Sunday, October 19, 2014

Are we really half-way through October?

The first faltering signs of Autumn are starting to show. The unseasonable mild spell is giving way to grey skies and an evening chill. We switched on the heating and started lighting wood fires for the first time last week.

Writing goals for October/November:

Still plodding through critique feedback and revising Tiamat's Nest. This is a long haul. I'm about half way through since starting in earnest back in July.

I'm also beta-reading a novel for a friend, making good progress there.

Finally, I'm preparing a talk on critiquing to give next month at the local library.

Even amongst friends a detailed critique can be hard to take, but blunt and honest critiques are a necessary growth pain for any writer. Venturing into the anonymous jungle of online critique groups in search of tough love is both terrifying and exponentially rewarding. I will be sharing practical tips for surviving - and thriving on - the harshest of critiquing experiences.

Details here if you happen to be in the vicinity and want to say "Hi."

All this adds up to a load of things competing for my time this month, but variety is good.

Monday, October 13, 2014


Today is the release day for Crystal Collier's Book 2 in the Maiden of Time trilogy.

Alexia manipulated time to save the man of her dreams, and lost her best friend to red-eyed wraiths. Still grieving, she struggles to reconcile her loss with what was gained: her impending marriage. But when her wedding is destroyed by the Soulless—who then steal the only protection her people have—she's forced to unleash her true power.

Crystal has lined up a blog tour to celebrate, with games, interviews and prizes. Hop over to Crystal's blog for details...and don't forget to bring some cheese!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Small but spreading tentacles

Like the vast majority of writers, I'll consider myself lucky if I ever earn enough from writing to take my family out for a decent meal, let alone fund that cozy retirement to a log cabin with ocean views.

So, every once in a while it's nice to get reminders that my work has a tangible, if small, presence in the world outside my head.

First, the people who have read Ghosts seem to like it. Another five-star review popped up on Goodreads this week. I've had some wonderful reviews from long-time and supportive blogging friends - you know who you are, and I thank you with all my heart - but also a couple from people I don't know. It means a lot to me to find my words enjoyed by a complete stranger.

Also this week, I got a reminder from Library & Archives Canada to send copies of my book in to Legal Deposit. Yes, I, my publishing imprint, and my title, are firmly in the grip of officialdom and now preserved for posterity.

Finally, I visited my local library today, to see this...

Saturday, October 4, 2014

The importance of research

I started writing about sci-fi worldbuilding back in August. Haven't posted properly in a while because it takes me time to get my thoughts in order, and I am trying to focus on revising Tiamat's Nest while also beta reading for a friend.

However, one of the comments last time gave me pause for thought. I was talking about the possible diversity of life in a universe where life has arisen independently on many worlds, and Alex pointed out that you'd need a lot of scientific knowledge to invent convincing alternatives, and the worldbuilding would be impossibly detailed.

I felt this was worth a bit of exploration.

Building alternative life forms

My last post, Diversity Rules, was meant to show where certain assumptions about the origins of life would logically lead - at one end of a very broad spectrum.

If you decide to invent a novel form of life and go deep into its biology, psychology, ecology etc. then I think Alex is right. It would be a gargantuan task.

But if you want to keep life forms and biology close enough to known forms for comfort, there are many ways to do so by choosing a different starting point or invoking suitable organizing principles.

And even if you want diversity and novelty, you don't need to go overboard on the details. For example, E.E. "Doc" Smith's Lensman universe is peopled with hugely varied species with an inventive array of body plans that are not simply derivatives of earthly forms. Sure, he makes some simplifying choices. Warm-blooded oxygen-breathing humanoids predominate, for example, but he pays suitable lip service to the common Arisian seed for life in the two galaxies and moves on. The biological details are not overly important.

In other words, you can choose to go as detailed as you want, but it really needn't be too onerous - just enough to paint the scene in terms your reader will accept. I think this last bit is vital. Do what is appropriate both for your story and your audience. Some are more demanding than others.

The importance of research

Having said that, I think you do need a certain amount of scientific literacy to write convincing science fiction. This doesn't mean you have to come from a scientific background, but you owe it to yourself to do the appropriate research.

In this, sci-fi is no different from any other writing!

If you were to set a spy thriller in London, and have your counter-espionage heroine stepping across the road from Westminster Abbey to the Tower of London, many readers who don't know London would likely not blink an eye - but many would point out the geographical absurdity. And if a character in London decides to take the tube, you'd better have at least a working knowledge of the underground network and what it's like to ride it.

That is called research. Authors do it all the time when they need to paint a convincing setting for their real-world stories.

Just because your story is set in another space and another time, don't expect a free pass. Remember, it's called science fiction for a reason.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Weekend Writing Warriors September 28

Weekend Writing Warriors is a weekly blog hop where participants post up to eight sentences of their writing. You can find out more about it by clicking on the image below.

