Wednesday, August 31, 2016

BOOKS! Where are your BOOKS?!

Now, if I were a neat, organized writer, I'd show you my library/office at this point. Some nice, awesome photo to make folks purple with envy. The point being to get you thinking about books, where yours are, how you organize them, etc.

Alas, I am not.

So, I'll describe it because a photo would terrify millions.

My office/library (could never decide which name I like better, but I do lean more toward library) is in an extra bedroom, the walls are a dark green, I have a cool, but starting to look not so cool border of burgundy, dark blue and dark green along the top of the walls. My desk faces the window overlooking the side yard. And I have six bookcases, a small square spinning bookcase, and wait for it-- an actual bookstore book cart. All loaded with books.

The book cart was from when they closed my Waldenbooks (I was the manager) way back in the day and I asked if I could keep it. 

My books are sorted by non-fiction and fiction, by subject for non-fiction, alpha and series for fiction (yeah, if I didn't just tell you I was a former bookstore manager, that would have epicly tipped it off).

I counted them (I also have two bookshelves in my bedroom) a few years ago and I had over 1,000. There have been some purges since then, but then more books have flowed in to take their place.

I do read on my kindle as well, but I just love books. I love being surrounded by them.  They make me happy and are a great thing to be around when one is writing ;).

Ironically, I don't read much in my library, I usually read in bed or the living room. But I keep my books here, some are my friends, read repeatedly, some just waiting for the right time.

So what do you do? Have tons of books? On shelves?  On a e-reader? 

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Focus? Or Scatter?

I've had theory for years that people are either a "focus" or a "scatter". Now, I don't mean scatter brained, although that can happen ;). I’m talking about the way people work and function in their lives. 

Focus people usually have a very narrow and intense way of doing things. In school they often excel at whatever topic they study. My former thesis adviser is an excellent example of a focus. When I met her she was only 27 and was already a tenured professor at a University. She also had spent time with the World Health Organization in Geneva. At 27. Scared the crap out of me for reasons you'll see very quickly.

I, on the other hand, am an example of a scatter (stop laughing folks ;)). Someone as intensely aimed at their area of study like my thesis adviser was a bit unnerving for me. Scatters find so many things interesting that we rarely get to the level of intensity that a focus does. The whole "ooooooh!  What's THAT?!" can really cause a crimp in our plans for world domination.

Both types in the extreme can be problematic. Scatters may fail to reach their potential if they can't put some blinders on and focus on the task or goal. I have been mostly able to combat this with my writing, but only in the last eight or so years. Before that I would write for stretches, then get distracted and wander somewhere else.

The focus folks can miss out on many things in life if they become too obsessed with a single subject. I'm thinking my former adviser did NOT have a rip roaring fun time in college-LOL!

But both types have strengths as well. If the object of the focus’s intense dedication falls through, they may find themselves at a loss. But the scatter can pick up and find another topic of interest. However, the focus can get to a level of depth within a subject that would be very difficult for a scatter.

Like all personality traits- my little scatter to focus category isn't extreme. Just like most folks are on a scale for introvert verses extrovert, people range on this one as well. 

Now how does all this relate to writing, you ask? It impacts both your characters as well as you the author. Understanding where on the sliding scale of focus your characters are can help you keep their behavior consistent and believable.  And it's always handy to have another personality aspect to play with ;).

Understanding your own position on the scale can help you keep your writing form in top shape. You need to understand how your mind and personality work best so that you can keep moving forward in your writing career. Now it doesn’t mean that a scatter can’t become more focused and visa versa- but before anything can change, you have to understand what’s there to begin with. True for our characters and ourselves.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Cover Reveal for Pets in Space

Cover reveal
Nope, I'm not in this one, but some awesome authors and writer friends are! Please make sure to add this collection to your "gotta buy" books for fall!

Pets in Space
Out October 11th, 2016

Even an alien needs a pet…
Join the adventure as nine pet loving sci-fi romance authors take you out of this world and pull you into their action-packed stories filled with suspense, laughter, and romance. The alien pets have an agenda that will capture the hearts of those they touch. Follow along as they work side by side to help stop a genetically-engineered creature from destroying the Earth to finding a lost dragon; life is never the same after their pets decide to get involved. Can the animals win the day or will the stars shine just a little less brightly?
New York Times, USA TODAY, Award Winning, and Bestselling authors have nine original, never-released stories that will capture your imagination and help a worthy charity. Come join us as we take you on nine amazing adventures that will change the way you look at your pet!

