Friday, May 13, 2016

New Story - New World by Diane Burton

A couple of weeks ago, I talked to a group of readers at the Saranac (MI) library. One fan asked if I would set any books in a different world from those in my Switched and Outer Rim series. I’d already written a short story for The Roses of Prose blog set in a different world. Afterward, I thought why not expand the short story into a novella.

Since I had the main characters—not fleshed out—and a basic plot, I could think more about the world. I’m a pantser, and that means I build my world as I write. Again, the basics were already in place. In the future, Earth needed to do something about the effects of population overload. NASA’s successor had already transformed Mars with domed habitats, but it was time to expand beyond our solar system to find that Goldilocks planet where humans could live free of artificial atmosphere. A planet that is not too hot, not too cold. A planet that is just right for humans.

The story begins on Titan, Saturn’s moon, the jumping off place for the Goldilocks Mission. There, three teams train, preparing for the trip to their designated planet. What did I know about Titan? Not much. So research became really important. Even though my characters couldn’t go out in the methane atmosphere I still had to write what the outside world was like—preferably accurate, because sharp readers will let you know mistakes, often in reviews.

I needed to know what would the habitats be like. Again, imagination along with what I could find out from the Mars One project filled in the details.

When I was in high school (college, even), I hated doing research. Dry texts, boring subjects. That’s what happens when you don’t get to choose your own topics. Or get to decide what about the topic you need to know. That’s how I research. I get to a spot in the story that needs more detail than I know. I can’t move on until I find out. Some writers advise inserting "[add more detail]" then keep going. Something in my makeup won’t let me.

If I plotted first, I would do all my research up front. I might even draw diagrams of the habitats. Alas, if I did, there might still be little details I hadn’t thought of. Or, I would have too much info and be tempted to include it in massive info dumps, as my critique partner often says.

I think my way is more practical. I look up what I need for that part of the story. But you know what happens when you research on the internet? You read the article, get what you need then—oh my goodness, links. Ooh, that one sounds interesting. Click. And that interesting article has more links. Click, click. Oops, I forget to check the other links attached to the original article. Click, click, click. So easy to get sidetracked.

Besides the internet searches, I found (to my dismay) another terrific source. The Great Courses. Their catalogs include videos and books on every possible subject. I need to warn you, though, don’t click on that link.  If you do, you’ll learn why I’m dismayed. Because after you buy one item (not that I’ve only bought one), their catalogs keep coming. Some days that’s my only mail. Still, they offer great discounts and the topics are so interesting . . . Maybe I need to check  out . . .

What’s wrong with doing all that research? I’m not writing the story. While it’s great to learn so much, especially about our solar system and the search for Goldilocks planets, I still need to finish the novella.

Here’s a little excerpt from Christmas on Serenity. The science fiction romance novella will be released before Christmas. I hope.

As I make my way down the corridor to our quarters, I stop at the narrow walkway between the Admin section and Crew Quarters to look out the viewport. Through the lighter-than-normal smog, I think I can see the hills of Xanadu near Titan’s equator. The techs say we’re too far away. Even so, I always search for landmarks when the smog lightens. This land is as foreign as that around Ares Station. From the pictures sent back by the probe of the Earth-like planet my team named Serenity, our new home will look as natural as Earth itself. I want so badly to believe the reports that the surface will have breathable air, that we’ll be able to walk outside without our enviro suits, that we can live there as we live on Earth.

Do you like to read a lot of info in a sci-fi romance story?

Diane Burton writes romantic suspense, mysteries, and (her favorite) science fiction romance. She blogs here on the 13th of the month, on The Roses of Prose on the 30th, and on her own blog every Monday, where she talks about any topic from baseball to mothers to Disney cruises.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Five Ways to Sharpen your Writing on a Dull Day

by Maureen L. Bonatch 


Most of us are in search a way to make the most out of the twenty-four hours we’re allotted. Despite how we might like to spend our day, our time is often filled with things we need or have to do.

So what do you do when you’d rather be writing (or escaping into a good story) but you’re obligated to physically be somewhere else? Then once you sit down to write you don’t know where to start.

No worries.

There are no chains on your imagination. Harness this time to exercise your muse and save your ideas and inspiration for later.

Think of that meeting – conference – event – boring task, as Multitasking or…Research.

1. Eavesdrop

·      Now don’t be creepy and hover for the whole conversation. Snagging a snippet of conversation and making a story from there or developing an interesting character makes it more fun!

As much as you’re tempted to stay to find out the rest of the conversation- don’t! Make it up for yourself. The muse loves to be challenged.

