Friday, August 31, 2012

ChiCon Report: Day 1

For the first two days of ChiCon, I'm going to be a "day tripper." My son is in school, and I'm normally the one who drops him off and picks him up. I actually had to leave the con right when opening ceremonies were about to start so I could get Alex. So all I did Thursday was pick up my badge and program supplies, get oriented, drop off books for BroadUniverse, and help at the table. I did see some other BroadUniverse members I knew (and meet some new ones) and sell a copy of Lyon's Legacy. Hopefully more will follow. I also got to see someone whom I haven't seen in a while--the lady who makes the jigsaw puzzles featured in the photo on top of this blog. I came home with a baby penguin puzzle for Alex and a dragon for my bookshelf. It's quite possible I'll pick up more puzzles or other things in the dealer's room before the end of the con.

Tomorrow I'll be attending panels in earnest--if I can decide on which ones are the best per time period. That's always a hard decision. The "Future of Food" panel I'm on got moved from Thursday evening to Friday afternoon, right before the BroadUniverse Rapid-Fire-Reading. I will end up staying later on Friday, but not very late.

I'm not sure if I'll have more updates over the weekend, but if not, then next week for sure. Enjoy the Labor Day weekend, everyone! There will be a BRoP interview on Monday, so swing by if you have the time.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Guest Post--Creating Audiobooks

As I mentioned on Monday, I do have an announcement: I've been working on an audiobook version of Lyon's Legacy, and it's almost ready. It just has to go through a final check before it goes on sale. It should be ready in a couple of weeks; I'll have more details and links once it's approved.

In order to have the audiobook made, I went through Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX), a website where authors and producers can get together and work on projects. If you'd like to learn more about how to use ACX, as well as gain a few tips from my experience, please check out my guest post on Tossing It Out. Feel free to ask me questions either on this blog or over there.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Character Interview--Leon, From Priestess of the Eggstone

Today I have a special interview for you: I'm not interviewing an author, but a character. And what a character he is! Please meet Leon Gravis from Jaleta Clegg's Priestess of the Eggstone, sequel to Nexus Point. I think it's best to let him speak for himself.

Hi, Leon. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Hiya, sweetheart. How ya doing? Me. You want to hear about me? Well. *scratches ear* I been stuck in a dead end job for a while. After I got my lawyer certificate, good anywhere in the Empire in case you’re looking, I thought I’d have it easy and cruise right into one of them expensive offices with all the perks. But the only people who’d even talk to me were Belliff Shipping.

What kind of job or jobs do you have?
I pushed paperwork, legal and illegal, for Belliff. What, you didn’t know Belliff is a front for Targon Syndicate? I figured that out the second day on the job. Even smugglers and pirates need someone to track their goods. But now, I don’t know what kind of a job I’ll be able to get. I ain’t cleaning floors, no matter what. I got some pride, ya know?

How do you juggle those different roles?
*shrugs* Doesn’t much matter. The only real difference is who I file it with- the Patrol or the Five. You know, I’d like to turn honest. Naw, scratch that. Being a lawyer is about twisting things to get what you want. Isn’t it?

How well do you know Dace and Jerimon?
Those two. Why is it everyone wants to know about them? What about me? I want the spotlight sometime, too. After I hijacked their ship, I’m not sure they’ll ever talk to me again. Course it’s their fault I ended up in Patrol custody. They took me to Tebros, right to the Patrol, instead of out to Freehaven where I might have had half a chance of avoiding both the law and my former employers.

What are your goals, and how do they intersect with those of Dace and Jerimon?
I want to survive. Those two are gonna get themselves killed. They don’t play with nice people. Crossing Targon is gonna cost them. And then there’s those aliens chasing them. *shakes head* They’re both doomed, quote me on that.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?
On the record or off? I ain’t admitting something that might get me years on a prison planet somewhere. But I’ll tell you this, running from Viya Station with Dace and Jerimon counts as crazy. Those two are nuts. They flew right through a firefight with the Patrol. In a courier. I thought we were goners for sure. Did I tell you they locked me in the bathroom for most of that flight? Dace, she’s the crazy one. Totally insane.

