31 December 2011

What Are Your Worlds Like?


Worldbuilding. What an intriguing word. Just the sound of it makes me feel omniscient, all-powering, and well, a bit goddess-like.

When I think of worldbuilding, I tend to think of faraway planets, lost galaxies, and lands lost in a different time. But worldbuilding isn’t restricted to those places. In fact, worldbuilding can exist in the present. It can mean a world built within our own sometimes boring world.

For instance, I write paranormal erotic romance. Most of my books are set in the here and now and based in contemporary time with today’s verbiage and surroundings. But I’m still worldbuilding.

What’s the catch? I take the world and flip it on its side. Is it still happening right now? Yes. But is it worldbuilding? You bet.

Consider a world where shifters walk among us. Although they may bump shoulders with a normal human on the street, they are a part of a subculture, a hidden society, a world all its own. Do they live in our world? Or do they inhabit a world I created for them? The answer is both.

But let me ask you. Don’t all of us build our own worlds for our lives? People join specific groups and, thus, form another world, another reality, within their regular world. My worlds include the worlds that include my life as a wife and a mother. Yet one of my other worlds is the one where my wife-mom world gets put on the backburner, sometimes even forgotten, as I step into the world of writer. The only difference between the worlds everyone creates and the worlds created by writers is that writers get to make all the rules. Of course, that’s the part I enjoy the most!

So, tell me. What are your worlds like?


Beverly Rae

P.S. - Take a moment to visit my world at www.beverlyrae.com


25 December 2011

Happy Holidays

It's very cool to be blogging on Christmas Day.

Talk about your cool luck of the draws! :)

Christmas is pretty magical time anyways. I mean a jolly fat man who can squeeze down a chimney and a reindeer whose nose glows, or in the words of Yukon Corneilius "His beak blinks like a blinking beacon."

I'm really looking forward to the New Year. I have a paranormal book releasing sometime in the New Year under my alter ego Amy Ruttan. Remember when we were talking about shifters? I have a bear shifter coming up with EC in 2012, and my bear is a member of the Mounties. *grin* So look for Mounted Release in the new year.

I hope to have some more too.

This year was a great year, even greater given the fact I got to meet up with these lovely authors from Beyond the Veil. They let me join this fantastic group and it's been amazing.

I hope you and yours have a very happy holidays and a wonderful New Year.

Lots of love,

Amy

24 December 2011

Merry holidays!

However you celebrate the return of the light, may it be filled with blessings. :)



Dia duit,
Carolan
www.carolanivey.com

22 December 2011

Aunt Noony’s Five Tips for Worldbuilding

1. Decide in which world you want to set your story. As Xakara mentioned in her post, ANY world in which we write, be it the “here and now” or the “once upon a time in a galaxy far, far away” has its own rules and customs. Once you’ve decided where you want your story to be set, ask yourself some questions on behalf of your main character:

a. How do they make their money? If they are supported by someone else, how do they make the money that supports your character? Are there taxes? Tributes to pay? What skills do they need to make a living?

b. How do they live? Do they have a house in a residential area? Are they on a ship with hundreds of other individuals? Underground?

c. What do they eat? If it’s not set on earth, how does the food get there? Who produces it, and how is it transported from producer to table?

d. How do they deal with the climate? What is clothing like? What are the buildings like? Human beings are fragile creatures but have many ways of mitigating environmental impacts. Describe how your character deals with them.

2. What rules govern relationships? Is there marriage? How does it work? How do kinship paradigms work? In some cultures, for example, adult siblings of the opposite sex are allowed to be friends with one another but with no other individuals of the opposite sex outside the family. What about rules regarding children? How are children treated in your world?

3. What kinds of organizations have sprung up? Is this a simple society with clan and maybe village government? Is this a megalithic society with governments and complex politics? How do roads get built, taxes levied and collected, money produced and invested?

4. As you develop the answers to these questions, it’s useful to create a document that accompanies your work but that can be used as an encyclopedia of rules for you. You can call it what you like, but make sure it includes lists of characters and their details, relationships, government notes, and notes on anything else that you need to keep in mind. For example, if you are building a werewolf society, then you might have a section in your document called “Werewolves” that details who’s in charge, how succession is handled, what colors the wolves are, etc.

5. Do people swear? This can tell you a lot about a society and culture. For example, if you set your world on a planet that doesn’t have a Euro-American Christian majority as the dominant paradigm, then “God” or “Dammit” probably aren’t common swearwords. If you create an Egyptian society, you might use “By Anubis’s teeth” or something similar. It’s useful to come up with several options, from equivalents to the “F” word all the way down to something minor like “crap” or “darn.”

If you’re still stumped, try answering the questions above using your favorite worlds. Some places to start would be Star Trek or Anne McCaffrey’s Pern series.

Have fun!

19 December 2011

A World of Our Own


Greetings, Kittens!

Welcome to the world. Which world would that be exactly? Well, that’s the question isn’t it? We open a book, turn on a show, or sit back as the lights dim in a theater, and wait to find out which world we’ll be transported to next.

It doesn’t matter if it’s 10,000 years in the past, or 10,000 years into the future, we want the storyteller to transport us so thoroughly that we feel we’ve known this place all along. We recognize the elements, and the players, and like the lives we live every day, we wait for the moment of the extraordinary in the ordinary, and the mundane in the fantastic.

We fall in love with shadow governments, interstellar galactic battles, hidden paranormal subcultures, alternate historical records, time traveling archeologist, dimension hopping demons, immortal brooding heroes and prophecy defying heroines, all because someone makes us believe. We care about the people and we see how their world has shaped them, even as our world has shaped us. And there’s the interesting point, our world shapes us, but our world is not the same as the person next to us.

Everything we read and watch, absolutely everything, has built a new version of the world as experienced by the protagonist. A dying and broke chemistry teacher forced to cook meth in the desert, is as foreign, as an amoral vampire choosing a new beloved and changing a child to create an immortal family, is familiar. In the former, the worldbuilding is invisible, but crucial, due to it’s familiarity within the foreign decisions of the protagonist. In the latter, it’s obvious, the fantastical elements setting it apart, but it ultimately relies on its subtleties and familiar human story for its strength.

In a series, the challenge comes not only in building the world, but in showing it as both a constant and evolving concept from the protagonist’s point of view. My TherianWorld faces this challenge on two levels. Each of the paranormal romances deals with a different triad who relates to the shifter dominated world based on their own breeds and experiences. They are lighter and relationship focused, like many of our own lives. The urban fantasy on the other hand is darker, harsher and as they say, there will be blood.

But has the world changed? No, not at all. The perception of it has turned on its side, very much as my view of the world in day to day life is different from a soldier deployed overseas, or a police officer in the inner city of Chicago. We see the world from where we stand in it. As a federal agent specialized in retrieval and assassination, the world has a vastly different filter for Dante, than for any other hero or heroine I’ve written in the romances to date—and it should. But as the relationships in her life move to the forefront, her filter will be altered. The trick is to show that the world is constant and she is changing within it. I look forward to pulling it off. Wish me luck.

~X

18 December 2011

Walking into a super-new world...

Continuing the month's theme of world-building, I thought I'd lay out where I got the idea for "Blaze of Glory" and the sequel, coming out in January from Samhain Publishing, "Heroes Without, Monsters Within".

As in, where did I get the idea to write about superheroes? Why superheroes?

Well, why not?
The original concept came to me late one night while watching television and pondering how silly certain reality shows were – basically how many of them were set up by the producers to generate excitement and ratings even if the actual people involved weren't doing certain things of their own volition. I like to point to wrestling as the most obvious example – while I have no doubt that some wrestling is legitimate and darned dangerous, there's no doubt in my mind that plenty of "episodes" are set up with good vs. bad with drama galore.

