Friday, December 27, 2013

Addiction

I have a slight problem.

I'm addicted to TV Tropes. Not, like, seriously. But a bit? Yeah... I'm a bit addicted.

Of course, there are worse things to be addicted to, like heroin or American Idol. But still, my TV Tropes addiction is becoming problematic, at least as far as my bandwidth usage is concerned.

But I can't stop. If you've ever been there, you understand. If you haven't... well, maybe you'll make it out alive. You see, TV Tropes appeals to me as a fan, yes, but more as a writer. These are my tools, these are things I can use and, often, I find inspiration. I get inspired to try new things, or revamp old things. I figure out how to work out my latest dilemma.

If you haven't been, give it a go... if you thin you're strong enough.

Voss

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

A Plea

Come on in and get yourself a cup of coffee. I think we need to have a talk.

It's okay. Don't be shy. And don't be scared. But this is a talk that we need to have. Right now. It's about something kind of important.

It's about you. It's about being a full you, a happy, complete you. And, to do that, you need to find yourself a creative outlet.

Now, let's skip all the resistance and the whining and complaining. Because I'm write. Everyone has a creative outlet. You may not realize it, but you do. Singing, dancing, writing, drawing, sculpting, painting, welding, jewelry making. These are all creative things, things that pull from a deeper part of your soul.

When was the last time that you sat down with that deeper part of your soul, though? When was the last time you two had a good hug and ate a whole Whitman sampler? Maybe it was yesterday. Maybe you do it a lot. If so, you're free to skip off into the daisies with my blessings.

If not... well, have a cookie. You need to stick around.

You see, it doesn't take much. Just give that creative bit a little room to breathe. Every day. I mean it. Fifteen minutes every day, at least. More when you can afford it. I want you to commit to that. Fifteen minutes straight. Not fifteen minutes spread over five commercial breaks, or fifteen minutes when you go to the bathroom throughout the day.

It's not a lot, but it's vital. Because that part, no matter how much neglect you throw upon it, won't die, and won't be silent. And, when you're eighty and you finally 'have time' to create, to feed the part of you longing to spread its wings and embrace the glory of the universe, when you actually focus on that... you have to dig it out. It might not be dead, but it's going to be weak, and you'll realize that you don't have time to nurse it back to health. That maybe, if you'd played with it just a touch, just enough to let it know you cared, you wouldn't be here now. Because you won't regret not having worked more, or missing the winner of American Idol Season 78 1/2. You'll regret not doing what you loved. What you still love.

So please, for yourself, find a way to create. If you're reading this, promise me that you'll start a blog, or keep a journal, or grab a sketch book. Set up a YouTube account and sing or act or make cartoons. Do something for that creative part of your soul.

Please.

Voss

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Guest Author: Cathy Hird: My Point of View

I am just pleased as punch to be hosting the lovely Cathy Hird today, a fellow author at Prizm Books/Torquere Press.

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I love the way storytellers today pull us into the perspective of different characters. Writers put us right at the shoulder of one character after another letting us see events through their eyes. Even placing us in the skin of a character we don’t like is powerful. The texture of their reality can help us see what is truly at stake.

As I worked through my story Moon of the Goddess, I began with the captured princess Thalassai. She wakes from a dream in the dark and panics when she realizes she has been kidnapped. We follow her struggle to hold herself together and to find strength.

As Thalassai imagines her brother Melanion racing to her rescue, I figured the reader wanted to see him too. Their father sends a fleet after her, but her brother knows she may be killed if there is a direct confrontation. So he rides in secret to get to her before the fleet and find a way to free her.

As the underlying conflicts of the story got more complicated, I found that we needed to see what was happening in the kidnappers’ home.

Too many shifts in point of view can be confusing, but the story told in Moon of the Goddess needed to be seen from these three vantage points. I never make you fit inside the skin of the evil characters, though there are some. Hope you enjoy the shape of the story!



Thalassai, pampered princess of ancient Tiryns, wakes from a dream and discovers she has been kidnapped. Her fear grows to terror when she realizes her kidnappers intend to use her as a pawn to gain Poseidon’s aid for their valley. The mother goddess, who in the past sustained the valley, calls a bloodred harvest moon into the spring sky. She will challenge Poseidon for the allegiance of her people and assist the princess.
Thalassai’s brother Melanion rides north to rescue her, and finds allies among the servants of the goddess. Slowed by bandits, Melanion is forced to take a tunnel under the mountains even though earthquakes have rendered it hazardous. He skirts the edge of Hades’ kingdom as he races to reach his sister in time. Caught between the mother goddess and the rising power of Olympus, will Thalassai break under the strain or find the strength she needs to stand up to her captors?
Set in the days of Helen of Troy and the great heroes of Greece, this story takes the reader on a fast paced journey across the sun-drenched landscape of Homer and deep into darkness.

Here is a hint of what happens; this is the second day of the princess Thalassai’s captivity:
A breath of air woke Thalassai from her doze. The afternoon wind was rising. She looked through the open door and saw that the rowers had pulled their oars from the water. The ship’s captain gave the order to unfurl the sail and called the same order across the water to the other boat. The rowers murmured with relief as they secured the oars and began the task of raising the sail. Thalassai knew that the seamen of her city looked forward to this time of day when the wind took over from their tired arms.