10% of profits from the first month go to Hero Dogs raises and trains service dogs and places them free of charge with US Veterans to improve quality of life and restore independence.
By S.E. Smith (New York Times/USA TODAY Best Selling Author)
Matrix Roma is a member of the elite Zion military Cyborg Protection Unit. Matrix gets more than he bargains for when his cyborg partner, a hybrid Wolfhound named K-Nine, goes missing and ends up finding a mate for Matrix in the middle of a deadly mission on an unknown planet called Earth.
By Susan Grant (New York Times Best Selling, USA TODAY, and RITA Award Winning Author)
Interplanetary Marine Lt. Lukas Frank has a lot in common with a street dog named Bang-Bang; they both started off as scrappy orphans fighting to survive—and beat the odds. Things change when Bang-Bang leads Lukas to starpilot Capt. Carlynn Riga. The tough war hero learns what it means to surrender — his heart. Lukas’s struggles with PTSD threaten to tear the three of them apart, but nothing threatens them more than when Carlynn goes missing on a mission. Can a scarred marine and his unlikely canine partner find Carlynn and bring her home, or will he lose everything he’s finally found worth fighting for?
By Cara Bristol (USA TODAY Best Selling Author)
Memory: intact. Cognitive function: enhanced. Emotion: erased. After becoming a cyborg, Captain Dante Stone didn’t think he’d ever feel again, until a traumatized young woman and a ball of synthetic fur named Sparky helped him to love.
By Veronica Scott
Cargo Master Owen Embersson is shocked when the Nebula Zephyr’s ship’s cat and her alien sidekick, Midorri, alert him to the presence of a stowaway. He has no idea of the dangerous complications to come – nor does he anticipate falling hard for the woman whose life he now holds in his hands. Life aboard the Nebula Zephyr has just become more interesting – and deadly.
By Pauline Baird Jones
Emma Standish didn’t think her day could get any worse. Her dad is marrying his boss, her dragon suddenly came back talking and typing, and it’s her fault the Earth, or at least ten square miles of Texas, is going to be destroyed. That’s what happens when you forget something very, very important. Luckily for her, she’s got the love of her life that she can’t remember and her dragon by her side. Who needs to worry when you’re having a day like this?
By Laurie A. Green
Navigator Taro Shall has a mission no one wants – find a way to eradicate snakes on a starship. He never expects to find the answer to his problem in a charming street vendor named Adini. His already unusual mission becomes more complicated when he suddenly acquires an adorable StarDog that soon sweeps him and Adini into the maw of a brewing insurrection.
By Alexis Glynn Latner
Young Roboticist Ten Jaxdown has to deploy, and possibly sacrifice, the swarm of investigative robots that he has invented and cares about more than anything else in the star system. It may be the only hope for those depending on him and his robots to save them. Yet, even as frantic preparations for the unprecedented deep-space rescue mission are set in motion, it could all be threatened by sabotage.

Anastasia Steed is an intrepid young mission designer. She steps forward with an idea that can improve the odds of the mission. Neither she nor Ten expect the assistance they receive from a very unusual pet. A pet that will bring together two alienated human beings who didn’t realize they needed each other. Can Ten and Anastasia discover who is behind the sabotage, save the mission, and discover what is evolving between them? With a little bit of unusual help, anything is possible.
By Lea Kirk
Graig Roble is the Senior Commander of security for the Guardian Fleet. His expertise as a weapons specialist and combat master is his world, what he was born to do – or so he thought until he finds his resolve and focus inexplicably wavering. Even returning to his position aboard the Atlantis can’t save him; if anything, it has left him questioning his own motives. He never thought that could happen until he met Simone Campbell.