So my feeble mind wandered over to the stack of comic books my hubby collects. And by collects, I mean "fills every empty shelf in the house". Not that it's a bad thing – I've been a comic fan practically since birth, having learnt how to read from the newspaper comic strips – and marrying a man with the same love of comics was almost mandatory.

The kernel of an idea popped up as I looked over the volumes of comics on our shelves: What if all the battles were set ups? One of the most frustrating things as a fan is to read how this bad guy got put away and two issues later he's back to annoy the heroes with some new world domination plan.

But… what if it was all intentional? The jailbreak, the confrontation – what if it was all fixed from the start and orchestrated for the public?

My wee mind grabbed onto the idea like a bulldog onto a bone and we were off, constructing a world where superheroes and villains brawled without ever having any sort of final resolution, where civilians were never hurt and the bad guys mysteriously escaped almost every time.

Of course I had to find a reason why the supers would fight on cue and so forth – and what would create the crisis that would propel a B-list hero, Jo Tanis, out of her comfortable life as a performer into the front lines of a battle she was never meant to fight.

Toss in a new hot man in her life and his mysterious past and I had the warped new world of "Blaze of Glory". The sequel, "Heroes Without, Monsters Within" expand on that strange reality where the now-for-real heroes have to deal with the consequences of their actions and discover that there are real villains – and people can and will die now that the fights are real.

I'll admit it's a kick to create a new world – but it also comes with the responsibility to create new laws, new rules that must be followed or the reader will walk away. You can't just have things "happen", there's got to be some basis behind it. If you have magic, you need rules. You don't have to necessarily tell the reader the rules but they have to be there for your own use so that you don't end up contradicting yourself somewhere down the line. Same thing with superheroes – if you want them to have special powers you need to limit what they can and can't do otherwise you end up writing yourself into a corner you just can't get out of.

And when you throw in a man whose ability is just to be a walking four-leaf clover, well…

I hope I've accomplished this with the Blaze world and I hope you'll come along for more adventures in the superhero world of "Heroes Without, Monsters Within".

17 December 2011

Scrooge and the Art of Worldbuilding


“You know what I like best about the Alastair Sim A Christmas Carol?” Greg asked.

I made a non-committal grunt. As far as I knew, there wasn’t anything my husband didn’t like about the 1951 version of the world’s most famous ghost story.

“They shot it like a horror movie.”

Dang. I never thought about it, but he was right. The 1951 A Christmas Carol doesn’t look like any of the “historical movies” or cinematic recreations of the 19th century preceding it. The framing of its scenes, its expressionistic use of shadows (in particular, check out the shot of Mrs. Dilber and the Undertaker at the top of the stairs as Jacob Marley lies dying) and the score take their inspiration from the great Universal horror movies of the 1930s and point the way to the Hammer films of succeeding decades. It’s a totally different world from the bright, sparkly MGM Dickens extravaganzas. Which is as it should be. Scrooge’s reformation absolutely, positively depends on his being scared spitless.

Contrast that with another beloved holiday fantasy, Miracle on 34th Street. Both films are shot in black and white, but the lighting, the set decoration and the feel of the two films are worlds apart.  Susan and Doris Walker inhabit rooms (and stores) with wide windows and warm light, reflecting their tidy, safe world. Kris Kringle may or may not be the real Santa Claus, but either way, the only risk they face is to their hearts.

The point is worldbuilding isn’t always about codifying a magic system or exercises in social biology. It’s also a matter of the details—the score and set design, if you will. The way you describe the world of your novel or short story determines how your readers will perceive it. For example, if you want to tell a dark urban fantasy, a city setting is a given. But so is darkness, whether in the form of night scenes or the shadows of a condemned warehouse. The sounds your characters hear should be dark and ominous. The smells (and tastes if they come into it) should be unnerving, too. In contrast, a comic fantasy should register as lighter in every sense.

In addition, you can use changes in your characters’ environment to signal changes in their condition or emotional state in the same way Scrooge’s dark night of the soul gives way to a brilliant snow-covered Christmas morning and the flattering, diffuse light of his nephew Fred’s Christmas party. Even his office looks brighter when he returns.

My old literature teachers dismissed this as a variation of “pathetic fallacy”—the notion that natural forces or inanimate objects shared human emotions and intent. But their criticism misses the point. Integrating setting with the other elements of a story reinforces the story’s impact and creates a more consistent, satisfying experience. Maybe, if you’re really lucky, you’ll create a little magic, too. ‘Tis the season, after all.

Wishing you and yours the very best of the holidays, and a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.

#

Illustration of Marley's ghost by John Leech from the original 1843 edition of A Christmas Carol.

16 December 2011

World building inspirations – Moondancer

There are endless resources for ideas, information, and inspiration when it comes to world building. Cultures, science, current and historic events, are some of the core places I know many authors go to for their world building ideas. One of my favorite resources for my own world building has to do with human and nonhuman relationships (people to people, animals to animals, people to animals, as well as differences in social interaction between people of different social classes, regions, cultures, age groups, etc…).

One of the aspects of relationships I find myself thinking about most when I was first building the world of the Guardian Circle has to do with unexpected behavioral changes, for instance a person everyone always thought of as being quiet, nice, kind, suddenly and without warning and a drastic behavioral change that turns him or her into a monster. There a lot of psychological explanations that people come up with in our world, environmental excuses, traumas from the person’s past, and so on, but sometimes, no logical reason can be found for these behavioral changes.

In my world, which in many ways is very similar to our own with twists and turns here and there to allow the reader to feel like they're in a familiar place, but at the same time to give space for the magic, for the paranormal to exist in the shadows and the secret places behind the mundane world. In my world, when a good person suddenly turns monstrous, those that are knowledgeable of the shadow places, of the unspoken magics, they know what is to blame. It is called, the Void.

***

“Tell you what you know about the Void.” I turned my attention fully to Neman. My determination must’ve showed on my face because Neman seemed surprised and took a step back from me.

“The Void?” Neman blinked and glanced toward Aegolius. “Why do you want to know about that? Nasty business. Ancient evil sort of stuff. Not something one talks about in polite company.”

“I wasn’t being polite, and I’m not making small talk. I want to know about the Void, and I mean now.” I deliberately took a step forward, and Neman stepped back again, successfully intimidated. “So you know anything about it, Magi, or are you trying to cover up the fact that you don’t know shit?” Neman frowned, and I suppressed a grin. Best way to stir up the scholarly types and get them yapping was to challenge their knowledge. Just like my brother.

“I know ‘bout the Void. More than most I’d wager,” Neman said. “That doesn’t mean I know half of what needs to be known. Like I said, the Void, it’s ancient. Older than the written word. Some say older that even the Fae themselves. I don’t know. The Clan, you know how the shifters are, so wrapped up in their pockets of war they can’t see the big picture; they don’t even know the Void exists. My people have studied it, but half of our scholars see the Void as just another type of magic, the magic of the shadows, while to others like me the Void is much more. We see it as a force of destruction and chaos, once a part of the balance of the natural order, now threatening to undo all creation.”

“Older than the Fae, could that even the possible?” Aegolius asked, eyes narrowing at Neman. “No. The Fae have always been, a part of the land, the sky, the oceans, the fiery core of the earth, we are part of it all, part of life. Before that? There was nothing.”