Another whiff of breeze reached her corner of the cabin, and Thalassai breathed deeply of the fresh sea air. The midday heat had been oppressive in the cabin, but she had not dared to step out of its shelter. On an ordinary trip, she would have spent the sun’s zenith under the awning that sheltered the men from the burning sun, encouraging their efforts, listening to her father discuss plans for trading at their destination. She ached for the warmth of companions she knew, for the care of her servant Diakonia and the strength of her father. How could she have been stolen from her home? Tears flowed down her cheeks. She leaned her head against the ship’s side and gave in to sorrow.

Eventually, Thalassai’s tears ran dry, and her body felt empty as a streambed in summer. Her head ached when she lifted it from the side of the boat. She rubbed her temples, trying to ease the pain, trying to think. The image of the goddess by the door caught her attention.

Have you forgotten your promise to be strong?” The gentle whisper seemed to come from the image.

I prayed to be made strong, she thought. I didn’t promise. She shook her head at the idea that she argued with a statue, but she sat a little straighter.

Focus on what is going to happen next,” whispered the warm, motherly voice.

Thalassai stared at the figure of the goddess. Of course, the wooden statue did not move, but the eyes were deep, and the open hands seemed to reach toward her. “I’m being taken to Ephyra, a city far from my home,” she whispered, “a city I’d never heard of before this prince and his companions arrived in Tiryns.” A thin blade of anger entered her voice. “There is nothing else to know.”

The shaft of anger focused her thoughts. She had known that the sail would go up as soon as she felt the afternoon breeze. She now knew the captain stood at the rudder on the cabin roof while the men with practiced hands worked the ropes and sailcloth. She knew that soon the sailors would lounge on the benches, stretching their arms and legs with one assigned to watch for rocks and for shifts in the wind. She wondered if a sailor would be stationed with the captain to watch for pursuit.

How far back would Melanion be, she asked herself. She pressed the heels of her hands against her eyes to hold back the tears and told herself to figure out what would happen next.

Water would be passed, and a light meal. Someone might bring her food. She tried vainly to smooth the wrinkles in her linen tunic. If someone came, she wanted to look more like a princess. On her father’s ship, one of the eldest would tell stories as they rested. No one would sleep, as the sailors needed to be alert for the sudden wind, which could make the ship heal and turn. Later, as the sun fell toward the horizon, they would head for shore to seek fresh water and food.

With that thought, Thalassai realized that the drink the sailor had given her had tasted stale. She remembered his comment that water was in short supply. She realized that the night before they had not found a stream to replenish their water jars.

What did that mean? Lines furrowed her brow as she tried to concentrate. Melanion would know, but she had sailed often enough. She should be able to figure out the implication. Yes, but we never went without water, she thought. Except once. There was one day when a sudden storm carried them past the village that had been their intended stop. They had spent the night anchored in the shelter of a cliff, and the next day, they rationed water. They stopped to fill their water jars at the first cove with a stream flowing into the ocean.

Thalassai moved to the edge of the bed and swung her legs over. The sailors might or might not bring her water now, but they would stop at a village or a stream even before dusk. This was a land the northerners did not know, and they dared not miss an opportunity to replenish their supply. She felt the ship leap forward and knew the sail was up and full.

She leaned to look out the door. Aphoron was still standing in the prow, looking up at the sail. He looked straight toward her, and she pulled herself back into the shadows. She told herself he could not see into the darkness of the cabin, but still she shivered. I am supposed to try to be strong, she thought. She got off the bed and stood straight, imagining how tall her father would stand. Aphoron walked toward her between the benches. Her legs shook. She put her hand on the bed to support herself.

You can buy the book from Prizm HERE.


Do keep in touch by checking out my blog at openonemore.com or follow me on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/cathyhirdwriter.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Guest Post: Amber Cook

Today (or rather tonight), I have the pleasure of hosting Amber Michelle Cook, an author and fellow NIWA member.




Hey, Voss.  Thanks for having me on your blog for some Demon Hunting and Three Dimensional Physics.  NIWA rules!

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Mine Your Own Life for Story Setting Gold

Camelot.  Oz.  Narnia.  Middle Earth.  Gormenghast.  Hogwarts.  Downton Abbey. 

Some of these places are as big as the stories they come from.  Some of them are as alive in the reader's imagination as Lancelot, Dorothy, The White Queen, Frodo, Dumbledore or Lady Mary. 

If settings can be a major character in a story, how do we go about creating those particular kinds of characters? 

Not every setting has to be memorable or so alive you can picture other stories taking place in them, but we all want the major settings in our tales to be as engaging as they can be.  There are many ways to make settings come alive, but every setting usually begins with an inspiration. 

The Familiar, and the Favorites:

Dickens used his home city of Rochester, England to set his last novel in, giving it a different name:  Cloisterham.  Why rename it?  Although the setting is very much based on his detailed familiarity with Rochester, it's his take on the place, the feelings it evoked for him personally—in conjunction with the gothic tone of The Mystery of Edwin Drood—that conspired to produce a setting so alive and atmospheric, it breathes all the more with every description of it being an ancient place of the buried dead. 

Every year in fall I attend an event at the McMenamin's Edgefield in Troutdale, OR.  I love the Edgefield.  I couldn't believe it when one day near twilight I passed by this cluster of trees with bright yellow fall foliage to find the canopies of leaves sparkling with twinkle lights.  There were no building, no power lines.  With no sign of cords or outlets, it was like having a magical moment of encountering faerie.  That year when I did NaNoWriMo, I couldn't help it:  the story being a modern day adaptation of Through the Looking Glass, adult Alice's urbanized Wonderland was inspired by the Edgefield.  People who’ve read the novel for critique are struck by the setting, and I know it's because the enthusiasm and delight I have for the Edgefield translates to the reader.  (The novel is Sleepwaking, and it will be my third book, coming out this fall.) 

