Friday, May 23, 2014

Walk, Bike, or Hover

What forms of transportation are used in children and YA books? Nowadays, parents are the ones driving the characters from place to place until a teen is old enough to get a driver's license. School buses and public transportation also appear in some stories, especially when the characters are a bit more independent.

In historical stories, the characters have a limited amount of choices. They walk. They might have access to a horse or mule or donkey or pony, which they can either ride or travel in a carriage or cart pulled by that animal. The same choices are available to characters in a fantasy story. The character in a fantasy story might also have access to magical means of transportation: magic carpets, gryphons, pegasi, seven league boots and even travel spells that allow them to disappear and arrive at their destination.

When I was young, my sister and I walked to our elementary school. During the summers we walked or biked everywhere. This is still seems to be the case in the children's and YA books I've read this year.

The college students in town use skateboards as well as bikes and feet to get to class. Will skateboards and inline skates be used in futuristic stories? In Richard Roberts Please Don't Tell My Parents I'm a Supervillain one of the "supervillain" team skates everywhere (in a bear costume). In Sharon Lee and Steve Miller's Sword of Orion (2005), the characters use "slideboards", similar to the hoverboards seen in Back to the Future II (1989). The cartoon series Get Ed also had the characters travel by hoverboard, hoverscooter, a one-wheeled cycle, rocket-powered skates, and jet pack. Another cartoon series, Slugterra, had the characters riding robotic animals resembling wolves and donkeys.

One might think the future will have many ways for characters to get around. Flitters, skimmers, and hovers are terms that come to mind, along with other varieties of flying cars. Some will take big advances in technology, but others might only take a little. And how will public transportation change in the future? Will colony planets revert back to horse-drawn trolleys, or electric or cable? Or (easy solution) will the writer just use the same old terms without detailing the differences if the story doesn't need those details? In Sharon Lee and Steve Miller's Fledgling, distant students travel to class in a bus, but closer students travel by "belt", which is a form of moving walkway.

What other means of transportation have you noticed?

Wednesday, May 21, 2014


The title says it all. I write very slowly. At the rate I'm going, I'll have to live to be 400 to finish all the story ideas in my head and notes jotted down on paper. My major problem is, I can't just write. I have to correct spelling, punctuation, sentence fragments and other grammar stuff as I go along, instead of zipping through the first draft.

Do any of you writers have the same problem? If so, how do you overcome the obsession that the rough draft has to be correct? Of course, it won't be perfect even with all the corrections, and there still are revisions and more revisions in the future.

I keep hearing writers talk about "Fast Drafting" so I tell myself,  Mmm, maybe it will work for me. Since I had no clue how to "Fast Draft," I went Online to learn about it. Plenty of information is available. I now have a print out of eleven tips on how to do it. Tomorrow I become a speedy writer. No checking which verb is best to use, no writing details about the weather or houses or characters. Just the facts.  Don't stop to look a word up on the Internet,  just put something there and research it later. Write down my thoughts.

Yes, I'm motivated. No more taking years to write one story. Fingers crossed. If anyone has additional suggestions, please share.

Also, I'm celebrating 500 followers on my personal blog with a giveaway. Learn more here:

Happy Reading

Monday, May 19, 2014

Post weekend week

Hey gang!

I spent the weekend at the Steampunk World's Fair. It was SUPER fun, and I took some great pictures. But I came home beat. I was planning a photo blog, but the weekend and the workday caught up with me.

So next time. Promise.

Meanwhile, I should have the cover for A CURSE OF ASH AND IRON soon. There will be a BIG cover reveal. As soon as I have details, I'll post.


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Twenty Years

Spring has finally sprung around here. Though, after a few days of gorgeous weather the temperature plummeted again.

That's okay, though. We have flowers.

Today I'm thinking of 1994. Twenty years ago. I'll admit there are times I'm surprised to realize it still isn't the 90s. Time really does fly.

Twenty years ago some of the books on the best seller list were:
The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield
The Bridges of Madison County by Robert James Waller
The Alienist by Caleb Carr

Some of the movies that came out twenty years ago:
The Shawshank Redemption
Forest Gump
The Lion King
Pulp Fiction
and True Lies

On TV we had
Touched by an Angel

And on May 14th 1994, my husband and I got married. So that's all I'm posting for today. We're celebrating twenty years by going to our daughter's high school choir concert tonight. It's how we roll: for our tenth anniversary we went to a ballet recital, for fifteen we were at a little league game.

Enjoy the spring.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Disney Cruises are the BOMB!