Here are a few interesting comments I heard over the last 24 hours: “You’re my unicorn.” (Seriously- you can’t make this stuff up) and “It started at breakfast.”

 2. What if?

·      What do you do when you’re ‘bored out of your gourd’ but obligated to stay? Play the “What if…” game and escape the ordinary with your imagination.

Just Imagine: What if the speaker had wings? Or What if while I was folding laundry that noise in the garage was the start of the zombie apocalypse? Or How would people respond if I ran screaming out of the meeting?
3. What’s their story?

·      This is a game I’ve played with my girls while on vacation at a busy boardwalk, or in a mall. Pick someone and study the person intently-but not enough to freak them out.

Then decide –What’s their story? What are they doing here? What are they thinking?

4. Body language

·      Close your eyes and listen to the speaker’s voice, or the people talking around you.  How would you describe their voice? Take a look around. Can you jot down some interesting body language or gestures for a future character?

Me: A lady nearby sneezed with the sound of a squeaky toy. I thought my dog had somehow interrupted the meeting to lure me out to play.

5. Appearance

·      When you’re around a large group of people, this is the perfect time to compare the various colors of blue or…

The texture and style of a woman’s hair- or a man lacking hair. The plethora of body builds. Clothing styles. Mannerisms.

Go ahead, ‘draw’ your characters in your mind.

Make sure you write down all your great ideas and writing prompts.

Do you have any creativity games you do while you multitask that you’d like to share?

About the Author:

Maureen writes stories in the beautiful state of Pennsylvania that boast laughter, light suspense and something magical in the hope of sharing her love of finding the extraordinary in the ordinary world. She writes Paranormal Romance and Fantasy.

Find Me:
Writing on my Website
Tweeting on Twitter
Pinning on Pinterest
Flapping on Facebook

Friday, April 29, 2016

The Yikes Factor with @MeganSlayer

I'm about to complain about something that to some would be a terribly small problem, but I'm still going to grouse a bit.

Time management.

Now you might say, how is time management hard? You're a writer. You write. That's all you do.

Well, no, it's not ALL I do. I have a family and pets who think they're both human and my children. They are, don't get me wrong. But it's difficult when one of the cats thinks he's a person, another cat thinks he's a dog and the third cat is a boneless slug. Oh and the dogs? One has serious separation anxiety (from me), one thinks she's a person, too, and the third one still can't control his long legs - he's four and all goofy, clumsy leggy hound. They're all clingy and in desperate need of attention when I'm neck-deep in something important. I'm a mom and a wife, too. So yes, it's a little hectic around my house.

Now back to the issue at hand. Time management. I'm looking at my writing schedule - most all of it takes place at night after everyone has (mostly) settled down - and getting a little freaked out.

This is in one way a great problem to have. I've got work that wants to be done and stories dying to be told. I'm a panster for the most part and just write as the stories flow. Scheduling was never my thing, but I'm a sucker for a hard deadline. So you'd think I'd be happy. Stories coming left and right.

But that's where the rub is. Being that pantster I mentioned, sometimes the story isn't flowing. That's why I tend to have three or four stories going at one time, but still. If the deadline is fast approaching and the story isn't working... I tend to freak out. I like deadlines, but I NEED to have space. I can't write until the zero hour and have the story work. It doesn't.

So to help my issues out, I set up my calendar with reminders... is this story done? Have you started this one? Where are you on this one? I've got the reminders a few days out and a few weeks out from when things are due so hopefully I stay on track.

But it's still the YIKES! Factor. Yikes, how did I get myself into this? Yikes, I'm letting the characters run away with me. Yikes, how am I going to get this all done and correctly? Yikes, I'm in over my head...

What about you? Do you ever have those moments? How do you cope? Let me know. We can commiserate and help each other out.

In the mean time, here's a little bit about my latest release, You Complete Me

Battle Scarred 4: You Complete Me by Megan Slayer 

Paranormal, Contemporary
Loose Id
Art by Mina Carter
An AllRomance Ebooks Staff Pick!
I’ve got your back, if you’re willing to trust your enemy. 

Hagan Dean thought he was helping his friend. He was playing the role of saviorexcept he ended up left for dead in the sunshine. Vampires and sunshine dont mix. Even worse? A Hunterone of the sexiest women hes laid eyes onis ready to kill him. Hes got a lot to survive for and the odds are stacked against him, but he’s a fighter. Will the Hunter let him live another night? Or is this vampire destined to fry into a pile of soot?
Emily Cross is a born Hunter. Her life’s work is to keep the balance between the Supers and the Supers who have stepped out of line. She’s never been keen on the Rogues taking over the Hunters. She doesn’t want to kill all the Supers…she is one! When she finds a nearly charred vampire in the woods during one of the hunts, her thoughts turn from killing to keeping him alive.
Will these two opposites come together to find common ground in order to help end the war? Or will the passion crackling between them tear their worlds apart?
Available right now from Loose Id!

