Wednesday, September 18, 2019

#AuthorToolboxBlogHop Put the Science in the SF

Welcome to the September version of the Author Toolbox Blog Hop created by Raimey Gallant. You can find the list of participants here and learn lots of ways to improve all aspects of your writing career.

I write fantasy and love reading it. But I have more than 20 science fiction romances published by a small press over the last twelve years. My educational background is science and I try to make sure even my science fiction still has the science part though not so much that I overwhelm my readers with too many dry facts.

My very first romance series was a post-apocalyptic Earth. The science part came into the apocalypse part. I was teaching health to high school students at the time and I always had one lesson on steroid usage. A wasting illness spread among humanity and consumption of a natural form of testosterone-laden berry gave people superior strength and stamina. It also carried exaggerated side effects of steroid use. Uncontrollable rage, infertility, and basically turned them into something less than human and very dangerous. I took a known fact about of the health risks of steroids and fictioned it up.

In another post-apocalyptic series, I took the futuristic hope of a universal vaccine and turned it into the near-end of humanity. The universal vaccine shut off the immune system of anyone who took it so a simple cold meant death. Hand the trait down to future generations, and the only survivors were those living in a domed city. EXCEPT, for the rugged individuals who lived off the grid and never received the vaccine. Vaccines and their supposed dangers are always in the news as is the search for vaccines for various ills. Again, I took known facts and fears and fictioned them up.

"Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe." H.G. Wells

I've used genetic engineering in one series, and again, this is a science issue sometimes making news headlines. Science learns more about human genetics every day. How far away from making super beings like the genetically engineered marines are in my Recon Marine Series. Yes, I fictioned it up.

Though I have a strong background in biology, I'm not a biologist. I know enough to be dangerous and incorporate those light facts into my writing in a way anyone can understand. Then I weave the fiction with the facts. Science fiction is born.

"I have never let my schooling interfere with my education."  Mark Twain

I think I invented a new word. Fictioned means to take some facts, exaggerate a little or a lot until the facts have morphed into fiction. 

Ho much science do you like in your science fiction? Does your educational background or life experience help you in creating stories? Don't forget to visit more #Author Toolbox Blog Hop.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

IWSG: September 2019

It's the month when fall will sneak up on us and it's the first Wednesday so it's time for Insecure Writer's Support Group. Thanks to Alex J. Cavanaugh and his awesome comrades in arms, this group blogs once a month and shares wisdom and support. Find the entire group participating in this blog hop on this list.

This month's optional question:
If you could pick one place in the world to sit and right your next story, where would it be and why?

That is a tough question. First of all, I have an awesome office at home and I have it all to myself on evenings and weekends. It's pretty much perfect and I shouldn't be greedy and wish for something better. That being said, I would love to spend a week at a dude ranch in Montana where I could horseback ride in the morning and evening, walk for miles and enjoy the big sky and write in between being outdoors.

My daughter moved to Boston this past weekend to begin her PhD program. I'm not a city person but I appreciate the history of Boston and its many lovely spots to have a seat in a coffee shop and write. Harvard Square is one of my favorite. Yes, I could spend a week writing there.

The question for me, could I stay on task in those beautiful places? I'd like to find out.

"Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing." Labor speech, 1903, Theodore Roosevelt

Work on my next book is going slow as I dealt with knee replacement and helping my daughter move. This time her move isn't simply going back to college. It's a real move that will last 5-7 years. Those are my excuses for writing only about 15K words the past two months.

I'm back to watching my granddaughter five days per week as her teacher parents go back to school. Such a little bundle of joy. She's speaking in full sentences and knows all her letters. (Her dad taught her the alphabet by watching Wheel of Fortune) She's only 2 and a half as of today. On our agenda, more library programs and swimming once per week to start. She loves learning and trying new things. Play doh last week.

When the student is ready, the teacher will appear."  Chinese proverb

I'm also back to exercising 5 or more days per week. Since I have my knee fixed, I can actually do downhills again and use the elliptical more than one day in a row. I feel younger with my bionic parts. LOL

I have a writers' meeting tonight, so I'll try to visit as many blogs as I can before and after. I seem to keep volunteering for things I don't have time for.

"Experience is what enables you to recognize a mistake when you make it again." Earl Wilson

I'm enjoying the last season of Killjoys. Only a few episodes left. I'll really miss those characters. The last season of Poldark starts later this month. I'm looking forward to the last season of Supernatural starting up in October. There's a new show this fall called Evil that looks interesting. Not sure anything else will catch my interest. Seems I'm depending more and more on Netflix and Amazon when I have the urge for a little screen time.

Do you have an ideal writing spot in all the world? Do you get yourself in trouble by too much volunteering? Do you like the coming of fall?

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

#AuthorToolboxBlogHop Aug2019

Thanks to the amazing Raimey Gallant, this month brings us another chance to share some writing wisdom. Please check out the other participants on this list. I'm excited for all the new members of the bloghop this month. I learn so much every month, I can't recommend joining this group enough.