“Yes. Nothing. That’s the Void. The nothing before life, before substance. At least that’s the theory.” Neman responded to my brother, but his gaze never wavered from me. I found his unusual level of attention disconcerting, but my obvious discomfort didn’t seem to slow the Magi man down. “Long ago it was simply part of the balance, the negative for the positive, the shadow for the light, but somehow, no one knows why, that changed. The Void began to want, began to desire power, chaos -- who knows what all they’re after. What we do know for certain is the Void is interfering with life, with free will, not just of the humans, but the free will of all of us. They seek out where there is weakness and that becomes the point of infection.”

(excerpt from “Seeking Light in the Shadows” by Moondancer Drake)

***

14 December 2011

OMG!

OMG!

I spaced.

Totally.

Completely.

Forgot.

Sorry!

Whatever holiday you celebrate, have happy one! See you next year!

12 December 2011

Building My Worlds

Our theme this month is about the worlds we create in our books.

I like what my co-bloggers have said about the difficulties and excitement involved with inventing brand new places. Many times the settings in paranormal, SF and fantasy books can become as rich and unique as the characters themselves.

In my books, I take a different approach. The towns where my stories take place should seem very familiar to you, maybe even too familiar. My characters could be fighting demons, or talking to ghosts in YOUR backyard. It's fun for me to imagine that a demon-killer could be the neighbor who puts his trashcans on the street next to mine.

I've brought with me the opening pages to Soul Stealer.

You can tell me if Main Street sounds anything like your town.

Happy Holidays,

Kimberley Troutte
www.kimberleytroutte.com

Soul Stealer
Copyright © 2009 Kimberley Troutte
All rights reserved — a Samhain Publishing, Ltd. publication

December 23, 2009

He tries to blend in, just another man caught up in the Christmas rush surging down Main Street. Pulling up the collar of his worn bomber jacket, he keeps his chin tucked down. It won’t help matters to be recognized.

He glances through the window of an overstocked toy store. “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” blasts from inside. Searching, searching, his eyes rake over the shoppers clamoring for last-minute gifts. Nothing.

The night air sears his lungs, but the icy grip squeezing his heart is not from the cold. He swipes at his watering eyes. He needs to focus, stay alert.

Forcing his legs into a normal gait, neither too fast, nor too slow, he keeps walking. He is almost to the corner with the two-story brick apartment building, the one he walks past every night. The old lady who lives there now refuses to help him. The people down at the shelter are no good to him either. They all say they don’t know where she is.

They lie.

Since his release three weeks ago, he has walked Main Street morning, noon and night, hoping to get lucky. Tonight he wonders if he ever will. The old anger creeps into his chest.
He stops, throws his head back and silently demands of the heavens, How long will I be punished?

There is no answer.

People bump into him as they hurry by, cursing as they go. “Silent Night” blares from the store behind him. Exhaling deeply, he blows white vapor toward the stars. No. He won’t stop searching for her. Not until the day he dies.

And then, for the first time in his long-lived existence, his prayers are answered.

He has the sensation of being shot out of a cannon. His blood explodes through his veins and pounds in his ears. Dizzy, he can’t tell if his feet are still on the ground. The street noises become background static. Colors fuzz.

He sees only her.

Walking at a fast clip on the other side of the street is the flesh-and-body version of the woman in his dreams. Nightmares.

She stops to talk to an old man who lives on the streets. Putting a hand on the man’s shoulder, she points off in the distance toward the homeless shelter. When he balks, she vehemently shakes her head. It’s a cold night and she doesn’t want anyone out in it. Smiling, she watches the old man shuffle off in the direction of the shelter.

He is shocked to see the years on her, especially the curves where she once was athletic-slim. Her long ponytail has been reduced to a short bob cupping her chin. He wonders how different this woman is today, but when she tosses the hair out of her eyes, he sees the confidence of old, and he smiles. She hasn’t changed, at least not in the ways that matter.

Somehow, she senses him. Does she feel the heat from his stare? Slowly, she turns. Across the busy street, her eyes lock onto his. With the golden glow of the lamplight catching like flames in the strands of her blond hair, she is more angelic than he remembered. And when she smiles?

Lord help him, when she smiles, she is even more beautiful than she’d been the night he killed her.

07 December 2011

Holiday Traditions

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas ♫♪♫♪ Okay, not so much here in Ohio. In fact, the news people just informed us that this year alone Ohio received 69 inches of rain, making it the wettest year ever for us Ohioans. But it's December and my tree is up and so I sing that song.

I know not everyone celebrates Christmas, per se, but I think most people celebrate the holiday season in some way. And I'm betting that most people have some sort of tradition, something they do year in and year out in December that marks the holiday as something special.

For the Cullen Clan, we do a lot of things. There's the Annual Cookie Baking, which always stresses me out because everyone wants their favorite and there's NO WAY we can eat all thosecookies without looking like the Michelin man in January. Then there's the Putting Up of the Tree which entails lots and lots of boxes and lots of trips up and down the basement stairs.

But I think my most favorite tradition is the Buying of the Ornaments. Since we were married, oh so long ago, my husband and I have bought an ornament each year for each other. The ornament entails much thought and planning because it has to be the right ornament. It can't be something plucked off the shelf. It has to have meaning for both of us. As each child came along, the tradition grew and now we have enough ornaments to fill several trees.

Each year we pull out our boxes and we unwrap the ornaments and we reminisce about the past. You won't find a simple red or green ball on our tree. No, our tree is filled with Spongebob Squarepants and Star Wars figurines and Matchbox cars and American Girl Doll replicas. Each and every ornament means something to us.

My husband and I always said that when the kids move out they can take their ornaments with them to start their own trees. But, you know, I'm starting to rethink that. I think I might keep them to remember.

So what is your favorite holiday tradition?

ps - My paranormal romance, Her Dark Knight, released last week. If you like a hunky Knight Templar and a touching love story that spans seven-hundred-years, check it out.

05 December 2011

Bouncing Back Better

It took a rejection to teach me about worldbuilding. Well, that wasn’t the only thing this particular rejection taught me, but it was one major thing. I thought that because my books take place in present day and in my home state, what did I need to build? Um, I learned the hard way I was wrong. Yeah, I said it. The good news is that I learned an important lesson: Every story requires worldbuilding. Yes, I said EVERY story. Even a little short about present day. Why? Because the world of characters is different from your world or mine. 

The Rejection took place several years ago, and involved a different twist on vampires. The problem I ran into was that there are certain expectations about vampires that have to be met, no matter how unusual or cool my new twist was. I didn’t fulfill those expectations. No, vampires don’t have to turn to dust in the sun, but they do need a creep factor that I neglected to show my readers. I’d done a lot of research on vampires, then went my own way. I thought I’d nailed the story, but I missed the tangible bits and pieces that grab the reader and make her (or him) feel part of the story. This, my friends, is worldbuilding. It isn’t just making up a new government system, or devising a new set of rules for vampires. It’s figuring out the home where your characters live, the area where they work, the deep areas of their emotions they would never show the world. How creepy—or sweet—your characters are. These are in every work of fiction, and they are important building blocks.

For instance, I am horrible about descriptions. I can write them just fine, I just don’t. Why? I don’t like reading a lot of description. And there’s the make-or-break phrase: “A lot of “. My readers don’t need pages and pages of description either, but they do need enough to ground them in the story. My mistake was not giving them that grounding. I learned the hard way that a writer has to give her readers strong details to allow them to picture of the characters, the surroundings, and even the emotions the characters feel—and not the few crumbs I threw out. Ack! What an eye-opener! 

I went on to learn about advanced writing craft. I found some great teachers and great books and spent a couple of years learning and practicing writing. Has it been worth the effort? I think so. A friend says I write 1,000 times better than I used to. I don’t see how that’s possible. The most anything can improve is 100%, after all. But yeah, sometimes we just have to take the time to learn and grow—and then, hopefully, take the world by storm.

