I’ve seen and experienced some very strange, inexplicable things over the years. Some fun stuff that makes its way into my stories, sometimes. And some really not so fun stuff, that also might make its way into my stories. Because let’s face it. Being human hurts, sometimes, and pain, as much as we don’t want it to be, is a very powerful, very present human experience.Read More
Science fiction/fantasy is an interesting genre. Over the years, it has encompassed many kinds of stories, from magic and futuristic space battles. Star Wars to Star Trek are two famous screen sci-fi epics and authors like Marion Zimmer Bradley, Andre Norton and Anne McCaffrey offered print sagas of their own. When I was younger, science fiction/fantasy was a catch-all for any kind of fantastic storyline that wasn’t in the form of a reality based, traditional romance, mystery or real life drama.
The genre has since matured into countless types of science fiction and fantasy categories (high fantasy, urban fantasy, hard science fiction, sci-fi romance, to name a few). Cross-genre stories have appeared, melding fantastic elements such as vampires and werewolves into mystery stories, or gritty detective crime solving. Spiritual elements introduced themselves, although the best science fiction has always had a layer of enduring spiritual truth to it, speaking of humanity’s struggles and fears about being alive. Many of the authors I read as a teenager: Marion Zimmer Bradley, Alan Dean Foster, Ursula K LeGuin, to name a few, wrote stories that were thinly veiled societal commentaries (and some of them not veiled at all), exploring real world problems in a fantastical way. Some writers were positive—humanity would prevail—and some were a bit less optimistic, but all of the best ones wrote stories that revealed our human condition in the midst of even these impossible stories.
Hard core sci-fi, many stories written by bonafide scientists who could see what was coming, would provide warnings by weaving thrilling stories about what could be. Many of these have come true—try spending any time in the telecom industry and you’ll discover that artificial intelligence is not quite so fantastical as you might think, although as of now, we haven’t created a Terminator-esque SkyNet. Yet). Softer sci-fi explored culture clash between aliens and humans or alien races, de-emphasizing the technology aspect, but honing in on basic human experience nonetheless.
Yet through all of this, the basic reality remains: the best stories explore our human experience, whether it be through technology or ordinary life with a science fiction twist. We might be writing about other cultures, but we are really writing about ourselves. We are writing about our hopes, fears, experiences, and the truths we are just now beginning to see and experience. It might have fantastic underpinnings, but the truth is, we are writing about ourselves. We are writing about something that we suspect, but don’t necessarily fully know yet. The best stories, the ones that resonate, are the ones with some germ of truth in them. And science fiction, like all of humanity, is evolving with us. We like to escape, but we want to hear truth. And to merge the two: truth cloaked in fun—well, what is better than that?
It’s been a while since my last post—and I apologize to my readers.
Such is the life of an author—the muse can get derailed by all kinds of unexpecteds and apparently, the blog muse is very similar. In my case, however, the derailing was in the form of something quite exciting: I was quite focused on my launch of Book Two, Triangle: Book Two of The Azellian Affairs. I’m happy to say my book launch at Tattered Cover Bookstore in Denver, Colorado went beautifully—I was able to share my experiences on writing the story and the process of getting it launched with a fun group of people. I do so love to stand in front of people, answering their questions about being an author—and questions about my book and the backstory that underlies it.Read More
The time is rapidly approaching to turn over book 3 of the Azellian Affairs to my editor. This is quite a landmark for me, considering this book has taken me quite a bit longer than I expected. Some of this was due to the vagaries of life—when one is a mostly self published author working with a small vanity press, things in life sometimes happen that cause delays in publication—but a large portion of it was because it took me a while to write the book.Read More
I received a question recently about holidays on Azelle, the planet I am slowly revealing to Earth. Honestly, I didn’t know the answer, so I decided to ask one of my main connections to the world of Azelle. This interaction is a result of that query.
