Wednesday, December 16, 2015

December 2015 Update: NaNo and Book 6

Picture Time for a look at where I've been and where I'm going. For NaNoWriMo in November, I wrote nearly 54,000 words of Heir of Tanaris (the book formerly knows as The Healing Tree; I love it when I finally think of a decent title!). It still isn't finished; I'm guessing the first draft is going to end up around 80,000 words, by far the longest novel I've written in a while. The characters and plot continue to grow and change on me; the synopsis I've posted is already obsolete. I like to plan and outline my books and develop my characters ahead of time, but once I'm immersed in the story and my subconscious takes over, things can go in very different directions. I'm plugging along with finished the draft at a thousand words a day (usually more; that's my minimum). I'm hoping to finish it by the end of December, but with Christmas bearing down quickly, that might not happen.

I'm also working on major revisions to For the Wildings, the 6th and final book of Daughter of the Wildings. It's much longer than the other books in the series and between work on Heir and Christmas stuff, the revision isn't going real fast, but I am making daily progress on it. Still no good idea of when it'll be released.

And those two things are taking pretty much all of my brain power these days. I'm still reading a lot with the little that's left, so I'll do another reading roundup soon.

The plan for 2016: continue writing 1000 words a day on novels, short stories, writing exercises that may or may not turn into stories, whatever. I went a long time without writing anything new, and got rusty on it. Also, after the release of For the Wildings in the first part of the year, the next books on the list for release will be The Source-Fixer (still looking for a decent title for that one) and Heir of Tanaris, and also the Tales from Azara collection. I'll probably post a few of those here for free. Beyond that, my very first novel ever and its sequel are waiting for evaluation and revision, and I'm working out ideas for a follow-up series to Daughter of the Wildings and also for a sequel to Urdaisunia.

That should keep me out of trouble for a while.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Last Chance for How To Revise Your Novel

Registration for Holly Lisle's awesome How To Revise Your Novel class closes tonight, Tuesday Dec. 15, at 11:59 pm Eastern Standard Time (or in about 10 hours from this posting). I took this class and can't say enough good things about it. You'll learn how to take your novel apart, identify what works and what doesn't and why, and turn it into the book you wanted to write. It's five months of brain- and gut-wrenching work, and the absolute best $285 you can spend on your writing, hands down.

Here's more from Ms. Lisle herself:
I'm personally taking students live through this How To Revise Your Novel class---(the live part is on the forum, which I'll be opening later today).

Class officially starts tomorrow, December 16.

To register, click here.

Registration closes at 11:59 PM EST tonight.

Once I close the doors, you'll be able to join a preregistration list for the next class. I'll open that in either six months or around the completion of the next NaNoWriMo, in Nov-Dec 2016.

If you need to learn to revise effectively, efficiently, beautifully... and now, I hope I'll see you in class.

Learn to revise with joy,

Holly Lisle
A couple of key points: Holly will be working live with this class through the forums, and once registration for this class closes, the next opportunity won't be for six months to a year. If you want to learn revision skills that I firmly believe will make any first draft better, no matter how wrecked it is, and that will also help your writing skills as well, don't miss out on this!

**links are my affiliate links, and I get a commission on signups. Only graduates of HTRYN are allowed to be affiliates, because they can genuinely recommend it. And I do genuinely recommend it.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Holly Lisle's How To Revise Your Novel Course Now Open for Registration

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I've blogged before about my revision process, which came from Holly Lisle's How To Revise Your Novel course. Five months of gut- and brain-wrenching work that teaches you how to take your novel draft apart, identify what works and what doesn't and why, and how to fix what doesn't work and make your novel into the book you wanted to write. I took HTRYN using Urdaisunia as my project, and took what was a frightening frankendraft patchwork of old and new writing and turned it into a novel I was proud to release. Whether you want to self-publish or pursue traditional publishing, whether or not you plan to hire an editor, no matter how many creative writing classes you may (or may not) have taken, I believe it's the best $285 you can spend on your writing, hands down. The course was closed for a while, while the site was being rebuilt, but now registration is open again through Tuesday, December 16. Holly will only be opening registration once a year, or twice if there's enough interest, so if you want to take How To Revise Your Novel, now's the time to consider signing up.

Here's more about it from Holly Lisle:

For the next seven days, UNTIL 11:59 PM EST on TUESDAY, Dec. 15, you can register for the class that has been teaching writers how turn rough, lumpy, awkward, and sometimes just outright BROKEN first drafts into professional-quality fiction since Nov. 23, 2009.

The class started out back in 2009 having two registrations a year. I changed that at some point, but when I did, the vibrancy of the community of writers that developed in the classroom (a sort of war-buddies-who'd-shared-hardships-and-SEEN-things camaraderie) disappeared.

Limited-time registration is back.

Once again, How To Revise Your Novel is only going to be available either one or two times a year.

I promise the course will be available to a new class once a year.

I'll only make How To Revise Your Novel available a second time in any given year if I have enough students waiting to register to fill a second class.
However...

Once you own How To Revise Your Novel, you can use the classroom and (soon to be added) forum year-round, retake any lessons, go through the initial process and then the streamlined process with every book (or story, screenplay, biography or any other fiction or personal nonfiction you write).

I've even had students tell me it helped them with their nonfiction. The class is NOT focused on that, though.
If you do a NaNoWriMo novel a year, then next year you'll already have the class. And the year after that. And the year after that.
If you write a book every two months, you'll have everything in the classroom waiting to help you make every one of those books better.
If you write a story a day, what you'll learn in this class will show you how to make those short stories better, too.
And if you just want to write one or two novels, but you want to make them great?
How To Revise Your Novel will be there for you for them, too.

Being a working writer who creates great stories that readers love isn't some magical gift of the gods. It is a learned skill. It takes a lot of words, and a lot of work.

But YOU CAN DO IT.

Any writer willing to put in the work can learn the necessary skills, and if you're willing to apply those skills to every word you write, YOU CAN get good.

To join the class, go here
     
To log in if you're a current How-To-Think-Sideways-class student or HTTS-class grad
Then use the green How To Think Sideways button in the Classroom Hub to reach your registration page

WARNING!

How To Revise Your Novel is not an easy class.

You cannot learn how to revise your work by READING lessons.

THERE IS NO THEORY in How To Revise Your Novel.

Every bit of it is practical, step-by-step instructions.

You have to actually print out your manuscript, print out the worksheets, and DO the work.

And with your first professional-process revision, there is a LOT of work.

Here's the good news.

The first REAL revision you do will be the MOST PAINFUL, MOST DIFFICULT, MOST AGONIZING and occasionally, the MOST HORRIFYING revision you will ever do.

