Sunday, September 30, 2012

Carnival of the Indies

Buy some funnel cake and step up to the's time for another Carnival of the Indies! This month, one of my posts is included. It's the guest post I did for Tossing It Out on making audiobooks through ACX. I can't resist a shameless plug: here's the link to the audiobook on Amazon and Audible.

Enjoy the rest of the weekend! Hope the weather by you is as beautiful as it is here. It's the perfect time to visit the pumpkin patch and have an apple cider doughnut! I have another Blog Ring of Power interview tomorrow and a special post prepared for Tuesday, so be sure to stop by then.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Science of the Week--9/28/12

Hard to believe another month is nearly at an end and another season has begun. This weekend, my son's school celebrates Homecoming, and we're headed out to a nearby farm with friends. I can hardly wait to pick up some butternut squash and try some new recipes I've found!

These ScienceBlog links don't have anything to do with seasons or butternut squash, but I hope you enjoy them anyway:

What's a 300 million-year-old insect look like? This.

Computers match humans in understanding art

Robot surgery via mouth safe for removing voice box tumors (and not "vice box" as the article's title says)

Cancer research yields unexpected new way to produce nylon

World's first glimpse of black hole launch pad

Scientists make old muscles young again

That's it for now. Enjoy the weekend!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Watching the Rankings....

Since I'll take any excuse to listen to a good song:

Indie authors are often advised not to check their sales rankings every day but to focus on getting their next book out. Since building a career is a long-term project, this makes sense. After all, very few of us are going to make a living from one book, and it takes time to develop a fanbase. So why is it so tempting to visit Amazon and Smashwords and ACX every day, sometimes more frequently?

I think perhaps it is the intermittent nature of sales that makes checking rankings so addicting, at least in the beginning. In fact, the random frequency of receiving rewards or sales makes it harder to break the habit of checking sales. Does that mean you're in trouble if you've already established this habit? I think it depends on how much it interferes with your writing. If you can manage to make the checks quick and do them at a time when you're not able to write, then it shouldn't be a problem. However, if you do it during your writing time or let yourself dwell on it, then checking sales is a distraction. Perhaps then it's time to find another way to motivate yourself either to write more or check less. For example, you can only check sales after meeting your daily quota, or only allow yourself to check sales when you're trying a new marketing technique.

Are you a ranking addict? How much are your emotions affected by your rankings? How often do you think an author should track sales?

Monday, September 24, 2012

Blog Ring of Power--Barbara Ann Wright

Today I'm interviewing Barbara Ann Wright as part of the Blog Ring of Power. This is Part Four (About Your Current Work.) You can find the previous interviews on Terri's, Theresa's, and Emily's blog; Dean will host the final part tomorrow.

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

My new book is a lesbian fantasy romance called The Pyramid Waltz, and it is available for preorder now from or amazon. On September 18, it will be at a bookstore near you. If it isn't, you can definitely request it, and they will order it for you. You'll probably have better luck at independent bookstores and most especially, LGBT bookstores. Support local bookstores!

 Is there anything new, unusual, or interesting about your book? How is it different from other books on the same subject?

 It's new for me in that it's a lesbian romance, the first I've ever written, but a story I've always wanted to write. There's a lot of great lesbian romance out there already, but I think mine is a little different in that it's more traditional fantasy as opposed to urban fantasy. I love urban fantasy, but traditional swords and sorcery will always have a special place in my heart. I'm just an old-fashioned, stabbing kind of gal.

 What was the hardest part of writing this book?

 I was afraid of the reactions I would get, that if people knew I was writing a lesbian romance, they would assume I was a lesbian, even though I'm married to a man. When I looked deeper, I saw that I was afraid because they'd be half right. Writing the book has helped me come to terms with my bisexuality and has let me be open about that part of my life, both with myself and others. Instead of being judged, though, I've been overwhelmed by the support I've found. If anyone's had a negative reaction to what I've written, they've kept it to themselves.

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

I would say the love scenes, but fight scenes have always been my babies. I love writing action, the short, choppy sentences. The flow.The drama of having a character on the cusp of losing rise to fight again. And since my fights are usually good vs. evil, I have the added pleasure of beating down the bad guys with my words.  

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

 Even though The Pyramid Waltz is billed as a lesbian fantasy romance, the word lesbian is never used in the book. In my made-up universe, no one cares about sexuality. When consenting adults have sex, no one is keeping track of which genitals touch. I wanted to show that this is completely possible, that everyone can be "normal" when it comes to sexuality, and that lesbian love can be just as complete and beautiful as any other kind of love.

