Category Archives: Science Fiction

3 Loglines for H.A.L.F.

I’ve been working on a spiffy log line for H.A.L.F., my speculative sci fi-ish novel that launches in March. For anyone not familiar with a logline, it’s a one sentence (short) summary of the big idea of the book. It’s the “elevator pitch”.

After playing around with it for some time, I’ve come up with three and would like your opinion. Which of these do you think is the most intriguing? Which one makes you interested to know more? Or have I missed the mark completely?

Please drop a comment below and let me know your honest opinion. And thanks so much for dropping by 😀

1. When a teenager liberates an alien-human hybrid from a government lab, she triggers an inter-stellar war.
2. Three teens become fugitives when they help an alien-human hybrid escape a government lab.

3. While inter-stellar war looms, a teen must liberate the government’s top secret weapon or be terminated.



So let me know which is best for you – #1, #2 or #3 – and why 🙂 Thanks!

Manic Monday: What’s Up Natalie?

I’m not sure if I actually have any regular faithful readers of this blog who read what I post here. Or if the thousands of “hits” each month are bots.  But I’m writing this post in faith that there are some actual human beings who read what I write here.

So if you are a human being reading this and if you have read my blog for a while, you may have noticed that over the past year or so (*scratches head and says “Has it really been that long?”*) I have been inconsistent in posting. Yeah, I’ve posted Writer Wednesday spotlights of other writers. Sure, there have been some Sci Fi Friday posts. And yes, there have been posts about my most recent release (Emily’s Heart).

But when is the last time I wrote a Manic Monday post? I can’t remember.

Anyway, I have reasons (numerous) that I’ve been lax in my blogging. Some are lame, like feeling like since no one comments much on my blog that I may in fact be visited solely by Internet bots rather than real people so what’s the point in writing? Or that I was busy – blah, blah, blah.

But mainly I’ve been lax with my blogging because I’ve been dealing with some heavy shit in my life.

“What kind of heavy shit?” you ask.

First, there was my retirement from the practice of law in June of last year. You may be thinking that such an event should have freed up time for me to blog my brains out. And that’s logical.  But in truth, saying good-bye to my profession was a major life-change event which I’d wanted for sooooo long and was glad for but when it actually happened sort of took me by surprise at being sad about it. In recent years I had worked (very) part-time at being a lawyer and had stopped taking litigation cases so I wasn’t in court. It had become a small part of my life taking third seat to being a mom (always first) and my writing. But still, it had been a major part of my life – and my identity – for over twenty years (saying that makes me feel fucking old).

My very wise husband who knows me sometimes too well warned me. “Give yourself six months, Natalie.” I rolled my eyes and let his words of wisdom go in one ear and out the other (as I do too frequently). “Whatever,” I thought. 

Guess what happened? He was right. (Don’t you hate it when your mate is right?) It indeed took me about six months to fully release the old job and identity and to get into a new routine and be okay with the whole thing. It was like for the second half of last year, I’d get up and get my kid off to school then sit at my desk and play at being a writer, all the while feeling guilty that I wasn’t really “working” or having anxiety that somehow I was neglecting some serious shit that needed done, and then feeling worse because I was feeling down about retiring to write full-time when so many writers I know don’t have the opportunity to do that though they want to, so get over yourself all ready and be fucking happy! I wasn’t happy and then felt guilty about not being happy.

But wait, there was more. And this is the heavy stuff that as I writer I feel I should be writing about and talking about but mainly I want to just ignore it and hope it goes away. At the end of the summer last year, my mom was diagnosed with cancer.

For the fifth time.

And it’s bad. Really bad. Like the oncologist using the word “palliative chemo” kind of bad.

As if that weren’t heavy enough, on the heels of us finding out about my mom’s cancer, my dad had a stroke. He has been in and out (mostly in) a nursing home ever since. He’s alive, but extremely diminished.

My mom is only 73. My dad 76.

They aren’t that old. And I’ve had to face the fact over the past six months that it is more likely than not that neither of my parents will make it to the age of 80. In fact, it is quite possible that one of them will be gone before the end of the year.

I just typed that without crying. For months I could not have.

The story of my mom’s cancer is actually one of hope and of sort-of miracles and of human strength and endurance. It’s a story of pain and relationships and love and family. It’s a story that could educate others with the BRCA1 gene (my mom is BRCA1 positive). It’s a story that many may relate to and find interest in.

