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Interview with the #Scifi #author

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Oh no. No one actually interviewed me. But over at Fantasy-Writers.org a member posted a thread asking us about how we started as writers and then added a few more questions. It evolved into an interview of sorts so here goes:

1.How did everyone get their start in writing fantasy?

It was a confluence of cultural influences that led me to science fiction and fantasy. When I was eleven Star Trek first hit the small screen. But before that there were a bunch of popular SF themed shows. Land of the Giants, and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea are two. When I was even younger there was a Saturday morning kid’s show Fireball XL5 about the missions of spaceship Fireball XL5, commanded by Colonel Steve Zodiac of the World Space Patrol. The characters were produced through puppetry, and had the cheesiest of production values, (sometimes you saw the wires) but to my five-year old mind it was fascinating.Continue reading Interview with the #Scifi #author

Pirate’s Luck: Chapter Eight~Twice Cursed

Pirate’s Luck: Chapter Eight~Twice Cursed published on No Comments on Pirate’s Luck: Chapter Eight~Twice Cursed

Pirate's Luck Pain accompanied every movement as Grokin pushed him up the ladder that led to the engine room.

Arekan stared stupidly at the long cylinder of the null space displacement unit that ran through the center of the compartment. Except for a few class tours on his home ship, he’d never seen one. But this piece of equipment as everything else on this tub looked in disrepair. Its paint cracked and peeled along its casing, and the rust brown of corrosion marked the unit’s seams. Arekan grew queasier at witnessing the poor condition of this major aspect of the propulsion system.

The engineer whipped his head toward Arekan and Grokin and frowned. Tinnen was extremely lean and white-haired. A deep scar cut into his cheek running from his ear to his jaw, which deepened with the scowl he gave both men.

“This is who you brought?” said Tinnen incredulously.

Continue Reading–> Chapter Eight~Twice Cursed

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#WinterSolstice #Fiction: The Inattentions of Mr. Weatherby

#WinterSolstice #Fiction: The Inattentions of Mr. Weatherby published on No Comments on #WinterSolstice #Fiction: The Inattentions of Mr. Weatherby

Women in LeatherNote: I wrote the following piece for a Fantasy Writer’s.org monthly challenge three years ago. I haven’t found a market for it, so I’m publishing it here for Winter Solstice. There is a little fantasy/science fiction mix here, so bear with me. I’ve always like this story and whenever I read it–well, you’ll see.

THE INATTENTIONS OF MR. WEATHERBY

In advance of the coming cold front, thick flakes swirled and hit the muddy street. Ari’s boots slipped in the mud and the thin coating of melting snow. Her basket in hand, she looked up as the flying ice batted her eyes. She pulled up her scarf over her nose and pushed on, making her way to the little store before her. The storefront was dark, but whether it was because Mr. Weatherby closed the store early, or the sudden storm dampened the light of the sun, she did not know.

She pushed at the door, and it yielded, opening on the slight warmth of an enclosed space holding back the greater cold of the outside world. There was a fireplace off to the left, but it was not lit. The rafters were dark from a lack of light in the shop. She stomped her feet before she entered loosening some of the mud from her boots.\

“Weatherby,” she called.

Typically, there was no answer. She often remarked he was the worst storekeeper ever, but Weatherby would only scoff.

“I’m here, aren’t I? No one else would supply this sad sack little town.”Continue reading #WinterSolstice #Fiction: The Inattentions of Mr. Weatherby

The Art of #Writing: #Editing~Where Your Worst Fears Are Confirmed

The Art of #Writing: #Editing~Where Your Worst Fears Are Confirmed published on No Comments on The Art of #Writing: #Editing~Where Your Worst Fears Are Confirmed

Editing You suck.

As a writer.

No really.

That’s what you are thinking as you contemplate the editing of your work. It is where you confront your worst fears as you embark on the most dreaded of writer’s chores.

Sometimes my first draft is so utterly cringe worthy, I can hardly bear to read it. “What was I thinking?” I’d tell myself when reading my words. How did I write a sentence that convoluted? Why am I using so many filler words? Can I really not find a different word to use instead of writing it three times in the same paragraph? And why the hell can’t I remember where I should and shouldn’t put commas?

Ack! Argh! Hands in face.Continue reading The Art of #Writing: #Editing~Where Your Worst Fears Are Confirmed

The #politics of #words: #post-truth,#gaslighting and #cognitivedissonance

The #politics of #words: #post-truth,#gaslighting and #cognitivedissonance published on No Comments on The #politics of #words: #post-truth,#gaslighting and #cognitivedissonance

Ingrid Bergman in the 1944 film Gaslight
Ingrid Bergman in the 1944 film Gaslight
Stephen Colbert has a complaint. The the Oxford English Dictionary named “post-truth” its word of the year for 2016. Stephen Colbert said he covered that idea ten years previously in his conlang word “truthiness.”

