Monday, November 30, 2015

Don't Come Back No More

My daughter and I have the best conversations about books and entertainment when she's home. We both caught up on Doctor Who over the weekend and (SPOILER ALERT) and cried together when Clara Oswald died. Clara has been almost dying or thought to be dead for a while now. We loved her as the Doctor's companion but now she's gone, and because the actress is leaving the show, we know she'll stay gone. Unlike the inability to die of other fictional characters such as many, many of the recurring characters over the yeas in Doctor Who.

I've been a Supernatural fan since the show started ten years or so ago. And I don't want either of the main characters to leave the show, but seriously? Those guys have died so many times and have been brought back along with other members of the cast.

We've all read books or watched movies where a characters dies but then surprise! They're not dead. It was a trick, magic or some intricate plan to fool the enemy. But it doesn't always delight the audience. It has to make sense in some way. In Supernatural, well it's supernatural. There are angels, demons and visits to hell, heaven and everything in between. Anything can happen. But if dead doesn't mean gone, the emotional impact of the loss is not only lessened but lost entirely.

Crime shows fake death all the time. How often is the same trope used? If a writer is going to do this in their book, they must find a way to make it fresh and new. In real life, faking a person's death would not be near so easy so how do writers make it believable? What are the complications? Does it help the reader or viewer connect to characters and does the plot remain believable?

Don't forget, IWSG post time is this Wednesday. We can all bemoan the fact that December is upon us and the end of the year in sight. ALREADY! I'm still shaking my head in amazement at the terrific short stories submitted by this impressive groups of writers for the anthology contest. The entries were awesome!

Can you name another show or book that uses the fake death or return from death trope? Does every crime show use it at least once every season? Perhaps I just want to know how Jon Snow is not dead this season. Are you ready for December?

For cyber Monday, I'm going to order a book online. I have a B&N coupon for 20% off and my daughter has three books on her Christmas list. Are you shopping today?

Monday, November 23, 2015

Thanks For All of It

There is so much to be grateful for in my life. Too often the bad things happening in the world and around us drown out the good stuff. To our family, Thanksgiving starts the holiday season at our house.

This Thursday when we're all together, we'll try to cement our Christmas plans. Not what gifts everyone would like to buy or receive, but how we can all be together in one place again. We only manage it a few times per year so we appreciate the chances we have. And we also don't look past Thanksgiving to Christmas like the retail stores do. We love that day and it's not about the delicious food though we all enjoy that too.

So this year, unlike last year, all my children will be home. Last year my daughter was in Morocco where she and her American friends baked a small chicken because they couldn't afford a turkey. She has always said that Thanksgiving is her favorite holiday so this year is special. She's also bringing her college roommate with her, a lovely young woman who feels like a member of the family.
Having my daughter home is the best

My oldest son is bringing his new wife for her first Thanksgiving with us so we're looking forward to that. My other two boys are bringing new girlfriends this year so we'll try not to scare them away. All the boys are doing well at their jobs and we're so thankful they have good ones. The immediate family is pretty healthy and we're so grateful for that.

My mother is still in long term care, her mind failing a little bit more each day. If there is a mercy in that, she is much happier and more content as her world gets foggier and foggier. She's less upset that she doesn't understand what is going on and lives in the moment.

We have one more tuition payment to make, a small one due to my daughter's scholarships, and then we'll be free of that financial burden. If you've had to make any tuition payments lately, you understand how grateful we are for that.

Our house is warm, spacious and filled with love. We have more food than is needed. We have health, jobs and live in a free country. My children are successful and happy adults. They freely show their love to me and my husband and their appreciation for what we've done for them.

Through writing, I've found a second career I love as much as I did my first. I've made friends in local writing groups and through this blog, from all over the world. There are people who buy my books and like them.

I am a happy woman. I'm thankful for the bounty in my life. There are lots of problems in the world, but this week I'm going to concentrate on what is right.

