Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Happy Hump (back Whale) Day

So to celebrate some randomness, because that's what I do, here's some tid-bits on the Humpback whale to dive into, and out of, another hump day.

Happy Wednesday 

Photo: Humpback whales in the singing position

Humpback whales are known for their magical songs, which travel for great distances through the world's oceans. These sequences of moans, howls, cries, and other noises are quite complex and often continue for hours on end. Scientists are studying these sounds to decipher their meaning. It is most likely that humpbacks sing to communicate with others and to attract potential mates.

I wonder if they chit chat about the fact that Friday is almost here? I know I do! I can almost see it, beyond Thor's hammer. Yes, there it is, calling us all to come and join. 

I hope you have a great rest of the week! 

Friday, September 20, 2013

Blog Ring of Power Presents: Ellen Larson

Welcome to another Blog Ring of Power interview. I know you're excited! It's Friday after all, then again, it's always Friday in my mind. So here is another reason why my library is never ending. 

Please welcome Ellen Larson! 

After 20 years working as a substantive editor in Egypt and the US, Ellen Larson was recently named editor of The Poisoned Pencil, the YA mystery imprint of Poisoned Pen Press. Ellen, who lives in an off-grid cabin, also writes. Her fiction has appeared in Yankee Magazine, Bloodroot Literary Magazine, Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine (Barry Award finalist), and Big Pulp. Her dystopian mystery, IN RETROSPECT (Gale-Cengage, Five Star), will be out December 2013.
Don’t miss the rest of Ellen’s BRoP interview at:
BRoP Logo Revised-1Part 1 @ Terri – Wednesday, September 18
Part 2 @ T.W. -- Thursday, September 19
Part 3 @ Hey look, it's me! – Friday, September 20
Part 4 @ Sandra – Monday, September 23
Part 5 @ Vicki – Tuesday, September 24

Section #3: The Creative Process

BRoP: Are you a “plotter” or a “pantser” (do you plan/outline the story ahead of time or write “by the seat of your pants”)? 

Pantser if I have the time, plotter if I don’t. Lately, I don’t have the time.

BRoP: Do you use critique partners or beta readers? Why or why not? 

I do use beta readers; I consider them an absolute must. Over the years, I have however learned to tailor a set of questions for beta readers, so that I increase my chances of getting useful feedback. I also get more useful details this way. Common questions include: Who was your favorite character? Why? Who was your least favorite character? Why? What did you like best about the story? What did you like least? How did you feel after you read X? What parts confused you? What parts were boring? These questions are open-ended enough that they don’t sound like I’m just looking for praise. They jump-start the discussion and lead to answers that I’m particularly interested in. I generally beg my beta readers not to comment on grammar, word choice, or usage. Likewise I ask them to just give me their thoughts, rather than what they think other people might be bothered by. If I want a professional critique, I pay for that.

BRoP: How much time do you spend on research? What type of research do you do? 

I generally spend quite a lot of time doing research. This does not necessarily show up in the book, as my research tends to be extremely foundational, but I find it a terrific way to immerse myself in the world of the story during the writing of the first draft. In The Measure of the Universe, I did massive amounts of research. This research is almost invisible in the book (unless you’re up on your Greek mythology). I had so much interesting information that I decided to put it into an Author’s Apology at the end of the book (so that readers could bone up on the Greek mythology if they wanted to). The mountain girl in Wildcraft, for example, practices “wildcrafting,” the harvesting of herbs and medicinals from their natural habitat. I have done the usual amount of research (for me), with much more of it showing up in the book.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging to write? 

Short fiction. My idea of a short story works out at about 20,000 words. I have to slay dragons to get a story down to 7,000 words. I have not yet succeeded in writing anything shorter than 5,000 words. But I’m still trying.

IR_CoverFormer elite operative Merit Rafi suffered during her imprisonment at the end of a devastating war, but the ultimate torment is being forced to investigate a murder she would gladly have committed herself. In the year 3324 the Rasakans have attacked the technologically superior Oku. The war is a stalemate until the Oku commander, General Zane, abruptly surrenders. Merit, a staunch member of the Oku resistance, fights on, but she and her comrades are soon captured. An uneasy peace ensues, but the Rasakans conspire to gain control of the prized Oku time-travel technology. When Zane is murdered, the Rasakans exert control over Merit, the last person on Earth capable of Forensic Retrospection. In Retrospect is a good old-fashioned whodunit set in a compelling post-apocalyptic future

Friday, September 6, 2013

Blog Ring of Power Presents: Bonnie Milani

Welcome to another Friday Blog Ring of Power Interview. Sit back, relax and check out Bonnie Milani.