Simone’s focus is on her home world – Earth. She thought her life was full with her research as a botanist. After all, she always believed that helping the people of her world become self-sufficient should take all of her concentration – except it doesn’t. There is one man that keeps pulling her attention, and her heart, away from her job.
Graig’s gift of a puppy to keep her company does more than that, it keeps him in her dreams. How can such a simple gift bring her comfort and make her long for more? Graig and Simone are about to find out that sometimes love can blossom from the smallest, furriest ties.
By Carysa Locke
Teegan’s job as a hunter is to track down the Talented, those driven insane by their gifts. She and Ember, her psychically gifted fox, have tracked dozens of people for Cole, the man who works to rehabilitate and recover these troubled souls. When one of Cole’s most dangerous patients escapes, Teegan and Ember are on a hunt that could prove fatal if she doesn’t keep her focus on her mission. Unfortunately, Cole is proving one distraction that might make this her last hunt if she can’t do that.

Can Teegan keep her heart and mind in the game long enough to save an entire planet’s population, or will her distraction lead to heartache – and possibly death for everyone?
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Thursday, August 11, 2016

Right character- wrong story

Sometimes you have an idea for great character in your book. Maybe you already wrote them in, maybe they're something that just popped up as you're writing (or plotting for you plotters ;)) and you think they are awesome!

Then they just seem to clunk around in your story. You know, like when your washing machine is out of whack and you get that thunk, thunk, thunk as it tries to get back into balance?

Yeah....sometimes writing feels like that. Sometimes READING feels like that.  Since none of us as writers want to do that to our readers, and as readers we don't want a good book damaged by that thunking noise, it is important to do a catch and release on those characters.

For me, it's usually more of a reduction of a character, and mostly minor ones at that. Since I am a serious pantser, I often don't know who is going to stick around for the long haul of my minor characters. The bigger ones are fine, primary, secondary- yeah--I KNOW them.

I just relocated one of my secondary characters.

Now, the character in question is from one of my unfinished books, an epic fantasy. She was an important character to the story (or so I thought at the time) but her section never really fit. Since that book is waiting with the other half-books (and two completed ones) for time to finish, I wasn't really worried about it. I figured I could save her somehow, make her work.

But yesterday she popped up in my head while writing The Sapphire Manticore (aka Book Four of The Lost Ancients). I had a type of character I knew was going to be in this book, but hadn't fleshed them out at all (pantser, remember?), then while working on the draft yesterday morning I started writing her voice...and it was the troublesome character from the unfinished Epic Fantasy!  

I think she'll fit much better here, and has already gotten to know the drunken faeries (apparently her long lost sister was semi-responsible for them meeting Taryn--but that's another story ;)).

So, if you have a character who you LOVE, but they just don't fit in that book--remove them, but hold onto them. They may just need to be relocated (although I'm not completely sure she didn't just relocate herself ;)).

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

#IWSG- Writing with a day job

Welcome to another first Wednesday of the month and the Insecure Writer's Support Group!  If you know a writer, chances are they are insecure-come join us!

Today I'm talking about why having a day job can be very helpful for a writer. Now, first let me say, if I could afford to not have a day job-I would. Even with all the cool things I'm about to mention. I would be a stay at home writer in a heartbeat. But, that's not my situation--so I work and write.

Most writers don't make enough to support themselves and their families. Many of the ones who are stay at home writers have a spouse who can support them-or are receiving retirement benefits. Yes, this does mean that most of the fine folks you see in your favorite bookstore are not supporting themselves from the written word. 

But, that's not all bad.

I have come to realize how helpful my day job has been for my writing:

1) Stability- I work Monday- Friday, same 40 hours each week. I know how much money I'll get each month, and that I have health insurance. I KNOW what I need to do to be successful at my job. There isn't the guesswork of how much I'll make and if I'm doing something wrong.

2) Support outside of family-I am lucky in that I really have a great group of folks I work with. They may not understand my mad need to write, but they support it. My boss set up my very first booksigning/ book party, in the lobby of our office before hours. It was wonderful, amazing, and I will never forget it.

3) It uses another part of my brain. I've always been more right brained- my GRE scores were very high for verbal, average for math, but high for logic.My day job is extremely left brain- very much logic and math. It is so different from writing that it acts as a mental refresher. I'm excited to write in the morning before work, lunch time, after work, because it's so different.

I'm sure there are more, but this gets the idea across. My having to have a day job has actually made me a better writer. For those of you thinking you can't have a writing career while you still work a day job, I say GO FOR IT!  You'll have to work your butt off, it's akin to having two full-time jobs, but do it.

You'll be surprised at the results.

Happy IWSG day!