Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Once Every Four Years....

We get an extra day!

It's funny how we also have other events that only occur every four years, such as presidential elections and the Olympics, but they don't fall on Leap Day.

You'd think a strange day like Leap Day would play a more prominent role in fiction than it does. Since this is traditionally the day women can propose to men, that would be an angle worth pursuing. Probably the most famous use of Leap Day in fiction is in The Pirates of Penzance. Much less famous is another event from one of my early (and unpublished) works, Day of All Seasons. In that book, the weather in the country of Challen got mixed up once every four years, so all four seasons occurred at once. I decided to change that in the new version I'm writing; now, Chaos Season can happen at any time. It makes things more complicated for my heroines.

Do you think Leap Day is special, or just another day? What would you like to see happen once every four years?

Monday, February 27, 2012

Blog Ring of Power--Cole Gibsen Interview

Welcome to Monday--and my first post in the Blog Ring of Power (also known as BRoP) progressive interview. This round, we're interviewing Cole Gibsen:

When Cole Gibsen isn't writing books for young adults, she can be found rocking out with her band, sewing crazy costumes for the fun of it, picking off her nail polish, or drinking milk straight from the jug--provided no one is looking. She debuts in March with two young adult novels--KATANA on March 8 from Flux and BREATHLESS by March 27 from Crescent Moon Press.

Bill meets Buffy in this supernatural samurai tale. Rileigh Martin would love to believe that adrenaline gave her the uncanny courage and strength to fend off three muggers. But it doesn't explain her dreams of fifteenth-century Japan, the incredible fighting skills she suddenly possesses, or the strange voice giving her battle tips and danger warnings. While worrying that she's going crazy (always a reputation ruiner), Rileigh gets a visit from Kim, a handsome martial arts instructor, who tells Rileigh she's harboring the spirit of a five-hundred-year-old samurai warrior. Relentlessly attacked by ninjas, Rileigh has no choice but to master the katana--a deadly Japanese sword that's also the key to her past. As the spirit grows stronger and her feelings for Kim intensify, Rileigh is torn between continuing as the girl she's always been and embracing the warrior inside her.

THLESS:In a world where death is an ever-present shadow and motives are as dark as the bottom of the ocean, Edith must decide if her life is worth risking for a love that can't survive past the shore. Obituary-reading emo girl Edith Small is broken - the end result of forcing herself inside a mold that doesn't fit. All she wants is to conform to her strict sergeant stepfather's rules long enough to make it to graduation day. But a boat accident threatens to unravel the life Edith has worked so hard to keep. After waking up in a hospital with a lacerated shoulder, Edith fakes amnesia. Because admitting she received her injuries from a blue-haired girl who breathes underwater is all the reason Sir needs to send Edith on the first bus to military school. Safe at home, Edith struggles to put the nightmare behind her. But the mysterious creatures that live in the ocean aren't about to let her forget. After meeting Bastin - a strange boy with silver hair and black eyes - on a secluded dock, Edith learns about the war raging undersea to end human existence. A war that Edith, unwittingly, has become the key to winning.

Find out more about Cole and her books at:
Facebook page:!/cole.gibsen
Goodreads author page:

The Creative Process

Where do you get your story ideas?
I have writer friends who get brand new ideas all the time. I really envy them because I’ve never been like that. I’m a one or two ideas-a-year kinda girl. And they usually hit me when I least expect them to—like when I’m driving.

Do you have a specific writing style?
I love quirky/snarky dialogue. Two of my biggest inspirations are Joss Whedon and Kevin Smith.

How do you deal with writer’s block?
There’s a fabulous writing program called Write or Die that penalizes you if you stop writing. I set that baby on “Kamikaze Mode” and go!

Do you use critique partners or beta readers? Why or why not?
I LOVE my crit partners. There’s no way I’d have made it as far as I have without them. A good crit partner can spot your crutches and shortcomings even after you’ve read your own manuscript enough times to make your eyes bleed.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
When I was a teenager, my home life was pretty rough. I was kicked out of my house at seventeen and even lived out of my VW Jetta for a little bit. Books were what got me through that time of my life. If my book can entertain someone enough that they temporarily forget about their problems, then I’ve accomplished what I set out to do.

To read the first two parts of the interview, please visit Theresa and Emily. Dean posts the next part tomorrow, and Terri will conclude the interview on Wednesday.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Science of the Week, 2/24/12

I haven't had much time to review the Science Blogs this week, but I saw an article on CNN about a car that can drive itself. (Yeah, but when will they invent something to fold clothes and put them away?) Scientific American reported a possible explanation for those faster-than-light particles purportedly found last year, and it's an embarrassing reason.

Speaking of Scientific American, I finished reading the March 2012 issue this week. It includes articles about the neuroscience of identity (each brain is unique, thanks to "jumping genes"); the far, far future of stars; and an alternative network for the Internet that can't be blocked or shut down by the government. There's even an article about dinosaurs showing that large groups of huge dinosaurs were able to coexist on the same piece of land. Scientists didn't think at first that there would be enough food to support all of the dinosaurs, but there are some possible explanations for this surprisingly high density of dinos.