But I’m not able to write it. At least not now.

When I first found out my mom’s dire diagnosis, my writer friends said “write about it.” It was good advice. And I tried.

Some people can wrest poetry from pain. I’m not one of them.

Grief shuts me down. Sorrow makes me withdraw to the within. And try as I might to exorcise it through words, it does not work.

I was able to complete my third novel and maybe I did channel some of my pain into the prose. Emily’s Heart is, after all, an Apocalyptic story that tends to the darker side of things. But *spoiler alert* the end is a happy one and I was stuck for months last year, unable to wrest that happy ending out of myself because I did not feel happy. The fact that it finally came out of me at all is a sort of small miracle that I can’t explain.

Over the past nine months or so, my writing was filled mainly with anger and angst, heartache and unhappiness.

So I spared you all of that and kept my blog a cancer and sickness-free zone. 

The good news is that as this year progresses, I’m feeling more and more able to write without it being filled with misery. The shadowy veil of sad feelings is lifting and I’m more focused on the here and now – on the living – than on things past.

I’m in the mood to celebrate. I wrote three books!! Can I hear a woot, woot?! I completed a whole series (The Akasha Chronicles). *Does happy dance*

I am an incredibly blessed person to be able to devote my working hours full-time to doing what I love to do. I get to write the stories that fill my head. And I get to go out to book events and meet readers and chat story with them (one of my absolute favorite pastimes).

I have a wonderful daughter, husband and three furry critters that I share my house and life with. And I am alive, and this is no small miracle.

So as I move with more hope and optimism than I’ve had in a while into the middle of this year, here is what’s coming on my blog and in my writing:

Natalie Wright, Manic Monday
1. Manic Monday will return! I don’t promise that I’ll have a Manic Monday post every week, but I am feeling the itch to speak my *manic* mind so stay tuned for my rants, ravings, musings and Monday weirdness.

2. Writer Wednesday is here to stay. In the past, I have devoted Wednesdays to featuring other writers and occasionally to posting writing tips. Both of those things will continue to happen on Wednesdays. (If you are a writer and would like to be featured on my Writer Wednesday, please shoot me an e-mail to NatWritesYA (at) gmail (dot) com and we’ll speak of it).

But I also have a new feature that I’ll add to Writer Wednesday in upcoming weeks that will appeal to writers of all makes, models and types – and will get the writerly conversation going.

3. Sci Fi Friday continues. For any of you paying attention, you may have noticed my new Friday feature, Sci Fi Friday. These posts are about scientific discoveries that I come across that strike me as having science fiction implications. I also reserve that time to review science fiction books or movies, OR generally to post anything science of science fiction related.

H.A.L.F., by
Natalie Wright
Arrives Spring, 2015
I’ll continue to devote Fridays to all things science and sci fi as I gear up to release the first book of my next series, H.A.L.F., a young adult science fiction series. While my last series was (mainly) fantasy, I’ll be writing science fiction (mostly) for the foreseeable future AND science stuff fascinates me. So if you, too, enjoy hearing about science fact that seems more like science fiction, then make sure you hang out with me on Fridays to discuss new technology and scientific discoveries. 

So that’s what’s up with Natalie. What’s up with you? Drop me a line in the comments below or you can reach me by e-mail at NatWritesYA (at) gmail (dot) com.

Thank you for reading to the end 🙂

Sci Fi Friday: Our God Complex Gone Wild: Man-Made DNA

Human beings seem hard-wired to tinker with the natural world in an attempt to mold it to our will. We domesticated animals. We hybridized plants. We mine the Earth and in the process tear down mountains and create a new terrain.

The genetic code may be the final frontier of man’s exploration of, and manipulation of, the Earth’s biology. It may also be the scariest frontier.

Whether you believe that an almighty, all-knowing god created us, or that human life is a beautiful accident of millions of years of evolution, the genetic code that makes it all possible is design perfection. Just four chemicals bond into two pairs that form the basis for all life on this planet. 

So why do we feel the need to tinker with it? Maybe the answer is this: because we can.

Geneticists have been dicing and splicing DNA for quite a while now. But the idea of creating artificial DNA? Many scientists said it could not be done.