In the spirit of being a family week, I'm not posting on Wednesday but I'll be back next Monday. What are you grateful for this week? Is Thanksgiving an important holiday in your house? Will you be traveling?  

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Future

I mentioned in my last post how science fiction romance is a very popular sub genre at the moment. Lucky for me that is where my space opera romances fall and they have been my most popular books so far. And I really enjoy writing them.

I was pretty young when the first Star Wars movies came out but I found a ride to theater numerous times to watch it. It may have been the first movie I saw multiple times in a movie theater. At least it cost much less then. But that was the movie that made me fall in love with the genre. Then came Stargate the movie and then the TV show. Firefly and the movie Serenity. The remake of Star Trek has also created more fans of the genre. Great stories set in a futuristic society with space travel a routine part of life. I hope humans do someday get to travel through the galaxy and discover other societies and lifeforms though I know it won't be in my time. If I make it to heaven, (I'm really trying), I expect to get all the answers there to what lies out there among the stars.

Romance novels are mostly about the characters but successful space operas have to have more than some kisses and sexual tension. As I create the universes my series are set in, I have to decide what will human society be like. Will there still be bars and pubs? I believe so. Will there be military units? What will health care look like and education? Will there be class divisions by economic factors or perhaps birthright? What will government look like and law enforcement? Usually one of those questions will be the basis for the external conflict that brings my characters together.

In my Recon Marines series, the futuristic issue I addressed the creation of genetically-enhanced soldiers and the questions of their humanity. In my Warriors of Gaviron, encounters with alien species drove the conflict and adventure. My newest series, The Galactic Outlaws, focuses on a corrupt central government that keeps the working class under their thumbs and the rebels who rise against it are the heroes. The first book in that series is not yet released.

For each of these series, I create societies different from the others but also with some things in common. I believe colonies in space will rely on renewable energy sources such as solar power. Health care will make major advances but just like on good old planet Earth, resources won't be distributed evenly. Like on Firefly, some settlements will be poor and not have the best doctors or educational opportunities. There will be corrupt politicians, greedy industry owners, common criminals and all the human failings we witness today. In the end, the same societal flaws of today will always be with us because humans are not perfect.

In other news, the second book in my much traveled Futhark Chronicles, Beyond the Gate,  is now available on my publisher's website. My publisher keeps exclusive to there for a few weeks to cut out the middle man like Amazon taking their share. The first book, Keepers of Sulbreth is now on Amazon and other online retailers. Unlike science fiction romance, epic fantasy isn't having a big popularity bump. Despite the success of Game of Thrones, the fantasy market lags far behind many other genres. But I'll keep trying.

What things do you think will remain the same in society centuries into the future? Do you believe humanity will find its way into space beyond our solar system? Do you read or write in a genre that doesn't have a big market share?

Monday, November 16, 2015

Good News for Romance Sales

Romance Writers of America put together their yearly stats about book sales recently for the year 2014. In print sales, romance comes in a close second to general fiction (whatever the heck that is). General fiction captured 24.2% of print sales with romance following at 22.3%. In digital sales, romance claimed the top rank with 32.1% of the sales with thrillers a distant second at 15%. An interesting note about digital sales is that fantasy lurked in at #5 with 5.7%. I love reading fantasy and science fiction but they seldom make the top of the lists for units sold. I know from my own fantasy writing, my sales numbers are minute compared to how much romance I sell.

Another thing of interest to me in the report was the list of growing subcategories in romance that are really gaining in digital sales. Science fiction is one of them and for once I'm actually writing what is currently popular with my two published space opera series and my third series that is coming soon.

My birthday was last week and my dear children came up with some great gifts. Three gift cards to bookstores, a really cool thumb drive that my daughter bought for me in Oman(it's shaped like a dagger), and a half dozen cans of iced coffee. My dear husband bought me that Shark Rocket I've been eyeing because my vacuum cleaner is just too heavy to lug up and down the steps. Yes, we've been married long enough that I appreciate household items for gifts when they're meant to make my life easier. He bought me flowers too.