Have you ever taken time out to learn and grow? Is there a time when you should have? Would you like to take time out, but it isn’t feasible? 

Have a great week!
Cheryel


03 December 2011

What Are Your Worlds Like?


Worldbuilding. What an intriguing word. Just the sound of it makes me feel omniscient, all-powering, and well, a bit goddess-like. But oh, how wrong I am!

When I think of worldbuilding, I tend to think of faraway planets, lost galaxies and lands lost in a different time. But worldbuilding isn’t restricted to those places. In fact, worldbuilding can exist in the present. A world built within our own sometimes boring world.

For instance, I write paranormal erotic romance. Most of my books are set in the here and now, right under our noses and based in contemporary time with today’s verbiage and surroundings. But I’m still worldbuilding.

There’s a catch, you see. I take the world and flip it on its side. Is it still happening right now? Yes. But is it worldbuilding? You betcha.

Consider a world where shifters walk among us. Although they may bump shoulders with a normal human on the street, they are a part of a subculture, a hidden society all its own. Do they live in our world? Or do they inhabit a world I created for them? The answer is both.

But let me ask you. Don’t all of us build our own worlds, even sub-worlds for our lives? People join specific groups and, thus, form another world, another reality, within their “regular” world. My worlds include the world surrounding my life as a wife and a mother. Yet my other world is the one where my wife-mom world gets put on the backburner, sometimes even forgotten, as I step into the world of writer. The only difference between the worlds everyone creates and the worlds created by writers is that writers get to make all the rules. Of course, that’s the part I enjoy the most!

So, tell me. What are your worlds like?

Beverly - www.beverlyrae.com


02 December 2011

Welcome to my world...

Come and sit a spell. ;)

I think that's the thing about paranormal stories that both entices and frustrates me to no end. The whole concept of 'world-building'. It can be a tricky proposition, to say the least.

"But..." the novice might ask. "Why does it matter? Why can't you just make it up as you go along?"

Seriously, that would be great. But if I get something wrong, or change mid-stream, it wouldn't make sense. Yes, I'm talking about my own particular paranormal world where humans live side-by-side with descendants of gods and humans, with demons thrown in for good... uh, bad measure.

I write about characters who can speak to the dead; change into animals; read minds; see the future; and draw crime scenes before the criminal sets a foot out the door. I can pretty much go wherever my slightly bent imagination takes me. Right?

Uh. No.

If my world doesn't make sense to my readers -- yes, setting aside the demons and ancient prophet driving a Hummer -- then they won't keep reading. Every world, no matter how make-believe, has to have it's own set of rules. It's own points of logic and order. I can try to circumvent the rules, but readers would catch it. Fast. And they'd just as quickly write a snippy review and/or refuse to buy any of my stories ever again. If a writer loses their audience, there's not much point to putting it out there. In that case, it's better to resume hide the pages under the bed. ;)

Yes, I make up my own world. My universe co-exists within the sedate, blandness of 'real' life. But I still have to follow certain protocol: Demons are born evil, but can choose otherwise. Shapeshifters are the black sheep -- no pun intended -- of the demigod-like family. Knowing the future does not necessarily ensure a happy life. Things can still suck. Royally.

Luckily, my rules also include the concepts of everlasting love... hot heroes who are completely monogamous.... happy endings... and heroines who can kick ass. ;) It's a fun and slightly scary place, but I love it here. There's so much to learn.

What's your world like?

~~Meg Allison
Indulge your senses...
http://www.megallisonauthor.com

01 December 2011

13 Things That Did Not Happen In Claustrophobic Christmas

13 Things That Would Have Made It Even Harder for Darcy and James to Get Their Romance On

My latest Samhain release doesn’t have anything paranormal in it, I'm embarrassed to admit. It's the tale of snow-crossed lovers stuck in a holiday traffic jam on the interstate. I know, I know, how can you make a sexy situation out of a traffic jam?? Well, let's just say it was cold and they needed to cuddle together for body heat.

Anyway, a reader / Meankitty fan emailed me to say the book would have been a lot funnier if one of the protagonists had been travelling with a bad cat. Yes, yes it would have. But would I have been able to make it a sexy romance? I'm not so sure.

So here's a list of 13 things that would have seriously challenged to my ability to make this traffic jam tale romantic. (Meankitty helped make this list.)

1) One of the protagonists was travelling with a bad cat.

2) One of the protagonists was travelling with a bad cat...and the other was travelling with a bad dog.

3) One of the protagonists was travelling with a bad cat...and the other was travelling with a bad dog who had recently been sprayed by a skunk.

4) One of the protagonists was travelling with a bad cat...and the other was travelling with a bad dog who had recently been sprayed by a skunk and also had diarrhea.

5) One of the protagonists was travelling with a cat...and the other was travelling with a bad dog with diarrhea who had recently been sprayed by a skunk and it was not just any dog but a Saint Bernard.

6) One of the protagonists was travelling with a cat...and the other was travelling with a bad dog with diarrhea who had recently been sprayed by a skunk and it was not just any dog but a Saint Bernard. Also, the Saint Bernard was named "Dumb-ass."

7) One of the protagonists was travelling with a cat...and the other was travelling with a bad Saint Bernard with diarrhea, Dumb-ass, who had recently been sprayed by a skunk, and all of a sudden, because the protagonists were being romantic instead of paying attention, Dumb-ass escaped from the car.

8) One of the protagonists was travelling with a cat...and the other was travelling with a bad Saint Bernard with diarrhea, Dumb-ass, who had recently been sprayed by a skunk, and all of a sudden, because the protagonists were being romantic instead of paying attention, Dumb-ass escaped from the car and ran across the road, where he jumped in the open window of a police cruiser.

9) One of the protagonists was travelling with a cat...and the other was travelling with a bad Saint Bernard with diarrhea, Dumb-ass, who had recently been sprayed by a skunk, and all of a sudden, because the protagonists were being romantic instead of paying attention, Dumb-ass escaped from the car and ran across the road, where he jumped in the open window of a police cruiser and started homping the policeman.

10) One of the protagonists was travelling with a wonderful cat...and the other was travelling with a bad Saint Bernard with diarrhea, Dumb-ass, who had recently been sprayed by a skunk, and all of a sudden, because the protagonists were being romantic instead of paying attention, Dumb-ass escaped from the car andran across the road, where he jumped in the open window of a police cruiser and started homping the policeman. When the protagonists went after the dog, the policeman thought it was a set-up and whipped out a gun.

11) One of the protagonists was travelling with a lovely cat...and the other was travelling with a bad Saint Bernard with diarrhea, Dumb-ass, who had recently been sprayed by a skunk, and all of a sudden, because the protagonists were being romantic instead of paying attention, Dumb-ass escaped from the car andran across the road, where he jumped in the open window of a police cruiser and started homping the policeman. When the protagonists went after the dog, the policeman thought it was a set-up and whipped out a gun. He arrested the protagonists for public indecency and arrested the dog for assault and battery and...other stuff.

12) One of the protagonists was travelling with an oh so well behaved cat...and the other was travelling with a bad Saint Bernard with diarrhea, Dumb-ass, who had recently been sprayed by a skunk, and all of a sudden, because the protagonists were being romantic instead of paying attention, Dumb-ass escaped from the car andran across the road, where he jumped in the open window of a police cruiser and started homping the policeman. When the protagonists went after the dog, the policeman thought it was a set-up and whipped out a gun. He arrested the protagonists for public indecency and arrested the dog for assault and battery and...other stuff. Their brief stay in the county lockup fostered great resentment in the protagonists for one another, as each blamed the other for having the great idea to pass the time in the traffic jam with some sexxy sexxy, and they never spoke to each other again.