I've spent the last five days thinking about what I should blog about this month. I'm going through one of those phases where I feel like I don't know anything about anything. It's not the same as impostor syndrome which we all know about. It's a feeling that I'm  not expert enough on anything to give someone else advice. So I couldn't think of a topic to blog about. While mowing our huge lawn, inspiration hit me.

A blog is only useful if it draws readers. Drawing readers means I need interesting content. How do I come up with that content after blogging for over ten years? Here are some ideas I fall back on when I need a topic.

Guests!!! I love guests. Would you like to guest on my blog the next time you want to promote something. I try for one or two guests per month though the summer is a bit slow. I don't post excerpts, but I have some simple guidelines that means creating your post will only take you a short time. Contact me if you have something to promote. sgourleyauthor at gmail.

World Building!  I write science fiction romance and epic fantasy so lots of world building going on in my novels. A few short paragraphs giving examples of herbs or other medical remedies used in a medieval world can be fun. The food in a fantasy world like in this article at Mythic Scribes.

Five Things or Ten Things!  Lists are wonderful things and numbers attract the eye when it comes to reading blogs. Chuck Wendig does posts with guests where they share five things they learned while writing their book. Here's an example by Rob Hart. You can come up with your own lists. Like five reasons you love your local bookstore. Five things you hated about season 8 of GoT. Five books or authors that inspired you to become a writer.

Quotes!  By your favorite authors or quotes to inspire. Google your mood and you'll find lists of quotes. Or find them on Pinterest.

"Nothing is too small to know, and nothing is too big to attempt." Sir William C, Van Horne

"Some people are always grumbling that roses have thorns. I am thankful that thorns have roses." Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr

Workspace!  If you're like me, you rearrange and change your work space whenever you need to procrastinate. Share those pictures and make your fellow writers envious. Check out a few of my recent inspirational additions. My daughter bought me the globe for Mother's Day.

Do you ever run dry of ideas for blogging? What can you add to my list? Want to be a guest on my blog? Are you jealous of my globe and dragon?

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

IWSG: August 2019 Version

The first Wednesday of the month means it's time for the IWSG monthly blog hop. Kudos to Alex J. Cavanaugh for starting this amazing group and to all the administrators who keep it running and moving forward constantly. Join us in supporting each other and find all the participants here.

I'm skipping this month's question. The only thing that ever surprised me about my writing was when one of my publishers closed and even that has happened so often I'm no longer shocked when it happens.

A writing issue I am addressing today is writers' groups. Do you know now much it costs to be a member of IWSG? Zero dollars. The runners of this group spend countless hours behind the scene, all voluntarily. I'm on the board of the state-wide, multi-genre group, Pennwriters. Again, everyone on the board volunteers all their hours and there have been many, many hours of work. Members of Pennwriters pay the low price of $45 per year and receive lots and lots of benefits including a discount to the annual conference that amounts to more than the price of membership. That brings me to my point.

I am a long time member of RWA, Romance Writers of America. For over twenty years, I've paid to be a member of this organization and then an additional fee to belong to my local chapter of RWA. Each year as my career moves forward, I feel like I get less for my money. I won't to into the details of that list, but to pay $99 for RWA membership and then $28 to belong to my local group, I want it to be worth it. And I no longer feel that it is. When my membership expires later this month, I'm finished paying out that money.

I'm sure there are other RWA members on this loop, and I would welcome your thoughts.

On a more personal note, this is a dangerous time of year to shop. All those back to school supplies are on sale. So many clever and cute journals, pen, paper clips, and sticky notes. How is a writer to resist even though I need none of it? I managed to buy only one notebook and two post-it notes.

My knee rehab is complete. My orthopedic surgeon called me his best patient ever. Back to walking an hour a day or doing a day on my elliptical.  Full range of motion and all the good stuff. Not quite back to writing 1,000 words per day but I'm getting there. Also, received another contract for the book I submitted in June.

I'm enjoying the last season of Killjoys on SyFy. My favorite show, The 100, ended its season last night and announced next season will be their last. Sorry to see it go, but I also like when a series knows when to end. I was very excited to learn that Amazon has renewed The Expanse for a 5th season before the 4th even airs. Endgame made me cry as much when I watched it at home as it did in the theater. Football season starts soon so I won't have much to say about TV except to complain how much football my dear husband watches.

Do you pay to be in any writing or other creative groups? Think RWA is too expensive? Do office supplies tempt you? See any good TV lately?

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

#AuthorToolboxBlogHop July 2019

Welcome to the July 2019 version of #AuthorToolboxBlogHop organized by the amazing Raimey Gallant. To join or just enjoy all the great ideas you'll discover on this tour, find the entire list of participants here.

I shared in last month's Toolbox that I was having my knee replaced a few days after the hop. All went well and recovery is going smoothly and ahead of schedule. That doesn't mean I'm out jogging around the neighborhood yet, but I'm happy with the progress. On the not so good side, I can't sit at my desk for extended periods of time because my knee swells no matter how I try to prop it up and ice. So my writing progress on my current WIP is slower than I'd like.