But it has been done. On May 7, 2014, The Wall Street Journal ran a story with this headline: “Artificial DNA Breakthrough Could Lead to New Treatments.” The report stated that, “Researchers for the first time created microbes containing artificial DNA, expanding the universal genetic code that guides life.” The scientists created two additions to the normal genetic code and prompted bacteria to incorporate the new man-made DNA with “few ill effects.”

The story contained this graphic:



Is it just my fiction-wired writer brain or does this technology scare anyone else? I mean GMOs are frightening enough and clones are creepy. But this is the kind of stuff that fuels a sci fi writer’s wet dreams of freaky, dystopian, futuristic fiction. Imagine the implications for these bionic bacteria to find their way out of the lab and into the wider world. Or maybe the technology advances to the point that scientists tinker with human DNA and create a new species, one that is perhaps stronger, smarter and better than us in every way. 

Does this freak anyone else out? What implications do you see in this technology? 

Sci Fi Friday: Closer to the Jetson Life – Flying Cars!

At last, one of the great inventions from creative science fiction minds is getting ever closer to reality. Who doesn’t want a flying car?
Terrafugia announced the TF-X, a flying car that would not need a runway and can fit in a standard-sized garage. Oh, and it’s a hybrid. What’s not to love?
I remember reading about flying cars in Weekly Reader back in elementary school. They “promised” us flying cars by the year 2000!
I’m still waiting.
This is one of those inventions that could be a true life changer for a lot of people. Say goodbye to two hour commutes. Business trips would become a breeze.
But my guess is that even if this type of machine hits the market, the price will be out of budget for even most upper middle class folks.
A girl can dream…
What about you? Do you long for a flying car? Or is there some other science fiction invention that you’re hoping will become a science reality?

SciFi Friday: From Science Fiction to Science Fact – Prosthetics That Can Feel

Science fiction fans love robots, cyborgs, humans that are part machine and machines that act like humans. While Six Million Dollar Man prosthetics are still the stuff of fiction, scientists inch ever closer toward the dream of prosthetic devices that are adequate replacements for a lost body part.

Silvestro Micera, a neural engineer at the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna in Italy and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne in Switzerland, led the team that developed a new prosthetic device that they call the “bionic hand.” Dennis Aabo Sørensen is the man in the video that tested the hand for the team. This new technology relies on touch sensors that are connected to electrodes that have been surgically embedded in the nerves of the man’s upper arm.
While this is a long way from being available to amputees, it’s an amazing breakthrough for an amputee to be able to feel again with fingers that he no longer has.

What science fiction invention would you most like to see become science fact?

*Story via Livescience.com.

When Fact is Stranger Than Fiction: Insect Drones and Big Brother

What the … Insect Drones? Is this for real?

Here is the story that I saw floating around the internet:


“No. It’s an insect spy drone for urban areas, already in production, funded by the US Government. It can be remotely controlled and is equipped with a camera and a microphone. It can land on you, and it may have the potential to take a DNA sample or leave RFID tracking nanotechnology on your skin. It can fly through an open window, or it can attach to your clothing until you take it in your home.”


As a writer of speculative and science fiction, I was like “Wow! I can use that in a story!”


But the non-writer part of me was creeped out. I mean, what kind of “Big Brother” kind of bullshit could this be used for?


But a bit of poking further into the story gave me a bit of relief. But only a bit. 


According to Snopes, “One of the current areas of research reportedly being undertaken in the scientific/military field is the development of micro air vehicles (MAVs), tiny flying objects intended to go places that cannot be (safely) reached by humans or other types of equipment. One of the primary military applications envisioned for MAVs is the gathering of intelligence (through the surreptitious use of cameras, microphones, or other types of sensors); among the more extreme applications posited for such devices is that they may eventually be used as “swarm weapons” which could be launched en masse against enemy forces.”


“The specific mosquito-like object pictured above is, however, just a conceptual mock-up of a design for a MAV, not a photograph of an actual working device “already in production.” And although taking DNA samples or inserting micro-RFID tracking devices under the skin of people are MAV applications that may some day be possible, such possibilities currently appear to be speculative fiction rather than reality.”


While no government official or agency will admit to currently having such technology, there are anecdotal accounts of dragonflies hovering over protesters at rallies and even at the Republican National Convention.


Let’s hope that, for now, spy “bugs” remain fiction.