13) One of the protagonists was travelling with a very smart cat...who cleverly hissed at spat at the dog-owner until the romance was nipped in the bud before any of that crap happened. But it was a pretty good story about a cat and her human, in the end.

If you'd like to see how the story ACTUALLY went, you can check it out at my website, where there are buy links and the first chapter is free. Neither Darcy nor James has a pet :).

So, would you read Meankitty's version of the story? Would it be romantic?

Jody W. (w/a Ellie Marvel)
Claustrophobic Christmas - November 2011. All ice will melt.
www.elliemarvel.com * www.meankitty.com

28 November 2011

Romance in Space - Same as On Earth, Only Way Cooler!

It's been a while since I checked in here. My apologies. I've been wreaking havoc all over the place, working on new projects and celebrating a couple of new releases. Finally! I know it's been a while since there's been new material from me out and about. I'm glad to finally end the long dry spell.
Just lately, I've had a number of romances in futuristic space-faring settings release. First, a new novel that starts a brand new trilogy from Samhain Publishing, called HIDDEN TALENT. It released in ebook on October 25th and will be in print sometime next year. The second book in the series is titled TALENT FOR TROUBLE and the third will be called SHY TALENT. I anticipate those being released sometime next year, but will have more on exact dates when I get them.
HIDDEN TALENT is based on the premise that in the future, humans have developed and utilized certain kinds of psychic Talents. In some parts of the galaxy, gifted people share their strengths on a Council of those with Talent who rule over a group of planets. In other parts, people with Talent are hunted for their power. Jeri, the heroine of this story is on the run from one such planet and she crosses paths with a StarLord, Micah, who is on a covert mission for the Council. He recognizes her abilities and takes her with him aboard his starship.
What happens then is an education for the shy woman who grew up very repressed by Council standards. Aboard the good ship Circe, pleasure is shared freely in pairs or multiples as a way to enhance and recharge Talent. Micah teaches her all about her abilities and how to harness them. He never bargained on falling in love with the innocent Jeri, but there it is. They race to help an agricultural world under attack from space and together, they learn that they are more powerful than either one is alone.
KING OF SWORDS has also been rereleased in ebook formats. It is the first story in the Arcana series of novellas that ties into my Jit'suku Chronicles. Other books in the series include the Sons of Amber: Ezekiel & Michael. This story had been previously released as part of an anthology called FORTUNE'S FOOL, a couple of years ago from Phaze. That anthology is out of print now, so I'm reissuing this story in preparation for releasing the other stories in the series.
KING OF SWORDS is set in the Jit'suku universe, a few hundred years before the Sons of Amber stories. I anticipate having a number of related books set in this world, creating a generational saga that follows the consequences of human tinkering with soldiers' DNA, making them Enhanced, better than they were before and more dangerous to both races.
This particular story introduces a little bar on a space station called The Rabbit Hole, where information is passed back and forth to a network of spies working for the good of humanity. When aliens attack and try to subdue the station, it's up to a couple of retired soldiers turned spies and a clairvoyant civilian woman to repell the invaders. She teams up with one Enhanced soldier in particular. Together can they retake the station and find a love that will last for all time?
The second Arcana story is called KING OF CUPS and will be out in December. It follows the proprietor of The Rabbit Hole and his clairvoyant card dealer on an adventure into Jit'suku space. Few who have gone there have ever returned. They find themselves on an adventure of epic proportions simply by tryinig to help someone out of a jam. Trapped aboard an alien spaceship, they can no longer deny the attraction that has raged between them for months. Can they overcome their differences and find a solution to an intergalactic problem at the same time?
That takes me to the end of the year, but I have a lot more planned for 2012, so stay tuned! :)

27 November 2011

Earth of the Future?

When I think of the future I think about how different the landscape will be. I mean, if you think about it the world is constantly changing.

I think this really hit home for me because last year at this time we had snow and we were below zero for temperature (I'm sorry my temperature readings are going to be in Celsius, I am Canadian. LOL!) and currently it's 15 degrees. We have no snow, in fact it's raining. I've been on this Earth for thirty some odd years and I don't ever remember a November like this.

At all.

Usually I dread November. It's the first kiss of winter, but this November has been ... nice. So it got me thinking, what is the weather of the future going to be like?

I mean, they found frozen palm trees in Antarctica. Was Antarctica a paradise much like the Caribbean or Hawaii?

I mean, look at how our glaciers are receding.














This is the Athabasca glacier in Alberta (which I get to go see this summer). Just look at how much it's receded in the last nineteen years.

Even Niagara Falls is on it's own progression of recession.













Crazy eh?

I guess that's why I've always been curious on people's ideas about how the world will change. I remember being awed by the possibility of 2010 a Space Odyssey and the Jupiter turning into another Sun so that Earth would no longer be in darkness. Think about how the world would change then. I was also obsessed with post apocalyptic novels, still am actually, and the landscape of the world after a devastating war. The first one I can remember reading was John Wyndham's The Chrysalids.

The future has always intrigued me, but I'm looking towards the changing landscapes, the shifting of plates and environmental aspects.

What do you think the Earth will look like in the next century?

25 November 2011

The Future of Myth

When I remember to blog, I usually blog about mythology. What is mythology but stories about how mankind has dealt with the big picture questions - Who am I? How did I get here? Why am I here? Where am I going?

Science insists that we crawled from primordial ooze. Various mythologies, however, give us beautiful accounts of the creation of man by gods and goddesses - all of which sound way better than evolving from bog bacteria. But those creation stories and our faith in them can seem very foolish in the face of the Almighty Scientific Fact.

What place, then, will mythology have in the future? Will there be room for stories about the big questions of humanity as anything other than something at which people far more educated in facts can point and laugh for our primitive beliefs and thought processes?

Will there be new gods and goddesses? New pantheons? New heroic sagas? Or are we at a place now where there is nothing new, only old stories and old gods that get recycled and retold for each new generation?

If that's the fate of our myths, our gods, then perhaps the new myths will be metaphors that turn the old gods new again. We will find new heroes who echo Hercules and Beowulf from a perspective we can't yet see. I hope the old stories will always be useful, will always teach us that there are things more powerful than mere facts. And I hope that our new myths reflect a better world.

24 November 2011

Thanksgiving - What will it look like in the future?


While the American holiday of Thanksgiving has been celebrated from Colonial times, it wasn’t until the American Civil War that President Abraham Lincoln decreed it would be each year in November. When the first European settlers landed in the New World in Massachusetts Bay, they stayed in their ship for the winter – where they suffered from exposure, scurvy and disease. Scurvy is caused by a lack of Vitamin C, and British sailors would be given limes in later years – hence the term “limey” to refer to a British navy man.


Or, alternatively, to a really scary British father looking for his daughter's killer, but I digress...

According to many, the first Thanksgiving festival was held in 1621 as decreed by the Governor, William Bradford. The festival lasted for three days and is a fall harvest festival. Alternatively, some have argued that the festival in 1621 was not the first Thanksgiving on American soil, but that Spanish explorer Pedro Menéndez de Avilé held the first such festival on American soil.


(Pedro Menéndez de Avilé)

Others say it was in December of 1619. Native American peoples object to the celebration and portrayal of the holiday, saying that it glosses over the violence and bloodshed between the European settlers and the indigenous population already living here.