What’s your philosophy of life?
Grab it and squeeze it for everything you can get. Also, don’t be afraid of mixing plaid and polka dots. You like my suit? *stands up to show off lime green/orange plaid with pink and blue rainbow dots* Brand new. I got a great tailor, Manny. I’ll introduce you sometime.

Please tell us one thing you’re very good at and one thing you can’t do very well.
I’m good at everything, sweetheart. Just a matter of attitude. But I love arguing in court. People say I’m great at offending people, but that’s all on purpose. I’m really a kind, sweet, gentle soul. They also say I can’t talk soft. *stage whisper* I can be real quiet, if I need to.

What do you want people to remember about you after you’re gone?
Leon Gravis, Lawyer Extraordinaire. Yep, want that on my tombstone but not for a long time.

Is there any message you want to tell us?
Watch out for crazy people. They’ll get ya every time.

Thanks, sweetheart. Been a pleasure talking with ya. Call me sometime.

Pursued by the Targon Crime Syndicate bent on revenge, the Patrol intent on recruitment, and the Sessimoniss who want their god back, the last thing Captain Dace needs is a handsome copilot with romance on his mind.

But that’s exactly what she’s got.

She didn’t realize she was smuggling when she accepted the courier job. Now Targon wants her for stealing the shipment and the Patrol wants to arrest her. The Sessimoniss want their god back. And Jerimon’s aunt is planning their wedding.

She doesn’t know which scares her most.

Priestess of the Eggstone: The Fall of the Altairan Empire Book 2 by Jaleta Clegg


We rounded the last big moon into clear space. I checked the nav program one last time, to make sure we were headed the right direction before we jumped. The chatter of local pilots was steady as a background noise that dissolved into static as we passed into the moon's shadow. The ship lurched, then slowed, the engines whining.
I flipped switches, trying to find the problem. Jerimon pushed the thrusters all the way to the stops. The engine whine rose in pitch. The ship shuddered. The emergency lights flashed. Warnings hooted through the ship.
"Shut it down!" I yelled over the noise.
Jerimon stubbornly tried to pull more power from the engines. His face was pale and his chin set as he goosed the throttles. I reached across the controls to slam the switches off. Jerimon slumped in his chair, hands over his face. The engines spun down. The alarms shut up, all except one. It was a quiet, insistent beeping with a single, flashing red light.
I checked the screen, then muttered a bad word at the unknown vessel showing on the scans. "Who'd be using a tractor beam out here?"
The ship was bigger, but that didn't mean much. Anything was bigger than my ship. The scanners didn't show any ID traces from the other ship.
"Does it look like pirates to you?" Pirates weren't uncommon in this sector but Rucal had a major Patrol station out beyond the moons. What pirate would be stupid enough to operate under the Patrol's nose?
I knew of at least one, but he was in prison. I scowled at the screen. In a few moments, I wouldn't need the scanner. I could just look outside.
Jerimon dropped his hands to his lap, staring bleakly at the monitor. If he didn't know who was on that ship, I'd eat my socks—the ones I'd been wearing for three days without washing because I hadn't found the time.
"Who are they and why are they dragging us in?"
Jerimon shook his head, eyes locked on the approaching ship. He gripped the chair so hard his knuckles went white.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Blog Ring of Power Interview--Suzanne Lilly

I hope you enjoyed your weekend, everyone! I have a full week planned here on the blog. In addition to today's Blog Ring of Power Interview with Suzanne Lilly, I have a bonus interview  tomorrow with a character from Jaleta Clegg's new book, Priestess of the Eggstone. I have a special guest post over on Tossing it Out  on Wednesday--with luck, I may be able to make an exciting announcement here to tie in with that post. Finally, ChiCon starts on Thursday, so I may pre-empt my Science of the Week post on Friday to report on the convention.

