Tag Archives: science fiction

Imaginary Friends

This month’s topic is, are you ever emotionally drained by writing certain scenes, and how real are your characters to you?

This is how I plan a scene: I “see” and “hear” it as a movie unrolling in front of me with my characters moving and talking. I go through everything along with them. Fortunately, I’m a fast typist, but there are still times when the action has moved on before I get a chance to write it all down.

Ah, reality. Well, when asked where I get the ideas for my books, I usually reply — only half in jest — that my characters wake me in the middle of the night and bug me until I give in, take notes, and agree to write the book.

When I wrote my first science fiction novel, Relocated, my intention was simply to overcome my phobia about writing science fiction. I was — and am — a devoted fan of the genre, which I have been reading since before age ten. To give you some idea, I picked Robert A. Heinlein’s “Farmer in the Sky,” for my tenth birthday, and I knew exactly which book I wanted. To say I’m widely read in the genre is a vast understatement.

Still, up until 2010, I’d never written any, so I decided to go for it and “planned” (see below) my first sci fi novel for Nano.  I didn’t intend to try to get it published. That came later, after I’d written it and revised it and decided that, having devoted all that time and energy to it, I might as well give it a shot. And I certainly didn’t plan to write *more* novels in the series. That came later, when I started wondering about some of the other characters who appear in the first book.

Check out the posts of my fellow participants:
Victoria Chatham http://victoriachatham.blogspot.ca
Marci Baun  http://www.marcibaun.com/blog/
Margaret Fieland https://margaretfieland.wordpress.com
Judith Copek http://lynx-sis.blogspot.com/
A.J. Maguire  http://ajmaguire.wordpress.com/
Connie Vines http://mizging.blogspot.com/
Rachael Kosinski http://rachaelkosinski.weebly.com/
Dr. Bob Rich htt  http://wp.me/p3Xihq-Wo
Heather Haven http://heatherhavenstories.com/blog/
Beverley Bateman http://beverleybateman.blogspot.ca/
Kay Sisk http://www.kaysisk.com/blog
Diane Bator http://dbator.blogspot.ca/
Helena Fairfax http://www.helenafairfax.com
Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea
Rhobin Courtright http://www.rhobinleecourtright.com

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Finding Their Voices: Using Language to Build Character

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Broken Bonds was the first novel I wrote with more than one point of view. The final version has five point-of-view characters, the four characters involved in a romantic relationship and the antagonist who is the “villain” in the political plot. There are three aliens and a Terran: Major Brad Reynolds, a major in the Terran Federation Guard, Ardaval Namar, an BrokenBondsCoverAleyni scholar and teacher, Imarin Namar, one of his former partners, involved in government, and Nidrani Namar, another former partner, a woman, and a musician. As well, there was Senator Hank Manning, a member of the Terran Federation senate.

I wish I could tell y’all that I was wonderfully methodical about this, but, alas, it would be a lie. Ardaval and Brad had appeared in a previous novel, Relocated, so their voices were pretty clear to me. I had little trouble finding a voice for Imarin and Hank Manning, but Nidrani was slower to come clear, and I ended up searching out clothing I thought she might wear to help me out.

I pay attention to grammar, sentence structure, word choice, pet phrases, how formal or informal they typically are in their speech,  pet phrases, etc, but a lot of it involves my being able to “hear” my characters.

One of the things I did was collect up all of the pieces from each character’s point of view and put them together. Then I read through them for consistency of voice and to make sure that they sounded distinct.

I do use grammar and word choice with far more intention for minor characters, where there is less time and space to paint a full picture.

 

 

Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea
Marci Baun  http://www.marcibaun.com/blog/
Margaret Fieland https://margaretfieland.wordpress.com
Victoria Chatham http://victoriachatham.blogspot.ca
Beverley Bateman http://beverleybateman.blogspot.ca/
Dr. Bob Rich  http://wp.me/p3Xihq-OB
Rachael Kosinski http://rachaelkosinski.weebly.com/
Judith Copek http://lynx-sis.blogspot.com/
Helena Fairfax http://www.helenafairfax.com
Rhobin Courtright http://www.rhobinleecourtright.com
A.J. Maguire  http://ajmaguire.wordpress.com/

 

For Oct 22: A Book by Any Other Title

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One of the first things any reader knows about a book is the title — and the author and the cover image, but for now let’s stick to the title. We all want a catchy title for our books, one that will stop a potential reader in their tracks and make them open it up (or click on it) to discover what it’s really about. And we all want a title that’s going to pop up when readers are searching on Amazon for books in our genre.