A few years ago I went to St. Louis and found this crazy, cool looking place called the City Museum on the web.  I spent a day there, a day I'll never forget.  I consider it one of my other favorite places in the world, along with the Edgefield, the Georgia Aquarium, any Cirque du Soleil tent, Florence, and the end of the street I used to live on in Höheinöd, Germany.  The City Museum is an eclectic mix of found industrial objects housed in a giant old shoe warehouse in which you can find the unexpected at every turn.  Caves, climbable giant slinkies, an airplane fuselage suspended several stories in the air via wire mesh tunnels like hamster runs you have to crawl through to get up there, an aquarium, multi-story slides, a wall made out of glass bottles, and so much more.  A couple years later I wrote a story using it as the inspiration for the setting, calling my place ‘the Imaginarium.’  Beta readers have loved the Imaginarium, much the same way I love the City Museum.  You can find the Imaginarium in my second book, Defense Mechanisms, which has just been released.

What are some of your favorite places?  Places you love going to.  That you love being in.  Place where you've had memorable experiences.  Places you know so well you almost don't think of them anymore. 

These could be the next great settings for your stories.  Figure out why they’ve impacted you and what emotions they generate, and then write to give your readers that kind of experience.  Whether you use them as is, or let them inspire you to create something all your own—if they touch you or animate you, they can do the same for your readers. 

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Mini-bio:

____________ _ _ _ _

Amber Michelle Cook writes stories of deep, meaningful fun.

Partly raised in Germany, she went to an international school for high-school, majored in linguistics, loves literature and period pieces.  She's also a photography/graphic arts artist of color and wonder living in the great Northwest.

In addition to leading improv writing tables, she's one of the team behind National Novel Editing Month and Member Relations Chair of Communications/Marketing for the Northwest Independent Writers Association.

Aside from words and stories, she adores dogs and is fascinated by any and everything aquatic.  Especially cephalopods.
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Book blurb:

_______ _  _   _    _

What if your déjà vu was really flashes of a life running parallel to your own?

_ _ _ ____

An imaginative child, Janey left childhood far behind as soon as older children and adults began to tease her for it, much to the disappointment of her younger brother.  On her thirtieth birthday, the first Pulse hits and drives them to seek shelter at his favorite hangout – a one-of-a-kind indoor playland for grown-ups called the Imaginarium.  When the place is attacked by urban looters, she becomes an unwilling 'defender of imagination.'

Raised within the confines of Tanglewood, a workshop-residence formed from the awakening of a grove of silver birch, Ozanne fled her family's unrelenting expectations for a life of frivolity and vanity at Court.  Upon the passing of a Wave that obstructs all but personal Glamour, she races back with her brother to protect it from the Foe, though certain she has little to offer.  Why then does he persist in looking to her to protect them?

_ _ _ ____

Defense Mechanisms is a contemporary fairy tale of finding realistic, modern-day happy endings when the ways we learn to protect ourselves from other people's emotional sore spots, like ignorance and hate, keep us from being who we really are and finding our place in life.


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On Amazon/Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1490580042/ (also Smashwords)
Twitter:  @cook_amber


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

New Release: King Jester Book One: Zirkua Fantastic

The circus. For years, before we had movies and TV and computers and video games, people went to see circuses for their entertainment. They'd crowd into hot, sweaty big tops to see women swinging from their hair or people up high, risking their lives on tightropes.

Even today, you can see the circus and its influence. From modern day troupes, like Cirque du Soleil and Cirque Berzerk, to not quite so plain reinventions, like the March Fourth Marching Band.

However you feel about the circus and the carnival (Let's face it, we're not talking about an industry well-known for ethics), the wonder, the mystery, the sheer thrill of it has never faltered.

But what happens when there's more there than tricks and training? What happens when the inexplicable really is inexplicable? That's what I wanted to explore. That's where Zirkua Fantastic came from. What if you really couldn't help but be sucked in by a ringmaster's spiel? What if that strongman really was as powerful as he looked? What if a tightrope walker could cheat death, because she couldn't fall?

What if all the magic was real? And what if that magic suddenly lashed back?



Excerpt:
As the caravan rambled down the interstate, Tobias rolled onto his side. The prop wagon wasn't the most comfortable. He'd have to opt out of practice to sleep once they got the tent up. No hope for that here.

He tossed aside the air silk he'd been using as a blanket and sat up, looking around, listening to the truck's tires thud across potholes and cracked pavement. He checked the straps holding the crates, tightened one that had loosened on the drive. "Crap." If one came loose, others could, too. He pushed himself off his stack of crates and toppled when they hit a particularly nasty bump. "When was the last time they fixed up this road?" He dragged himself up and stumbled toward the rear door of the truck, cranking straps tighter as he went. Once he got used to the movement, he sped up, tightening down all the cargo in fifteen or twenty minutes. Only the first strap had come loose.

Wood scraped against wood. His heart beat faster, breath catching. He scanned through the truck. Nothing had moved, to his eye. "Just another bump." Palm pressed to his chest, he tried to force his heartbeat back down to something normal. "Nothing to worry about."

He sat back on his crates and wrapped himself in the air silk. Sleeping or not, he needed a barrier against the cold and, though he would never admit it, it left him feeling safer, more protected against whatever probably wasn't in the truck with him. He scanned the boxes a final time, just in case he had missed something.