Barbara Ann Wright writes fantasy and science fiction novels and short stories when not adding to her enormous book collection or ranting on her blog. Her short fiction has appeared twice in Crossed Genres Magazine and once made Tangent Online's recommended reading list. She is a member of Broad Universe and the Outer Alliance and helped create Writer's Ink in Houston.The Pyramid Waltz is her first novel. She is married, has an army of pets, and lives in Texas. Her writing career can be boiled down to two points: when her mother bought her a
typewriter in the sixth grade and when she took second place in the Isaac Asimov Award for Undergraduate Excellence in Science Fiction and Fantasy Writing in 2004. One gave her the means to write and the other gave her the confidence to keep going. Believing in oneself, in her opinion, is the most important thing a person can do.

Book blurb for The Pyramid Waltz: To most, Princess Katya Nar Umbriel is a rogue and a layabout; she parties, she hunts and she breaks women's hearts. But when the festival lights go down and the palace slumbers, Katya chases traitors to the crown and protects the kingdom's greatest secret: the royal Umbriels are part Fiend. When Katya thwarts an attempt to expose the king's monstrous side, she uncovers a plot to let the Fiends out to play. Starbride has no interest in being a courtier. Ignoring her mother's order to snare an influential spouse, she comes to court only to study law. But a flirtatious rake of a princess proves hard to resist, and Starbride is pulled into a world of secrets that leaves little room for honesty or love, a world neither woman may survive.

Please let us know where your readers can stalk you: Blog: Facebook page: Goodreads author page: Twitter: @zendragandt What format is your book(s) available in (print, e-book, audio book, etc.) It is available in print now and will be available in e-book form on September 18, 2012.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

How Proactive Are Your Villians?

One of the things I've learned from this current round of revising Twinned Universes is to make the most of my antagonists. In previous drafts, they've been like spiders waiting for my protagonist to wander into their webs. Now I've made them more active in pursuing their goals, and I've given them more POV time as well. Unfortunately, I can't go into detail without giving away spoilers.

As readers, do you prefer to stick with the main character's POV, or do you enjoy getting other points of view too? Does it matter which side the character is on?

Monday, September 17, 2012

Blog Ring of Power: Cornelia Amiri

Today I have with me Cornelia Amiri for the Blog Ring of Power interview. You can find the first three parts with Terri, Theresa, and Emily, and Dean will post the final part tomorrow.

 Tell us about your new book and when it is out? Where can people purchase it? Druidess came out in May. It’s set in 1st century AD England against the back drop of the Boudica revolt. AS Queen Boudica leads her druids against Rome, their hearts lead them to their destiny. You can get it in paperback at Barnes and Nobles on line and Amazon and in eBook at Amazon, Barnes & Nobles, All Romance Ebooks, and most online book stores as well as from the publisher, Eternal Press.

Tell us about your book’s cover – where did the design come from and what was the design process like? The cover artist, Amanda Kelsey is fabulous. She captured my druidess heroine, Sulwen, in every way. On the Author Information Form they asked my ideas for the cover and I wrote, Something with Sulwen and Rhys together or Sulwen by herself. And the stunning cover is what Amanda Kelsey came up with.  

What was the hardest part of writing this book? The death scene with Boudica was hard because she is my favorite historical figure. It was hard to write details of what I imagined her death to be like. It’s sad. I wished she would have won the battle. One day I may write an alternate history book where she does win the final battle and Celts continue to rule all of England. If that had happened many things, even our modern world, would be different.  

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? We have a right and responsibility to fight for out children. After the Romans attacked her daughters, with both her girls defiled and traumatized, and she flogged, Boudica, a woman, a widow, still managed to revolt against that cruelty and lead a rebellion against Rome.

In first century AD, conquering Romans plunge the British tribes into chaos. The future of the mist covered isle of Britannia and its brave people rest in the hands of two druids, whose views are as different as fire and ice. Yet they find love together. Arch Druid Rhys is a master of the sacred mysteries but a novice in the ways of the heart. Sulwen, a sacred druidess, discovers Rhys, the shape shifter, has evoked a basic, feral desire in her, only to find the goddess may soon exact the unfathomable price of taking him from her. Though their love is a potent as their magic, is it strong enough to survive the turmoil of the Romans, the Rebel Queen Boudica, and the gods?

Bio: Cornelia Amiri is the author of 16 romance books, including the Steampunk/romance she writes under the name Maeve Alpin. She lives in Houston, TX with her wonderful son and granddaughter.

Blog: I’m one of the Steamed writers -
Facebook page:
Goodreads author page:

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Listen to Lyon's Legacy--or Win It on Goodreads!

I've mentioned before that I arranged to have my SF novella Lyon's Legacy put into audiobook format this summer. Well, it's finally available in all three online stores ACX distributes to. Here are the links:

 iTunes (I'm not sure how to get the link for the store, but I did view it there.)