Did you come across any interesting science news this week?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Raising a Reader

Sorry for missing a post yesterday, everyone. I was so busy writing Monday night I didn't have time to blog. I took a personal day from work yesterday to run some errands, so once those were done, I was able to go to the nearest Barnes and Noble and get my writing done.

Besides writing, the other reason I was at the bookstore was to do some shopping. Alex is going to a couple of birthday parties this weekend, and I needed to pick up some presents. I like to give kids books when possible. I wasn't sure what the kids were interested in, so I picked up some classic children's books. I also bought a Curious George book for Alex. As you might imagine, he has a lot of books. We read two books to him every night as part of his bedtime ritual.

What other things do you do to encourage a love of reading in children?

Monday, February 20, 2012

Paper Book--Novella or Omnibus?

I talked a little bit last Thursday about preparing a paper omnibus edition of Lyon's Legacy and Twinned Universes once the second book is ready. Since paper books still dominate the market, I think it's important to have paper editions available. My main reason for combining the two in the paper edition is because the first book is actually a novella (about 36,000 words, compared to Twinned Universes, which is about 89,000 words). I didn't think a paper edition of a novella would be worth producing. However, after doing a little research, I found out that CreateSpace can prepare such a short book. I'm not sure yet what the pricing would be for that one or if it would be better for my reader to produce one thick book or two thinner ones. As a reader, what would your preference be? Please share it in the comment section. I'm not sure how long it's going to take me to prepare the paper version, but I'd like to have at least one book ready for WisCon Memorial Day weekend.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Five-Star Review of Lyon's Legacy

I submitted my SF novella Lyon's Legacy to Indie Book Blog and was very pleased to see their review go live today. (It's already up on Amazon and Goodreads; I think it might be in a few other places as well.) My story got five stars. Here are a couple of quotes:

"While being a relatively short read Lyon's Legacy was extremely entertaining."

"Well written characters drive the story and Joanna's turmoil over her choices is palpable. I'm not sure I have read anything quite like this, but I am eager to see more from the author."

"A very well done novella debut from Sandra Ulbrich Almazan brings another indie author to keep an eye on into the picture."

I'm glad you enjoyed the story! Thanks for the review!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

I haven't talked much about my writing projects here lately. In addition to drafting Scattered Seasons, the first novel in my fantasy Season Lords series, I'm also preparing to self-publish the next book in the SF Catalyst Chronicles series, Twinned Universes. I also want to prepare a paper omnibus edition combining Lyon's Legacy and Twinned Universes. I'm still trying to figure out a title for that edition. I'd like to use the word "Catalyst." Here are some ideas I have in mind:

Cloning of the Catalyst

Creating the Catalyst

Catalyst's Beginnings

Do you like any of those, or do you have any other suggestions for me?

Monday, February 13, 2012

Blog Ring of Power

One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them....

Oops, wrong ring. (Thankfully.)

I've joined forces with several other writers to bring you "shared interviews" (we'll be interviewing the same person over several days, with different questions on each of our blogs), contests, and other fun things. We call ourselves the Blog Ring of Power, or BRoP for short. Here's a quick introduction to the other members of BRoP:

Dawn G. Sparrow - Write Away

She writes Paranormal Romance/horror/suspense.

Emily writes fantasy and is a fun person to get to know.

TBruce - Terri Bruce Net

Science Fiction author, the person behind BRoP, and a sister member of BroadUniverse.

T.W. Fendley - TW

Historical Fantasy and Science Fiction Author.

Dean C. Rich-- The Write Time

Fantasy author.

Go check out their websites. I'm not sure when we'll start the shared interviews, but I'll be posting my part of the interviews on Mondays. Hopefully that will be something to make the start of the work week a little better.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Supercontinents of the Future

You may have heard of Pangea, the supercontinent that formed hundreds of millions of years ago that split up to form our current continents. But did you know that scientists can model what the Earth will look like 100 million years from now? They predict that most of the continents will rejoin near the North Pole and form a new supercontinent called Amasia (from the Americas and Asia). Yes, East and West will meet, even if none of us are around to see it happen. You can read more about Amasia here and see a video. According to the CNN article, the Ring of Fire will play a role in the formation of Amasia, though other processes deep in the Earth will also be factors. Amasia won't just stay near the North Pole; it's predicted to drift down toward the equator.

How do you think human history would have been different if we'd evolved on a supercontinent instead of spreading onto several? I think there'd be less cultural diversity. There would have also been fewer opportunities for colonization. Would we have a global government, or would we have gotten into even more wars than we did? This sounds like it would make for a great alternate history novel, but you'd have to go back to the very beginning of humanity and work out the divergent path.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Back on the Blog Chain: The Ones You Love to Hate

Amparo has come up with a twisted topic for the Valentine's Day blog chain:

Since Valentine's Day is around the corner, I think it's only appropriate to pay homage to those we love. But instead of our better halves, family members, and friends, this blog chain will be all about loving the haters: write a love letter to your favorite literary villain/villain-ish character. It can be short, long, serious, funny. You can use song lyrics or poems instead. Choice is totally yours :)

It took me a while to figure out which character to write to. He's a very famous character; he's been around for hundreds of years, and many people still fear to say his name in certain locations. In deference to my actor character Paul, who does not speak this character's name, I won't name this villain either. Can you figure out who he is?