So, when I go to my local library or bookstore and search for something to read, I start by browsing through the shelf of new books, checking out the titles and, if it looks interesting, plucking it off the shelf, opening it up, and reading the blurb. Then maybe I’ll check out the first couple of pages.

I’m staring at my latest collection of library books, one of which is “Little Beach Street Bakery,” a book I chose in just such a manner. It sounds satisfying — not disturbing, not likely to give me nightmares, which is what I was in the mood for at the time.

So, hmm — what attracts me to a title depends on my mood, and therefore what I want in a book at the time: romance, mystery, adventure, horror, or whatever.

I wish I could say that I have a wonderful method for choosing titles for my books, but I don’t. Sometimes they just come to me, and sometimes I have to work at it.

The title of  Relocated,   just came to me. It’s about a teenage boy who ends up on an alien planet when his father is sent there to help root out some terrorists.  The title of Geek Games   and Broken Bonds took more work, as did my latest novel, Rob’s Rebellion. Its working title was “Rob’s Book,” after the main character, Colonel Robert Walker, a colonel in the Terran Federation Guard who is posted to the alien planet Aleyne with orders to arrest the current, very popular, commander of the military base there on charges of treason. I eventually ended up soliciting suggestions from my reading group.

What attracts you to a particular title? Leave a comment and let us know, and do check out the thoughts of my fellow posters:

“Marci Baun  http://www.marcibaun.com/blog/
A.J. Maguire  http://ajmaguire.wordpress.com/
Victoria Chatham http://victoriachatham.blogspot.ca
Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea
Judith Copek http://lynx-sis.blogspot.com/
Helena Fairfax http://www.helenafairfax.com
Heather Haven http://heatherhavenstories.com/blog/
Dr. Bob Rich  http://wp.me/p3Xihq-MI
Connie Vines http://connievines.blogspot.com/
Margaret Fieland https://margaretfieland.wordpress.com
Rachael Kosinski http://rachaelkosinski.weebly.com/
Rhobin Courtright http://www.rhobinleecourtright.com

Angels, Devils, and Spirits

rndrbnlogoDo you believe in angels, spirits, ghosts, demons or other ethereal beings or locations? What do you think when they appear in stories? Have you used them in your own stories.

I believe in spirits, and I’m open-minded about ghosts, angels, demons, and any other spirit-like being you might care to name. I’ve used spirits in my science fiction series, Novels of Aleyne, in that the characters pray to them and refer to them and state their beliefs. However, the spirits — as opposed to the characters and their belief in same — don’t appear.

I’m not big on having the actual spirits appear in the novel. I find it off-putting. Part of this may be my own religious background; my family of origin was Jewish. Neither angels nor devils were a part of my religious up-bringing. I’ve enjoyed stories with shape-shifters, but I’m generally less thrilled with vampires, and this in spite of enjoying Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Brown novels and Laurell K. Hamilton’s books.

I  read and enjoyed Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series (the first one), but I don’t recall a lot of page time devoted to the Gods themselves.

Here is an excerpt from “Broken Bonds,” which illustrates my point about the beliefs as opposed to the actual spirits appearing in my work. Brad, my main character, went to pray to the spirits for guidance and has gone to a friend, Noki, for help interpreting the dream they sent him.

Brad glanced up to find Noki’s gaze trained on him.

“The spirits sent me a dream, also, and my vision showed you and Ardaval
swear rolor.”

Brad shook his head.

Noki continued, “Brad, he needs you.”

“He needs Imarin and Nidrani, if what you say is true.”

Noki placed a hand on Brad’s arm. “The spirits move in their own time. The
mending, I believe, is yours if you’re willing.”