Shayla, codename "Shark", has rendezvoused in the tropical forest with members of a terrorist cell. They are traveling by boat, navigating a maze of waterways and finally emerging onto a wider stretch of open water. They are crossing painfully slowly, when they become aware of an Imperial air cruiser approaching...

I've kept this one short to avoid having to mess with punctuation.


For the first time, Shayla felt keenly the dangers of capture. She knew she would likely die before giving information away under interrogation, not from choice but from deeply implanted conditioning. And in Imperial custody, the road to death could be long indeed.

I will not be taken. Her fingers closed around the grip of a needle gun under her cloak. She glanced at Tiger, and saw the thin set of her lips and a small movement as she also loosed her pistol in its holster.


Friday, September 26, 2014

Chrys Fey - 30 Seconds

Today, I'm handing over the reins to Chrys Fey, whose novel 30 Seconds was released earlier this month.

When a woman finds herself in the middle of 
a war between a police force and the Mob,  
30 SECONDS is a long time.

Title: 30 Seconds
Author: Chrys Fey
Genre: Romantic-Suspense
Heat Rating: Spicy (PG13)
Length: Novella (105 pages)
Format: eBook
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Published: 09/10/2014


When Officer Blake Herro agreed to go undercover in the Mob, he thought he understood the risks. But he's made mistakes and now an innocent woman has become their target. He's determined to protect her at all costs.

The Mob's death threat turns Dr. Dani Hart's life upside down, but there is one danger she doesn’t anticipate. As she's dodging bullets, she's falling in love with Blake. With danger all around them, will she and Blake survive and have a happy ending, or will the Mob make good on their threat? 


       She panted with fear. What if they see the chest? What if we get caught? What if my breath stinks and I’m breathing right into Officer Hottie’s face? She shut her mouth and let oxygen flow through her nose.
Her eyesight slowly adjusted to the darkness and she could see Officer Herro’s silhouette. His head was turned and he was listening to the thuds of heavy boots getting louder; the intruders were coming their way.
Then the thunder of footsteps sounded right next to them. “There’s no one here, Red,” someone announced.
“Look for documents,” a man ordered, who Dani could only assume was Red. “I want the name of the person I’m going to kill.”
A moment later, there was a reply. “All the mail is addressed to a Dr. Hart.”
Hearing her name said aloud by one of the men who had ransacked her place made her want to gasp. Her mouth fell open and her breath was reversing into her lungs, but before she could make a sound, Officer Herro lowered his lips to hers, silencing her. Stunned, she could only lie beneath him with her eyes wide and her body tense. She couldn’t believe he was kissing her. She wanted to push him back, but knew if she did he might hit the inside of the chest, giving away their hiding place. That was when she realized he was kissing her so she wouldn’t gasp.
She let her body relax. After her initial shock faded, she was able to feel his lips. They were comforting and caused a reaction deep inside her. She couldn’t stop her lips from reacting to his. It was an innocent connection, a soft touch of lips. Until his hand slid from her shoulder to her neck and the kiss deepened into something else.


Chrys Fey is a lover of rock music just like Dani Hart in 30 Seconds. Whenever she's writing at her desk, headphones are always emitting the sounds of her musical muses - especially that of her favorite band, 30 Seconds to Mars, the inspiration behind the title.

30 Seconds is her second eBook with The Wild Rose Press. Her debut, Hurricane Crimes, is also available on Amazon.

Discover her writing tips on her blog, and connect with her on Facebook. She loves to get to know her readers!

QUESTION: If the Mob was after you, what would you do and where would you go to stay alive?

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Weekend Writing Warriors September 21

Weekend Writing Warriors is a weekly blog hop where participants post up to eight sentences of their writing. You can find out more about it by clicking on the image below.

Shayla, codename "Shark", has rendezvoused in the tropical forest with members of a terrorist cell. They are traveling by boat, navigating a maze of waterways and finally emerging onto a wider stretch of open water. They are crossing painfully slowly, when they become aware of a low growling noise in the air...


She wanted to turn her head to see the approaching air cruiser, but she caught Tiger's warning glance and slight shake of the head under her hood. "The river folk ignore Imperial craft - just sit still."

Shayla closed her eyes and concentrated on the sounds around her. The growl filled the air. Above it, she discerned a faint hum of machinery. The craft moved low and fast. It sounded like it would pass some way off. She listened for any change that would signal a change of course.


There is still a chance to win a free e-copy of Ghosts of Innocence over at Crystal Collier's blog. She featured me in her Writerly Wednesday spot last week. All you have to do is correctly guess the lie in the Truth or Lie game to be entered in the draw.

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