Hail, Thane of Glamis! Hail, Thane of Cawdor! Hail, King thereafter!

I should hate you, as you caused the destruction of many innocent lives in pursuit of your own ambitions. But were they really your ambitions? It could be argued that those three women you met set you on your treacherous path. Your wife isn't innocent either; you two make a pair of very bad hosts. Yet I've also read that you and your wife had the best marriage of all those your author immortalized with his words. And how can I hate you when your author made you so eloquent, so full of sound and fury? If anything, I should feel sorry for you, so trusting in your superstitions. They built you up, but they also tore you down. Do I see some trees moving in the distance? Fortune may have raised you up high, but that's only to dash you to the ground. You prove indeed that fair is foul and foul is fair. Begone; something wicked this way comes.

Do you recognize this character? Please leave your guess in the comment section, then head over to Matt's blog for his letter.

Monday, February 06, 2012

I Picked a Number....

between 1 and 15, and I came up with 1. Guess it's not the loneliest number after all. Congratulations, Marsha A. Moore! Your copy of "The Book of Beasts" has been sent to you; please let me know if you don't receive it.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Indie Tag Party--and a Giveaway!

Thanks to Romancing the Blog for hosting this blogfest! It's a chance for indie authors like myself to get their books tagged to make them rank higher on Amazon searches.

I currently have two works up on Amazon:

Lyon's Legacy
(please ignore all romance tags for this one)

The Book of Beasts
(please agree with all tags)

If you wish to just tag one of my stories, that's fine. However, if you do tag both, please come back here and leave a comment with your name and e-mail address. I'll draw a random name on Monday for a free Kindle copy of "The Book of Beasts." (Don't worry; I'm not planning to spam you. I figure if I have the e-mail address when I pick the winner, I can award the prize right away instead of waiting to hear back from him or her.)

Please let me know if you have any questions, and enjoy your weekend!

Friday, February 03, 2012

Science of the Week, 2/3/12

Here are some interesting science articles I found this week:

Space tech could help push kidney stones right out (this article also explains why astronauts are more likely to develop kidney stones)

First plants caused ice ages

Silver bullet to beat cancer?

Fighting fires in outer space

Computer can tell what you hear by reading your brain

Mouse to elephant in 24 million generations (shrinking is over ten times faster)

Ultrasound could be new form of male birth control

Enjoy the articles--and your weekend! If you're online, stop on by to learn more about the Indie Tag party. Details to follow tomorrow.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

What Are You Reading? February 2012

I can't remember if I've done this before on this blog; if I have, it's been quite a while. I'll describe what I'm currently reading. Please feel free to share in the comments what you're reading.

I'm currently juggling three books:

1. Inside the Victorian Home--This is research for my WIP, Scattered Seasons. The book goes through the typical English Victorian home room-by-room and describes its functions and furnishings. For the Victorians, cleanliness was a path to a good character. Too bad they had to contend with bedbugs and severe air pollution. (There's a reason the Victorians draped everything in multiple sheets; there was so much soot in the air they had to wash their hairbrushes every day. Blech!)

2. Don't Be Such a Scientist--Written by a scientist-turned-filmmaker, this book shows how presenting information isn't enough; communication requires a certain amount of entertainment to hook the reader's interest. Storytelling is an excellent way to do this; unfortunately, scientists supposedly make lousy storytellers.

3. Infoquake--This book has been sitting in my TBR pile for years; I finally picked it up to read during my morning workout today because I'd misplaced my Kindle. (Don't worry; it was in my son's backpack. I put there last night when we were at the library.) It's about a group of people who produce programs that help run the human body. They start a rumor about a bioterrorist attack as a way to gain an edge over their competitors. When I left off, it appeared that the rumors were true....

So, what are you reading? Would you recommend it? I'll respond to comments as time permits.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Back on the Blog Chain: Feelings, Beatles Style!

What a great way to start a month--with a blog chain! Today, I'm posting on Kate's topic:

Post pictures, songs, movie clips, poems, or novel excerpts that make you feel. Feel what, you ask? Feel anything. Happy. Sad. Angry. Nostalgic. Hopeful. Hopeless. Jealous. Joyful.

Amparo posted before me, and Matt will conclude the chain tomorrow.

If you've been visiting my blog for a while, you probably know I'm a big Beatles fan. It's not surprising that such a great and still beloved group would be capable of making listeners feel many emotions:




And this song leads listeners through many different emotions:

I could go on, but if I posted every Beatles song in their catalog, we'd be here all day. (Not that that's a bad way to spend a day.)

Do you have a favorite Beatles song?

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