What say you? Do you think these “bugs” already exist? Or is it the work of overactive imaginations? Chat about it below in the comments section.

*     *     *     *     *


In other news, ONLY 8 MORE DAYS until Emily’s Heart officially launches! *squee* Make sure you come back often as I’ll have lots of announcements, launch news and giveaways galore all through February 😀


A tiny teaser from Emily’s Heart:


From Emily’s Heart by Natalie Wright


Who Needs Time Travel? You’re Already There

For those of you who have read Emily’s House, you know that one of the themes of the story is the convergence of mysticism and science. And it’s little wonder that came through. I love science, and I’m intrigued by mysticism and spirituality.


Reading avidly in both areas, I’ve long noticed how physics and metaphysics are closely aligned. It’s like they’re talking about the same things, only in different languages.


The other night, I was watching one of my favorite shows, Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman. To be fair, I’d probably listen to Morgan talk about snow shovels for an hour – LOVE that guy.

Morgan Freeman
Morgan Freeman, photo by Colorstorm Media/Eyevine

But combine Morgan with far out, freaky, cutting edge science and I’m all in.

Morgan Freeman and Mr. Kitty
What up with the cat on his head? 


So I was all settled into the small dent my butt has created on my couch (okay, big dent), Morgan cranking on the set. The episode was about eternity and time. Toward the end, along comes Dr. Jeff Tollaksen, of Chapman University, and says this about time:

“There’s an ocean flowing here. There’s a current flowing, from past to future and future to past.”

Dr. Tollaksen of Chapman University. I wonder if he has
this much attitude because of something his future
self has done?

Dr. Tollaksen was referring to the results of over twenty years of experiments he and his colleagues have performed – experiments which have led him to the conclusion that the future affects the present.


What?


According to Dr. Tollaksen, not only does the past affect our present, but the future does as well.


Can you get your head around that? I’m not sure I can – not really. This would mean that I’m doing shit right now, in a future I’m completely unaware of, and it is affecting what I do now. But what I’m doing now – wouldn’t that affect my future? Doesn’t this create one *ucked up paradox?!


But here’s the thing that made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up when he said that time was like a stream. This is a section of Chapter 50 of Emily’s House – a chapter entitled “Put Your Boat In”:

Brighid said, “But time is very much like a stream . . .

Emily replied, “So if the stream is like time, then if I put my boat in back there, by the big willow . . .”

“Then that is what you observe . . .”

“And that’s like the past.”

“Yes.”

“But if I put the boat in way up there, by that big oak . . .”

“Then you are with the oak in that moment . . .”

“And that is like the future.”

“Precisely.”

“I can put the boat in the stream wherever I want to go. So I can go to any time I want simply by choosing it?”

“Your Anam is eternal. You already exist in all time that ever was or ever will be.” 

When I wrote this exchange between Brighid and Emily, I had not heard of Dr. Tollaksen or his experiments. This idea about time – how it’s a stream with past, present and future connected – was influenced by metaphysics and new age spirituality. And I thought it was a cool way to deal with the concept of time travel, a device I needed to use to make the story work.


But doesn’t it sound similar? Isn’t it intriguing that science is now proving what some mystics have long believed – that time flows freely from future to past, and past to future?


What do you think?


I’ll see you in the future. Oh wait, we’ve already been there . . .

Writer Wednesday: The Awesome Pippa Jay, author of Keir

Pippa Jay, author of Keir

Every now and again, I read a book that is so intriguing – so unique – I just have to get to know the author a little better. I recently read Keir (my review coming this Friday), and when finished immediately contacted Pippa Jay, the author, to request an interview. To my delight, she said “yes.” For those of you have not yet “met” Pippa Jay, I’m excited to bring this newish author to you:

Natalie Wright (NW):  Keir is your most recently released novel – and I loved it! What was your inspiration for Keir?


KeirPippa Jay (PJ): Aww, thank you! It might sounds a bit corny, but the opening scene and idea for the book came from a dream. When I woke up with that image – a man crouched in the dark, beaten and broken – I instantly had a name for him, and I wanted to know how he’d gotten into that state because it seemed more like a tragic ending than a beginning. I think his appearance was inspired by a couple of characters from X-Men and from reading Stephen Lawhead’s Merlin as a teenager.


