Saturday, June 25, 2022

Do I use current issues in my writing?


This month’s topic is about using current social, political, or environmental problems in any of your stories or if you have ever thought about doing so? Why or why not? Such as:

  • Do you ever include politics in your stories (why and how?)
  • Do you ever address topics like discrimination or race relations?
  • After your characters with or against law enforcement and do you include the current climate of anti-law enforcement in your writing
  • have you incorporated gay/lesbian characters? 
  • how does the current economic climate feature in your books?
  • Have you ever included current wars in your books?
  • Has terrorism ever appeared in any of your stories?
  • Do any of your characters address going green/global warming?

I thought I would say no to all of the above because most of my stories are fantasy or science fiction; but then, after some thought, I realized I did deal with some of these issues but in very minor ways. For instance, in Dragoons Journey the setting has humans living within enclosed habitats on a planet still developing an inhabitable climate. While starting their expanse into the outdoors world, it is mentioned that they should avoid the problems of human contamination of Earth and continue to live in habitats. From another perspective, future humans might have to adjust to living in constructed habitats if the projected dire consequences predicted for Earth’s changes come true. So perhaps I was forecasting changes to come?

Then I realized that both my Black Angel and Homeworld series are filled with politics. Yet these are not today’s politics. The Homeworld series also shows the female gender losing the equality they’ve worked so hard to gain in our cultures. The conflict between those who rule and those who must follow the rulers’ edicts seems to be prevalent in all societies.

Overcoming problems is one feature that makes writing and reading interesting. Readers have their concepts of what life is like in the contemporary world and what types of problems there are, so they can relate to almost any issue. (Which is probably a good thing.)

So yes, I’ve dealt with politics, global warming (future), and other current issues in an incidental manner, but not as a direct issue in any story.

Visit these authors to see their answers to this question:

Skye Taylor 

A.J. Maguire 

Diane Bator 

Connie Vines 

Marci Baun 

Anne Stenhouse

Dr. Bob Rich 

Judith Copek 

Saturday, May 28, 2022

Stalled Writing. What do I do?


Writing is enjoyable but can be difficult, and making each story and each character different can be challenging. I imagine all writers run into writing blocks where they can't decide which direction the story should take next. Sometimes  I know that I have to take a break from my writing and clear my mind before I take a story further...or even start a new story. 
Matter of fact, I've been on a bit of a hiatus from writing for a while as other important projects have been interrupting my story imagination.

One of my favorite projects to start when my writing is stalled is painting, whether a  piece of art, a craft project, or even painting a room. Sometimes these projects take precedence over writing. My granddaughter recently graduated and my daughter asked me to paint her a box. I've painted many boxes. Why boxes? I don't know, but I still have a few more to paint. My granddaughter called hers a keep-sake box for her odds and end. I also have a few rooms that need painting and updating.

Saturday, April 23, 2022

How Much and What Do I Read?

This month's round-robin question is about how much reading I do, both for pleasure and for a work in progress.

I love to read and love my Kindle! My Kindle has more than 40 books on it, and I carry it with me all the time, along with a recharging cord and adaptor for electric outlets. I read during breaks at work, or while traveling (if not driving), and while in bed before sleeping. I've already worn out two Kindles. 

I also read a lot of non-fiction, mostly in historical or science genres, but some are on various other topics like gardening, art, writing, psychology, and more. When  I'm gone, I sometimes wonder what will happen to my 1000 or so books. 

In the novel category, I love to read fantasy, contemporary romance, historical romance, or just historical stories, mysteries, and even general fiction. Becoming immersed in a story is satisfying as it generates all types of emotions, and becomes relaxing at the end when all (or most) problems are resolved. Stories I love I read multiple times.

I also read a lot of non-fiction. (Why do we call in non-fiction? Isn't there a better name, like factual or informative books? Something without the 'non' moniker.)

In history, I love reading about the earliest civilizations. In this category, I've read the Sumerians: A History From Begining to End, and I was fascinated by all the knowledge provided about a civilization existing from 5000 to 2000 BCE. I learned they came up with the concept of a 24 hour day, a 360-degree circle (a sexagesimal system which we still use today in our timekeeping), the year was split into 12 segments, they had a written language (cuneiform), they identified all the planets although the Greeks and Romans named them, and developed the zodiac. They had mathematical calculations to predict the future position of planets, multiplication and division tables, square roots, geometrical exercises, financial and loan contracts, and much more! I was so surprised to learn what humans knew over 4000 years ago and at the very beginning of humans living off the land in one location rather than roaming! Learning is one of the pleasures of reading!