How is that GOOD news, you're asking?

:) (If somebody told me I was walking into pain, you better believe I'D ask.)

So here's why it's good news.

Discovering during your first revision everything you do wrong over and over in your writing teaches you not to make those mistakes anymore. Your writing becomes better when you revise, and your NEXT first-draft manuscript will be better from the beginning.

So your next novel's revision will be EASIER to do. Usually, it will be a LOT easier.
Trust me, with each new manuscript, you'll invent brand-new mistakes that you'll only discover in your next revision.

Ask me how I know...

But learning to do a real, solid, step-by-step one-time-through revision will make you a better writer, and every book you revise from then on...

...will also make you a better writer.

So, if this sounds like what you're looking for, go now, and join me and the next class of writers getting ready to get GOOD.

To join the class, go here
     
To log in if you're a current How-To-Think-Sideways-class student or HTTS-class grad
Then use the green How To Think Sideways button in the Classroom Hub to reach your registration page

I'll see you on the inside, where you will learn how to...

Revise with joy,
Holly

P.S. Registration will be open for 7 days, until 11:59 PM EST, Tuesday, December 15, 2015.


If you miss the registration, you will need to wait for the next class, which will open in either six months or a year.

To join the class, go here
     
To log in if you're a current How-To-Think-Sideways-class student or HTTS-class grad
Then use the green How To Think Sideways button in the Classroom Hub to reach your registration page
The links are my affiliate links, and I get a commission on sign ups, but that isn't why I recommend HTRYN. I recommend it because it did amazing things for my books and my writing and revision skills, and if you put in the work, you'll get a lot out of it too, skills that you can apply to all your writing now and in the future. So go check it out :)

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Science Fiction and Fantasy 99 cent December Sale!

http://pattyjansen.com/promo/

It's the big Science Fiction and Fantasy 99 cent December sale! Lots of great books to choose from, including Sarya's Song, only 99 cents this weekend, Dec. 5-6. If you're looking for something new to read, this is the place to find it!

http://pattyjansen.com/promo/

Monday, November 30, 2015

Author Spotlight: Linda Andrews

Picture 1. Tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Linda Andrews and by day, I’m a scientist for a local water company and by night I write Science Fiction, Apocalyptic horror, and romance novels. I read pretty much anything genre fiction although my favorite are mysteries and romance, and I love zombies.

2. When did you start writing, and why?
I started writing when the paranormal line that I read from Harlequin was cancelled. At the time, I was commuting 90 minutes one way to my job and used to write on tape. Now, writing is a passion that I can’t give up. Every book is different and I learn something new.

3. What do you write, and why? What do you enjoy about what you write?
I write the Science Fiction because as I’m reading for my job, I encounter intriguing information that raises those important what-if questions. I write the apocalyptic/horror novels because I can kill lots of people and not have to worry about going to jail. Okay, not really (maybe a little), I consider them exercises in survival. If this happened, what would I do? And I write romances because I am a romantic at heart and like to give everyone a happy ending (if they deserve it)

4. What is your latest book or series? Any forthcoming books?
My latest apocalyptic series is the Hadean series. It’s about the science we’re using to change our food forcing an evolutionary pathway for humanity and the planet.

5. "Welcome To My Worlds": Tell us a little about the world of your latest book or series.
Hadean is set in Phoenix, Arizona in the current times. I enjoy the challenge of setting books in the desert as so many resources the rest of the country take for granted, such as water, are not readily available. The stories follow a group of 6 people as they struggle to survive, but one of them is infected. Most reviewers consider it a bit like 28 Days Later and the Crazies.

6. Introduce us to some of your characters. What do you like about them?
There’s Ellen who is a mother of 2. Her sister Rosa, who is a scientist working on figuring out what is going on and if there is a solution. Their cousin Raine who was a junior in high school when the world goes to pot. There is Drew who is a recovering drug addict, who has to put Ellen and her family above his addiction. There is Brent who is crazy but functional until he no longer is, this provides an inside look into the workings of the faceless masses who are infected. What I like about them, is that they don’t have any special skills and are just everyday people, who need each other to survive.

7. A fun fact you would like your readers to know about you or your book.
Sometimes I like my characters so much I have a hard time torturing them, er, I mean writing their story when i know bad things are going to happen :D

More information and links for Hadean

Where to find Linda Andrews:
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Reading Roundup November 2015


 
I've been doing a lot of reading lately and I promised a monster Reading Roundup post, so here it is, with lots of great books I recommend. There should be something here for just about everyone. If my reading keeps up at this rate, I should start doing these posts more often! Books are listed in the order I read them in. (Links go to Goodreads.)

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To Whatever End (Echoes of Imara #1) by Clare Frank
I really enjoyed this. I'm always interested in fantasy with a married couple as the main characters, and To Whatever End fit the bill nicely. Cecily and Daro are trying to live a quiet life after fighting in a revolution that put a new king on the throne, then Daro is kidnapped by a corrupt magician/scholar for nefarious purposes, and Cecily has to draw on the help of their former comrades-in-arms to find and rescue him. Overall, I highly recommend To Whatever End to readers looking for an exciting, magical fantasy adventure where the roles are switched and the woman comes to the rescue of the man. (full review)

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Witchfinder by Sarah A. Hoyt
A wild ride through a universe with parallel Earths, some of which have magic and some of which don't, some of which know about the others and some of which don't, some of which permit the use of magic and some of which forbid it on pain of death. Avalon is one of those where magic is permitted and that knows about other worlds, and Seraphim Ainsling, Duke of Darkwater (in this Regency-inspired setting), has undertaken the illegal task of rescuing magic users who are in danger on other worlds. His quest blows up when he stumbles into a plot involving the throne of Avalon and sinister doings in Fairyland, a much more dangerous and terrifying place than the name suggests. The plot is intricate and non-stop, and I enjoyed the characters, trying to do the right things despite seemingly impossible odds. There's also a nice dose of romance, not obtrusive but enough to keep romance-loving readers happy. There's both a m/f and a m/m pair; normally, m/m isn't really my thing, but Mrs. Hoyt had me rooting for this couple to find their happy ending. Highly recommended if you're looking for intelligent and refreshingly original fantasy.

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The Profiteer by Evan Asher
Light-hearted and enjoyable contemporary romance, with appealing characters and a balanced, intelligent look at the issue of the big outsider businessman moving into the small town.