NW: The male lead character, Keir, was born blue. And then he got tattooed all over, not of his choice. So he is sort of strange looking, maybe even what some might consider ugly. Did you see this story as a beauty and the beast sort of story?


PJ: Do you know, I’d never even thought about it like that? But you’re right, it is that kind of story. Keir is very much based on the idea that only certain ‘types’ of human beings are considered beautiful, and that anyone outside those often unrealistic stereotypes is ‘ugly’. There’s an increasingly unhealthy obsession with attaining a media-hyped, photo-shopped ideal of the perfect body, and too often we judge by appearances. But beauty is only skin deep. While Keir’s society might have rejected him as a monster, Quin can see beyond that. In her eyes, he’s beautiful.


NW: Okay, the chapters where Keir and Quin are stranded on the deserted island together – HOT, HOT, HOT! I mean, this is what the movie Blue Lagoon could have been, if the people were grown up – and hot! And their intimacy, I love the way they come together not just in a physical way, but you added the dimension that they can read each other’s thoughts. So they’re actually feeling what the other feels. *Wipes the sweat beading on her forehead.* What I want to know, is did you have a real life inspiration for these wonderful scenes? Or is it your vivid imagination?


PJ: Thank you. Well, that’s a tricky one. I’d say a combination of both, although I’m not going to talk about some of the real life inspirations. *blushes* One of my favourite ways to spend the weekend is on a local beach, which is the main inspiration for the island of Kasha-Asor. But I’ve always had an obsession with psychic abilities, so most of my characters have been telepathic at least. Being in someone else’s head and knowing how they feel – and how you’re making them feel so much more intimately – would be an amazing experience. It makes it more complicated to write, but I think it’s worth it.


NW: And I have to know, is there a sequel in the works to Keir?

PJ: Yes, there is a sequel.

NW: YAY! *sigh of relief* I got attached to Keir and Quin, so relieved that you said yes!

PJ:  I’m editing it at the moment, but real life stuff keeps interfering! I very much want it to live up to any expectations that readers may have after Keir.

NW: I understand that problem completely! Do you have any news to share about your work?

PJ: My publisher recently announced that Keir will be coming out in print format in October, one of two titles fronting the return of Lyrical’s paperbacks. You can already pre-order it from Barnes & Noble. I’m so excited!

NW: That is exciting news. Congrats! For those of us that would like to check out more of your work while we wait for a sequel to Keir, what other books/stories have you published/ had published so far?
PJ: I have a scifi short story that I self-published through Smashwords – The Bones of the Sea – which is a free download. (*Click the link to go to Smashwords to download The Bones of the Sea for free.)

NW: What is your favorite scene from Keir and why?

PJ: Hmmm, that’s really, really hard. There are several I love, usually for different reasons. I think maybe the scene in the village where Quin sees Keir properly for the first time, and he comes to realize that she isn’t like everyone else he’s known. That she doesn’t care what he looks like and that she might actually be someone he can trust. That’s an important moment for them both.

NW: What genre do you write in?
PJ: Speculative fiction but predominantly scifi and generally romance.
NW: What works in progress do you have?
PJ: Aside from working on the sequel, I’ve a YA scifi novella out on submission at the moment, and another scifi romance novel currently entered into a contest. The last needs more work before I can submit it to publishers, but that’s my planned project for September. I signed up to do the August Campnanowrimo (my first ever nano, and with my three kids home for the summer – what was I thinking?!) with an outline for a steampunk superhero romance. A bit off the wall for me, but I like a challenge.

NW: Steampunk superhero romance?! Love it! Can’t wait to see that as I’m a tad bit obsessed with steampunk. 
Which character from your books do you like most / are most like?
PJ: Urgh, I HATE choosing favourites! I suppose, to answer both parts of that questions, I’d have to say Quin. Although she’s been through some terrible things, she hasn’t let it poison her and she still has a good heart and a lot of inner strength. A lot of her character and appearance is based on my teenage self. Although all my characters have some aspect of myself in them.