I've read many non-fiction books for background information on stories I have had in progress.  For instance, for my novel Constantine's Legacy, I read numerous books on the Roman Empire, the Carolingian dynasty, and the dark ages that are now known as the early middle ages. While the novel is fiction, many facts about the era were needed. Not much fiction is written about this era, but like the Sumeria, I think much more information is now available.

Because I like to write science fiction, I also need some groundwork for basic science in those novels. While some science can be fictional, it cannot be science from this age, or else the book turns into fantasy. Admittedly, I've written fantasy, but sci-fi is different (or should be—I've read a few that were based more on fantasy than science—but that's writing for you). So I've also read information for story background data on how to bioform a planet for future inhabitation, how different police departments work (for books in a contemporary settingalthough policing has changed with time, too), and about various military ranks, and more on other various story topics.

I have to admit reading for me is more than a hobby—more like a passion.

Read more on this topic at the following author's sites:

Marci Baun 

Connie Vines 

Helena Fairfax 

Diane Bator 

Skye Taylor 

Dr. Bob Rich  

Saturday, March 19, 2022

Message Within the Story


The tension in all stories is achieved by the adversity the characters must overcome. This is what keeps the reader's attention and keeps them reading. This tension delivers messages about facing challenges, overcoming difficulties and differences, discovering love, and how to become an ethical and understanding person. The plot will also contain a message about how the characters reach a final resolution. 

Can a book have other messages? Messages that the reader must intuit? I think so, and in part, those messages might be what attracts the reader. What is amazing is that different readers can comprehend these messages differently.

Stories tell readers so much about humans, their characteristics, faults, and virtues. We are all different but all alike. A story can also reveal why individuals act the way they do. So reading might teach the reader understanding and how to deal with certain situations and people. 

I think all of my books have these messages. The funny thing is that I probably didn't plan or recognize all the messages, not even as the author. In the Black Angel series, it is about the heroine finding herself after her mind has been destroyed. In the Homeworld series, it is about finding a home. In the Aegis series, it is about belonging and acceptance as the person you are.  In Constantine's Legacy, it is about discovering a world-changing lie that cannot be stopped.

For other author viewpoints on this topic, visit the following posts:

Saturday, February 19, 2022

Clandestine -- Arcane Revenge

This month's Round Robin is to describe a flawed character you might use as a heroine or hero in a story. How did they become so flawed? How might their flaws affect the story and what will happen to them?

Arcane Revenge's anti-hero was once a good man, but what he has endured changes him into a conniving, hate-filled person who wants revenge.

I've been working on the Arcane Revenge story for a while. It has been a slow stop-and-go process with long hiatuses between writing episodes. This is a science fiction story about a rich man who was attacked, his well-known handsome face destroyed with acid, and declared an escaped prisoner. He ends up as a slave crewman on a spaceship. Much illegal finagling went on for this to happen. The ship, the Klester, was later damaged and abandoned with the ship headed for a collision course with the moon. The prison crew (more like slave), whose use by non-government ships had become illegal, was left aboard.  

Unexpectedly a solar patrol ship investigated the Klester's problem as it was on its destruction course. It was an unfortunate procedure, but companies were responsible for the deconstruction of their unstable ships, but it was cheaper to have the space police destroy them. If the Klester was purposely disabled, the company would still pay. Plus they could not let the ship crash into the moon. By chance, this patrol found the prisoners and saved them.  The legal crew had already safely shuttled to another ship and their names shortly disappeared from all records. Two of the nine found prisoners aboard the Kester were dead, six were supposed to be in a prison facility for minor crimes, but the seventh was a person missing for seven years—Carson Riese—the very wealthy owner of the now-defunct Riese Shipping.