“I don’t understand; but then, I suppose it’s not necessary I do.” Brad sighed
and stood. The spirits set him a task, and he’d take it on. He couldn’t put words to
the depth of his love for Ardaval. A rare, precious gift, received when he’d almost
lost hope, but doubtless Noki, at least, would appreciate it. The spirits offered him
this chance, and he’d seize it with both hands. “I’d move a moon for him if he
wanted one. I’ll walk the path set before me.”

Brad nodded to her. Mazos and Amiz and turned and walked away. Behind
him, he heard Noki’s voice:

“Even if the stones on the path cut the soles of your feet.”
* *

Marci Baun  http://www.marcibaun.com/blog/
Margaret Fieland  http://www.margaretfieland.com/blog1/
Diane Bator http://dbator.blogspot.ca/
Beverley Bateman  http://beverleybateman.blogspot.ca/
A.J. Maguire  http://ajmaguire.wordpress.com/
Fiona McGier http://www.fionamcgier.com/
Heather Haven  http://www.heatherhavenstories.com
Bob Rich   http://wp.me/p3Xihq-wU
Anne Stenhouse  http://annestenhousenovelist.wordpress.com/
Helena Fairfax  http://helenafairfax.com/
Hollie Glover  http://www.hollieglover.co.uk
Rachael Kosinski  http://rachaelkosinski.weebly.com/
Connie Vines  http://connievines.blogspot.com/
Skye Taylor   http://www.Skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea
Rhobin Courtright  http://www.rhobinleecourtright.com/

Researching Science Fiction

 

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What research is involved in writing science fiction? There can be quite a lot, actually. In my first science fiction novel, Relocated,      my main character, Keth, becomes involved in ceramics and glass blowing. I had some knowledge of ceramics left over from a pot-throwing course at summer camp and another summer spent playing with copper enamel, but I knew nothing about blowing glass. So it was off to the internet to check things out and construct — mentally,  anyway — my studio. It turned out to be quite large, with a separate room for storing the finished work, an area for throwing pots, and another with a couple of furnaces for the glass. Because my main character was sweet on the master craftsman’s daughter, I spent a fair amount of time getting the details nailed down to my satisfaction. My character spent quite a  lot of time there, too.

In the next Aleyne novel,  Broken Bonds, I shamelessly picked the brains of my middle son, who was in the army at the time, as my main character was a military officer who was called up on charges. I also researched the International Court, which had an equivalent — the Interstellar Court — in my novel. As well, I checked out procedures for criminal trials. My father was an attorney, my mother served on the Grand Jury, and I have been a juror several times, so I was more comfortable with trials and courtrooms than I was with military procedures. Still, I wanted to get the details right.

I also ended up researching stringed instruments. One of my major characters plays an imaginary stringed instrument, and I wanted to know what it looked and sounded like. I play the flute and the piccolo, but my knowledge of strings is limited, and so it was off to the internet to do some research. In the end, I decided it was made of wood and shaped something like an autoharp, and came in various sizes like violins, violas, cellos and basses do. Did most of this information end up in the text? Um, no, but I needed to know it.

As to badly researched material in books I read, yes, it bugs me. I can still recall a novel by a well-known author where the main character played the flute and composed. I play the flute and the piccolo, and have for many years. Flute players are a dime a dozen, which is one of the many reasons so many of them turn to composing. While the author did a fine job on this aspect, in my opinion she short-changed the flute playing. There were a couple of places in the text where a bit more detail. The character was writing a book on the difficulties of playing the instrument, and there should, I believe, have been more specific detail. It’s been years since I read this novel, and I still find it annoying.

And that is one of the many reasons why I look up glass blowing, the International Court, the military, and stringed instruments. I don’t my readers to have that reaction.

