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