Still nothing out of place. Not that Tobias could see much in the dark. He tossed the silk over his head and lay down on the crates, desperate for some semblance of sleep. He sucked in a deep breath. The silk smelled like tobacco.

He heard some kind of rustling and flipped the silk back over his head. Cerulean eyes filled his gaze. The familiar, heady scent rushed into his nostrils. "Marley."

"You sound surprised."

"A little." Marley lifted the silk and climbed in next to Toby, snuggling up so close his scent filled the cocoon. Nice to have you here. "I mean, this is an artist's wagon. It's not really the sort of thing you do."

He chuckled, hot breath cascading over Toby's back. "That's not quite true." He kissed Toby's neck, sending a chill racing along the corded muscles. "I end up in the prop wagon most nights."

"Do you?" He did his best to sound unfazed. In reality, he fought back warm, nervous laughter. "I'd think I would have noticed."

"Well, you did this time."

"So I did." Toby scooted closer, relishing in Marley's warmth. "And I'm very happy about it." He leaned his head against Marley's chest. The slight movement of the fabric wafted more of the intoxicating perfume into the space. "How much longer 'til we get to the next town, you think?"

"I'd give it an hour. Maybe a little more. If I'm any good at guessing distance." Marley pulled Tobias even closer. "You need to get some sleep, babe."

"Not if it's only an hour." He turned over and nuzzled into Marley's shirt, staring up into bright blue eyes. "I'd still be completely useless with only an hour's sleep." He yawned, and then slapped Marley across the arm. "Stop being so damn warm." The end of the sentence got muddled by a second, gaping yawn. "It's like sleeping with a space heater."

"You can't blame me for being hot. In fact, I remember you thanking me profusely on more than one occasion for it."

"Well, it's not very helpful when I'm trying to stay awake."

Marley chuckled. "Then get off."

He nestled closer in response, muttering into Marley's chest. "It's not that unbearable."

Marley wriggled his hand under Toby's chin, lifted his face, kissed him. "I figured that much."



---

Don't let anyone know, but I managed to steal the list of upcoming performances. I'm posting it here so we can all get a few shows under our belts.

October 23: http://vossfoster.blogspot.com
October 24: http://iyanajenna.blogspot.com
October 25: http://jaletaclegg.blogspot.com
October 26: http://sevantownsend.blogspot.com
October 27: http://prizmbooks.blogspot.com
October 28: http://openonemore.com
October 29: http://francespauli.blogspot.com

Just don't let anyone know that I gave you this... I don't know that they'd be happy.

Voss

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Circus is Coming

There's no notification, no posters stuck on lamp posts, just the sudden bustle of workers and performers, and the tent, a spectacle of burgundy and silver silk rising into the air.

You're drawn in, drawn by the scents of circus foods, of hot pretzels and cotton candy and off-brand Coca-Cola, and by the shouting, and by the damned tent. Where did it come from? Only the night-owls know. When you went to bed, it was all an empty lot. But not now.

Before you know it, the circus seems to have leaked out. Performers run the streets, spitting fire, throwing knives, dancing and twirling and bending in ways the human body shouldn't bend. You can't help but watch it, so beautiful, so unlike your life.

It all comprises a silent message...

The circus is in town.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Guest Author :: Shira Glassman

I'm thrilled to be hosting Shira Glassman here today, and I must say her new book has me very excited.

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The Second Mango
by Shira Glassman
It's hard to find a girlfriend when you don't know any other lesbians, so the young, nerdy Queen Shulamit hires the legendary warrior Rivka to take her around the kingdom on the back of her dragon in search of other girls like her. But the simple quest quickly turns into a rescue mission when they discover a temple full of women turned to stone by an evil sorcerer.

So, why did I write a fantasy novel with a gluten-free heroine?

Imagine being a happy, well-off teenage girl with a loving father. You do well in your studies because you devour nonfiction for fun, and other than the fact that you don't know if you'll ever find a girlfriend because your culture doesn't openly talk about homosexuality, your life is pretty uncomplicated.

Then you start getting sick all the time. It starts with stomach cramps, and a bloated feeling. Soon, you're spending all the time in the bathroom, and food doesn't stay down very often. You start becoming afraid to eat, so your already spindly body becomes weak. You're scared, because you've never had to deal with anything like this before. And the worst part is that because nobody can explain it, they start to think you're making it all up.

Now superimpose that scenario onto a fantasy setting.

The main character of my novel, The Second Mango, is twenty-year-old Queen Shulamit. When she was only a teenager and still just a princess, before her father passed away, she lost her ability to digest gluten (a protein in wheat) and also an unidentified protein in poultry. However, because her world lacks the technology and medical advances to understand digestive disorders, her father and his court are left to muddle through with typical pre-gunpowder-era medical cluelessness. She's royalty, so poison is quickly tested for and ruled out. The king sends for a magician, but he determines that she's not under a curse.

At this point they just stop believing her, and she's left alone in a prison of anxiety and disgust with her body.

Into that prison steps the palace sous-chef, Aviva, with a glass of water. She's a working-class woman, about two years older than Shulamit, and thanks to a lifetime of caring for a sick mother, she's got ideas of her own about how to treat the princess's malady.

By the time The Second Mango opens, however, Aviva has vanished with nothing but a cryptic Dear Jane letter behind her. Shulamit is left to manage her food issues on her own, and they form a key portion of her adventures and characterization in the book.