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Dragon Blood #1-3: by Lindsay Buroker
    Balanced on the Blade's Edge
    Deathmaker
    Blood Charged
By Lindsay Buroker, so you know it's awesome and lots of fun. This series is set in a new world (though it could fit in very well with the world of the Emperor's Edge series). A sorceress is awakened from a 300-year hibernation to find that magic is now forbidden in her land, which is under imminent attack by their centuries-old enemy. She teams up with a dashing military commander and, in later books, one of his pilots, a seemingly mad scientist who defected from the enemy, and other interesting, well-done characters to fight the enemy and discover magical secrets that threaten their country. I especially appreciate the more mature characters, established adults rather than green young 'uns just coming of age. Mechanical flight exists in this world and much of the books are airborne. I have my own issues with flying (white-knuckled terror, holding the airplane up by the sheer force of my will), so those parts were, um, especially exciting. A great new (maybe not so new any more) series for fans of Ms. Buroker's Emperor's Edge series.

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The Thief Who Spat In Luck's Good Eye (Amra Thetys #2) by Michael McClung
Follow-up to one of my favorite books I've read recently, The Thief Who Tugged On Trouble's Braids. Amra and her sorcerer pal Holgren are back, undertaking a quest to find a magical city and claim the rich reward being offered, only to find themselves trapped in a web of magic and ancient plots being spun by the gods. Exciting and terrifying, and with a dose of romance that I always appreciate. Lots of fun.

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Taboo (The Unfinshed Song #2) by Tara Maya
Continuation of the story started in The Initiate (reviewed here), magical fantasy in a setting based on Native American and other prehistoric cultures. As relations between rival tribes grow more tense, Dindi breaks taboos by seizing the chance to learn magic even after she's failed the required tests, and Kavio, while illegally teaching her, also has to find a way to save his people from trecherous enemies.

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The Black Parade by Kyoko M.
I interviewed Kyoko M. quite some time ago and I'm not sure why it took so long for her first book, The Black Parade, to rise to the top of my TBR list, but it finally did, and am I glad. Fun story about angels, demons, and a woman whose calling in life is to help ghosts pass to the other side. Great characters, high stakes, exciting fight scenes, and an appealing romance. I also appreciated the respectful treatment of religious themes. Urban fantasy/paranormal isn't my usual reading, but I enjoyed this one a lot.

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The Ravine by William Meikle
Dark, creepy, and intense western horror. Well-written in simple but evocative prose, featuring heroes both likely and unlikely who rise to the occasion, and really chilling (and gross) evil beings. I will probably never eat fish again after reading this. There are a few characters I wish could have had a better fate, but overall I found the story very satisfying. Highly recommended if you like some western in your horror, or some horror in your westerns.

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Sweeter for the Pain by Evan Asher
By the author of The Profiteer (above), lightweight, enjoyable contemporary romance. Sweet-natured and a fun, quick read, though the mystery isn't very mysterious and the villain, to me, was pretty obvious. Nicole doesn't strike me as the brightest bulb in the chandelier, but I admired her willingness to go beyond the scars and gossip to see who Finn really is, and it was heartwarming to read about Finn learning to reach out and love again. Some spicy scenes but not explicitly detailed.

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Operation Rubber Ducky by Cora Buhlert
Three weird and hilarious short tales of toy animals and evil aliens. Perfect when you want a fun, quick read.

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The Emperor's Soul by Brandon Sanderson
Brandon Sanderson is one of the few traditionally-published novelists I still read, and this novella is a treat for fans. Highly original magic system, as to be expected from Mr. Sanderson, and an appealing, well-rounded main character, Shai, who uses magic to forge everything from paintings to souls. Really enjoyable read.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Author Spotlight: Emma Woods

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Today I'm happy to welcome Emma Woods, author of YA dystopian fantasy Beasts and Savages:

1.Tell us a little about yourself.
I'm a small town girl from the Midwest, and the oldest of four. Our house was crazy most of the time, with kids playing everywhere, so when I wanted to escape, I'd find a quite place or slip to my room and read. I was a book nerd/marching band geek, and Girl Scout and wanted to be a teacher when I grew up. I went to college to become a teacher, but fate had other plans. I think if I would have taught, I may not have taken the initiative to write and publish, so in a way, I'm happy where I am.

2.When did you start writing, and why?
I'd like to think that writing has always been and interest, or even a hobby I've had for most of my life. Does that make me a  lifetime writer? I don't know, but I didn't decide to become a published writer until about nine months ago.

3.What do you write, and why? What do you enjoy about what you write?
I write mostly YA stories, because they are my favorite to read. I love writing because it is my escape. I have all these stories playing in my head. Why not write them down and share them with the world?

4.What is your latest book or series? Any forthcoming books?
My latest, and first, book series is The Beastly Series. Beasts and Savages is the first book in the series. The second book is in the works and coming along nicely, thanks to NaNoWriMo. It is due to be released on April 1, 2016. For the title, I plan to pick three of my best ideas and have a Twitter poll to let my readers pick it.

5."Welcome To My Worlds": Tell us a little about the world of your latest book or series.
The world in Beasts and Savages is one where women and men live in separate communities. The women's cities are highly controlled and full of technological advances. The men live in small villages in the wilds and rely on women for medications and offspring. When girls come of age, they change into beasts with the sole instinct to hunt, mate, and kill a boy. To keep order, hunts are staged twice a year and most girls only hunt once.

6.Introduce us to some of your characters. What do you like about them?
Lea is a born and bred hunter, who endures changing into a beast for a few days once a month. When women are in full-on beast mode, their instincts take over and all sense of reason leaves them. They have one goal: to find a boy, mate with him, and then kill him. Lea is able to control her instincts better than most, and refuses to kill.  She also one of a few who remembers changings, which means that she remembers every agonizing movement of her teeth dropping, bristles pushing out of her skin, and sudden sensitivity to light and sounds. I like how she follows her moral compass and isn't afraid to ask hard questions.

Tanner is a green eyed sweetheart who doesn't have a clue. Lea is the first girl he's ever met, and he doesn't know how to treat her. He's a bit protective, strong, and isn't afraid to stand up for himself against other boys, but he does have a fearful respect for his father, Locke. He's known  as the obedient son. I like that even though he has feelings for Lea, he's not a push over. When he thinks Lea needs put in her place, he tells her.

Miller is a villain that we come to  understand. Maybe not like, but at least we learn why he's a villain. He hates Lea, and all women from the start, and does terrible things to her. At one time Miller and Tanner were friends, but the presence of Lea puts a rift in their friendship. I like that he has a back story, a reason for being evil, instead of just being mean because that's what he knows. But be warned, his reason doesn't mean you'll hate him any less.