NW: If you walked through a portal to a dimension without books, what three books do you want to take with you?
PJ: Only three?! Could I not leave food and clothes behind and take more? *sigh* All right. Two of these aren’t even available yet but – Queen of Nowhere by Jaine Fenn, Twisted Metal by Liana Brooks (I had the opportunity to beta read that one), and The Crystal Singer Trilogy by Anne McCaffrey
NW: Who is your favorite author and why?
PJ: Again, only one? Jaine Fenn. She writes a mixture of tech and psi talents in her scifi books, which I love, and I aspire to do it as well as she does.
NW: How long have you been a writer?
PJ: For as long as I can remember. But I’ve only spent the last couple of years actively writing to be published.
NW: Do you have a “day job”? And if you do, what do you do when you’re not writing?
PJ: I used to be an Analytical Chemist but gave that up to be a stay-at-home mum once my first baby arrived. Now my youngest is set to start full-time school in September, so I get to make writing the day job. For now, at least.
NW: What is your favorite part of the writing process?
PJ: Finishing the first draft. I don’t plot, so reaching the end means I have all the essentials and key scenes down and in place. Until then, I don’t know where the story is going and what will need more work.
NW: Describe your perfect Saturday.
Full English Breakfast
Here you go Pippa, one Full English breakfast.

PJ: A lie-in (never happens). A full English breakfast. Some quality family time, maybe at the beach or on a walk, without anyone squabbling. Sneaking in some writing time without getting that ‘should you be on the computer?’ look from my husband. A quiet evening with said husband. Again, that rarely happens. By the time we get the kids to bed, we’re about ready to head that way ourselves.

NW: What is your favorite movie – the one you can watch over and over again?
PJ: *eyes Natalie* Just one? You make this so hard. I have four or five I watch repeatedly, but if it has to be one… A Knight’s Tale. Probably because Sir Ulric inspired some of Keir’s character in terms of personality.
NW: What is your favorite band or musical performer?
PJ: Oh, easy – The Rasmus. Love, love, LOVE their music and the lead singer’s voice. That’s a real inspiration to me. They even made the acknowledgements page in Keir for it.
NW: What do you hope readers will take with them from your writing?
That they will be thinking about the characters afterwards, and remember that beauty isn’t all about good looks. That society is too quick to judge and condemn simply on someone’s appearance. That life is precious and should be enjoyed, with no opportunity wasted.
NW: Let’s Get Silly Questions:
NW: Vanilla or Chocolate? 

PJ: Chocolate
NW: Mountains or Beach?

PJ: Both
NW: Double bacon cheeseburger or gluten-free, dairy-free vegan lentil burger?

PJ: Double bacon cheeseburger
NW: What three words would you use to describe yourself?

PJ: Stubborn, loyal, quirky

Thank you, Pippa Jay, for stopping by my blog and chatting.

I highly recommend Keir – check it out:

Buy links:
KEIR
The Bones of the Sea is free at Smashwords – https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/60031
Twitter:  @pippajaygreen   http://twitter.com/pippajaygreen
Facebook:  Keir – Beyond Redemption (book page) https://www.facebook.com/pages/Keir-Beyond-Redemption/114058821953752

Manic Monday: Hooray for Books! Reflections on the 2012 Tucson Book Festival

Young Reader and Her Best Friend
at the Tucson Festival of  Books

This past weekend I attended the fourth annual Tucson Book Festival on the campus of the University of Arizona. It was a fun, educational and exhausting weekend dedicated to the love of books. For writers, it is a great opportunity to attend workshops and panels – for free!


I attended a funny and informative workshop on World Building in science fiction and fantasy. The panel included Maxwell Alexander Drake, an award-winning fantasy author, Sam Sykes and Janet Hobbs (among others). These fabulous writers shared how they go about creating their amazing fantasy worlds and gave tips and pointers. For example, if your story is set in a current or past time on Earth, make sure you do your research to ensure that you are accurate about details. Drake commented that that’s why he “makes it all up” – that way he doesn’t have to worry about accuracy!


I was impressed with young Sam Sykes and decided to purchase one of his books, Tome of the Undergates (The Aeons’ Gate, Book 1)
and get an autograph. Fortunately for me by the time I got through the purchase books line, there was no signing line in front of Sam. I got to spend a few minutes chatting with him. Sam’s twitter profile (@SamSykesSwears) says that he’s the “angriest man alive.” Yikes! But I found Sam to be funny, personable, and passionate about story. Sam and I discussed whether male fantasy writers and readers tend to prefer a more “world” driven story while female fantasy writers and readers prefer character-driven stories. Sam thought that was true to an extent and commented that he thought female writers were “ahead of the guys” on creating character-driven fantasy fiction and that the guys were playing “catch up.” Sam says that he’s a character-driven writer and that  the worlds he builds and details he includes have to relate to the characters and make sense from their point of view. I’m looking forward to digging into Tome of the Undergates (The Aeons’ Gate, Book 1)
and read Sam’s character-driven high fantasy. If you enjoy fantasy, check it out and let me know what you think.