I missed making my monthly post in April - apologies!

Never saw the reminders between working a ton of hours at the day job and then going on...VACATION. Woot!

Hubby and I took a Disney Cruise about 8 years ago and had been dying to go back ever since. This year, we got to go again. Awesome!

One the things that make Disney Cruises so awesome. Every night, when you return to your room, you find some sort of towel origami. They are so cute!!!!

The ship itself is all kinds of awesome. Here's a pic of the ceiling in the main theater. They did live shows almost every night here. We even got to see Captain America: The Winter Soldier in 3D on opening weekend here! (Sweet!)

You never doubt where you are on this boat. But it is also incredibly fancy. And they go out of their way to have programming everyday for the kids, the teenagers, and the adults. 

Got to see all sorts of things at the ports of call. This big guy was at the archaeological dig site for X'Tel's temple on Cozumel.

We even went to HELL! Lots of great t-shirts and postcards loving the joke. lol.

Grand Cayman also had a tortoise sanctuary. They were so cute!

As you guys probably know by now, I took a whole bunch more pictures than these randomly chosen ones. Heh heh.  If you'd like to see them, Google + has them in a collage you can drill down on for my *ahem* awesome commentary. As if! :)

I grouped them into four albums: Miami, Grand Cayman, Cozumel, and Food/Ship

Hubby and I are ready to go again! How about you?

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Finding Kindred Spirits

Last weekend, I had the opportunity to share a table at the Quad Cities 2014 Psychic and Paranormal Expo in Moline, Illinois. It was not the sort of event I would have definitely decided to attend, but I was invited to sell books (and read a few palms) by fellow supernatural writer -and paranormal investigator- Sylvia Shults. Sylvia was doing a presentation in conjunction with her amazing book, Fractured Spirits, a history, paranormal info included, of the Peoria State Hospital, a facility for the mentally ill that shuttered its doors in the 1970's and is haunted. Very haunted.

Since Sylvia also writes novels and short stories about the paranormal, and since I will happily do a short, five minute or so, palm reading for anyone who buys one of my books, sharing a table seemed both friendly and compatible. And what an event it turned out to be!

To our right sat a mother and daughter whose company hand-sews, knits, and crochets skirts, tops, and wraps in the most beautiful print fabrics and yarns imaginable. Directly across was a lady with two tables' worth of jewelry. Just past her were the people who do energy work on heads, as in scalps. And scattered throughout the vendor area, and it was enormous, were various tarot card readers, palm readers, psychics,  and mediums. Sylvia was one of a whole list of speakers who had been scheduled for the entire day. And the entire day ran from 10 AM to 6 PM.

I had figured if I sold at least one book I would be happy. Anyone else ever feel that way at an author fest? Or a literary festival? If I sell one book, I can walk away and feel okay. I was shocked when, shortly after Sylvia spoke, our table was mobbed. Oh, I wasn't surprised people wanted her books. She's a terrific and engaging presenter, and her topic drew a standing-room-only crowd. But when that enthusiasm spilled over to my side and people began purchasing my work I was thrilled and humbled. And I spent some quality time explaining various lines in peoples' hands and what they usually mean.

My husband, Jim, who is a good sport about my quirks and interests, helped out by watching the table for us if both of us ladies needed to be absent at the same time, picking up lunch, talking to people who were waiting in line, and just generally being another friendly face at our spot. He also disappeared for a while to have his aura photographed and interpreted, but hey, he earned it!

What was so much fun about this crowd was being able to say something like "The house I grew up in was haunted" and not having anyone bat an eyelid. Instead, they would just start exchanging stories with me. I haven't experienced so much ghost-story nonchalance since we were in Savannah last November where everyone discusses hauntings the same way they discuss the weather. No questioning, no skepticism, just a bland acceptance of a wider reality and hey, did you check out the people who were selling incense for only $1.50 a pack? They were great!

And it was sooo nourishing. Writing books is a lonely job, in the end. Sitting alone and working out stories on a keyboard, I am always up for anything that speaks to the ghost-inquisitor in me. I am not a ghost-hunter. Too chicken! But I will always be fascinated by a good ghost story and listening to other people tell them will always get my creativity going again.Not to mention validate my obsession.

Listening to all the talk, about ghosts, about spirit life, about what works to ban an entity from your home and what doesn't, was much like when I used to be actively involved in the Love is Murder mystery writers/readers conference. Then I could walk down a crowded hall listening to people describe various ways to kill someone and get away with it.

But that's whole 'nother story.