Now unlike other dictionaries, The Oxford English dictionary doesn’t propose to tell you how to use words. Apparently it gleens new words from a plethora of sources, mostly online, to gather words as people are using them now. Of post-truth The Washington Post says:

Oxford Dictionaries has selected “post-truth” as 2016’s international word of the year, after the contentious “Brexit” referendum and an equally divisive U.S. presidential election caused usage of the adjective to skyrocket, according to the Oxford University Press.

Continue reading The #politics of #words: #post-truth,#gaslighting and #cognitivedissonance

The Craft of Writing: 200 Most Common Words As Parts of Speech

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Lexical Density Proportions
Lexical Density Proportions

Two hundred words are said to comprise eighty percent of all English sentences. Here is the list broken down into parts of speech. Why? Because you should know what weapons you are hurling at an unsuspecting public.

It’s been nigh many years when the nuns at my Catholic grammar school made me memorize parts of speech at the age of seven and had me parse sentences at the tender age of ten. Funny thing is that my children never had to struggle with such exercises. Instead they were immersed in “whole language” where they were encouraged to write and express themselves whether or not they knew how to wield words. This is such a stark contrast to me and my classmates having to copy compositions and types of letters out of books to learn how to write such things that it is no wonder that writers today use sentence fragments and feel perfectly comfortable using them. Continue reading The Craft of Writing: 200 Most Common Words As Parts of Speech

The Craft of Writing: Lexical Density and You

The Craft of Writing: Lexical Density and You published on 3 Comments on The Craft of Writing: Lexical Density and You

Lexical Density According to the study, Success with Style: Using Writing Style to Predict the Success of Novels, by Stony Brook University’s Vikas Gajingunte Ashok, Song Feng and Yejin Choi, whether or not a book will sell can be determined by several quantifiable factors.


The researchers downloaded classic literature from the Project Gutenberg archive
, used more recent award-winning novels and analyzed low-ranking books on Amazon — and included genres from science fiction to classic literature and even poetry.

Successful books utilized a high percentage of nouns and adjectives, conjunctions, prepositions, pronouns, determiners and adjectives. They found that successful books made great use of conjunctions to join sentences (“and” or “but”) and prepositions than less successful books.

Less successful books had a higher percentage of verbs, adverbs, and foreign words. Such books also relied heavily on clichés, extreme and negative words. Less successful books also rely on dull verbs that describe direct action, such as “took,” “promised” and “cried,” while more successful books use more verbs that describe thought-processing, such as “recognized” and “remembered.”Continue reading The Craft of Writing: Lexical Density and You

The Art of #Writing: How To Finish a Book

The Art of #Writing: How To Finish a Book published on 1 Comment on The Art of #Writing: How To Finish a Book

The Secret To Writing Now, not to disparage those writers that have spent the last four decades polishing their magnum opus, but there comes a time to finish a book. Like a relationship gone bad, it’s a bit ripe and it’s time to move on already. Aren’t there other stories you want to explore? Don’t you have a folder of story ideas that are weeping for your attention. You know there is. So how to do it?

Now confession time. I’m sitting on my high horse here, even though I’m one of though aforementioned authors. But things have changed for me in writing land as I’ve taken on some ghostwriting projects, (because you know, a girl’s gotta eat) and nothing is a daunting as writing up someone else’s ideas on a schedule. A very tight schedule. It’s the type of schedule where you mess around all weekend and come Monday you have 10,000 words due on Wednesday and you don’t get paid if it doesn’t get done. It’s like doing NaNoWriMo everyday of your life.

To do it you have to have a master plan, as well as a decent typing speed. I’ve developed a strategy that’s helped tremendously. Do you want to hear it? No? Well I’ll tell you anyway.

It starts with Scrivener.

Scrivener is such a useful tool that I’ve never regretted the forty bucks I spent on it. This is unusual for me, because as cheap as I am, I regret spending money on the laundry. Scrivener however, makes writing books fast and easy.

There are always discussions about being an outliner or a pantser, and each writer has his or her style in putting out a story. Using Scrivener doesn’t make a pantser an outliner, but it sure can help you set up your goals into manageable pieces. Instead of looking a blank page you can look at blank folders ready to fill with your writerly goodness.

Step one: decide your word count. Now wait? Doesn’t your story evolve organically? How can you decide a word count? Well the industry does that for you, with different genres having a different word counts that are considered more desirable than others. A romance book can get away with 50,000 to 60,000 words, but a SF epic can’t get away with less than 80,000. Your word count is pre-decided based on your genre. Don’t worry. You’re a writer. You can do this.

Step two: decide how many chapters you want. This is highly dependent on what you are writing. If you are writing short e-books, depending on the word count you will 5 to 10 chapters. Larger works will have more. But if you aiming for 60,000 words, you’ll end up with 20 to 25 chapters. Just pick a number. It’s not set in stone. That’s the beauty of writing. You are working with words, not paint or clay that dry up while you work.

