*AR dancing under the imaginary disco globe like an idiot*

Okay first, because let's face it I'm super selfish, I'm going to announce the winners of my blog post. (Also to keep you all in suspense on the grand prize announcements... muawahahahaha *cough* *cough*)

All righty, here we go: Day 1 winners are...

Oh, who am I kidding, I am too much a sucker. All commenters who left an email will get an electronic copy of Case of the Senshi Pearl (IIA, #1). I'll be sending out an email to find out if you want mobi or epub format.

So, now onto the awesome grand prizes:
  • First prize of a $150 gift card and a 30+ ebook bundle - Debra Guyette
  • Second prize of a $50 gift card - Lucinda Copeland
  • The four third prize winners of a $25 gift card - Jbst, Ashley Tucker, Ashfa Anwer and Corrine Alexander
HERE's the link to the official SFR Brigade announcement.

Okey, dokey, now I have to clean up the confetti, streamers, and plastic cups strewn all over my blog. Have a great day all!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Blog Hop Excerpt Teaser (Yes, another one)

Here's another excerpt from The Case of the Senshi Pearl (Interstellar Intelligence Agency, #1), which I'm giving away to commenters during the SFR Brigader's Midsummer Blog Hop.

21st Day, 13th Month, 3012 G-Year
Planet Nereus
City of Vodnik
Country of Rusalka

A small wind picked up and Kane eyed the vents. Still closed. The temperature of the air heated. Evaline grasped his forearm, and gasped as a small tornado formed in the center. It whirled, first in a wide loose swirl about three feet tall, then grew and tightened. The space around the phenomenon distorted, like a mirage when gazing through the desert.

Two tiny pale feet materialized on the ground, growing calves, knees, and petite thighs.

"Oh my gods, Kane," Evaline whispered in awe.

"It is magic," the emperor commented from the water area.

A chair nearby crackled and splintered. Kane gestured to one of his men and they reached out and jerked it away. The corner piece of the chair arm had disintegrated, leaving only a small splintered gap. Agent Tanuki's naked form slowly appeared. Her athletic hips, fit abdomen, and arms covering her small chest. Kane's mouth went dry.

Evaline excused the security team -- for obvious propriety's sake -- and grabbed the robe. She prepared to drape it over the small naked female.

Small was an understatement.

She barely came to Kane's chest. Slim shoulders held a long narrow neck and diamond-shaped face. The wide cheekbones accented her wide mouth. She had big blue eyes, the color of the night sky before full moonrise. A long thick scar etched from her right eye socket, down across her cheek, before disappearing behind her hairline.

Her pitch-black hair was in a short style, buzzed in the back and angling longer to a point towards the front. Bright blue streaks the color of her eyes highlighted her hair in thick chunks. Her skin was like the little porcelain dolls in the toyshops around town.

She let her arms drop, and turned to them in her full nudity. Kane blushed. She was obviously not shy. She smiled, and then bowed to the mistress and emperor. Evaline stood holding the robe, unsure what to do next.

Raina stepped forward and reached for the robe. She bowed again, and then said something in a foreign tongue. The mistress cast a confused look at Agent Tanuki. The agent searched the space behind them from her position.

The mistress's assistant stepped forward, holding an injection system of some sort. "I think this is what she is looking for, My Mistress."

Raina gave a broad smile, nodded, and took it. She pulled back the holster, and it clicked. Then she pressed it behind her right ear and squeezed the handle. On a small pop, the agent winced, and then closed her eyes.

"Thank you, Mistress," she said in a bold voice contrary to her small size, surprising him.

Evaline stammered for the first time in all the years he'd known her. "I-I thank you for coming, Agent Tanuki."

"That's the way to travel!" The emperor had a boisterous laugh. "Where'd you learn this skill?"

"It's not something you can learn to do unless your meta composite is designed for it from birth," Raina replied.

Her shoulders slumped after putting on the robe. Kane stepped forward. "Do you require rest, Agent?"

She met his stare with her own. Something akin to thunder slapped his chest, and his breath escaped him.

She nodded. "Yes, if there's time. The process can be taxing on the essence, and the newly formed protons require an adjustment period."

Essence? Newly formed protons? These terms zoomed right over Kane's head.

"Of course there is time, Agent." The mistress glanced at the emperor. "How about we meet first thing tomorrow morning to discuss our course of action." The emperor nodded, and slipped under the water. "Your things from IIA arrived via the ionic transport," Evaline crooked a finger for one of her attendants, who answered by slipping an arm under the agent to prop her upright. "Let's get you to a room to rest for now."