Riese wakes in a hospital feeling depressed, hopeless, and detached from everyone and everything. Then he learns his family will visit him, and thinks, Oh God. His family? They wanted to visit him? Probably to tell him Riese Shipping no longer existed and his wealth was gone. His detachment turns to anger as he knows they have consumed his wealth although none had been named in his will. Plus, he knew that just before the attack on him, he had sold the ship that became the Klester. He had recognized it, so whoever trapped him knew exactly who he was. Now he doesn't want anyone to see him, not with his destroyed face. While his anger increases he thinks of ways to destroy those who destroyed him. He would make them pay somehow.

The problem I've run into is how to allow Carson to take revenge but remain, or return to, a basically good person, or at least one an audience can relate to without disgust or hatred. I still have not decided how the story will end, but want to have as many devious revenge and hopeful redemptive twists and turns within the plot as possible.

However, writing this post has made me reread what I have done and maybe even inspired me to finish it

Please read these author's post on this topic:

Connie Vines 

Skye Taylor 

Anne Stenhouse 

Marci Baun 

Diane Bator 

Dr. Bob Rich   

Judith Copek 

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Saturday, January 22, 2022

COVID and Writing


This month's topic is how I am dealing with this COVID pandemic in my writing. My problem is I'm not...writing that is. Although fully vaccinated, for most of late 2020 through June of 2021, I've been at home.
While I've got books in progress, I have not made much writing headway. Generally speaking, I had been home in front of my computer most of the time during the last decade, even teaching online, but somehow it now felt different, isolating. 

Then a Dollar General opened up a mile down the road. I applied for part-time on the weekends, and because few want that time, I got the job. For the first time in two decades of living in Luther, I'm meeting many of my local neighbors, people I never knew. And I enjoy talking with them although I'm having a terrible time remembering all their names. As an added benefit, I'm walking two, three, or four miles within the store whenever I work. Since my local road is too icy to walk and the weather way too cold, I'm still staying in good walking condition...plus it gets me out of the house!

With the suggested topic for this post, I began thinking about the idea of writing a story with COVID as part of the setting or topic. This led to some convoluted ideas, and I concluded that I don't think I would write a novel with COVID in the background as so many are dealing with the issue day-to-day and might be reading to escape the reality of COVID. As I wrote that down, I thought, but then again, maybe it would help them deal with this new world, its COVID threat, and the resulting social issues of the illness: limited healthcare availability, death of family and friends, isolation, vaccination, masks, and other disease-induced pandemonium. 

Any contemporary story would be marked historically by the mention of the pandemic, yet all contemporary stories are marked by time. Jane Austen's novels were contemporary romance stories (maybe the first?) as were Betty Neels, but today those stories are historical romances, so any contemporary story should mention COVID, right? Any mainstream story would probably be dealing with COVID, and the resulting social defiance and unrest. I couldn't do it as a historical novel yet, because the ultimate effects are not yet known. Then again, maybe a setting using the 1918 pandemic might work. What other genre might work? Horror? Mystery? Those are both out of my writing realm. Maybe I could translate the pandemic into a science fiction story? 

As you might note, I'm a little confounded by current times and issues. I hope this pandemic ends soon. Maybe I can return to normality, but I'm thinking a different normality lies ahead. So maybe just a short story...or two...or three?

Please visit these authors and read how they would deal with this topic in their writing:

Connie Vines

Skye Taylor

Anne Stenhouse

Marci Baun

Diane Bator

Dr. Bob Rich

Judith Copek


Saturday, December 18, 2021

My Family in My Writing

This will be kind'a short as our electricity has been out two days and is expected to be out at least another day and this computer or the wi-fi router may quite at any minute.;


Have I ever used one of my siblings as a character? No. They might not like the book or the character (even a heroic one) if they recognized I used them. However, they and everyone I know well affect my writing, probably unconsciously. They are the persons who taught me about human characteristics: personalities, emotions, behaviors, how they react to both good and bad situations. So while none of my characters are based on them, they are the basis for all I know about people. 

Sorry I can't write more, or even put down the participant's list (I will include this as soon as I can get on my own computer) but I did want anyone to think I hadn't forgotten the post. Only circumstances have interfered. I am glad that without electric or heat we don't have snow or very sub-zero temperatures.  I will visit all participant's blogs as soon as electric comes back. 