I checked two things off my 'to-do' list last week and only added one. What we call progress in my little writing office. It's also that time of year when I start shopping around for my new desk planner. You've heard me rave about The Old Farmer's Almanac Engagement Calendar for the past two years, but I always look to see if there's something else that I might like better. Things I require in a planner are that it be spiral bound so it lays out flat and that it displays a week at a time. It also must have enough space for each day for me to jot down appointments, blogging ideas and my to-do lists. The bookstores are putting their selections out now as they prepare for Christmas shoppers.

Good things to look ahead to this week for me. My husband doesn't need me to help with his paint job anymore. I'm having lunch with a friend on Tuesday and going to give blood that day. That always makes me feel good. And I should get more writing done since I'm not painting.

What are you looking forward to this week? Do you us an appointment calendar and if you do, what requirements do you have for your choice? Do you mind getting household items for gifts? Did you find anything interesting or surprising about those book sales stats?

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Veteran's Day 2015

It has rolled around again. A day to thank and think of the men and women who have served their country in war and peace. Veteran's Day in the USA and Remembrance Day in Canada. The past two decades have seen conflicts all around the world and most Americans today, know someone personally who has served in one of the trouble spots. I say many times, Thank you and thank you.

"Wars may be fought with weapons, but they are won by men. It is the spirit of men who follow of the man who leads that gains the victory." General George Patton

There will be parades today and special ceremonies. Government offices may be closed but there are many organizations that think of our veterans throughout the year. One of the projects our family supports is Wounded Warrior Project. There are local fundraisers we contribute to every year. Our former neighbor, a young man of only 24, suffered a serious foot injury in Afghanistan more than three years ago. He's still has some surgeries scheduled to improve his mobility. Our local branch of Wounded Warriors has helped him with his housing needs since his rehab and many medical procedures makes it impossible for him to hold a full time job. And there are many warriors out there with much more serious issues.  You can check the WWP site for events in your local area.

"A man who is good enough to shed his blood for his country is good enough to be given a square deal afterwards."  Theodore Roosevelt

As the holiday seasons approach, I hope you find it in your heart to help out a veteran is some way. This is more than a day off work or a day to complain of no mail.

Do you support veteran's in any way? Are there veterans in your family or circle of friends?

I'm going to finish this day off by reading more short stories for the IWSG anthology. It would be so much easier if they all weren't so good!

Monday, November 9, 2015

The Fun Never Ends

November is in a hurry. Perhaps because I have so much going on. My to-do lists seems to grow rather than shrink. For everything I mark off as done, I have to add two more.

A quick roundup of what is going on in my writing world. The third and last book in my Warriors of Gaviron Series, The Warrior and the Professor is available as in individual purchase on my publisher's website. It's only offered as part of a boxed set on Amazon for now.

The Futhark Chronicles, Book #1, Keepers of Sulbreth, is now available on Amazon. This is the third publisher to have the book up on Amazon, each time with a different cover. I'm currently doing a round of final edits on Book #2, Beyond the Gate. My publisher has done a great job making the covers of both books match enough for a casual view to see they're the same book.

I also received the contract for Book #3, Beneath the Mountain. This week after I finish the above edits, I'll be working on the cover art sheet, blurb and logline for that book.

I'm also very excited to have the first book in my newest space opera romance series up on the coming soon page. I don't have the release date yet, but my publisher has already given the series its own banner.  The Galactic Outlaws starts off with The Outlaw's Prize.

There's only seven more things on my list that need done this week. And that's only my writing work. I'm still helping my husband with that huge paint job he has going on. It's over half done so this week should be the last he needs me for extended hours.

I finally rented and watched Jurassic World this weekend. I'm giving it a so-so rating. I'm glad I didn't pay theater prices to see it. On an up note, Fargo is on tonight. This season is incredible! In my opinion, I'd call it the best show on TV.