How will Shulamit navigate a world in which every meal is a challenge? In a fantasy story you have no Glutino; you have no Udi's; you have no food safety code, either.



The main plot of the story is Shulamit's search for love, family, and her own strength as she flies around her kingdom on the back of her bodyguard Rivka's dragon. But her simple quest to get through the day without getting sick is the ominous background music through all of that. It's a background music that many of us face in our real lives -- my spouse, my father-in-law, my dear friend Ducky to whom the book is dedicated -- and I wanted to tell that story, too.

Available from Prizm Books HERE. The print version will be here sooner rather than later.

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If you want more information, Shira has both a BLOG and a TUMBLR that you can mozy on over to.


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Guest Post: Frances Pauli: Writing War

I'm pleased as punch to have Frances Pauli here to talk about her new, wonderful book, Dogs of War: Vertigo.

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I grew up with a father who was a Vietnam vet. He didn’t discuss it, didn’t like to talk about it, but it was there just the same. He liked to watch war documentaries too, and we hated them. I could not stand the boredom of long Sundays full of black and white non-fiction military programs.

Hindsight is a funny thing.

Well, we didn’t care for his watching the news either. Most kids don’t. I get it. It’s scary and it makes you feel like you can’t change anything. That’s why it’s so important to watch. Nobody tells you this, but enough build-up of that feeling is exactly what makes people get mad, stand up, and go change things. It’s true.

But I digress.

The war thing drove me nuts. If war was so awful, why was it always on the television? I ignored it for the most part, I breezed through history classes because of strong memorization skills more than any real interest in history. (Other than ancient stuff—that shit’s cool, right?) I grew up and lost my dad and started my own family and…wrote a war book.

Wait. What?

It’s true. I wrote a war story and it’s my favorite book yet. I’m still not entirely sure how it happened.

I spent a lot of time researching the book too, and that meant…you guessed it, lots of watching war documentaries. Not just tolerating them either, not getting through them, but actually enjoying the story of war. I became fascinated with it, in fact, and I still am.

What is the one thing everyone tells you is the most important thing about a story? Okay, it differs from expert to expert, but most of them will put conflict somewhere near the top. Most of them, in fact will put it at number one. Conflict. Tension on every page, as Donald Maass so succinctly puts it. Some would say that without conflict there is no story and war is, by definition, conflict.

It is heroism and complications. It is tragedy and horror and beauty all at the same time. It is, basically, stuffed full of story material provided you find an angle that appeals to you. I found that angle with my dogs.

When I discovered a picture of WW1 soldiers and their dogs in an AKC magazine, I was hooked. It didn’t even take long enough for me to blink, which is a good thing cause I was staring and couldn’t have blinked if I wanted to. I knew in that instant that I had to have their story. Not only that, I wanted to tell it.

And once I started down that road, I found more stories and more. That is the beauty of my profession, of tracking a story wherever it leads you. In this case, it led me to Vertigo and to the next two books at least. Because there is way too much story here to contain in one volume, and I am very grateful for the chance to let this one unfold.



BLURB:

 A modern day accountant with a level head and her feet firmly planted
in ordinary reality, Genevieve doesn’t believe in past lives, demons
or true love. All of which seems like a perfectly practical approach
to life until the thing that killed her in World War One decides it’s
time to try again…

 Genevieve Oliver doesn’t break the law. She doesn’t take risks, and
she definitely doesn’t believe in anything weird. So getting pulled
over for speeding on the way to pick up her new dog wasn’t exactly on
her to do list. Even more surprising, the cop who shows up at her
window seems familiar. She’s never seen him before, and yet, just
looking at the man makes her want to cry. But Viv has her head on
straight. She shakes off the encounter and heads to the dog breeder
only to have an old magazine photo trigger a full blown, past life
flashback. Not only do the soldiers in the picture look like her and
her mysterious cop, she remembers them, a memory that holds as much
danger as it does passion.

 Now Viv is bouncing between two lives and being stalked by something
evil in both of them. As the love story of two soldiers unfolds, her
own heart opens for a man who may not even be available. Not that she
has time to worry about minor details. If she can’t figure out the
demon’s identity fast, Viv could lose more than just her life. She
could lose everything she never believed in.

EXCERPT:

She’d messed up the search. The article had it wrong, she was
certain. The soldiers and dogs in her photo were French. They had
to be. Plus, searching for Belgian dog soldiers hadn’t netted her a
thing. She’d also tried Red Cross dogs, but came up with far too
many pages to sort, even when she specified images only. Most of
the shots she found were contemporary, rescue dogs from recent
disasters and modern warfare.
Tonight, she’d try France.
First, she had a puppy to get to know. Paula recommended
letting her girl settle in the first night, and she’d managed to resist
the urge to smother the poor thing. She’d carried the pup out into
the backyard three times during the night, and resisted bringing
her into bed the few times she whined, but otherwise she’d done
her best to respect the dog’s privacy. Now, however, they needed
to get going on that bonding, and the way Viv saw it, her pup
needed a name.
She parked herself, cross-legged, in the center of the living
room floor with a tub of liver treats in her lap. The pup lay in the
kennel doorway, paws crossed and ears up. She’d squirreled half
the squeaky toys into the bed, buried a few in the couch cushions,
and currently held her favorite between needle sharp puppy teeth.
She eyed Viv suspiciously and bit down until the toy squealed.
Her skin color leaned toward copper, with a few scattered
light spots under her neck and chest. It was much softer than
Tortugas, like chamois. Viv had discovered as much during the
brief contact taking the little girl out for her runs, but aside from
the rare tentative sniff, the dog hadn’t shown any interest in letting
her touch it otherwise.
The liver treat had her attention though. Viv held it forward
and waited while the black nose twitched. The toy squeaked one
last time and then dropped to the hardwood. Both front paws
reached, and a low whine came from the pup’s throat. Her tail
thumped against the blankets, and she scooted forward on her belly.
Just like Champ did on the barbed wire course.
Ice slid down Viv’s spine. The liver dropped from her fingers,
and she fumbled for it with a racing heart. Just like Champion. Where
the hell had that come from? She held the treat out again, but as
the pup belly-crawled across the floor, she saw a black face, one
with feathery hair and both ears erect and listening. And coils of
spiked wire just above the mud.
“It’s okay,” Viv crooned. “You can do it.” She had to stop
herself from saying, boy. This pup was younger, and scared. She
had no hair and she wanted a treat, not a medal. A slow inhale, a
moment of calm, and Viv knew that. She sat on her living room
floor in 2013. Not France, no war, and no LePiu looking over her
shoulder. Where had that name just come from?
“Here girl, come on,” she whispered, and half hoped for the
images to return. She wanted to know about them—about Champ
and Pieter and Marcel. And LePiu.
She’d wanted this dog for years. This dog. The beautiful, soft
little nudist creeping across the room—so close now she could
feel the puppy breath on her fingers. She held perfectly still and
looked into the watery brown eyes. This dog. But Champion had
looked at him like that.
Viv saw it. He lay on his side in the mud, and the unnatural
pose alone was enough to tell him he’d fallen, that he’d suffered
a wound. The pain just finalized that verdict. It spread like a cold
ache through his midsection. He reached the one arm out, and
saw his own fingers stretching toward the dog. Champion. The
enemy hadn’t noted Champ yet, and the black dog crept like a
shadow toward his pistol. It lay inches beyond his fingertips. Come
on, Champ. A few more feet.
Someone rolled him over. Fire tore outward from the wound,
but it wasn’t nearly so horrible as the face snarling inches from his
own. The skin stretched tight over prominent bones, and the eyes
were two huge sockets, black pits filled with nothing.
Viv screamed. The puppy exploded away from her, all claws
and scrambling for purchase on the wood. The tub of treats flew
to the side, and all she saw was the sparsely haired tail disappearing
behind her couch. Her heart banged against her ribs. The eyes of
whatever thing she’d seen still glared at her. She could see them
through her living room. They burned into the back of her mind
and refused to go away.


Saturday, August 10, 2013

Guest Author: Jaleta Clegg

Today, I have the honor of hosting the wonderful Jaleta Clegg.

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Writing a Great Adventure Story

Take some quirky characters, throw in some nasty villains, add spaceships and monsters, shake around until it explodes. Comb through the explosion multiple times, fixing plot holes and rewriting scenes that just don't work. Find a way to get it out there for people to read and enjoy. That's my basic recipe.

Let me bring you up to speed.

Book one, Nexus Point, is really the nexus point for the series. It's the beginning, ground zero, where all the dominos start falling. Take one recent Patrol Academy graduate, Dace, who has her heart set on owning her own trading ship, add two crewmembers who work for rival crime syndicates, and let the fun begin. The ship reactor overloads. They have to abandon ship. But the lifepods are old and the guidance systems defective. Dace crashes on a planet where she's attacked by the resident bovine population. That's chapter one.

I love action, lots of it. My books are packed with explosions, chases, fights, and lots of trouble. In the latest release, book four - Kumadai Run, Dace and her crew (not the ones who betrayed her in Nexus Point) get caught a five-hundred-year-old trap deep in a dangerous area of space.



Check out the books. If you're looking for fun, fast-paced action adventure, these books deliver it by the freighter load.


BONUS: Nexus Point is FREE from Smashwords with coupon AA47G

Exceprt from Kumadai Run:

The ship lurched to the side and started sliding towards the planet. Clark muttered under his breath as he checked the ship. I turned back to my own boards. The engines whined as they tried to hold us to the course Clark had set. Something was pulling us down to the planet. Clark pushed the engines to maximum, fighting whatever it was.
Something in the controls gave with a bang and flash of light. Sparks flew across the controls. The smell of burned components filled the cockpit. The scanning screens flashed pure white, then went dark. Completely. She tried to reboot them, but the systems were dead.
“Where are we going?” Clark asked over the growing sound of the engine rumble. He fought his controls, trying to keep us steady.
“Your guess is as good as mine,” Jasyn answered.
It was my turn to swear. I’d made several blind landings, the worst in a defective emergency pod. I hated not knowing where I was going. I hated not being in control.

“We’re going down,” Clark said, unnecessarily. All of us could hear the sound of thin atmosphere tearing past the hull.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

I Still Live

Woohoo! They haven't taken away my Blogger account, yet. Thank heavens.

I know, I should have been posting more often. Work got in the way. See, the last three months have been all about editing, which means that I am completely and utterly burned out. I apologize for that, I really do.

Hopefully, by the end of this month or not long after, I'll be able to return to full functionality.

Until then, the helm is yours.

Voss

Friday, July 5, 2013

Why YOU Are a Nerd

You don't know how many time I've heard it before: Oh, no, I'm not a nerd.

Bull. Shit.

I'm sorry to tell you, but modern society, anyone exposed to media culture, is nerdy. We can't really help it, and I wish people would stop trying. You're a nerd. Your brother is a nerd. That homeless guy down the street? I bet he's a nerd, too.