The regular price is $14.95, though you can get a discount if you're a member of Audible. 

Of course, the best discount is always free. Since I had some extra paper copies remaining after ChiCon, I decided to give some away. From today until Friday, two copies are up for grabs on Goodreads. The link is here. If you miss out, don't worry; there may be another giveaway soon.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Seven Years and Counting

The next Blog Ring of Power progressive interview starts later this week. After this week, we do have interviews lined up into October. However, this is a good day to take a break from writing and celebrate a special day: my anniversary. My husband and I have been married for seven years now. Here are a couple of pictures from the day:

We took pictures at the Chicago Botanic Garden. Even though it was September, it was hot, and our schedule meant we had to go at noon, which makes for poor lighting. It was still worth it, though.
Cutting our delicious cake.

Only forty-three years to go, Hon. I love you.

Friday, September 07, 2012

Science of the Week, 9/7/12

Wow, it's hard to believe it's already September, isn't it?

Here are some of the most interesting science articles I read this week. The first group of articles are from Science Blog:

"Magic carpet" could help prevent falls

As people age, they rely on supernatural more (The original title is misleading; I think it should say, "they rely on supernatural explanations more")

Researchers find a protein that helps DNA repair in aging cells

On the evolution of immortality

Quantum physics at a distance

Male birth control pill may be ready soon

The quantum world only partially melts

CNN reports that a sugar used to make RNA was found around a star.

The NY Times reports on the uses of "junk" DNA--to regulate all of the coding DNA.

Enjoy your weekend, everyone, and see you on Monday!

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

More Thoughts on ChiCon 7--and What I Didn't Say

I promised I'd write more about ChiCon today. I still feel a bit of con withdrawal, which may be a sign I should start attending more of the local conventions.

I attended panels on designing fantasy animals/aliens, designing professional covers (which was less useful than I thought it would be), why fantasy dominates SF, climate change and society (which was more about dealing with climate change than the implications for society), space medicine, quantum physics and magical realism, medical myths and errors, committing series, pseudoscience, and realistic spacecraft. It sounds like a lot, but it was spread out over four days. I was also on panels about the future of food (a pretty lively discussion) and self-publishing (more about this one later). I read from Twinned Universes  at the BroadUniverse Rapid-Fire Reading.

While I was doing all of that, my husband and son spent the weekend bumming around downtown Chicago and wearing each other out. Alex has his own camera now, so I can reclaim mine.

One of the reasons we spent the weekend downtown was so I could participate in some of the nighttime activities. We were in the overflow hotel, so I didn't stay out too late. However, I did get to see the Masquerade on Saturday night and the Hugo Awards on Sunday. By "seeing the Hugo Awards," I mean I was in the same room, so far back I had to watch it on the screen. Hey, at least that wasn't interrupted for falsely perceived copyright violations. To the left is a picture of the Best in Show costume (I think it's the Lady of the Lake); more pictures are posted on my Facebook author page.

I wound up selling three paper copies of my book and a single sale of each of my digital works. This is another good reason why I should attend more local cons.

My final act of ChiCon 7 was participating in a self-publishing panel. Besides me, there was one other self-published author and two editors from small publishing houses. They were clearly there with an agenda to present themselves as "value-added" and to downplay the pros of self-publishing. The other author and I were united in taking career advice from Kristine Kathryn Rusch and Dean Wesley Smith. Meanwhile, the audience members (we filled the room; I wasn't expecting that on the last day of the con) wanted the nuts and bolts of self-publishing and promotion. I feel like I could have given them much more on that front. I also wish I'd told them more about the pros of self-publishing. I did manage to say that all authors are entrepreneurs, that our stories are our intellectual property, and that you really need IP lawyers, not agents, to handle contracts with publishers if you take that route. But there was so much more I could have said. I could have told them how knowing I had a home for every story inspires me to try new things and come up with fresh ideas. I could have said how I can finally lay some stories to rest instead of endlessly chasing perfection (because, of course, no publisher would ever touch a less-than-perfect book). I could have emphasized how it builds gumption to learn new skills and take charge of my writing career, to be active instead of passively sending out queries and waiting for rejection. Most of all, I could have said that when I first started attending conventions, they taught me "money flows to the author" as a way to avoid getting scammed. I now feel we need to update this for the 21st century; it should be "control flows to the author." I really wanted to use that line and am kicking myself now that I didn't use it in my closing statement.

At least I can say it here.