Step three: Divide word count by chapters. Viola, you have target word counts for each chapter.

In Scrivener you will now go and set up folders for each chapter. And after you do that add sections to each folders for scenes. I usually set up three to four scenes per chapter, though again, that’s not set in stone. It is good to add variety to the number of sections you use per chapter. Let your creativity be your guide as you write.

Now, here is the thing that will have you shaking your head. Set a word count for each scene. Yes! You will do exactly that. You’re a writer. You have words to get out and you don’t have time to shift this little thing to that little thing to make a decent chapter. Nope. You are going to do this from the get-go.

Say I’m working on a 10,000 word ebook. Here I’ll set up 5 chapters at 2,000 words each. In each chapter I’ll set the opening scene at 400 words, the second at 1000 and the last at 600. This gives me a frame work to move from chapter to chapter, though if inspiration strikes, that goes out the window. Still I know I’m going to hit the target of 2,000 words for that chapter. So if I’ve got 400 words to fill one section that’s what I’m going to do. It calls on your creativity, and you may get more detailed than you originally intended, but that’s good. Hit 2,000 words, wrap it up, move to the next chapter, wash, rinse, repeat.

It’s how you finish books.

It’s what Chuck Wendig says, write as much as you can, as fast as you can, and finish your stuff!

Editing it. That’s another post.

Happy Writing.

Mug is Chuck Wendig’s Secret to Writing available here.

The Comeback of Serial Fiction

The Comeback of Serial Fiction published on No Comments on The Comeback of Serial Fiction

Buck Rogers Serial Poster The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Do you remember Buck Rogers? Not the campy television show, but the shorts that used to come on in the movies before the main show? Okay, I’m dating myself here, even thought by the time I got to see them they were filling a hole in the Saturday morning cartoon slots.

During the first part of the twentieth century serialization of stories was the norm. Pulp SF magazines serialized novels, radio shows serialized all sorts of stories (Who knows? The Shadow knows. Mmmaawwhha.) Eventually television came along, and television series arose, building on the dying bones of the radio series.

But somewhere between the late twentieth century the culture changed. It was a slow implosion that shifted readership of many different forms of print. The people who best documented this was the newspaper industry. Up to the 1990’s daily circulation rose and then held firm at a little over 60,000,000 households. Then, despite the growing population, circulation numbers started to fall, like a rock. And curiously, though, during the years of 70’s all to the current year the number of households grew. And another trend emerged. During the 1970’s nearly every household in the United States took at least the daily newspaper. By the nineties this was no longer true. Despite a rapidly growing population, people read the paper less.Continue reading The Comeback of Serial Fiction

Writing: #Whatyoucan’tdo

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Freelancer Process Being raised a #goodcatholicgirl I got a big dose of “#whatyoucan’tdo”. I even had an older male relative tell me when I eight years old, that girls didn’t become doctors. Geez. It was an overdose, really, enough so I immediately threw out all the rules as soon as I left home for good.

During my life breaking or bending the rules became a personal theme for me. Oh, not in and out-n-out rebel- without-a-clue way. And no, you don’t get details. But in dealing with my corporate career I broke more than a few, to the chagrin of my employers. They punished me with successive promotions. So when I hear “you can’t do that,” my response is “watch me.”

So when my college age daughter told me that her college writing professor told her that “you can’t make a living freelancing,” that raised a few hackles on the back of my neck.

Sure, no one said it would be easy. And it requires a different skill set than getting up in the morning, buying your latte and sitting you butt in your cubicle each day.

There’s marketing yourself for one thing. Calling up or emailing people saying, “do you want an article on” sort of thing. Making connections. Getting people to know who you are. Using social media, correctly, as in “not spamming, just hamming”, way.

Then there is time management. The temptation to play Zimbio games must be ignored in favor of making some queries to find work. Then, once securing such work, doing it and sending it in.

And employing the ability to wait for payment, graciously. Yes, it is strange in this era of Paypal, to have to wait for payment, but I have a few clients like that. So sometimes I have to make a few other calls, as in to the electric company, to smooth over our latest “misunderstanding.”

Yes, diplomacy is part of the skill set. Especially in getting along with my boss. Working for myself isn’t the easiest thing. I’m a real bitch to work for.

But I have to do it. No other profession merges so well with my heavy television watching schedule.

“I make money, daughter.” I replied. “You can make money freelancing.”

She smiled. “But you have a niche. People know who you are.”

And right there is another clue about how to freelance successfully.

So don’t let anyone tell you what you can’t do. (Though, please be sensible and don’t do self-destructive things.) When someone tells you that you can’t make a living freelancing, tell them:

“Watch me.”

Photo published under a Creative Commons License issued by Flickr user JamesCarlson

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