Let's get started with Suzanne's interview. This is Part Four; you can check out the previous parts on Terri's, Theresa's, and Emily's blogs. The interview will wrap up tomorrow with Dean. Suzanne will be giving away a pair of designer sunglasses to one random commenter during her blog tour, so be sure to leave a comment for a chance to win! In addition, 10% of the royalties from the sale of this book will go to an animal rescue organization.

About Your Current Work

Tell us about your new book and when it is out? Where can people purchase it?

Shades of the Future is my debut novel. It’s available now in print and digital from retailers all over the Internet. It’s in Kindle, Nook, ePub, and other digital formats.

What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?

My favorite chapter is the one in which Mariah and her friends go to the summer festival in Honey Creek. It’s very emotional and it even surprised me as I wrote it.

Did you learn anything from writing this book and what was it?

Never give up. No matter how bleak things look, keep on trying.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in this book?

I think there are always things a writer can change. The key is knowing when to stop making changes and just say it’s done.

Tell us about your book’s cover – where did the design come from and what was the design process like?

Kim Jacobs designed the cover, and I think she did a marvelous job. I looked online for pictures until I found a model that fit my vision of Mariah Davis, and the Honey Creek atmosphere. Kim pulled it altogether and made it rock with her own personal talent and style.

What would you give to see the future? Would you make your dreams come true? Would you change the things you didn’t like?
Mariah Davis loves animals, running, and her hunk of a boyfriend, Kevin Creamer. Everything looks bright for her until the day she finds a pair of sunglasses that allow her to see the future.
When she glimpses a disaster looming, she tries to avoid it but fails. She has a car accident that lands her in a wheelchair, smashing her hopes for a running scholarship to the veterinary program at Ohio State University. She pushes Kevin away, thinking he’ll want to end their relationship now that she can’t walk.
Will she ever learn to trust and love again? She could search for an answer in the sunglasses. But she’s afraid what they reveal might destroy her.

Author Bio:
Suzanne Lilly writes lighthearted young adult stories with a splash of suspense, a flash of the unexplained, a dash of romance, and always a happy ending. Her short stories have appeared in numerous places online and in print, and she has placed and received honorable mentions in writing contests. Her debut novel is Shades of the Future, (July 2012, Turquoise Morning Press) followed by Untellable, (February 2013.) She lives in Northern California where she reads, writes, cooks, swims, and teaches elementary students.

Facebook page:
Goodreads author page:
Twitter: @suzannelilly
Google +:

What format is your book(s) available in (print, e-book, audio book, etc.)
It’s available in print and digital formats.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Thursday, August 23, 2012

ChiCon Schedule

 This was supposed to post yesterday, but I was on a business trip and had some problems with the Internet connection at the hotel. Sorry for the delay.

When it comes to a convention like Chicon, I'm a very small fish in a very big pond. But even so, I'll still be on several panels next week. Here's my schedule:

Thursday, 8/30, 6:00-7:30 p.m. --The Future of Food

Friday, 8/31, 3:00--4:30 p.m.--Broad Universe Rapid-Fire Reading

Monday, 9/3,12:00--1:30 p.m.--Self Publishing- Why or Why Not?

I'll also be helping out at the BroadUniverse table, but I don't know when yet. I'll probably sign up for times at the convention after I've had a chance to agonize over the rest of the program.

Monday, August 20, 2012

A New Hobby

The next Blog Ring of Power interview (featuring Suzanne Lilly) won't start until Wednesday, so I have no interview for you today. Instead, I thought I'd share with you my latest purchase. Hint: it's not related to writing. Instead, it's an archery kit, complete with bow, arrows, quiver, armguard, and a couple of other items. No, I haven't suddenly decided I want to be Katniss or even Merida. My husband suggested it as an activity we could learn together. I figure it'll help me develop some upper body strength, and someday the experience might be useful for writing.