Here is the list of participants in this month's round robin:

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Evil Characters

Evil bings
This month the topic is to describe a flawed or evil character you have used or might use in a story. How did they become so flawed? What part will they play in the story and what will happen to them?

All of my stories have evil characters, or at the least self-serving motives over friends or family, or anyone else's needs.

In Stone House Farm the rejected fiancee of the hero and an ex-husband of the heroine want retribution. Not getting what she wants (his wealth and prestige) leads the ex-fiance to try to kill the man who didn't want her, and the ex-husband tries to get more money from his ex-wife.  

In Rogue's Rules, there are two evil characters. One is Morgan Dachs, who, to save his life and ship, traded thirteen fellow crewmembers to a slaver. Morgan's uncle-in-law, Durrant Rosche, uses the powerful Dachs name, and their wealth, for his personal gain. While they were bad, in Angels Tread readers learn it was another powerful person who was controlling them. And Admiral Ries Vaughn used his rank and power to get whatever he wanted.

In Constantine's Legacy, a high-ranking priest has a fraudulent document made that says Emperor Constantine the Great gave the Church his lands in Italy when he moved the court to Byzantium. He ends up trying to kill the story's hero who knows the truth.

The judgment on the good or evil of a person depends on many things. The world's human populations are complicated as well as their history. What's good in one country can be evil in another. During their early development, people lived in tribes whose individuals helped protect each other, but often annihilated other tribes. Our history shows this tendency continues between certain populations and countries. Individuals have the same tendencies. How each person is raised and their mental outlook has a great influence on whether they are considered a good or bad person. And certainly, like the Earth, they have polar opposites that can switch from good to evil or vice-versa for their own survival.

Part of writing is showing how a character's history and his or her outlook will develop how they can become evil. 

On the other hand, I have witnessed strangers bestowing great kindness. I was once ringing up a customer's bill, but her card wouldn't cover the cost. The man in line behind her said he'd pay it. And he did—over eighty dollars. This works in writing stories, too, as it shows how a character's behavior lets the reader judge their goodness or evilness.

Please visit the following who are also discussing this topic:

Anne Stenhouse 

Dr. Bob Rich  

Connie Vines 

Skye Taylor 

Marci Baun 

Diane Bator 

VictoriaChatham 

Thursday, November 11, 2021

Stone House Farm released!

 
This is a sort-of contemporary romance novel as it is set in 2009, when I originally wrote it. It is set in Manistee, Michigan, near the shores of Lake Michigan. 

Here is an excerpt from the story's beginning:

Amanda pushed through the glass front door expecting to have to plow past secretaries and assorted office henchmen, but as luck would have it, Wade Preston stood in the reception area talking with his partner, Edward Van Haitsma. Wade’s height and dark hair made a strong contrast to his partner’s shorter frame and fair hair. Both were good looking by anyone’s standard. Wade held a stack of papers. The two men looked as if they had just finished a heated discussion.
    “Whatever you want!” Van Haitsma said as he turned and walked away, his shoes pounding an upset rhythm on the refinished, highly polished oak flooring.
    Preston’s fiancée, Melissa Rillema, stood nearby with her arms crossed. A pout marred the perfection of her face. Since only the woman’s mouth moved, without a hint of frown lines, Amanda snorted, suspecting cosmetic injections. Melissa would make a perfect wife for Wade. Two beautiful, congenial rich rats running in a social superiority maze. Melissa’s long blonde hair rippled about her shoulders as she turned her head to glance at Amanda, then back to Wade who had walked over to her.
    As she strode forward to interrupt the couple’s private interlude, Wade looked over at her, anger etching his face. She checked her step before charging ahead. Hell, he had to expect a storm after the letter he sent her. As Wade watched her approach, his face firmed into what Amanda privately called the bulldog behind the businessman’s mask. It infuriated her to have to spend her precious lunchtime taking care of this matter. This time, she would talk to Wade Preston face-to-face and make her position clear.
    “Mrs. Carter, how can I help you?”
    He recognized her? His voice and demeanor were politely bland, but remnants of anger lingered in lines around his handsome features. He called her by her married name, something she had discarded after her divorce.
    She held Preston’s gaze with determination. As a freshman teenager in high school with hormones and the idealism of innocence, Amanda’s dream world starred the senior quarterback, Wade Preston. Back then, he had been oblivious of her.
    “It’s Ms. Blanchard, now. You can help me, Mr. Preston, by accepting the fact that I do not want to sell my property. Not now, and not in the future. Furthermore, I will not let you steal it from me.” Heads turned toward the sound of her angry tones. Most looked like employees and quickly looked away when Amanda stared back at them. Wade’s face deepened in color, his mouth and jaw set, his eyes darkening.
    She waved the envelope under his nose. He took it, looked at the address, and pulled the sheets from inside. His brows scrunched lower as he read.
    “You’ve received an offer at a fair-market price,” Wade said, his voice firm, low and controlled. Her temper eased slightly seeing the wrinkle between his brows as he looked at her letter.
    Melissa smiled pityingly at Amanda. “I would think in your dire circumstances, Wade’s offer was manna from Heaven.” Her tone one of pure condescension.
    “Stay out of this,” Wade said with a fierce gaze at his fiancée. Amanda thought Melissa’s smile more smirk than compliance and doubted the woman had even heard her lover.
    “What could you possibly know about my situation?” Amanda said. “And how does any of this involve you?”
    The smile never faltered. “I understand it is a very generous offer.”
    Amanda’s rage fired anew. Melissa had no part in this, and her opinion was not only unneeded but also unwanted. “Generous if I were willing to sell out what my family has worked generations to build. I’m not.” Amanda turned back to Wade Preston, grabbed the letter from his hand, and clutched it in her fist.
    His frowning gaze turned to Amanda, his brows lowering until they nearly touched. “I don’t know what you are alleging. As I said, this is an offer at a fair market price for your property.”
    “You missed the threat of an eminent domain seizure. I don’t care what dirty tricks you try with the bank, or the county Planning Department, or the Commissioners, or the township board. I will fight you every step of the way.”
    “Then you better hire a lawyer,” Melissa cut in with a practiced tinkling sound that substituted for a laugh.
    “Melissa…” Wade’s tone held a warning and his scowl deepened.
    Amanda kept her regard on Wade, hoping her expression said I am not backing down. If not pumped with so much adrenaline, she would never have felt so defiant, but Melissa’s confidence ate at her self-assurance. Her diffident side advised retreat. Having said what she wanted, she turned on her heel and swept out of the office, escaping any further humiliation.

Imagine Amanda finding Wade a chapter later lying in her snow-covered orchard unconscious and shot!


Saturday, October 23, 2021

Scariest Halloween

Halloween was always an adventure for mewalking the neighborhood in the dark of nightwhat could be scarier? Yet, I was always with my brothers and sisters, and because of the costumes didn't think any neighbor would recognize us. It was fun pretending to be hobgobblins. 

But as per the post previous to this one, I've experienced very strange things happening on Halloween. 

Now, because I live in the country outside a village on the backside of nowhere Michigan (but a beautiful area and friendly community), I no longer have trick or treaters coming to the house. I loved those who came to our door in Lansing, Michigan, and in Harvester, Missouri. Yet the scariest Halloween was crafted by my husband and the neighbor across the street on Teel Street in Lansinga neighborhood street with no businesses on it.

A few cars had been cruising down our neighborhood street at a very fast pace. It was dark and too many children still walked the sidewalks and frequently made unexpected street crossings. Bill and Dick decided to slow some speeders down. 

They made a fabric ghost and strung it between the two trees opposite each other on the street with drawstrings attached.  When a car came by going way too fast, they dropped the ghost on the car's windshield (only to a couple cars). One driver slammed on his breaks but kept going. Shortly a cop car showed up. A driver had reported someone threw something on his windshield. Bill asked, "You mean the one going way faster than the twenty-five-mile speed zone?"

The cop looked up and saw the ghost hanging, smiled, but said, "Don't do it again," and quickly left. No more speeders that Halloween night.

It just shows you what good hobgobblins can accomplish.

On the other hand, I made my daughter's witch-princess costume and took her to the local mall where a costume contest was taking place. She came away with first prize! Halloween is supposed to be fun!

Meridian Mall, 1977 best costume

Skye Taylor 

VictoriaChatham 

Marci Baun 

Connie Vines 

Dr. Bob Rich 

Anne Stenhouse