Megan Slayer - It's Always Fun to Squirm
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Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Doctor Who?

One of my all-time scenes from Doctor Who is when the regenerated Doctor (David Tennant) burst through a door in a robe and pajamas into the middle of a major crisis and says, "Didja miss me?" That note of levity was typical of Tennant's Doctor. That question also applies to my missing my turn here last month. Sorry about that. No excuse. No reason, other than absentmindedness.

I'm sure my fellow Whovians have their favorite Doctor. Tennant is mine. I came late to the party. But if you have to come into an existing franchise, the best time is during a retrospective--like the 50th anniversary. I couldn't believe Doctor Who had been on the air for all that time and I never knew about it. I could up quickly with the anniversary specials, and I've now seen all the episodes in the new version, starting with Christopher Eccelston's Doctor. Wasn't too crazy about him, though. 

As I mentioned, Tennant's quirky humor endeared him to me. But he wasn't all fun and games. He could be tough when he needed to be. Remember his threat to bring down Harriet Jones' government with six words? Very clever, that man. Or is he a man? He's certainly not human. A Time Lord, who doesn't die but regenerates. The most poignant scene was with Rose on the beach when she knew she would never see him again. I was very disappointed when they wrote out Tennant.

I'm still ambivalent about Peter Capaldi's Doctor. Loved the interaction between him and the much younger Clara. The humor was still there, but then the series grew much more serious. And weird. I didn't want to see Clara leave. Even worse, the way she did, as well as the way the Doctor tried to hold onto her. The strangeness of the last episodes of the season left me wondering how they would ever return to the humor of previous seasons. I hope they will.

Don't get me wrong. Doctor Who has always made us think about our current events. That's what science fiction is good at--dealing with current crises in an oblique way. Gene Roddenberry did the same in Star Trek.  Watching aliens work through troubles is easier than being lectured at for polluting the atmosphere or racial relations.

So I'll keep watching, keep hoping. And enjoying good science fiction.

When Diane Burton isn't writing romantic suspense and mysteries, she's off to the frontier of space, the world of her Outer Rim series.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Five Wonderful Insights You Need to Know About Writers

The moment I sat my butt in the chair and my fingers to the keyboard, intent on writing a novel—I knew I had a lot to learn.

Okay, honestly, I had no idea what was involved in writing a novel. You just sit down and write, right? Preferably in long stretches in a secluded cabin. 

Well, over the last ten years I’ve learned a lot about writing, but the most surprising thing I discovered was about the elusive introverts tapping away on the keyboards—the writers. (The uninterrupted time and secluded cabin continue to elude me.)

1.    Writers might horde sticky notes, pens, and chocolate (or is that just me?) but there’s no hoarding of information

·      If I ask a question on a writer’s loop- multiple answers & suggestions appear like magic
·      I’ve gained critique partners, beta readers, new ideas, email addresses-I can’t even list how much I’ve benefited from making writer friends.

2.     Writers make sacrifices for their love of the written word. Things like sleeping, a social life and occasionally…their sanity.

·      Turns out, I’m not completely insane for getting up at the crack of dawn to write- so do a ton of other writers.
·      Writers are the only people who don’t raise a brow when I confess to not watching most of the popular television shows (or much TV at all without my laptop)

3.     Writers embrace the odd and unusual- I’ve found my peeps! I’m not alone!

·      A secret obsession of office products is expected. Yes!
·      They utilize a clandestine language in their writerly discussions — WIP, PR, dayjob, TBR, RWA, TSTL…

4.     Writers can become fast friends even if they’ve never met or spoke in person

·      Some of my writer friends know me better than the people I see everyday
·      Could be because the people I see everyday get a little nervous when I share too much of what’s going on in my mind when a story is percolating.

5.     Writer’s boost each other up – sure there might be a little of the green eyed monster now and then, but for the most part there are never too many stories.

·      I’ve never heard anyone say, “I just can’t read another book. Or I have no room for another author in my TBR pile.”

Writers- what insights would you like to add?
 Non-writers (i.e.: normal folk)- How do you envision your favorite authors?  (I was pretty sure 'my authors' lived in that cabin...still waiting on the invite...)


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