Do you have any unusual hobbies? Have they made appearances in your writing?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Author Entrepreneur Magazine

No matter what path you take to publication, all authors are entrepreneurs. This means that we require skills in all sorts of areas, ranging from writing good stories to understanding contracts to formatting and designing covers. Fortunately, the Internet offers us many good sources to learn about writing and the business of writing; one new resource is the Author Entrepreneur magazine. The publisher and Editor-in-Chief is a sister BroadUniverse member, Beth Barany.

Author Entrepreneur is a free monthly online magazine (it's paid for by ads). It's not just aimed at writers, but other people authors might work with, such as book marketers, book designers, cover designers, website designers, and more. Two issues are already out. I haven't had a chance to look at the July issue yet, but the August issue offers a variety of articles, including ways to use non-fiction to sell novels and several things novelists need to learn from the movies. This magazine is open to writers and advertisers and can offer an opportunity for exposure. I've subscribed to the magazine and look forward to reading future issues.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Blog Ring of Power Interview--James Garcia

Welcome back to the workweek. Today I have Part Two of the Blog Ring of Power's progressive interview with James Garcia. You can find the first part here on Emily's blog. To follow the rest of the interview, please visit Dean on Tuesday, Terri on Wednesday, and Theresa on Thursday.

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.?

My writing process is constantly in flux. I have an 11 hour day job. I work for Sun Maid Raisin Growers of California (the lady on the red box, that’s me). I get up at 3 am in order to be at work very early. With this kind of schedule I do not have time to do it all, as you can well imagine. I have to constantly juggle networking, promotion, blogging/social networks with reading and writing. Basically I read a little every day and network. Writing is usually left to weekends. I started writing my first novel, Dance on Fire, over twenty years ago and then moved it to the back-burner due to family, career and my lack of maturity. It was nearly two decades later that I realized the regret I would have if I didn’t give writing one last shot. I finished the novel, found a publisher 18 months later and started this crazy ride. While awaiting publication it occurred to me that I hadn’t written anything new. I jumped into the sequel to that novel and had the first two drafts done in 8 months. Not knowing what might come of those books, and also to do with the demands of my schedule, I waited a while before beginning any new projects. This spring I began a third novel. It is a stand-alone ghost story and I wrote that first draft in 4 months or so. I work at home on my trusty laptop.

How do you balance writing with other aspects of your life?

We might actually find proof of Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster before any of us actually achieve that elusive “balance”. *laughs* I gave up playing golf, watch television only during meals and force myself to climb onto my treadmill 4-5 days a week. Other than that, I have two teenaged boys and an understanding wife. I check in with them, have meals with them and we spend some time on weekends. When the boys have concerts or plays, I’m there. That’s my balance. *frowns*

When do you write?

I write or edit only on weekends at this point.

How much time per day do you spend on your writing?

When I write, I get up early Saturday morning and write for about four hours and have been known to knock out between 2-4 thousand words in a session.

What has been the strongest criticism you’ve ever received as an author? The best compliment?

The strongest criticism I have received so far has been that there is too much Christianity in the story. The thing is that I never intended to write a vampire story. When I first starting writing down the images in my head, it was only a crime story. As a Christian, what I love about horror is the sitting on the edge of your seat. I can do without the torture-porn, you know? So, when the story revealed itself to be vampire, I decided to make it a Christian cross-over, because we needed another vampire story like a hole in the head, or so I thought. I hope readers will not feel as if I have hit them over the head with Christian themes. In terms of compliments, I just love it when someone comes up to me without my having asked them about it and they start raving about my work. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Other than your family, what has been your greatest source of support?

My family has been great to support me, to ask how things are going, and promo for me and things like that; however, my greatest source of support has come from like-minded writers along the internet. They know what it’s like and how playing this game feels. Many may never read my novels, but because they understand this life, they have been quick to offer encouragement and support.

James Garcia Jr. was born in the Central California town of Hanford. He moved up the road to Kingsburg with his family as a child. After graduating KHS, he attended Reedley College where he met his wife. They, along with their teenage sons, still make their home in Kingsburg which is also the setting of James’ debut vampire novel. “Dance on Fire”, was published in 2010 and its sequel is scheduled for an early 2012 release. James is an Administrative Supervisor for Sun-Maid Growers of California.