Regardless of the exact lineage of the holiday in America, it is certainly true that Harvest Festivals have occurred since ancient times. While many of the trappings of ancient celebrations have not survived to present day, gathering around a family table with our loved ones to celebrate with a large meal is something likely to continue. How might it look in a hundred years?


Assuming we don’t suffer an environmental cataclysm, it’s probably safe to say we will have turkeys. I think, though, that due to the rising population of people of Mexican descent, we will probably have other dishes incorporated into the traditional fare. Perhaps Turkey with Molé Sauce (composed of chocolate and chili and spices) will be on the traditional table of the future. It is probable that other sources of protein will become more popular, particularly as populations rise; soy is a viable and sustainable alternative for protein. Tofurky is a brand of today; will we have Tofurkey on the traditional table of the future? (My husband shouts “No!” in a resounding voice, but people a hundred years from now will see food differently and might not be as stuck on having meat at every meal.)

Mashed potatoes are a stable item in traditional Thanksgiving meals, but the starch place on the table is taken up by bananas in a large portion of the world (over 50% of the population of the earth consider the banana to be a staple food). In the U.S., the common “banana” is the Cavendish variety, and these trees have suffered a cataclysmic blight and may well be extinct in the next ten years. This will lead the American consumer to have to select a different banana from the over 500 types available – and it’s possible that one might “take off” as the next starch in our diet. Plantains instead of mashed potatoes might grace the table of the future.

How will we prepare the meal of the future? As fossil fuel prices continue to rise and reserves to fall, it’s probable that what we take for granted in terms of transportation today (trucks and trains, ocean liners and air freight) will not look that way in the future. As the localvore movement expands (placing a strong focus on foods purchased from local farmers), regionalization of the Thanksgiving menu is likely to occur. Rather than the homogenization of the menu, we might have regional favorites – beef in the upper Midwest, fish on the coasts, etc.

One thing uniquely American is the pumpkin. Found in the New World by the settlers, it’s become ubiquitous and a symbol of Thanksgiving and of Autumn (who has seen Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latté?), and as such it’s likely to continue. But with rising obesity rates in the American population, will we continue to indulge in pie?

I hope, since I love pumpkin pie, that we don’t take it off the table but instead change how we relate to the dinner itself. Rather than settle on the couch afterward to watch a football game, what if we started a tradition of walking? Perhaps the Thanksgiving of the future will have elements more like the “Trick or Treat” of Halloween where folks wander from house to house, sharing a beverage and conversation.

There’s another angle we haven’t considered yet, and that’s whether or not we’ll even be ON this planet in a hundred years. Richard Branson is hard at work, developing his in-space hotel, and President Obama has spoken of revitalizing the space program and missions to the moon, Mars, and the International Space station. It’s entirely probable that humans will be in space in a hundred years, so our Thanksgiving meals might be in small packets to avoid mucking up the zero-gravity space we’re living in. Vegetables might be raised in hydroponics on a space station or even a Moon colony. Your turkey might even come from a farm on the Sea of Tranquility (the site of the first moon landing in 1969).

Whatever the tradition, I think some form of celebration of the harvest will continue long into the future. I hope that you have your own traditions and, if not, that you decide this year to start them. After all, “First Annual” is a perfectly fine title for a tradition that could have a long, long lineage.

May you have much to be thankful for and always remember to be grateful.

References:

History .com, “Thanksgiving” A&E Television Networks, 1996-2011, http://www.history.com/topics/thanksgiving/ Accessed 11/21/2011

Crosta, Peter, “What Is Scurvy? What Causes Scurvy?” MNT (Medical News Today),
http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/155758.php Accessed 11/21/2011

21 November 2011

To Dream of Electric Sheep


Greetings, Kittens!

I grew up on science fiction and fantasy and have loved them both since before I could read. My mother would come home with bags of books from the library and I would get to go through them and pick out the covers I liked. She’d read me the blurbs and explain the story and we’d decide which one to start first. Throughout her reading, I would come back and get chapter updates, or what at four years old I thought was chapter by chapter, and I got to experience the twist and turns of faraway worlds and duplicitous human nature.

I learned to read later that same year, but I got those updates until I was eight and could read the same books on my own. By then, I knew the kinds of worlds that waited for me and I couldn’t wait. Much to my delight it would only get better, as sub-genres grew and spawned sub-genres of their own. Cross-genre works would further open the field, and by the time I would start publishing some twenty plus years later, the doors of what could be done would be thrown wide open.

Despite my absolute love of Cyberpunk and its subgenres Biopunk and Nanopunk, I don’t embrace the dystopian mindset of technology as our downfall. Blame or credit Star Trek as you will, but I have the fundamental belief that technological advancement, is human advancement. And as it has for my lifetime so far, technology will continue to make things easier, make the world smaller and make democracy a truer force.

The terms I’ve come across to embody that belief are NeoCyberpunk and Cyberprep, but I use Futurist Paranormal to describe my genre. My stories brim with shifters, psychics, ghost and vampires, all set in near-future worlds. The open acknowledgement of the supernatural and acceptance of possibilities, directly results in more advanced day to day technology. It has touches of cyberpunk and biopunk, with the pervasiveness of the technology and biological implants/manipulation, but the technology has merely moved us forward, often for the better. The worlds still have their issues, but the society has clearly embraced scientific advancement on all fronts.

That’s not to say I don’t have a story or three in the back of my head that's dark and harsh. I love the post-apocalyptic genre as well, and I have my fair share of catastrophic plotlines to come. There’s just something darkly beautiful about watching humanity persevere against the odds. But when it comes to the prediction of technology and its applications, I feel that as long as communication tech keeps us informed, and science is tempered by ethics, we’re more than on track to live better, rather than suffer at the hands of our own genius.

I’m happy to admit that I didn’t set out to write futurist fiction. I didn’t even originally recognize that I’d done so. It came to me as a logical extension of preternatural minds in the tech field, able to advance unchecked. I realized the habit only after seeing it written about me by a reviewer. I sat back and realized that every single story done, and all of those in queue at the time, had the same futurist bent. It just goes to show, we write what we’re drawn to and can’t escape the things we love and the journeys that define our worldview.

What about all of you? What subgenres do you draw from again and again within your work? What are your thoughts on future tech and where it will take us?

~X

*The title of this post is from Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K Dick . The book is the basis for movie Blade Runner. The image is from Tokyocypberpunk.com

20 November 2011

At the Beginning...

Whenever someone talks about futuristic fiction I always find myself turning back to the classics - both in movie and in books. Here's a few of my favs that I think you'll agree are some of the best when talking about the future.

One of the first ones that comes to mind is the classic movie Metropolis - if you haven't heard, this year they released a new version of the film finally pieced together after years of retrieving bits cut out after the initial showing. Paired with a silent movie soundtrack it's easily the best version around. I look at the images and just wonder how, back before World War II, how these minds came up with these visions of the future.

I should point out that if you can get your hands on the original Metropolis novel, it's well worth reading. It might seem a bit dry and preachy for the present-day but the language is a powerful reminder of how much words matter. And the heart!















The next movie that comes to mind is a version of H.G. Wells' "Things To Come" - dealing with a futuristic version of the world that starts off much like our own but takes a drastic twist after what, for them, is World War Two and projects a new society far into the future. Wells actually wrote the screenplay for this movie based on his book and it gives us images that may seem familar today but were extraordinary for 1936.















And last, but no means least, let's remember The Time Machine. Based on another H.G. Wells novel, originally published in 1895, it extrapolates a world where once again war takes over - but society eventually evolves into a kinder, gentler version - as long as you don't look too closely. The movie was released in 1960 with Rod Taylor and became an instant classic. Taylor's pretty easy on the eyes too, I must admit.