What? How can that possibly be? Why, it's preposterous.

Again: bullshit.

Let's take a look at fashion. What are people saying is the next huge thing? Steampunk of course.

But, but, steampunk isn't nerdy! It's popular.

How many more times can I call BS on that kind of thing?

Steampunk is retrofuturistic sci-fi. Sci-fi, folks! It's origins are in nerddom, along with cyberpunk, Harry Potter, Twilight, all the Marvel movies. We are a nerd culture. The more quickly we accept this, the happier we'll all be, I think.

Let me break open the arcane world of SF/F conventions for you that haven't been, for you that scoff at the idea of setting foot in that place.

We have folk music, belly dancers, fire-breathers.

People walk around with snakes, women wearing corsets and scanty clothes, men wearing nothing but leather shorts.

Scotch-tasting tents, impeccable reproductions of costumes, smiling, laughing, drinking, handmade jewelry, drinking, midnight raves, dancing the Time Warp in the hallway, taking pictures with strangers because they, like you, admit that they're nerds.

Need more? How many of you watched all the Harry Potter movies, read all the books? Or The Hunger Games? Twilight? Lord of the Rings? The Chronicles of Narnia? Kung Fu Panda? Despicable Me? V for Vendetta? Batman? Superman? Deadpool? The X-Men? What the hell do you think is going on with all of those? They are NERDY! Not to mention Star Wars. One of the biggest cultural phenomena.

Just because something get popular doesn't mean it's no longer nerdy. I want you to say it loud and proud: I am nerd! Hear the mighty roll of my D20!

Voss

Monday, June 3, 2013

I Am, in Fact, Alive

Well, however, may very well be under suspicion. I've had one heck of a hectic life lately. My family moved back up from Texas, so we have an extra six people trying to cram daily life into a single-wide trailer house. The fact that they sleep in a motor home is the lone saving grace in this population crisis.

And, in the in-between moments, I've been writing. I finished the second book of a trilogy (The first book will, hopefully, be coming soon, but no promises.) and a short story that I intend to send out to a lovely little steampunk anthology in the works down in Australia.

Aside from that, I've been plotting other short stories and novellas to try and squeeze in, since writing an actual 'novel' while trying to adjust to family is, well...unlikely. I think we can all agree to that.

Mostly, I've been sleeping or wishing I could sleep. In fact, I kind of wish I could sleep now...it's not a bad idea, really...I think I'll take a nap.

Happy Monday, y'all,
Voss

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

ASIM #57: Launched

And you don't even have to have a ticket to read it. Yes, after some tricky wormhole trouble a little ways back, Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine is back on track with ASIM 57. Why should you care? Well, there are some great stories in there...including one of my own, 'Schrödinger.'


If this interests you at all, hop on over here and see if they'll teleport you a copy. I bet they would.

As always, best wishes for whatever your life may hold,
Voss

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Z - Zooooooooombies


Braaaaaaaains.

Zombies are still having a good time. It’s died down a bit, but the train is still chugging along. I had a discussion about this with a number of people once. The prevailing theory was that zombies are our new cautionary tales.

Wash your hands or you’ll get sick. And getting sick could turn you into a zombie.

Stay away from strangers. They might be carrying the zombie virus.

A mind is a terrible thing to waste. And if you don’t use it, it doesn’t get tough, so zombies are more likely to eat it.

If you couldn’t tell, I’m basically making this up. But seriously—enjoy the rest of your day. I plan to.

I also wanted to say how much I just loved doing A-Z blogging again. Through all the stresses and strains, it was still a great experience. And to new friends and acquaintances: hi!

Voss

Monday, April 29, 2013

Y - You


You scroll across an article, realizing not long after the beginning that it’s written in second person. You scratch your head, wondering who in their right mind would ever do that. That’s against the Geneva Convention, you recall.

Okay, I’ll stop. But I do want to talk second person. Just for a bit. You can shoot me later. But I’ve always had a soft spot for one thing that came from second person. I think you know what it is: Choose Your Own Adventure books. I loved them. I still do, actually. It’s just hard to find them written for adults. And by hard, I mean nearly impossible.

But what do you think? Do you think it’s time for a Choose Your Own Adventure comeback? I’d like to see that. Heck, I may even try my hand at it. In a couple years. When I get through everything else I’m already working on.

Cheers,
Voss

Saturday, April 27, 2013

X - Xianghua and Other Badass Women


Who doesn’t like a warrior woman? No one, that’s right. And these, in my opinion, are the ten most badass of them all, ranging across movies, shows, books, and video games. Enjoy. Or something.

10: Molly Weasley (Harry Potter): Why so low? Because she only had one truly badass moment. Then why does she even make the list? She killed Bellatrix Lestrange. That alone warrants her being on this list, trust me.

9: Xianghua (Soul Calibur): Anyone that can trade blows with trained samurai, undead pirates, and demon knights is okay I my book. More than okay. Xianghua is highly trained in martial arts. And, you know, she sort of wields Soul Calibur, the sword of pure awesomeness or something like that (I’m paraphrasing, of course).

8: Mara Jade (Star Wars Extended Universe): You have to love her. She’s a force sensitive, can wield a blaster (and later a lightsaber), and is capable of keeping up with the last officially trained Jedi in the galaxy.

7: Nevva Winter (The Pendragon Series): Sure she’s evil. That doesn’t make her not a badass. She’s manipulative, clever, and can change her appearance at will. That’s on top of the normal abilities of Travelers, like instantaneous understanding of any language and the ability of traveling through space and time to another dimension. Plus she does redeem herself later.