Dance on Fire synopsis:

Each May, the Central California town of Kingsburg celebrates its Swedish heritage with the annual Swedish Festival: a weekend event where the town puts on its traditional dress, culminating with a dance around a Maypole on Friday, and a Swedish pancake breakfast and parade on Saturday. The town with a population of over 11,000 residents draws thousands more to the event. This year, two uninvited guests also converged upon the unsuspecting town.

Nathaniel is a vampire. He wandered into town, bothering no one; feeding upon stray cats and other vermin, wanting nothing more than to have a place to rest his head. Vincent is a second vampire, and the one responsible for making Nathaniel. He has been searching for his long lost “son” for well over two centuries. Vincent’s goal is to take Nathaniel home or kill him. Nathaniel has often wished for death, wondering why God ever allowed this punishment: to walk the earth undead and unable to be redeemed. Does God remember the little boy from Romania who watched his parents die, was raised by the murdering vampire, only to become one himself? What does God think of Nathaniel and could there yet be redemption for one outside of heaven?
Ten days before the start of the Swedish Festival the most tumultuous week in the history of Kingsburg has begun with two vampires leaving death and destruction in their wake. Kingsburg Police Detectives Mark Jackson and Michael Lopez, Barbara and the entire Lopez family find themselves drawn into something that threatens to destroy them all or leave them scarred forever.

In a marriage of the classic horror story and the Christian themes of good conquering evil and redemption, Dance on Fire is the account of characters being drawn into the fire and the supernatural forces around them watching as they burn.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Science of the Week, 8/10/12

Welcome to Friday! This is a geeky thing to comment on, but I like the way the numbers in today's date increase by two as we go from month to day and from day to year.

Anyway here are some interesting articles from Science Blog this week:

The economic cost of increased temperatures

Seeing through walls: Laser system reconstructs objects hidden from sight

Info advantage from surprising quantum source (It's called quantum discord--sounds like a good name for a band, doesn't it?)

Science fiction vs. science fact: the use of viruses to cure disease

Major step taken toward "unbreakable" message exchange

Enjoy your weekend, and see you Monday!

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Happy Birthday, Eugene!

It's my husband's birthday today. We had an early celebration on Sunday when our families got together to throw him a surprise party at a nearby restaurant. (He didn't suspect anything until I told the hostess the reservations were under my brother-in-law's name.)  Here are a few pictures from the day:

 Cloudgate (a.k.a. "The Bean") in Millennium Park. Our son wanted to go there on Sunday.
 Eugene and Alex splashing in Crowne Fountain.
 Yes, I got my feet wet too--and my son promptly tried on my sandals.
 Getting ready to blow out the candles after dinner.
Our families.

Happy Birthday, Hon, and wishing you many more!

Monday, August 06, 2012

Blog Ring of Power--Interview with Susan Kaye Quinn

It's the start of another blogging week here, and today I have with me Susan Kaye Quinn for part of a Blog Ring of Power Interview. She'll be sharing her Creative Process with us. Please visit Theresa and Emily for the first and second parts of this interview; it'll continue tomorrow with Dean and conclude on Wednesday with Terri.

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

I’m a reformed pantser turned hyper-plotter. My most recent published novel, Closed Hearts, had 84,000 words in the novel, and an additional 81,000 words of notes (research, invented technology, outline). The novel I’m working on now, Free Souls (Mindjack #3), had 16,000 words in the outline alone before I started drafting, along with this lovely plotting tool:

To say I’m a plotter now is a bit of an understatement.

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

I have a list called Critiquers of Awesome, and I use it all the time. I think critique partners are essential for writers to grow in their craft. You have to have a sense of your story, what you want to say, but critique partners can let you know whether you actually get that across. They are the film preview audiences of the writing world, only better: they can give you ideas about how to improve your work as well. For each novel, I typically have several different crit partners in two or three rounds.

How do you deal with writer’s block?