7.A fun fact you would like your readers to know about you or your book.
I wrote five endings to Beasts and Savages, and at the urging of my final beta reader, rewrote the one I had settled on again just 48 hours before I sent it to my formatting person to submit for publishing.

Beasts and Savages is available at:
Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Where to find Emma Woods:
Website | Goodreads | Facebook

Saturday, November 14, 2015

November 2015 Update: NaNoWriMo and More

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Wow, we're into the middle of November, and I realized I haven't been updating much. So here's what's going on: I'm planning the next big revision of For the Wildings, book 6 of Daughter of the Wildings. I do this revision to fix major issues that have come up since the first big revision, either things pointed out by the test readers or things that have changed over the course of the series, or just mistakes I missed the last time around. After this comes a few rounds of fixing up, fine-tuning, and editing before the book is ready to go. Still can't say when For the Wildings will be ready for release; sometime in February, as a rough guess. It's longer than the other books, and with the holidays coming up I won't be able to put as many hours in.

I've also been reading a lot, and sometime soon I'll be putting up a monster Reading Roundup post. Tons of great books to recommend!

Finally, being November, it's National Novel Writing Month. I've done it and "won" it (I actually prefer to think of it as completing the challenge, since everyone who validates 50,000 words written in November is a winner) every year since 2009, and this year looks like it'll be no exception. I'm writing The Healing Tree (working title), an old unfinished novel set in the same world as Chosen of Azara, that I decided to take another run at since the characters wouldn't leave me alone and I love the idea of it. I used this awesome outling guide, Take Off Your Pants by Libbie Hawker (pants - writing term, for writing without an outline or "by the seat of your pants") to plan it all the way through, and so far it's going pretty well. As of today, I'm at 28,165 words, out of a target of 50,000. The actual novel is probably going to be much longer.

The main problem I've run into with it is that Davreos, the male main character, is a very complicated character. I made some adjustments to him from how he was in the original version, but he keeps wanting to revert back to that instead of going with my changes. If I've learned one thing in 26 years of writing, it's that the characters are almost always right, so I've finally decided to just go with it.

Anyway, to give you a little taste of this new project (which will eventually be released for sale), here's the first scene. It's unedited, straight from my brain to my fingers, but I think it came out ok:


​ The wizard's screams died away in Davreos's ears. How could he still have the strength to scream so loudly? Davreos wondered. Or to even still be alive. Most of the enemies of the Empire or other subjects brought to Maikarsk's cavern for interrogation were dead by this point in their questioning. But somehow, that old man, nothing more than skin and bones and thin, ropy muscles even when he had first been brought to Maikarsk, had managed to survive this long and remain conscious enough to scream.

"Stubborn," the Inquisitress said, only a faint note of frustration and displeasure coloring her impassive voice. Davreos glanced at her, waiting for her next instructions. Her black robe, covering her from head to toe, hid all signs of femininity, all signs of individual identity, but her height, slenderness, and voice were unmistakeable. The Inquisitress's veiled face remained turned and bowed slightly towards the wizard where he was strapped to the table a little longer. Though her face was always veiled while she was acting in her duties, Davreos knew what she looked like behind the veil, and he could imagine the dark, tilted eyes narrowed in disapproval, the full lips frowning. "Useless," she said. "Finish him."

"Yes, my lady," Davreos said.

"And," the Inquistress went on, "be sure to remove his Source-token before you dispose of his body. It might be useful."

"Yes, my lady," Davreos said again.

The Inquisitress left the cavern. Davreos turned back to the wizard and prepared to lower the blade that would give the killing blow. Suddenly, the wizard's hand, which should have been bound with unbreakable chains to the table, seized the opening of Davreos's ragged tunic and pulled him down so that their faces nearly touched. Fear clenched Davreos's belly; how had the wizard's hand gotten loose? Had the bonds been insufficient? The Inquisitress would punish him if the wizard somehow got loose and escaped...

"I pity you," the wizard breathed against his face, his voice a nearly soundless tatter after all his screaming. "You could be so much more, so much better than this..."

Davreos froze. His heart nearly stopped. How did the wizard know of his most secret thoughts? Desires and ambitions that would see him tortured and killed this same way if the High Priest or the Inquisitress or, worst of all, Maikarsk itself became aware of them. He was a slave; that was his ordained role in life, and to hope for anything more was utterly impossible and forbidden.

"Silence," he said to the wizard, and pulled himself out of the old man's grip.

The wizard seized him again, this time grabbing his arm. He placed Davreos's hand on the small carved wooden pendant that hung from a chain around his neck, and folded Davreos's fingers around it. "Take this," he whispered.

Davreos had been ordered to take the Source-token anyway, which would contain power from whatever Source the wizard drew his power from, to sustain his magic while he was away from that Source. He pulled on it, intending to snap the chain, but instead, at his touch on the wooden pendant, power shocked up into him through his arm, warm and bright, with a golden-green glow that was more a feeling than a color. It filled him, the warmth and light almost unbearable in comparison to the power of Maikarsk he bore within him. It filled him until he thought he would burst; his jaw ached as his teeth gritted against the agony of it, biting back his own cries. He didn't dare make a sound; if he was weak against the subjects, he would be deemed useless and sent back to the worst jobs at the temple of Maikarsk. Finally the power seemed to gather itself and bury itself deep within him until it was no more than a faint glimmer.

He opened his eyes, which he had squeezed shut against the pain, and unclenched his hand from around the Source-token. Nothing but dust filled his hand. A cold bolt of horror pierced his chest; the Inquisitress had commanded him to take the token. But she was gone; perhaps he could tell her that the wizard had destroyed it himself.

Time to finish the job. He placed his hand on the blade again, then looked at the wizard. The old man's cloudy eyes stared sightlessly upward into the shadowy heights of the cavern, and his gnarled hand had fallen to lie limply at his side. He was dead, almost as though he had given up his life of his own volition. Davreos looked at the broken chain that had held the wizard's hand bound to the table. The wizard had had enough strength to break that chain and to hold on to his life until he chose to give it up. Why had he allowed himself to be taken prisoner at all, if he was that strong? Why had he surrendered his life instead of escaping? What had he hoped to accomplish with the useless sacrifice?

Stupid, he thought. The man had allowed himself to be defeated. Stupid and weak. Anyone that weak was worthy only of death.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Guest Character Interview: Nica S.T.A.T.Ic.

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Last December I interviewed Sue Perry, author of the FRAMES series of speculative detective novels. Sue is back today with an interview with her private eye Nica. Take it away, Sue and Nica!