If you've never read the original novels I encourage you to get thee hence to a bookstore or grab the ebook copies for some faboo reading. These classic novels show a version of the future that came eerily close to the truth and shows the depth of the human imagination.

Are we headed for a Hunger Games in our future or a Mad Max? Are we going to end up in the dysfunctional world of Logan's Run or the idealistic world of Star Trek? Who knows, but by looking into our past we might just see some of the future.

19 November 2011

Back to the Future, Again and Again

Rather than give you my thoughts on futuristic fiction, I thought it'd be more fun to post some. Happy tomorrow!

16 November 2011

Thanksgiving, Philcon, and Fire!

Yes, next week is Thanksgiving. I have SO MUCH to be thankful for this year: a new job that actually pays like a professional (which helped us get another car so that we have two working vehicles!), an AGENT, who I am so excited to be working with. My son comes home last week with a Student of the Month award, this week report cards and HONOR ROLL. Things are coming up roses.

And my gift to myself for signing with an agent came today - a shiny new Kindle Fire. I am not usually a new adopter, but in this case I had been waiting for a tablet ereader. This is like a mini iPad. I am in serious love. All the books I bought for my old Kindle are there, plus I can check email, facebook, surf the web, watch Netflix (yes I can!). Now it's not 3G, so I have to be connected to a wi-fi hotspot (which my phone happens to have, if I'm really desperate for wi-fi), which would have jacked up the price to an iPad level, but this thing is AWESOME. My old Kindle will live a respectful retirement in my son's care. After the week he's having, I think he deserves it.

Finally, this weekend is Philcon. The annual SF/F convention of Philadelphia, which is actually held in Cherry Hill, NJ. I am on the guest list, and here is my schedule.

Sat 10:00 AM in Plaza III (Three) (1 hour)
THE EVOLUTION OF YOUNG ADULT FICTION (842)

   [Panelists: Annette Curtis Klause (mod), Jonathan Maberry, Christine
   Norris, Cory Doctorow]

   What is now allowed in YA fiction that wasn't allowed in the past?
   What elements have remained the same


Sat 9:00 PM in Plaza III (Three) (1 hour)
HAMMERING DOWN THE EXPOSITORY LUMP. (823)

   [Panelists: Michael F. Flynn (mod), Christine Norris, Peter
   Prellwitz, Alison Campbell-Wise]

   It is a characteristic of bad science fiction that, after some brief
   attempt to hook the reader's attention, the author steps in for "And
   now a history of the world up to this point," stops the story cold,
   and lectures for several pages. It IS sometimes necessary to fill in
   more background in a science fiction story than in a mainstream one,
   but how do you do it with a little more flair (and readability) than
   by mere lecture


Sun 11:00 AM in Crystal Ballroom Two (1 hour)
HARRY POTTER: THE BOY WHO KEEPS ON LIVING... (837)

   [Panelists: Christine Norris (mod), Gail Z. Martin, Marvin Kaye,
   Michael A. Ventrella, Susan Toker]

   The Battle of Hogwarts has been fought, the Dark Lord defeated, and
   the books, movies, web pages, etc. are still going strong.  Discuss
   the future of the HP universe, and your favorite memories of it


Extremely light,I know. And now that they've changed the time of my son's playoff football game, I will not be at the exposition panel. But I'll be around the con, in the dealer's room signing books and crashing other people's panels and causing general mayhem. Come by if you're in the neighborhood - it's a nice, relaxing con and we have fun.


Happy Turkey Day!

15 November 2011

How to Hook a Narrative Hook – a workshop with Jody Lynn Nye

Some years ago, someone told me that the author Louis L’Amour told good stories. Being young and dumb, and therefore convinced I knew everything, I went to the library to prove them wrong. I found a startlingly large collection of beautifully-bound leather books, the collected works of Mr. L’Amour. Undaunted, I pulled one grumpily off the shelf and sat down at a nearby table to prove that he couldn’t “hook” me as a reader.

When I came up for air, I was on page twenty-two.

What happened?

The “narrative hook” is what happened. When you induce the reader to turn the page, because they just have to find out what happens next, then you have successfully crafted a narrative hook. It’s that “certain something” writers can do, and do on purpose, that makes their work memorable and compelling. Jody Lynn Nye is one such author.

With more than 40 books and over 100 short stories to her credit, not to mention collaborating with legends like Robert Asprin, Anne McCaffrey, and many others, Ms. Nye in a perfect position to teach us about writing in general and narrative hooks in particular. Evanston Writers Workshop is pleased to announce that Ms. Nye will be presenting for us on Saturday, December 10th, at the Wilmette Public Library just north of Chicago, Illinois. If you are nearby, we invite you to join us. Dues-Paid Evanston Writers Workshop members are only $20 (membership has its privileges and we'd love you to join us!). (Your contribution will offset the cost for the space and an honorarium). Non-Members are only $35.00.

To register, please visit our Events page on our main website.

To whet your appetite, I’d like to share a wonderful interview with Ms. Nye crafted by my fellow Beyond the Veil author Jean Marie Ward. Jean Marie has a long career interviewing some of fiction’s brightest starts and is an accomplished author herself. If you like what you see in the interview, consider coming on the 10th to meet Ms. Nye in person. If it’s not within reach, do please stop by Jean Marie’s interview and let her know we sent you.

And when you have a moment, check out Louis L’Amour. You’ll be glad you did. I promise.

14 November 2011

Visit from My 100-Year-Old Self

Since we are talking about the future, I borrowed the idea from Brad Paisley’s song, “Letter to Me” and had my 100-year-old self visit present-day me.

First off, Kimberley, don’t get freaked out. This really is what you are going to look like in the year 2065. Smokin’ hot, right?

And no, I am not visiting you from the Great Beyond. I’m still alive, thank you very much. Time travel is not such a big deal from my side of things.

So…why have I travelled sixty odd years to see you? Well Kimbo, you need a little guidance on this journey of ours. That email you keep staring at like it's a death sentence is liable to create stress that could sabotage our full life. Trust me, you don’t get to be this smokin’ hot by carrying stress baggage day-in-day-out.

My first piece of advice?

Dump the baggage. It’s heavy, ugly, outdated and gives you wrinkles. Let it go. Find your bliss instead. Work at being happy and you will, well, be happy. And so will I.

On that note, it is awesome to be wealthy and famous (more on that later) but you can’t place a value on love. Make sure your family and friends know how much you care. Nothing is more important than love. Not one thing. Especially not that email. Stop looking at it!

From this side of the journey, time is measured in days, not years. Each day is a gift and I’ll slap you silly if you squander your gifts! Get up each morning, put your big girl panties on, and face the day with a smile. Smiling works wonders.

But don’t keep things bottled up, either. Biting your tongue only gives you a sore tongue and a future full of trouble. Remember the melt-down at Targas Eight? Um, sorry. No you wouldn’t remember that since it will happen in 2045. The point is: Arm yourself with love, flood your heart with compassion, and speak your mind. Always.

Be strong. Living for over a century is not for the weak of heart. Hell will come at you when you least expect it, but know that God will be there too. He’ll send angels on earth to comfort you. He always has. And you will survive. Even hell has its limits.

Keep your faith strong. Do you think God would have given us this crazy butt-kicking writing dream slash talent if He didn’t expect us to use it? Would I have made it on the list of Intergalactic Wordsmith Masters if I didn’t believe I could? Believe, woman. Don’t let the fools convince you that you won’t make it. I may be gritty and sassy, but I assure you, I am no fool.