I don’t get writer’s block – maybe I’m unusual that way? Not sure, but there’s almost never a time when I don’t want to write or can’t get words on the page. The closest I come is having a plot-blockage, where I’m not quite sure what should happen next. Then I just do some character work, or more research, or write the scene from an alternate POV … or just free-write until something breaks loose. My largest problem with getting words on the page is not having enough hours in the day to do so.

How do you develop your plots and characters? Do you use any set formula?

I use story structures like Blake Snyder’s Beat Sheet, but I don’t think of them as “formulas” – more like guidelines to the rise and fall of stories that naturally resonate with people. I usually do a combination of developing plot, research, and character in tandem, a complex dance that evolves through the entire process, from initial idea through to final draft. I don’t think the conflicts can be separate from the world, or the theme separate from the characters. They all need to be interwoven in order to bring depth to your story.

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

My novels are futuristic science fiction, so I do a lot of research. I use my background in science and engineering, but much of my research is to make sure the setting (“lightbulbs of the future”) or technology (“automobiles of the future”) are realistic for my future world. Google is my friend, including Google Earth, which I use to literally “walk” around my settings – just because it’s the future, doesn’t mean that everything has changed!

Susan Kaye Quinn, Author
Susan Kaye Quinn grew up in California, where she wrote snippets of stories and passed them to her friends during class. She pursued a bunch of engineering degrees and worked a lot of geeky jobs, including turns at GE Aircraft Engines, NASA, and NCAR. Now that she writes novels, her business card says "Author and Rocket Scientist" and she doesn't have to sneak her notes anymore. All that engineering comes in handy when dreaming up paranormal powers in future worlds or mixing science with fantasy to conjure slightly plausible inventions. Susan writes from the Chicago suburbs with her three boys, two cats, and one husband. Which, it turns out, is exactly as much as she can handle.

Website: Blog:
Facebook page:
Goodreads author page:

What format is your book(s) available in (print, e-book, audio book, etc.)? Print and ebook.

Friday, August 03, 2012

Science of the Week, 8/3/12

Here we are at August already. Got any plans for the last month of summer?

Here are some interesting articles I read on Science Blog this week:

UK scientists say they've identified the future of war

Scientists read monkeys' inner thoughts

Adding a "3D print" button to animation software

Chemical makes blind mice see

The August issue of Scientific American includes articles on black holes, joy and the mind, and new life for ancient DNA. Check it out!

Have a good weekend, and come back Monday for an interview with Susan Kaye Quinn!

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Writer's Block--Is It Always a Bad Thing?

After my marathon writing/revising session last Sunday, I've been finding it hard to finish the current draft of Twinned Universes. This problem has made me think more about writer's block.

Generally when I read discussions about writer's block, the author takes one of two approaches. The first is to deny that writer's block exists and to compare the profession of writing to a job with completely different skills and say something along the lines of "You never hear a plumber complain about plumber's block." (As if it isn't possible for any worker in any profession to have a bad day.) The other approach is to discuss the various internal/external problems the writer is having that can contribute to writer's block. While this may be helpful, there's a third point about writer's block that in my opinion often gets overlooked: there may be a problem with the project itself that is contributing to the block.

In my own experience, I've found that I can get blocked or stuck on a scene if I'm not immersed completely enough in the point-of-view character. Sometimes I can break through this by starting the scene over. My most recent issues with Twinned Universes have to do with starting a scene without knowing enough what I want it to accomplish. (Even though I'm normally a pantser, I outlined the novel and the changes I wanted to incorporate before beginning my revisions. However, I veered off the map toward the end of the book. I guess I should go back and consult my outline, huh?) What I did to get unstuck was to write down what loose ends I still needed to tie up and when they should occur in the story's timeline. That helped me decide where I needed to add scenes and what they had to accomplish.

I still have a lot of work to do to finish with my developmental edit and return my story to my editor by the end of September. In the meantime, have you ever been stuck on a story and then realized you needed to change something to get unstuck?

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