1. What is your full name? Is there anything significant about your name?
I'm Nica S.T.A.T.Ic. Correct, my last name is an acronym. My full name is Veronica Sheridan Taggart Ambrose Taggart Ickovic. My acronymic identity is constructed of family, first love, big mistake, ever hopeful (wishful thinking) revisit of first love, tragic true love. The last couple years of my life have been as stable as old dynamite, so I was happy to discover this acronym, this promise of no more disruption.

2. How old are you?
People are obsessed with age. Youth. Aging. Age differences. I'm not going to buy into that by answering this question. Let's just say I'm old enough to have learned some stuff and young enough to act on what I've learned.

3. Tell us about your family. What do you like and not like about them?
My family is full of lovely, interesting, supportive folks. Unfortunately they are all dead.

4. Who was your first kiss, and what did you think of it?
My first kiss was with Jenn, my best friend since third grade. Kissing seemed like such a big deal and we wanted to find out why. Our experiment did not enlighten us.

5. What is your occupation?
I recently started calling myself a detective and - amazingly - I got clients right away! Private investigator. We'll see how long I stick with it. I've had more jobs than all my friends, combined. But this one feels different. It feels right. And I need one that feels right.

6. What are your best and worst qualities?
I'm always willing to try something new - which makes me brave, if you squint at it right. Meanwhile, I get lost inside my head and distract myself at all the wrong times.

7. What quality do you value most in a romantic partner?
Best of all, I like it when he makes me laugh.

8. What is your favorite thing to do?
I can't remember how I would have answered this a few months ago but nowadays my favorite thing is to Travel the Frames, which as near as I can figure are other dimensions. It turns out there are an infinite number of Frames all around us in all directions, with all kinds of life, all living simultaneously in their Frames.

9. What is your greatest fear?
Among the fears I can face, my number one fear is boredom. Among the fears I don't dare acknowledge, my greatest is that Ben Taggart, my first and third ex-husband, will die of a heroin overdose.

10. What is your most treasured possession?
Now that I know about the Frames, I can't even think about an answer to this - makes me feel like a slave trader. What may seem like an object in this Frame could be a sentient animate being elsewhere. In just a few short months, I've been attacked by books, protected by a volcano, informed by a lawn chair, befriended by a pickup truck. And either saved or threatened by a cat. (It's hard to tell with cats.) I'll never again be able to think in terms of possessions.

The FRAMES series is a quartet of speculative detective novels.

Book 1, Nica of Los Angeles, is available now.
When rookie private eye Nica takes on a mysterious case, she enters a world of multiple dimensions called Frames, where buildings and lawn chairs can be sentient, a stray cat has great powers, books can be killers, and clouds can be spies. At home, Nica tackles missing person cases, while in the larger reality of the Frames she is swept into an escalating battle with stakes that could not be higher...

Book 2, Nica of the New Yorks, is coming soon.

Nica is available as an ebook and trade paperback from all the usual places on-line, including
Amazon | AppleBarnes&Noble | Smashwords

Stay in touch with Sue:
blogTwitterFacebook | Goodreads

Monday, November 2, 2015

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Short Story: Rescue From Suburbia

Since the release of City of Mages, I've been doing the prep work for the next revision of For the Wildings (the 6th and final book of Daughter of the Wildings) and I've also been getting back in the habit of writing new words (almost) every day. Part of that has been doing writing exercises from the book Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, by Renni Browne and Dave King. One of the exercises was to take a description of a neighborhood given in the book and write a scene showing the neighborhood. I started with that exercise, and it kind of took on a life of its own... Not my usual kind of thing, but I hope you enjoy it.
Picture
Roma Flowers http://www.freeimages.com
Rescue From Suburbia
copyright 2015 Kyra Halland

"Turn left from Route 9W in six hundred feet," the fembot voice of the GPS said.

Left? Sandra thought. She didn't think that was what the directions had said. But going 65 miles an hour down the highway with a cement mixer crawling up her back end was no time to fumble for the sheet of paper with the directions on it. She had programmed the address into the GPS, so she would just follow that and if it didn't seem right, she would check the directions when she found a place to stop.

The turn came up quickly. She veered into the turn lane without having time to slow down, and the cement truck blasted past her. She waited while the traffic coming the other way passed, then made her turn.

Woods lay between where she had turned and where the business park she was looking for was presumably located. Sandra drove into the shelter of the trees --

Then, in what seemed an eyeblink, she found herself not in the driveway of a large industrial business park but on a winding suburban street. Maybe the business park was beyond this neighborhood, if she kept driving straight through.

The street she was on curved and met a second street that branched off, also at a curve. She slowed down and looked at the street signs, hoping to see Commerce Street. No such luck; she was at the intersection of Mars Court and Mercury Terrace. She braked for a moment and considered; she thought she wanted to go north. Mars Court, the street -- excuse me, court -- she was on continued curving around to the east, but Mercury Terrace seemed to go north.

She turned and followed Mercury Terrace north, then it angled west-northwest. It turned into Venus Lane, Uranus Place -- the kids probably had fun with that one -- and Pluto Circle, then turned into Mars Court again and met another street at a sharp T angle. Jupiter Landing, the new street was. She turned right, hoping to get going straight north again, but Jupiter Landing made a hairpin curve. She followed it all the way around to get back to Mars Court, but right about where she thought Mars Court should be, Jupiter Landing met with Jupiter Court at about a thirty degree angle.

She was lost. Sandra stopped the car and looked around. The streets all looked the same. And so did the houses -- miles and miles of off-white stuccoed suburban sameness. Except the flock of pink flamingos in front of the house at the corner of the Landing and the Court added a nice individual touch. The compass on the GPS unit said she was facing south. Which seemed odd; if it was still morning, shouldn't the sun be on the other side of the sky from where it was? Either she was really turned around, or the GPS was messed up. Or both.

One thing was clear, she wasn't going to be able to just drive straight through the subdivision to the office park. The only thing to do was to backtrack to the highway and find the right exit this time. And ignore the GPS.

Sandra reached over to the passenger seat for the directions she'd scrawled on the back of the envelope while she was talking to the HR person on the phone. As she thought, she should have taken a right turn off the highway. But there hadn't been a right turn where she'd turned; it was a T-intersection. The turn must be farther up. Oh well; she'd left the house in plenty of time, anticipating trouble finding her destination. With any luck, she should still make it to the interview on time. Fortunately, she had the phone number of the woman she'd talked to in her cell phone. She pushed call; the chipper, cheery voice of the HR assistant answered.

"Hi," Sandra said. "It's Sandra Benson. I have an interview at 11:30; I'm having a little trouble finding your office, but I should be there on time. I just wanted to let you know, in case I am a few minutes late."