Do check out the posts by my fellow bloggers:
Margaret Fieland http://www.margaretfieland.com/blog1/
Beverley Bateman http://beverleybateman.blogspot.ca/
Skye Taylor  http://www.skye-writer.com/
Rachael Kosnski http://www.rachaelkosinki.weebly.com/
Heidi M. Thomas http://heidiwriter.wordpress.com/
Marci Baun  http://www.marcibaun.com/
Anne Stenhouse  http://annestenhousenovelist.wordpress.com/
Helena Fairfax  http://helenafairfax.com/
Connie Vines http://connievines.blogspot.com/
Kay Sisk http://kaysisk.blogspot.com
Fiona McGier http://www.fionamcgier.com/
A.J. Maguire  http://ajmaguire.wordpress.com/
Judith Copek http://lynx-sis.blogspot.com/
Lynn Crain  http://www.awriterinvienna.blogspot.com
Rhobin Courtright http://www.rhobinleecourtright.com/

Reading and Writing

This month’s topic:811583493_2871931482_0
What is your favorite time and place to read? How about writing time? Do you have to make time?

Do you have a ritual or is your plan helter-skelter? I had a quilting teacher who followed the swiss cheese method to completing tasks: Make a hole here, and sometime later a hole there; keep repeating this until the whole thing is complete. What’s your method?

I am tempted to read anytime and anyplace, but my favorite time to read is in bed before I turn out the light and go to sleep.  I am an avid reader, and reading before bed relaxes me and helps me let go of my problems and anxieties. I enjoy reading all kinds of books, especially science fiction, fantasy, and romance {blush} as well as popular novels. I don’t enjoy reading horror but do like reading the occasional mystery. I have read all of Sherlock Holmes, many more than once. I love Alice in Wonderland, and used to reread it every exam time when I was in college. I had a copy of  The Annotated Alice, and this was the one I read and reread. In the commentary, it had a copy of Jabberwocky in French. What a trip that was.

I studied French in both high school and college, and I was (and am) fairly fluent, but, let me tell you, reading made-up words in a foreign language is tough. One summer I spent in the Netherlands doing work-study — I was assistant to a professor at one of the universities. I signed up at the local library. This was one of the first things I did — I needed to have access to a decent supply of books. They had one shelf of books in English, but fortunately a whole bookcase of volumes in French.

I read Fahrenheit 451 in French (fortunately, I’d already read it in English), as well as several other sci fi novels. I read some non-fiction, including one by a cancer surgeon that haunts me to this day. I also discovered George Simenon,and read every copy they had of the Inspecteur Maigret novels. My father was an attorney, so I was familiar with the difference between the French and English/American legal systems.

In case you’re not, it’s like this: In English and American legal systems, you’re innocent until proven guilty. In the French system, you’re guilty until proven innocent. This makes the stakes for Maigret, charged with investigating a crime and discovering the guilty party, that much higher. If he gets it wrong, an innocent person might suffer.

After I finished the Maigret novels, I started on the rest of their Simenon collection.

I haunt my local library. I begin to suffer from anxiety if I don’t have a stack of books to read. I prefer paper to ebooks, but I do read ebooks sometimes. Having access to them eases my book anxiety — I can pretty much always go online and find something else to read.

Check out what my fellow bloggers have to say:
A.J. Maguire  http://ajmaguire.wordpress.com/
Geeta Kakade http://geetakakade.blogspot.com/
Skye Taylor  http://www.skye-writer.com/
Marci Baun  http://www.marcibaun.com/
Fiona McGier http://www.fionamcgier.com/
Connie Vines http://connievines.blogspot.com/
Beverley Bateman http://beverleybateman.blogspot.ca/
Rita Karnopp  http://www.mizging@blogspot.com
Rachael Kosnski http://the-doodling-booktease.tumblr.com/
Helena Fairfax  http://helenafairfax.com/
Heidi M. Thomas http://heidiwriter.wordpress.com/
Ginger Simpson http://www.cowboykisses.blogspot.com/
Rhobin Courtright http://www.rhobinleecourtright.com/

More on Gimp: Illustrating a story

I’m putting together another collection of Aleynobilia, poems, and stories to celebrate signing the contract for Broken Bonds, the next Aleyne novel, an adult science fiction romance. I’m hooked on Gimp, so I tried my hand at illustrations to go with a couple of the poems and stories I plan to make part of the collection.

One of the stories is about a girl who lives in an old castle, one not in terribly good shapecastle1.castle3

castle2So far, I have seven versions of the castle illustration.

 

 

Castle7 Castle8

castle5 castle4

Which one do you like best? Leave a comment, or email me at info@margaretfieland.com,

and I’ll post the results.

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