Me: Hey, Merran…Read More
The 4th of July is almost upon us, and I found myself thinking about the holiday and just what this particular holiday is all about. This one is a commemoration of a very important event to us, culturally—the day we have earmarked as our "Independence Day”, a date in history that marked our official separation from England, and the formation of a new country. It’s a marker of our identity as a country, as well as an excuse to get a day or two off from work.Read More
It’s been a while since my last post—but the good news is, editing is finally done on book 2! It officially has a title, too, and is going to be called Triangle: Book Two of the Azellian Affairs. Within the next month or so, we will be moving from editing to production, which means we should see a finalized book in the next few months—maybe even before summer!Read More
Last week, as I walked out of my house, I had a very powerful nature experience: a magnificent bird of prey hovering over a freshly killed rabbit. Dogs and I both froze in the doorway, my brain racing to figure out what I was looking at, the dogs frozen because that’s when they do when faced with something new.Read More
This weekend, I got a chance to enjoy an annual ritual: attend the Denver Auto Show. Dealerships from all over the Denver metro area trot out their flashiest and best cars. You get to view, handle and sit in everything from a Ford Fusion to a Lamborghini. I didn’t realize I enjoyed nice cars until I had a boyfriend who was a motorhead, but once having discovered it, I learned that cars are fun.Read More
Today is the start of new things: a beautiful new website and the beginning editing process on book 2 of the Azellian Affairs. I celebrate the new beginning, even as I approach the idea of editing Book 2 with a distinct feeling of nerves: yes, even having been through the editing process once before, with one published book under my belt, I feel nervous.Read More
Has your life ever changed suddenly and everything you thought you knew is different? Merran is about to embark on the life he will have in Alawahea:Book One of the Azellian Affairs: he is to become assistant to the Azellian Ambassador, a post that will change the entire course of his life.
Merran Corina - about seven months after he first arrives on Earth
Finally got a chance to talk to the ambassador. He told me he’s had his eye on me for the past few months. He was impressed with how I’ve managed to work my way from waiter to manager in two months at the cafe. And that was without using my psi or my body. Mostly. Well, at least not on purpose.
My influence over human woman continues to grow. For some reason, they find me extremely attractive. It’s rather a mystery to me. I have to be very careful not to show them everything I can do, though. They are terrified of my mental abilities…just the suggestion that I might know more than they think I should know about what their likes or dislikes are, or echoing too much what they’re thinking…I have to be very, very careful not to reveal myself fully to them. I’m just glad I have no interest in a relationship. Keeping my partners rotating through and only for a few days at a time helps, but it’s been something of a challenge. There are women out there who would, consciously or unconsciously, attempt to trap me into legally linking myself to them. Pregnancy is apparently a popular way to create this kind of legal linking, which doesn’t make sense to me, but I’ve steered clear of a few women with thoughts like that. Apparently, the father is required to support his child on Earth, whether or not he had any say in the child’s conception. Good thing I can prevent conception with or without the woman’s complicity in the matter. No way am I a going to ever be a father.
Oddly enough, it’s my…notoriety and popularity with human women that brought me to Saren’s attention. He has been watching me juggle humans on my own for the past three months and I’ve apparently impressed him. Assistant Ambassador. It feels like my life is on the cusp of a huge change. I wonder what’s next?
Want to find out more about Merran Corina and his experiences on Earth? Read an excerpt from Alawahea: Excerpt of Book 1
My first foray into writing occurred when I was a very young child, about 8 years old. I lived in a very rural area, up in the Northern part of Maine, 400 miles away from the nearest city of any size, which was Boston. I used to go outside at night and just look up at the night sky. It was absolutely gorgeous, too many stars to count. When you look at that many stars, your brain just boggles. It just looks like a mass of starlight. The stars always captured my imagination. I would look at the stars and wonder what planets there were surrounding them. Even as a young child, I didn’t even question that there were planets there, and probably other beings living on those planets. What were they like? What were some of the things they did? How were they different? How were they the same?
One particular heavenly body really fascinated me when I was growing up. Titan, which is a moon of Saturn. I would imagine this moon, which is one of the few moons in the solar system that has an atmosphere, and it completely mesmerized me. I didn’t know a lot about it, obviously, but it was just a jumping off point. I imagined what it would be like to live on another planet like Titan with a different colored sky. I imagined what it might be like to see something rise and set in that sky every day, whether it be another moon or a planet. I found all of that really fascinating.
When I was 8-years-old, most of my writing was very basic: “We went up the hill. We got a drink of water at the top of the hill and watched a beautiful planet rise.” Needless to say, I didn’t have a lot of descriptors, or dialogue. The dialogue I did include was very basic, very simple. I would also draw pictures of what I thought the planet might look like. The creatures that lived there. The people that lived there. My drawing skills were also right on par with what an 8-year-old is capable of. Let’s just say, there were lots of stick people and stick creatures. Everything was beautiful, everything was something to be explored.