Kane followed, still trying to find his equilibrium. The agent wavered at the doorway, stumbling. The attendant struggled to keep her up. Kane cursed under his breath, and lifted her small form in his arms. Her legs were draped over one arm. Her shoulders were tucked against the other. He nudged his chin, and the group moved through the Rusalka House of Despot. Her head dropped against his chest.

This could be trouble.

Friday, June 21, 2013

SFR Bridage 2nd Annual Midsummer Blog Hop

Whoot, that time of year again! It is the... *drum roll*

Fanfare, confetti, G-class star explosions... you know, the works. The theme is "Out of this World" so let's launch right to it.

I'm going to talk about our need to make the environment suit us, which I believe is the key barrier to space colonization progress. Since the dawn of man -- enter 2001 Space Odyssey soundtrack now -- we've had this unwavering notion that we mold our surroundings, which is cool to a point. It did bring the birth of civilization as we know it.

Space is not such an easy cookie. Right now it's a tempting lure, which will turn out to be a harsh mistress. There is no way we will be able to change the solar system (or galaxy if we think that grandiose) to suit us. No, we will have to change ourselves to meet it. And it'll be done 1 or 2 ways: naturally or unnaturally. Naturally will just take FOREVER. Unnaturally currently goes against the grain of socially accepted norms.

However, our physical characteristics have changed anyways. Only, the change has been to suit the modern world we've created instead of the Earth's natural environment. We've grown taller, our brain size has increased, and even our body shapes have altered. (Weird, huh?)

So maybe once we accept the changes we will have to make to ourselves, our bodies will kick start a natural process to continue that change.

This is one of the driving themes for the Interstellar Intelligence Agency series I've been working on. In the first book, Case of the Senshi Pearl, rookie Agent Raina Tanuki goes to a planet where three human species try to coexist. Two of the species have genetically modified their forms to fit in the foreign planet's environment. Below is a short excerpt describing the underwater human species, the Homo Sirenian:

Prince Yuvaraja could've been a younger version of his father. Blue skin accentuated the muscles on his bare torso and blended well into his fin, which started at his lower hip with a darker blue. It darkened to a purple with streaks of bold green and red along the sides from his hip to his fin tip. Bright copper-colored eyes danced as he smiled, first at his guard detail and then at her. Movement caused his dark rusty mane to stir in the open air.
If you're interested in the book, here is the link to Amazon and BN. However, commenters on my post enter to win Case of the Senshi Pearl in electronic format.

"But that's not all!" *clears throat*

You also can enter to win one of the following grand prizes by entering through rafflecopter below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway
And don't forget to stop by the other blog hop participants:

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

A Little Taste

Below is a random excerpt of the book I'll be giving away to a post commenter during tomorrow's SFR Brigade Blob Hop event.

*     *     *     *     *

Stepping out onto the garden patio, Kane halted and stared in horror. A large beast of some sort pinned down a still form about ten feet away. Realization brought dread. The tattered and bloodied clothing were Danican's.

Kane pulled out his weapon and aimed, then hesitated. Never had he seen anything like this animal. This monster.

"Raina?" he asked cautiously, his finger on the trigger, in case.

With a growl, it turned its head and snarled. Teeth and jaw dripped blood. The animal's eyes were a brilliant blue. Its pelt was of a darker shade, and shimmered in the night. A long black mane flowed from its head to its shoulder blades. A scar marred the side of its face.


He lowered his weapon, and she paced back and forth twice on a low rumbling growl.

Only then did he spot Evaline laid out to their left. Clothes intact with no obvious wounds, she braced her chest and breathed shallowly. He took a step towards her but Raina growled and blocked him.

"Raina, it's me, Kane." He raised his hands.

This was different from the other changes. Raina lowered her head in a confrontational way and tensed her front legs, readying for attack. Raina as the beast didn't recognize him, and had taken on the predatory instinct of the animal.

What an irony he would die by the woman he loved, Kane thought on a huff.

"Raina," he asked again in a smooth, quiet voice. It jerked another foot closer, bloodied drool dripped onto the patio. Kane's heart lodged into his throat.

"Agent Tanuki," came the terse voice of Galleon from the side of them.

Raina growled and stalked the space between the bodies and Kane again, swiping at the dead form of Danican.

"Agent Tanuki, you change back now," Galleon ordered.

For a second, Kane wasn't sure Raina would listen, but finally she sat on her haunches and returned to her human form.

* * * * *

See you all tomorrow - or, er, chat you all up tomorrow. Whatever, you know what I mean.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Brainstorming Thursday: Inspiration from the Every Day

I know that since the Brainstorming Thursdays have kicked off I've delved into more sciencey things, but the truth is most of the story is human, every day elements. The characters meet, react to each other (positively or negatively) and shit happens (good or bad or both).