Bonnie has taken what might be called the sandwich approach to writing. She started writing early, winning state-wide writing contests in grammar school, publishing an environmental fairy tale under the aegis of the NJ Board of Education in college. After earning her M.A. in Communication at Stanford, Bonnie freelanced feature articles for East Coast newspapers and regional magazines, from Mankind and Peninsula to Science Digest as well as how to articles for the late & much lamented fanzine Speculations. She stopped writing completely after marriage while building a pair of businesses with her husband. It was only with the successive deaths of each member of her family that she reclaimed her love of story-telling. Home World is the result.
Today, Bonnie lives with her husband of thirty-six years in Los Angeles. She is still a full-time benefits broker, specializing in employee benefits for entrepreneurs and micro-businesses. 

Home World will launch later this month, but in the meantime, you can find Bonnie on Facebook.
Don’t miss the rest of her interview at:
BRoP Logo Revised-1
  • Part 1 @ T.W - Thursday, September 5
  • Part 2 @ Emily - Friday, September 6
  • Part 3 @ Sandra - Monday, September 9
  • Part 4 @ Vicki - Tuesday, September 10
  • Part 5 @ Terri - Wednesday, September 11

Section #2: The Writing Life
BRoP:  What is your writing process? Do you follow a regular routine? Do you use pen and paper or computer? Work at home or at the library/Starbucks, etc.

Bonnie: You can't produce ANYTHING, much less a novel, without a regular, disciplined routine.  Especially not when you're as slow a writer as I am.  I'm old enough to remember typewriters & 'over the transom' submissions & lemme tell ya, WORD is the only way to go!   Like most authors, particularly new ones, I've kept the day job.  That means I write in the morning, at home, before the workday starts.
BRoP:  How do you balance writing with other aspects of your life?

Bonnie: Compartmentalize...Compartmentalize...Compartmentalize...
BRoP:  When do you write?

Bonnie: Ideally, between 5:00 am & 8:00 am   Trouble is, I rarely make it to bed before midnight, & I'm just not determined enough to haul my spreading gluteus maximus out of bed by 5:00.  So it's usually 6 - 8 when I'm VERY lucky.  Otherwise, my other half gets up early & hauls me off to the gym at 7:30 - at which point my writing time's done for the day.  That's one of the reasons it takes me so LONG to finish anything. 
BRoP:  How much time per day do you spend on your writing?

Bonnie: About once a month I get 3 whole glorious hours together on a Sunday morning.  Otherwise, by the time I've got both eyes open and focused...maybe an hour & a half.  After that, it's the gym & then the office.
BRoP: What has been the most surprising reaction to something you’ve written?

Bonnie:  I got accepted into Stanford!

Home world cover Final-RGB-01 web use copy-1
HOME WORLD: Amid the ruins of a post-apocalyptic Waikiki, Jezekiah Van Buren thinks he’s found a way to restore Earth – Home World to the other worlds of the human Commonwealth – to her lost glory. 
Ingenious even by the standards of the genetically enhanced Great Family Van Buren, Jezekiah has achieved the impossible: he has arranged a treaty that will convert Earth's ancient enemies, the Lupans, to her most powerful allies. Not only will the treaty terms make Earth rich again, it will let him escape the Ring that condemns him to be Earth's next ruler. Best of all, the treaty leaves him free to marry Keiko Yakamoto, the Samuari-trained woman he loves. Everything’s set. All Jezekiah has to do is convince his xenophobic sister to accept the Lupan's alpha warlord in marriage. Before, that is, the assassin she's put on his tail succeeds in killing him. Or the interstellar crime ring called Ho Tong succeed in raising another rebellion. Or before his ruling relatives on competing worlds manage to execute him for treason. 
But Jezekiah was bred for politics and trained to rule. He’s got it all under control. Until his Lupan warlord-partner reaches Earth. And suddenly these two most powerful men find themselves in love with the same woman. A woman who just may be the most deadly assassin of them all.