6: Demona (Gargoyles): A magitech gargoyle warrior. I love it. She’s almost entirely self-serving, so she’s not exactly nice. Plus she has some sex appeal, which never helps. And, unlike most kids’ show villains, she isn’t a bumbling ball of uselessness. She’s bloody clever, actually.

5: Minerva McGonagall (Harry Potter): Come on. You can’t honestly contest that. A woman that can hold her own against Death Eaters and has the respect of Albus Dumbledore? She’s got to have something go for her and you know it.

4: Lady Tsunade (Naruto): I wouldn’t want to face her. Capable, with her power limited, to flick people off and away with a single finger. She can break bones with slight hits. And did I mention the summoning of the giant slug? All while using a good portion of her power to hold her appearance where she likes it.

3: Raine (The Watershed Trilogy): She can fight, ride a horse, scale almost sheer walls with her bare hands, and she came back from the dead. She learned from a master how to pick locks. She can heal. She was willing to stand up to one of the greatest forces of evil in the world with only one man at her side. She was also blessed by the powers of all three gods of the world, one of only three people of the sort that exist.

2: Unohana Retsu (Bleach): Or Yachiru Kenpachi, if you want to get a little archaic. This is a woman that instills fear in fierce warriors just by existing, a woman that, in thousands of years of battle, only ever took one scar, and a small one at that, a woman that learned advanced healing techniques for the sole purpose of fighting longer. She’s a bit like Yoda, only fighting when duty calls. But older and better looking.

1: Leeloo (The Fifth Element): You can’t argue this one. She’s the supreme being. They come right out and say that. She can fight, learn anything in minutes, and can fire a laser from her mouth that stops basically the ultimate evil where it sits. Find me someone better. I dare you.

Anyone I missed? Let me know—maybe you’ll turn me onto something I haven’t yet come across.

Voss

P.S: This is, of course, just for spec fic. Otherwise there would have been some other names on here. And yes, I cheated on the title a bit. Oh well.

Friday, April 26, 2013

W - What Not to Buy for Writers


You might know a writer. If so, you might be able to pry them away from the keyboard long enough to tell you their birthday or get them to sing a Christmas carol or something. But that might be about it. You won’t know what to get them Well, fear not. Writers are easy enough to appease. But here are the list of the top five things you should NOT get your writer friends.

(Note: This is meant to be slightly humorous. Take with a grain f salt and call me in the morning.)

5: Pencils: Pencils are evil. Unless your writer asks for pencils, just back away.

4: A desk set: It’s not going to get used. Sorry. I don’t want an audience while I’m writing. If you want to get them a desk set, don’t do it because you think that a writer should like it. We won’t

3: Nice pens: We’ll just use them and either destroy them or never buy refills, then feel guilty whenever we use another pen around you.

2: Notebooks: It’s a really nice gesture. I mean it. It is. But I’ve never met a writer without blank notebooks. We just don’t get around to filling them very quickly. I once got a bunch of half-used notebooks. Like, twenty or more. I gave away half of them, lost half of what I had left, and that still lasted me several years. The problem is that we by ourselves, and everyone buys them for us. We really don’t need them.

1: A fancy notebook: Just stop. Step away from the leather bound notebook. It’s expensive and we really aren’t going to use it. There’s some strange combination of already having way too many notebooks we aren’t using and a general reverence for nice books that makes it impossible to mark one. If you’re set on the idea, then go to the juvenile section, pick us up something with, like, Harry Potter stuff on it, or Katniss Everdeen. Something nerdy is always good—we wont’ feel so bad wrecking it.

Happy hunting,
Voss


Thursday, April 25, 2013

V - Victims


War doesn’t exist without victims. A whole lot of victims. Victims you don’t even necessarily think of. We all know that soldiers are going to die. But how about the victims like the forest? Cutting down trees for supplies. Or the homes that get ransacked by soldiers that need some place to stay.

In war, nobody and nothing can go unaffected. If you’ve heard about a war, it’s going to affect you, Maybe not in any serious way, but that war is going to affect you. And so often, writers forget about that. The emotional, spiritual, financial implications of a war.

Just food for thought.

Voss

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

U - Seek the Unexpected


Name me a science fiction musical. And…go!

Have an answer? My bet is that most everyone came up with Either The Rocky Horror Picture Show (or The Rocky Horror Show) or Repo! The Genetic Opera.

Now, how many people would actually think of science fiction and a musical together, in one beast? Not a lot of people. It’s a great idea, but it’s…well, it’s not the kind of thing that you expect, to be honest.

Well, I make it a point to track down sci-fi musicals. Why? Because I love Rocky Horror and Repo. I love sci-fi. I love musicals. And do you know why they work? It’s because they are just a little to the left. They work because they are not the norm. I mean, if everyone did sci-fi musicals, I don’t honestly think that Repo would be nearly as big as it is. It would still be a good movie, but it wouldn’t have the same following, I don’t think, if there were two dozen other sci-fi musicals out there with full, huge, Hollywood style budgets. It would be just a low quality movie, I’m afraid. Maybe *gasp* the same fate would befall Rocky Horror, too. Not as likely.

So, when you can, if you’re looking for something new, look for something unexpected, something without many other examples. They tend to have something going for them, a certain exuberance that mainstream cinema has a nasty tendency to edit out.

In my search, I now turn to you: any sci-fi musicals I absolutely must see?

Voss