Monday, September 03, 2012

Blog Ring of Power Interview--Sandra Saidak

I hope you enjoyed the long weekend, everyone! I'll have a full report about ChiCon on Wednesday. In the meantime, we're smack dab in the middle of a Blog Ring of Power interview with Sandra Saidak. Please go to Theresa's and Emily's blogs for Parts One and Two. Tomorrow, Dean will host Part Four. Finally, on Wednesday, Terri will conclude the interview.

The Creative Process

Where do you get your story ideas?   

Everywhere.  I get story ideas from things I overhear in the grocery store, from Facebook posts, things my kids say, and news stories.  My greatest inspiration probably comes from fellow authors.  Whenever I read a book that starts with a great premise, but goes in a direction I don’t like, or makes me say “Ok, but this could have been so much better”, I’m off on a the quest for a new idea.

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

Definitely a panster .  If I knew how the story ended before I started, why bother writing it?   I’ve always relied on my characters to act out the story in my mind.  If all goes well (and it rarely does) I just have to write down what they do and say.
Do you use critique partners or beta readers? Why or why not?

I am fortunate in that I belong to a truly outstanding writers group.  I’ve been a member for about six years, and I know it’s helped my writing—and even more so, my sanity.  I would never send anything I wrote anywhere without feedback from these people.  It would feel like doing a trapeze stunt without a net.

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

For many years, research was simply a hobby: I love history and prehistory, and read everything I could find.  Since beginning to write, research has been more a matter of remembering where a particular fact can be found.  I have a great library at home, although I notice now I spend more time on the internet than with my books.  IMHO, however, nothing can replace the Time/Life series “The Emergence of Man” which I’ve had since middle school.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging to write?

I have trouble writing scenes that contain violence.  Large scales battles, especially, but also hand to hand fighting—more because of lack of knowledge than personal distress.  I never studied the military side of history, and never thought I’d need it for my writing.  Looking back, I see how naïve that was: it’s hard to write authentic human history without people sometimes hitting each other.

SANDRA SAIDAK graduated San Francisco State University in 1985 with a B.A. in English.  She is a high school English teacher by day, author by night.  Her hobbies include reading, dancing, attending science fiction conventions, researching prehistory, and maintaining an active fantasy life (but she warns that this last one could lead to dangerous habits such as writing).  Sandra lives in San Jose with her husband Tom, daughters Heather and Melissa, and two cats.   Her first novel, “Daughter of the Goddess Lands”, an epic set in the late Neolithic Age, was published in November, 2011 by Uffington Horse Press.  Learn more at

Facebook page:!/sandy.saidak
Goodreads author page: (but having difficulties; I keep adding the new book; it keeps not showing up!)

Daughter of the Goddess Lands–Abducted by a tribe of violent horsemen, Kalie, daughter of a peaceful, goddess-worshiping society, escapes from slavery and returns home, only to find her trials are just beginning.  When her warnings of an upcoming invasion go unheeded, Kalie seeks sanctuary in a temple of healing.  Here, she learns to help others, yet is unable to heal her own pain or stop the nightmares.  When the horsemen return, it is up to Kalie to find a way to save her people from slavery and death, while at the same time, finding the courage to confront the ghosts of her own past.
Shadow of the Horsemen continues the saga of Kalie, the intrepid heroine of “Daughter of the Goddess Lands.”  Kalie is rising in status and influence among her captors, the horsemen that control the rugged steppes of prehistoric Europe.  Now she seeks the weapon that will save her people, but time is running out as Haraak the Kingmaker, forges a mighty federation of tribes, intent on invading Kalie’s rich and peaceful homeland. Kalie finds, an unlikely ally in Riyik, a powerful warrior whose crippled son Kalie has been treating with her healing skills.  Forced to work together, the two find themselves growing closer than either had intended.  But in the violent, chaotic world of the steppes, love can be a dangerous thing. As alliances shift and warriors battle for dominance, Kalie must use all her abilities see her enemies defeated and create a new life for all of those she has come to love.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

A Few Random Notes From ChiCon 7

I've attended lots of panels, but sometimes it's hard to hear what the panelists are saying. More thoughts on panels later.

So far I've attended a panel moderated by Ben Bova. I've also seen Hugh Howey, Connie Willis, and Naomi Kitzmer (not sure of spelling) in passing. Gotta love a WorldCon.

I just bought a long-sleeved shirt since the hotel is over-air-conditioned. I also hear a pair of owl earrings calling me, so I'll have to go back to the dealer's room for them. I've tried looking for the third book in Lynn Viehl's StarDoc series but haven't found it yet. I did see the fourth book but didn't get it. I'll probably regret it later.

I haven't been to any parties (yeah, I'm a party pooper), but I did attend the masquerade last night. Pictures will come later, as will a more thorough writeup. Back to the con....

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