Which leads us to today. Stop fretting over that rejection. Sweet Heaven, you’re going to get at least a thousand of them, might as well make some peace with those bad boys. Each rejection moves you closer to becoming the writer you always wanted to be. Listen to the naysayers, but don’t let them wallop you. Shield our dream in a safe place so that we can succeed.

And believe me, we DO succeed. Gotta run. My broadcast interview is on Mars today and afterwards I’m taking the great-grandbabies for triple-decker chocolate sundaes. Great things, like dark chocolate, never go out of style.

Kisses.

Readers: What would 100-Year-Old YOU tell yourself?

http://kimberleytroutte.com/

13 November 2011

Cool Nights, Hot Reads! Win a Free Book!

Darkness falls a little sooner and the evening breeze has a delicious chill. The holidays aren't quite here yet. It's like the calm before the storm. The perfect time to cuddle up with a cup of hot chocolate and good book. My newest release, THE ORDER OF CHAOS is up for grabs. Stop by my website and blog at www.RhondaLPrint.com and list yourself as a follower today for a chance to win a free copy. And just to whet your appetite, here's a little bite of THE ORDER OF CHAOS.


Blurb:

One man possessed her heart. The other possessed her soul.

Both had betrayed her.

Leah Wolfe, a federal agent for SINS, Supernatural Investigations of Non-Human Species is determined to move on with her life and master her own gifts, including the ability to speak to the souls of the dead. Her ex-fiancé, Joaquin Wildhorse, was unable to accept her gifts and gave himself to another. Ian Nightwalker was more than willing to soothe her broken heart and use her abilities to seek vengeance on his enemies.

With a prominent member of The Marquis, the vampire ruling council, intent of coming to Leah’s hometown, the threat of Chaos touching everyone she loves brings her down a path that leads to Joaquin and Ian once again.

Excerpt:

He turned me around and melted me with a look that skimmed me from the top of my head to the toes of the stiletto heels that I still wore. I started to kick the shoes off but he stopped me. “Leave those on.” His voice grew deeper, sultry.
I did a little spin that would make any runway model proud. He grabbed me and tossed me onto the bed while we laughed. “Yes, definitely keep the shoes on.”
“You owe me.” I reminded him.
He stripped off my jeans and flipped me onto my stomach. He began caressing my neck, my shoulders, then further south; alternating between gentle sweeps of his hands and a firmer kneading motion that sprang Goosebumps from my body. I felt the bra strap come undone before his hands slid to the flimsy piece of elastic of my panties. His fingers trailed them down my legs until he removed them completely. Then those magic fingers began caressing their way up my legs, teasing the tender skin on the back of my knees and inner thighs. I heard the Velcro of my holster tear away and felt the weight of my pistol lift off my waist. “Nightstand.” He murmured knowing that I felt more secure if I knew where my weapons were. Then his mouth blazed molten lava on my thighs and I forgot all about weapons.

09 November 2011

November, Turkeys and NaNoWriMo


For those not in the writing business, November equals turkeys, Black Friday and football. For us writers, November also equals NaNoWriMo. Or, National Novel Writing Month.

What that means is that crazy writers (like me) vow to write an entire novel in one month. 50,000 words in 30 days. 1600 words a day. Its dirty, no-holds-barred writing. No editing, no polishing, simply writing.The purpose is to get a novel written. Not a pretty novel and definitely not a novel completely edited, but at least the framework is there.

I like to do it because it takes me back to the roots. To the time before I knew about "rules" and passive writing and those dreaded -ly words. When I wrote for the sheer joy of writing.

The problem is that we're nine days into it and already I'm waaaay behind on my word count. Not because I don't want to write. I actually am writing. Just not on my NaNo novel.

Years ago, when I first started doing NaNoWriMo I didn't have any other writing commitments. I could dedicate an entire month to one story and type until my heart was content. Now, things have changed. I have a story that is this close to being finished and this close to being sent to my editor. A finished novel has to take precedence over a barely-even-started novel.

So the NaNo story has been put on the back burner while priorities take place. But hey, I'm still writing and any kind of writing is better than no writing. Right?

Except the characters in the NaNo novel don't think so. They're a little ticked off at me right now.

So, all you authors out there, are you doing NaNo? If so, are you doing better than I am?

07 November 2011

One Hundred Years of Amazing

Telephone operator circa 1945 

The future. I've thought a lot about the future, about what things are going to be like in 100 years. Logically, to do that we need to look at what life was like 100 years ago.

A century ago, in the USA, the Triangle Shirtwaist Company factory burned, taking the lives of 145 workers—mostly women—with it. This one event changed the way we thought about factories and led to reforms that benefit workers today. At the same time, women were struggling to gain the right to vote.

The Boy Scouts were founded in 1910. The Incan city of Machu Picchu was discovered in 1911. In 1912, the Titanic sank. The Model T automobile was spreading the luxury of driving to the masses. Electricity use was becoming widespread. Big changes, and bigger changes were on the horizon.

Today, the world has changed so much as to be unrecognizable to a person from the early 20th Century. In the 21st Century, the car is a necessity in most of the United States and a lot of the rest of the world. People tend to view electricity as a right. American women don't bother to vote, even though we've only had the right for 91 years.

The 20th and early 21st centuries have seen such amazing technological advances that some have speculated we had help from aliens from far away planets. While that idea intrigues me as a writer, as a science lover, I'm just thankful to have been born in a time of such forward thinking. I've seen so many things change, from typewriters to computers. From phones that required a human to physically switch the calls, to a phone I carry with me everywhere. Humankind has walked on the surface of the moon. We've learned to use the power of the atom. We have the ability to instantly communicate with anyone, anywhere there is an Internet connection.

Maybe one day we'll even learn how to live together in respect and peace.

I hope so.

Cheryel
www.cheryelhutton.com

05 November 2011

The Future is Now: But How Will It Look?


“Look to the future.”

What do you think of when you read that phrase? Do you think about what you’re doing this weekend or where your kids will go to college? Or do your thoughts go further into the future?

If so, do you think of flying cars? Perhaps you imagine a world without pain or war? How about a world where doctors are no longer needed (sorry, all you physicians) because no one ever gets ill or injured? A world of possibilities exists if you simply let your mind wander.

If your own imagination fails you, all you have to do is look to your favorite bookseller or television shows.

What about a world without death? Sound like Utopia? Try watching the television show, Torchwood. After seeing what could happen when people no longer die, where the population explosion escalates, and where people who fall ill are placed in incinerators and disposed of yet not really killed (You’ll have to watch the show to understand that concept), I’d rather embrace the concept of death.

What about a world filled with unimaginable technology? I grew up in the era when mobile phones (that’s the precursor to cell phones, kiddies) and CB radios were the big thing. Captain Kirk could talk to others using a small handheld devise, but who knew I’d live to see the day when I could talk, text, email, and web surf with a small handheld devise? What’s next? “Beam me up, Scotty”?

But what does the future entail for books? We’ve already taken the first step toward a paperless world. Bookstores are closing, in part because some of us, including myself, would rather read an eBook than a paperback. What’s the next step? Books written on a pill that you could swallow and then close your eyes and read?

What about authors? Will technology advance to the point where they’re no longer needed? Think about the advances made with movies. Actors are sometimes replaced with digitally created characters like in Rise of the Planet of the Apes. What if anyone could write a book simply by encoding specific ideas into a computer and having it spit out a work of fiction? I shudder at the idea.

Still, even if I tend to see the worst happening in the future, I’m an optimist at heart. I like to think that for every advance that may take away something I love, another advance will give me an even greater treasure.

The future is and always will be a product of the past. What we do today will become tomorrow’s history and the next day’s future. It’s up to us to make the future a good one.

Beverly - www.beverlyrae.com