I visited the local Barnes and Noble this past weekend. The good news is that the store was packed. People everywhere. The bad news now is that B&N has given over nearly half the store to things other than books. Bags, candles, games, toys and other gadgets that I guess are helping them stay afloat.  On the weird bookstore news, maybe you hear that Amazon opened their first physical bookstore. Lots of mixed feelings about it.

Wisdom from The Old Farmer's Almanac: Nothing sharpens sight like envy.

What is keeping you busy this week? Have you watched Fargo? Did you hear about the Amazon store? Wouldn't you like to visit it if for no other reason than curiosity to see how the giant believes a bookstore should look?

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

IWSG: November Version

First Wednesday of the month means IWSG posting day. Thanks to the creative mind of our founder, Alex J. Cavanaugh, this group gets together in a hop the first Wednesday of every month so we can share our woes and disappointments and support each other on this journey. You can sign up and join this incredible group here.

So what is bugging me this month? I'm a rather organized person despite how messy my desk sometimes appear. I'm very patient with most things but there are a few things that bother me. A big one is inefficiency. It was one of the things in teaching that could really piss me off. When you're working in a group, someone not doing their job leads to failure of the group's projects and more work for others. One of the writing groups I'm part of have had some failure in communications due to people not reading their emails or losing track of discussions. Then questions are asked that have already been addressed. It is an ongoing problem. Someone suggested that one person organize all the things discussed during the week and send everyone an overview to keep everyone up to speed. That offends me in so many ways. It would be rewarding inefficiency or laziness on the part of some by asking someone else to do more work. Just unacceptable to me. I've felt more than a bit of frustration during the past two weeks.

"They called me mad, and I called them mad, and damn them, they outvoted me." Nathaniel Lee

Enough negativity for the day. I want to ask everyone to submit IWSG to Writer's Digest as one of the top websites for writers out there. Here is the address.
Use 101 websites it the subject line and in the body suggest

A question I'm posing today is about Pinterest? Do you use it as part of your social media promotion for your writing or is it only a really fun time sink? How do you use it?

I haven't been on Twitter as much lately. There's so much meanness on there. All social media have nasty members. It just seems more difficult to avoid them on Twitter.

Anything bugging you this month? Do group projects cause you frustration? Do you use Pinterest? Did you email Writer's Digest?

Monday, November 2, 2015

Question of the Month

It's the first Monday of the month and time for Question of the Month blog hop started by the multi-talented Michael G. D'Agostino. Each month, Michael comes up with a question not only to make one think but also to expose a bit of ourselves to our followers. You can find the entire list of participants here and feel free to join in. November's question:

 “Are you an introvert or an extrovert?”

That is a complicated question, isn't it? I would judge myself an introvert and always have been. I'm not shy but I don't seek out people just to talk. I'm very comfortable with quiet and keeping my thoughts to myself. I seldom engage in arguments and believe everyone who has an opinion opposed to mine is entitled to be wrong. I'm not the person who will start up a casual conversation with the person sitting beside me in a waiting room or on a plane. I like long drives by myself where I have the peace inside my own head as my only companion. I have no trouble speaking in front of people but I also don't have any need to have all the attention on me. Good thing since I grew up with six siblings and have six children of my own. Alone time is very important to me.

Thanks Michael for another interesting question.

Don't forget this Wednesday is IWSG day. Get ready to share your woes and support each other. If you're not part of us yet, go sign up now.

Eleven persons take eleven paths. Kashmiri Proverb

I hope all of you in the USA go out and vote tomorrow. Some local political drama around me though I'm sure lots of people won't take the few minutes needed since it's not a presidential election.

My birthday is later this month and that makes my birthstone topaz which I've always thought was the least attractive of monthly gemstones. But I read somewhere that topaz was once thought to increase wisdom so maybe I should reconsider my opinion.

And happy Monday in general. We're supposed to have beautiful weather her in Pennsylvania this week so I'm predicting some great walking days and a last cleanup of the grounds before we start expecting snow.

Are you an introvert or an extrovert? Do you like time alone? Are you going to vote tomorrow? Do you wear birthstone jewelry or have you gifted it to someone?