"Benson..." the HR woman said. "Let me see, I'll put a note on your file, just in case... I'm so sorry, Ms. Benson, there seems to be some sort of mistake. We don't have you scheduled for an interview today... Or any day this week."

Sandra huffed out an exasperated sigh, holding the phone away so that the HR person wouldn't hear her impatience. "It's right here on my calendar," she said, looking at the envelope where she'd scribbled down the information. "Tuesday, October 7, Mega-Lite Industries, interview with Ms. Valance."

"Well, then, I do apologize," the HR woman said. "It must have fallen through the cracks. I'll go ahead and put you on her schedule, and she'll work you in today, since you've already gone to all the trouble of driving all the way out here."

"Thank you," Sandra said. "I should be there soon."

She hung up, turned the car, and began backtracking. Now that she had noticed the pink flamingos in the yard of the house she had stopped in front of, other yard ornaments came to her attention. A Virgin Mary in a half-buried bathtub shrine, a basketball hoop, a garden gnome, a birdbath, a politcal sign for last year's election, an army of garden gnomes, a Camaro up on blocks, a flock of pink flamingos...

Darn. She was back at the intersection of Jupiter Court and Jupiter Landing. How had she gotten here? She could have sworn she had turned the other way, back onto Mercury Terrace. She called up the map app on her phone and had the GPS find her location; it showed her in the middle of an expanse of emptiness. Apparently this subdivision had been built since the last time the street maps were updated.
There were no signs of life on the streets; probably everyone was at work. Only one thing left to do. She Googled on her phone for a taxi company, and called the first number that came up on the results.

"Galaxy Transportation Company, how may I help you?"

"Hi, I'm at --" She checked for a house number on the pink flamingos house "-- 709 Jupiter Landing. I've got my car and it's working fine, but I can't find my way out of this neighborhood and I'm going to be late for a job interview. If one of your drivers knows his way around here and can lead me back out to 9W, I'd really appreciate it. I'll pay double whatever the fare would be."

"Certainly, ma'am," the cheery voice on the other end said. The connection was funny, from way out here in the boondocks; the sound was slightly metallic. It was lucky she could get a cell signal at all, Sandra thought. "You aren't the first person to get lost in that neighborhood. We'll send someone right out."

"Thank you so much." The rush of relief and gratitude was more than Sandra had expected. She hadn't realized it until now, but she had a really strange feeling about this neighborhood. It was too empty, too new, too weird. Going to a job interview actually sounded like fun in comparison to being stuck here.

She looked at her watch, hoping it wouldn't take the taxi too long to get out there. She got out of the car to stretch; the neighborhood might be empty, but it didn't look dangerous, and it was broad daylight, so it should be okay if she walked around a bit while she waited. The day was bright and held some summer heat that just wouldn't let go.

Then, somehow, the light seemed brighter. She squinted; the brightness hurt her eyes. A chill rushed over her, weird considering the heat and how strong the sun was. She turned to go back to her car, saw at the heart of the bright light something shiny and metallic hanging in the sky, far too large to be floating... Right before the light enveloped her completely and the world fell away, she saw the lettering on the ship, Galaxy Transportation.

At least she wasn't lost in suburban hell any more, was her last thought.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

City of Mages Now Available!

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I'm happy to announce that City of Mages, book 5 of Daughter of the Wildings, is now available at the following stores:

Amazon | iTunes | Kobo | OmniLit
Smashwords | DriveThruFiction

The regular price is $3.99, but through this weekend you can get it for only 99 cents! I'm still waiting for it to go live at Barnes & Noble and Google Play, but that should be within a day or so, or maybe less. Over the next week I'll get the paperback edition formatted, then that will be available a couple of weeks later, after I receive the proof copy in the mail and approve it.

City of Mages is the next-to-last book in the series. The last book, For the Wildings, is by far the longest book in the series, so it's going to take a little longer to get it ready to go, especially with the holidays coming up the next couple of months. I'm still thinking about what comes after that; I realized that the second project space in my brain has been occupied by a fanfiction I wrote for NaNoWriMo a couple of years ago, that I'm still editing. I'm almost done with that, so I'm going to finish it up and get ready to start posting it so I can move on to something else. The Healing Tree (dumb working title) really wants to get written, and I've got a bunch of other projects waiting to be planned or revised. A follow-up series to Daughter of the Wildings is definitely on the list :-)

Friday, October 16, 2015

Quick Update: City of Mages, Featured Author

Picture Wow, I just realized I haven't been posting much lately. I've been deep in edits on City of Mages, and I'm on to the final proofreading. Look for it next week! To make sure you don't miss the release announcement, sign up for my email alerts. I won't share your information, and I also won't spam you.

Also, this week I'm the featured author in the Paranormal, Fantasy, Dystopia, and Romance Readers, Writers, and Reviewers Goodreads group. I want to thank these nice people who are helping promote me this week - make sure you go check them out!

Aoife Sheridan
Lynn Thompson
Annie B Matthews
Eva Gordon
Elle Jacklee
Shari Sakurai
A.S. Johnson
Brandy Isaacs
Fiona McShane

Monday, October 12, 2015

Author Spotlight: Annie B Matthews


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Introducing author Annie B Matthews, author of the YA paranormal novel Talent:

1. Tell us a little about yourself.
I have always been a voracious reader and writing seemed to be a natural extension of that. I love stories, whether they are written word or on the screen. I’m a runner too, which came as something of a surprise to me, but it’s a great way to bash out plot ideas.

2. When did you start writing, and why?
As a teenager, I would be frustrated by novel endings that I didn’t like and I would reimagine these all the time. I would have these little movies playing in my head too, but it wasn’t until a friend showed me a story she had written that I decided to start writing myself. I was twelve. I started writing YA as a teen and never stopped. Although I do have a couple of adult novels on the back burner.

3. What do you write, and why? What do you enjoy about what you write?
At the moment I primarily write YA, as that’s how I started and I like YA. I work with teenagers, so I listen to what they have to say about the fiction aimed at them and I try to consider that in my stories. For instance, many girls want the romance, but without the weak female character that often goes with that. I enjoy writing stories where the romance is important, but the heroine is more important. My heroines are independent and the guys they end up with are awesome, not ‘alpha’, regardless of their age!

4. What is your latest book or series? Any forthcoming books?
Talent is my first self-published novel and the sequel, Fire, will be out before Christmas. These will be the only two novels in the Talents series. I have some other projects I want to work on, including a novella on revenge bullying.