And weigh in on this: Do you think female fantasy writers are more character-driven than males? And what about readers, do you like your fantasy to be character-driven? Or are you more into reading about amazing fantasy worlds?


One of the things I love most about the Book Festival is wandering around, coffee in hand, checking out all of the booths. One of my favorites this year was the booth for the publishing company Inner Traditions Bear & Co. They specialize in “books on indigenous cultures, perennial philosophy, visionary art, ancient mysteries, spiritual traditions of the East and West, sexuality, holistic health and healing, self-development, as well as recordings of ethnic music and accompaniments for meditation” (from their website). I love to read this kind of stuff as inspiration for stories, sub-plots and theme. Science, metaphysics, religious and spiritual theory and philosophy. I know, I’m a geek of epic proportions! Here’s my haul from Inner Traditions.

I can’t wait to dig into that book Grey Aliens and the Harvesting of Souls. Harvesting of souls?! What the heck is that all about? Since I’m engrossed in revising H.A.L.F. (which deals with hybrids that are part human, part grey alien), I’ll see if this book has any fun details to inspire my imagination.


Then there’s that book Seven Secrets of Time Travel: Mystic Voyages of the Energy Body. In Emily’s House, there is quite a bit of time travel. I didn’t want to create a machine for time travel but instead created an energy form of time travel. I thought I’d just made it up. But this Seven Secrets of Time Travel: Mystic Voyages of the Energy Body
book is discussing the same thing. Who knew? Since I’m revising the second book in the Emily series, Emily’s Trial, right now too, maybe these mystical books will inspire me further.



Do you have a book festival where you live? If so, do you attend and what’s your favorite part?

Drawing Characters can help a Writer Get to Know Them

Writers have various ways to get to ‘know’ their characters.  For me, I like to do a Q & A with my characters.  I’m like a reporter or talk-show host and I ask them questions and they answer.  This helps me get inside the ‘head’ of the character.

But when it comes to physical description, I have found it hard at times to physically describe a person (or entity) that doesn’t really exist.  Because I’m a visual person, I find that drawing the character can help me get a better handle on physical description, especially for non-human characters.  Here a few that I’ve done.

For ‘Emily’s House’, a character you’ll meet early on is Hindergog.  He’s not human though he can speak and he wears clothes.  Early on in the writing of that manuscript, I had to draw Hindergog to get a visual on him.
Hindergog
That’s the first drawing I did of Hindergog.  I liked the eyes and the nose is just about right, but I wasn’t sure about the fangs.  This is my second drawing, done about a year later.
I liked the ears better in the second one but I still like the eyes best from the first one.  Both helped me to really see Hindergog and I think that helped my description of him.
Lately I’m working on the manuscript for ‘H.A.L.F.’ (which is an acronym for ‘Human Alien Life Form’).  Because one of the main characters, Tex, is an alien-human hybrid, I wanted to get a handle on what that mash-up looks like.  I started with drawing first a ‘grey’ alien based on the ‘alien autopsy’ photos on the internet.
Drawing of a ‘Grey’
This isn’t great, but you get the idea.  Greys are often depicted with super-bulbous heads (some speculate because they have an extra lobe in their brain).  They are described as having very small mouth openings and small noses.  
What happens when you morph a grey with a young human male?  Here’s my rendition:
‘Tex’, a H.A.L.F.

When I morphed them, the head is human just more bulbous.  He has ears while the alien does not.  His nose is more prominent.  His mouth is still small but slightly larger.  One of the things that came from this exercise is that Tex has a more human chin and jawline, not quite so angular – more square.

But the eyes are the same overly large, dark eyes.  This is a prominent feature of Tex and has impact on the storyline.

Do you find the last one, the drawing of Tex, unnerving?  He’s hanging up in my office now on my bulletin board and I have to say, I find him a bit scary!  When I catch a glimpse of him out of the corner of my eye he sort of freaks me out!

If you’re a writer, do you ever draw your characters?