And every writer knows the best inspiration for that comes from the mundane daily stuff: grocery shopping, commute traffic, or sitting at a deli street side table watching the people go by.

Photobucket Upload by "hesined"

Take the photo here. Normal busy day with people innocently going and doing what they're doing. Shopping, walking home, meeting someone.

Or are they? Is it really that innocent?

Maybe the guy there with the red backpack is carrying some biological weapon and heading to the pub there up the street? Or maybe the woman in the black and white shirt has just stolen intelligence from the man there in the white shirt and tan shorts.

Ooh, or there's a hired sniper up the steps there in the shadow of the stairwell taking aim at the insanely rich woman with the brown purse.

I love sitting and watching people go about their business and making up a fictional story about them. Sometimes I don't even have to do that. The other day I sat and spied a wonderful couple who were so in love the world around them disappeared. They weren't grossly PDAing it, but they were just so connected.

What real life moments have captured your attention and have you used them as elements in your story?

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Freedom, at last


Oh, in the beginning they are such glorious beautiful little ideas.

In those first few months they blossom into wonderful drafts of prose and perfect wording and just the emotion you wanted to convey...

...Then the nightmare starts.

Oh, not full on.

This is the perfect kind of nightmare. It tricks you.

First revision is good, a little stressful, but good. You and the characters are still friends but there are definitely "those" looks transferred back and forth. The characters start whispering behind your back when they think you can't hear.

By the third revision the characters are in full striking mode and you are about to blow the whole manuscript up in a blaze of flaming glory.

"Bon fire!" you call to the night sky, with only the slightly nervous glances from your neighbors. Face it, only slight because they've learned to hear this occasionally from your backyard.

By the time editing starts you, the writer, snicker gleefully in the pending revenge on those beastly characters for what they put you through.

"Time has come my pretty little Damien babies," you whisper-borderline-hiss to the screen.

But even then they pull that trick out of their imaginary sleeves... doubt. Didn't that one single sentence sound better before the second revision? Or maybe because I can't find just the right word for this other sentence I need to revise the whole damn scene.

"No, no... don't go there, AR. Just don't."

Because if you fall back into that revision abyss you're never getting out.




But eventually you're past the third (or fourth) editing round and once again love your demon child, otherwise known as your current WIP. It is now a submittable manuscript for your publisher.

*enter ominous music right about here*

...until your house editor sends you their first-pass mark up...


But, for now I'm free of it. Lilly's Journey is off and I can live in denial that it's complete.

Don't break that bubble of delusion man, just don't.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Brainstorming Thursday: Human Computers

I think for right now I'm going to stick with brainstorming on my earlier post HERE for your reference.

I'm kind of split. Half of my imagination is thinking about the near future possibilities and the other half is thinking about the real futuristic stuff.

Which way, which way? "Oh bother," as Poo would say... let's go with far-fetched future.

Partly why I want to go with far future is because of social networking and the evolution of how we communicate. We are developing tech devices that are more and more integral in our lives.

Technology is becoming a part of us like a limb, or creepier, an organ. A natural thought progression would be to merge those two concepts, virtual life and biocomputers. 

What if we're thinking too small when we (okay, okay, I) talked about organic pcs and tablets on Monday's post? What if it's a bit scarier and the evolution is to integrate pcs, cellphone and tablet functions into us? WE become the organic computer.

What would a story like this look like? Well, for me, it depends on where in the evolution the story is held. Right at the beginning with a rogue group of resistance fighters? After it's already common and acceptable in society? Or after things have gone wrong and humans are trying to fix their mistake?

I think, actually, I'd like a story after it's already a social norm. This way I could explore the moral dilemma and the human conflict it represents.

Okay, here's my idea:
Maybe a young woman, who's from the poorer side so she doesn't have as much of the tech integration, is trying to live life. She knows  that something's "wrong" with society. She can't pinpoint it because she's never known anything different.

Say she goes to visit her grandpa. He sold his body to a rich man who's body had reached the "end life" and needed replacement. Her grandpa's brain was connected to the virtual world to live it's remaining expected life span as decided by "The Committee". He did this in part to pay for the young woman's college.

From there the story is endless. You could take it anywhere. The virtual system could break down or get a virus and infect society. Maybe trigger an armageddon. One government could infect another governments political and military leaders and instigate a takeover.

Anything is possible. Well, that's my brainstorming for today. What do you guys think would happen? Or do you have another idea all together?