5. "Welcome To My Worlds": Tell us a little about the world of your latest book or series.
The world of Talents is the world we live in, with a variety of ‘talented’ individuals. Telepaths, empaths, locator talents and future seers...just as every person is unique, so are the talents. The Talent world is, in many ways, in its infancy; these novels show the starting point for a new society that brings all the Talents together.

6. Introduce us to some of your characters. What do you like about them?
In Talent, we meet Libby. She’s ambitious, loyal and tenacious. I like her, as she’s not afraid of a challenge - she faces a lot of them! Her best friend, Kelly, also interested me as she started out happy and vivacious, but the world they live in has its own pressures. As she grows up, she has to work out her place in that world. It’s an interesting and often difficult journey that I think we can all relate to. Kelly is the heroine of Fire [book 2].

7. A fun fact you would like your readers to know about you or your book.
Talent took 2 years to finish because I didn’t think I could, or should. I met someone who writes and blogs, and she loves what she does. She inspired me to give it a go. Once I made my decision, the book was finished in 3 months.

Where to find Annie B Matthews:
I blog when I can, or when something interesting comes to mind. You can find ‘Read, write, coffee’ on Wordpress: https://anniebmatthews.wordpress.com/
Goodreads | Twitter

Talent:
 Libby didn't expect to have her perfectly planned life uprooted half way through Sixth Form.
Starting a new school is the least of her worries, however, even though the natives aren't too friendly and the boy she has an instant crush on looks at her as though she's his worst enemy.
With her parents acting strangely, Libby starts to think that their big move might tear the family apart.
Then her mum disappears and Libby finds herself thrust into a world she never dreamed existed.

It turns out that no one is ever what they seem.

A young adult paranormal novel.

Available at Amazon

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Author Spotlight: Eleanor Webster

Eleanor Webster
Today I'm happy to welcome Eleanor Webster to the blog, to celebrate the release of her first novel, No Conventional Miss.

1. Tell us a little about yourself.
I live in a small town in northern Canada with my husband and two daughters.  In addition to human neighbours, I also have bears and deer which frequent my backyard.  One bruin, in fact, broke my very fine cherry tree.

I am a lifelong learner and have a Masters degree in educational psychology and undergraduate degrees in creative writing and history.  I use my writing to explore my fascination with the past and am thrilled to announce the publication of my first Harlequin Historical, No Conventional Miss.

2. When did you start writing, and why?
I attempted my first novel when I was in grade 5. It featured a stowaway on a freighter. However,  I lost interest in her somewhere in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

As to why I write – I write largely because I am too old to play with Barbie dolls – plus their clothes are too tricky and I always lost the shoes.

3. What do you write, and why? What do you enjoy about what you write? 
I write romance and I aim to entertain.  I work in a field of psychology which can result in heart-breaking situations and I write to create a place of ‘happy endings’ which are not always duplicated in real life.  I enjoy creating engaging and somewhat quirky characters.

For example,  in  No Conventional Miss   Rilla is an inventor and builds a butter churn which succeeds in flooding the dairy.  Lady Wyburn, another character is kind, lovely and slightly ditzy in a very smart way. For me, Lady Wyburn is that impish inner voice which notes the inanities of everyday life and enables one to cope with humor to life’s vicissitudes.

4. What is your latest book or series? Any forthcoming books?
My latest book is No Conventional Miss. It is debuting today, Oct. 1,through Harlequin Historicals. I have a two book contract with Harlequin so a second book will be released at some point... It is set slightly earlier with the backdrop of the French Revolution.

No Conventional Miss
5. "Welcome To My Worlds": Tell us a little about the world of your latest book or series.
No Conventional Miss is set in Regency England. I have always loved the Regency Period because it depicts a society poised for change. The inventions of the Industrial Revolution are emerging, bringing with them the anticipation of societal transformation.

Rilla has a zest for innovation and invention. However, she is also plagued by moments of second sight and paranormal ability. Both aspects of her personality are not acceptable within the context of her society..

6. A fun fact you would like your readers to know about you or your book.
My favourite character, Lady Wyburn, is based on my conception of a grandmother I never met but with whom I identify. She was ditzy in a smart, delightful way. Apparently, she once set the veil of her hat on fire with a cigarette. I’d do something like that. In fact, my peers strongly advocated that I NOT take up smoking. Second interesting fact, I am a hand-talker. I can’t help it. Once when working with teenagers they timed me to see how long I could talk without moving my hands. I never made it past 30 seconds.

No Conventional Miss:
She's always been different…

Amaryllis Gibson is an unlikely debutante. She favors fact over fashion, cares not for "proper" conversation and is haunted by ghostly visions which could land her in the madhouse! Marriage is definitely the last thing on Rilla's mind…

But when she's caught in a compromising position with Viscount Wyburn, suddenly she finds herself betrothed! And worse, his powerful presence only increases her visions. By shedding light on the viscount's past, can Rilla gain his trust and win him round to her more…unconventional traits?

No Conventional Miss is available at:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iTunes

About the Author:
Eleanor Webster loves high-heels and sun, which is ironic as she lives in northern Canada, the land of snowhills and unflattering footwear. Various crafting experiences, including a nasty glue-gun episode, have proven that her creative soul is best expressed through the written word.

 Eleanor lives with her husband and has two daughters. She is a lifelong learner and  is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in psychology. Eleanor has a masters degree in educational psychology and an undergraduate degree in history and creative writing. She loves to use her writing to explore her fascination with the past.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Urdaisunia Revisited

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One of the reasons I started writing was to write the kinds of books I wanted to read and had a hard time finding. So it makes sense that I would want to go back and re-read my older books, and I've been wanting to do so for a while. It isn't quite that simple, though. A lot of authors, including me, have a fear of reading their own books. We tend to read our own work in highly critical mode, and we're terrified of finding mistakes, or that our older writing style will make us cringe, or that we'll end up wanting to just rewrite the whole darn thing. Finally, though, I decided I wanted to read my books and revisit those stories and characters I love enough to brave the dangers. So I decided to start at the beginning and read Urdaisunia.

And it was actually a lot of fun. It's been so long since I looked at Urdaisunia that I had forgotten a lot of what happens and a lot of the neat details in it that I love. Once I got over my initial terror of finding mistakes and sucky writing in every paragraph, I even got lost in the story, reading it like a reader would. That's a rare and fun thing when it happens for an author, to be able to read their book from a reader mindset. Would I do some things differently now, 2 1/2 years and many books later? Yes. As with most authors, my writing style has evolved and maybe improved with practice. And I did find two minor proofreading errors that I have corrected in the uploaded books. But I didn't find myself cringing or wanting to rewrite the whole thing; I thought it stands very well as it is. And I was reminded of some story threads to bring into planning the sequel (which is in  the development stage, though it isn't at the top of my list of projects to work on).