My contribution to the Toolbox this month is likely a familiar craft item that all of us have dealt with throughout our careers. I received a contract for my 23rd romance novel from the small press who have published all  my romance novels. Each time I receive a contract, my publisher asks me for a blurb, a short excerpt to share on their website, and a one-liner or a logline. Some authors call it the 'elevator pitch', meaning it can be shared at short notice. Even after 23 novels, I revert to a formula to create my loglines. Here are the two I use most often.

When __________ happens to ____________ (he/she/they) must ___________ or face ___________.

When situation happens, protagonist must act to defeat antagonist and prevent disaster.

The five things I figure out before I write the logline are:
Situation, protagonist, the action, the antagonist, and the disaster. Once I am satisfied with the logline, I can use that same sentence  and expand it into the back cover blurb. Each of those five things can be expanded to a few sentences or combined into short paragraphs.

Do you use another formula for your loglines? Do you find them easy or do they drive you crazy? 

Monday, July 8, 2019

Connie C. Scharon: Protector of the Highlands

A warm welcome to Connie Scharon, a very good writing friend and someone who works hard on her career. Her books are exciting and her characters heroic while still being realistic. If your looking for strong heroines and men smart enough to appreciate them, her Scottish Historical books are for you. Take it away, Connie:

 For Readers

Ever since I was a child I have had a little of what people call second sight, weird dreams that later come true and some non-explainable premonitions. This made me fascinated by the power of the mind, so I decided to make my latest heroine learn how to hypnotize people in order to save herself. I interviewed a hypnotist to make her powers realistic, and I think this gave my latest Scottish Historical Romance, Protector of the Highlands, an interesting twist.

For writers

I self-published my first book in June of 2013 and was lucky enough to have it and my subsequent releases hit Amazon’s Top 100 Bestsellers’ List. I have published nine books since then. Eight in my Highland Legends series, and one crazy Time Travel Murder Mystery, which I loved, but no one bought. Bottom line is I still haven’t figured out what can make one a magical moneymaker and another have lack luster sales. Every time I do a release, I try to create interest in the book on my social media platforms, do paid advertising, and book signings. Recently, advertising my back list on Amazon has created increased sales across the series. You can do this if your book is Amazon exclusive.


A medieval romance and a murder mystery rolled into one twisted tale of love and betrayal!


A fan of dark and dangerous medieval Scotland, Connie C. Scharon writes Highland Legends, a Scottish Historical Romance series set in the fourteenth century. Multiple trips to the British Isles have continued to fuel her imagination and produce more stories, but that is not her only interest.
After spending thirty-four years in the medical field, she is weaving some of her hospital experience, visits to the morgue, and crime lab into some new mystery novels with a medical twist. No release date yet.

Have you ever been hypnotized or witnessed someone being hypnotized? Have you visited anywhere in the British Isles? Do you have any marketing advice to add to what Connie shared? Don't you love that book cover?

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

IWSG: July 2019

Slow down, 2019! It's the first Wednesday of the seventh month meaning the year is more than halfway gone and it's IWSG blog hop day. Thanks to Alex J. Cavanaugh, the online writing community of Insecure Writers Support Group is going stronger than ever. Find the entire list of participants here.

First of note, thank you to the IWSG administrators for spotlighting me in the most recent newsletter. You really brightened my day.

Second of note, thank you to the administrators for all they do. I was once among their numbers and there is a massive amount of work that goes on behind the scenes of IWSG to make sure the group remains dynamic and offers so many FREE services to writers. I'm on the board of another writing group and I'm currently buried under responsibilities to help run that group. Anyone who volunteers in such a way, sacrifices a lot of their own writing time to give to other writers.

Third of note is the monthly optional question:
What personal traits have you written into your characters?
Are we supposed to do that? LOL I do write my characters to have qualities that I hope I have. Loyalty, honesty, and love of family. Add an burdening sense of responsibility and you have a too perfect character. (Not that I'm perfect or even close) So, always add a helping of traits I hope I don't have. Mistrust, wariness of relationships, and of course, the damage that caused all that.

Fourth note for today, I apologize for not haunting the blogs I usually do. About twelve days ago, I had knee replacement surgery so I've had trouble sitting at my computer for any extended period of time. No worries, I feel great. My top-notch surgeon used high tech robotic surgery. I was in pretty good shape going in. Surgery at 10 am. Woke up at noon. Got out of bed at 2 pm with the nurses' help. Went home the next day at noon. Six days later and I was walking without any assistant devices like a cane or walker. 30 staples are coming out today and then it's just a matter of finishing physical therapy. Unfortunately, my new knee is not bionic and I can't run 60 mph.

Is the year flying by for you? Have any fellow writers or bloggers you really appreciate? Does your personal character show up in your fiction writing? Would you be comfortable with a robot wielding the knife in the operating room?