I hope it doesn't sound like bragging to say I enjoyed revisiting Urdaisunia and I'm proud of it. My books might never burn up the bestseller charts, but I can say that every book I write is a book I want to read, and I put my very best efforts and all my heart into each book. If I touch even one or two readers for whom that book is exactly what they wanted to read, and they feel the emotions and enjoyment that I put into writing the book, then I've done my job, and knowing I've touched readers this way is the best validation I could ask for.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Friday 5: Where the magic happens


It's been a while since I did a Friday 5, so here's one: Where the magic happens, or, pictures from my writing room.

1. My writing room is a spare bedroom in our house. I share the space with storage bins full of Legos, the elliptical trainer, boxes of Christmas decorations, and other assorted stuff that we don't really have anywhere else to put. (With one kid married and permanently out of the house, we could put some of it in his room, which we intend to repurpose as a guest room.) Anyway, I have two walls of this room staked out for my own stuff. I have an 8-foot-long folding table that serves as my main writing table. It also serves as my scrapbook table, so from these pictures you can see that my laptop and manuscripts have to share with all my scrapbook junk. It's kind of good because that way I have to put away one project before I can work on the other thing instead of just having all my stuff out all the time. 
2. I do have a sewing machine, though I don't actually use it very much, mostly just mending and decorative stitching on scrapbook pages. I did make my younger son a Homestuck costume for Halloween last year (in one day!) that I guess turned out pretty good. Thank goodness for cosplayers who post their patterns online. I also have four paper trimmers (you can see three of them in this picture). I don't know why I have four paper trimmers, I just do.
3. This desk was used by both of my boys when they were in grade school. It's too small for an adult to sit at, but it has lots of shelf space and drawers (one of those drawers is full of nothing but unopened packages of index cards) and I can fit my file drawers into the chair space. When we got the younger one a new desk I glommed on to this old one before my husband could even suggest we get rid of it. Oh, and there's my Kuroneko plushie from Trigun up on top, keeping an eye on me to make sure I stay on task.
4. Of course, since the desk belonged to grade-school boys, it has stickers all over it. Mostly Pokemon, and something called Duel Masters that was kind of a Yu-Gi-Oh ripoff but mostly what they did was send out junk mail with lots of stickers in it. It gives me kind of a happy nostalgic feeling to look at these.
5. My laptop, the first one I've ever owned, which made it possible for me to move all of my writing operations into this room instead of typing on my desktop in a room at the other end of the house which serves as the family computer room and doing manuscript revision in this room and then hauling the pages back to the other end of the house to type in the changes. Now I just use my desktop for formatting and uploading. And you can see my lucky rainbow unicorn Pusheen patch. My (then-future) daughter-in-law sent it to me for Mother's Day last year. It makes me happy :-D

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Back in the old days...

Recently I got a new phone, my first smartphone. Which brought up the question, Am I smart enough for a smartphone? One of the first things I did with it was accidentally set a password without realizing what I was doing, so of course I didn't know the password to unlock the phone, which led to having to do a complete factory re-set less than an hour after I opened the box. And it took me a month to figure out how to answer calls on it :-P What can I say; no one ever calls me. Actually, the number is for family and emergencies only, and most of my family members text or IM me. Anyway, once I figured out how the thing works, I put the Kindle reading app on it, so now I can read books on my phone. No matter where I am, I'm never without a book - a lifelong bookworm's dream!

I was reading on my phone in bed one night (I also use the alarm on it to wake up, and this way I only have one device on the nightstand), and remarked to my husband that back in the old days, when we were in high school (in the mid-late 70s), if someone had talked about "reading on your phone" we wouldn't have had a clue what that meant. What, you call a phone number and someone reads out loud from a book to you? It reminded us of the old info lines they used to have (maybe still do, though it seems awfully archaic now) where you call a number (a 900 number that you have to pay to call?) and put in one extension number to get your horoscope, and another one for the latest celebrity news, and another one for health tips. So maybe reading on your phone would have been you dial the number and put in the extension for the book you want to hear, a new chapter every week.

Reading an ebook on Kindle (or whatever your reading device of choice) is so much cooler than that. As is this whole Interwebs thing we have now :-) But back then, we never would have believed this was possible.

Another thing I like to think about is how the music from a whole cardboard carton's worth of LPs will now fit on something the size of my fingernail. If you're old enough, you remember hauling cardboard cartons from the grocery store filled with LPs every time you moved in or out of your dorm room or apartment. Those things were HEAVY. I met my husband in college, and every semester when he moved in and out, I would help him carry the cartons filled with LPs, and also his speakers, each of which was about the size of a kindergartner. But now we've gone from this:
to this:
(Yes, that's my real hand, with a 16 GB micro SD card.)

That would have completely blown my mind way back when.

And another thing: back in the old days, if you liked a song, you could buy the single (with a bonus song on the back, the B side, which would never get played on the radio except on the very coolest stations) or you could buy the whole album, maybe paying a lot of money for only a few songs you ended up liking. If you wanted to hear your favorite song over and over again, you had to lift the needle or rewind the tape (if you were really high-tech and listening to cassette tapes), and each time you risked dropping the needle and scratching the record, or tangling up the tape, and over time that favorite song would get worn out. Plus you were also stuck listening to the songs you didn't like, unless you wanted to lift the needle and move it or skip ahead on the tape. If you had a cassette recorder, you could put it by the radio speaker and record your favorite songs off the radio :-D You had to be fast, to push the record button as soon as the song came on, and half the time the DJ kept talking over the start of the song. >:( The really cool people had a stereo with a tape deck built in so they could make mix tapes of their favorite songs from their albums, but then you were still stuck with always hearing the songs in the same order.

This is why I love MP3s. I can buy a whole album or just a few songs, and if there's a song I don't like I can delete it, never to have to hear it again. I can make playlists (I almost always make playlists for my writing projects) and add to them whenever I want, and listen to the songs in different orders, or listen to my favorite song over and over and over and over again (I'm like a 2-year-old that way, I'll obsessively listen to my favorite song or album a zillion times in a row), or just put all 10 gigabytes of music on my MP3 player on a massive random shuffle. Like having my own personal radio station except without commercials, songs I don't like, and inane chatter. Like I've always been a bookworm, I've also always been a music lover, and this would have been absolute heaven back in the old days.

To a lot of people a lot younger than me, this is all just how things are. It's hugely different from the world I knew when I was younger. But in a way it's cool that I remember when things were different, because I have so much more appreciation for how amazing all this stuff is.