As I entered my teens, I continued to write, but moved away from Titan as a subject matter. Astronomy continued to be a fascination of mine, although I didn’t end up going into it because the math intimidated me. Explorations within astronomy absolutely captured me. I would read anything I could get my hands on by NASA, and took astronomy classes. I wanted to do anything I possibly could to learn more about planets that might exist out there.
Since, of course, it’s all based on what humanity knows, my lessons were mostly about the solar system. It was mostly our solar system that I was exploring, but it provided a jumping off point. As I got into my teens, I also started to write plays. For the most part, I would act out the plays that I wrote with my friends. We would actually go through and role play through the dialogue. I found plays to be too restrictive. There were so many details in my imagination that didn’t necessarily translate to a play, so I found myself gravitating toward a narrative style, rather than play writing. Those stories morphed and became Alawahea.
There were stories before Alawahea. There were many different characters. Whatever I happened to be reading at the time would definitely influence my writing style. There were times when I was reading thigs that weren’t really that great, so my writing followed suit.
When I got into college, I began to write the basic story of Alawahea. I told the story from my own viewpoint because my writing experience tells me, “start where you are.” When you start writing, start where you are. I wrote about a young girl who was in college and started to bring in elements of the fantastic when she encountered aliens. The questions I asked myself to drive the narrative were things like: How did meeting aliens impact her? What are some of the things she said? What are some of the things she imagined? How were the aliens different from her? How were they the same? I contrasted things by getting into the aliens heads and seeing things from their perspective. What did they think of humans? What was confusing to them? What things were the same?
All of that gave me room for the birth of a planet. It gave me the ability to create Azelle, which is the fictional planet that I’ve been able to tap into. The story just started jumping off the page. As I wrote the novel, I also wrote backstory and all kinds of things that built into the characters. All of the little details of their lives just started flowing through me. I currently have 8 stories and they came so easily. It all just started with a little girl’s fascination with the stars in the night sky, and developed into a whole other way of life that feels so very real to me.
We all go through a period of time of searching for ourselves, for a direction, maybe even a purpose. Merran is seeking to find that piece of himself and a direction that will shape his life for years to come. But like many things in our lives, it doesn't come easily.
Merran Corina - about four months after he first arrives on Earth
Applied for a job with the embassy. I’m told my chances of getting in at the embassy are zero to none, but if I want to stay on Earth, I have to get some kind of employment soon, or they’ll be shipping me back to Azelle.
Merran Corina - two weeks after he submits his job application
The embassy rejected my application. I’m not giving up. They say the ambassador spends hours a day at the human-run coffee shop around the corner, spending time with Azellians and humans alike. I’ll get to see him eventually…I managed to land a job at that coffee shop as a barista. It's a busy coffee shop, but that means I get to meet lots of humans. Such interesting lives they lead! So many differences...but some similarities, too.
It’s hard to believe, but I’m having more sex now than I did when I was with her. It's very weird to me, that human women find me so attractive. Is this the same Merran Corina who spent his whole life being hated for his caver roots? It is totally unreal. Surreal, perhaps, but also very pleasurable. And, by the aarya’s eyes, human women are something else! They have no shields, no way to hide what they’re feeling or thinking from me. Reading a human woman’s mind while I’m stimulating her body….We’ve always been taught humans are uptight, controlled and lack sexual appetite. That’s not been my experience. Even though they can’t link with me during sex, I can certainly read their physical sensations and it’s quite a rush. There is a sort of unrestrained, unflagging joy they have in who they are that I find quite stimulating.
Sometimes it can be overwhelming and unpleasant, though. I never let my interactions go on for very long. It's better that way. Relationships based on a lie? Even I know better than that.
Want to find out more about Merran Corina and his experiences on Earth? Read an excerpt from Alawahea: Excerpt of Book 1
Change comes to all our lives, taking us down roads we would never have expected. Sometimes, those side paths are dramatic enough to completely change our direction. In Merran’s case, he went from being a fairly typical young Azellian man briefly visiting Earth to becoming the youngest ambassador ever. He also accomplished something none before him ever had: human/Azellian cooperation and active collaboration. But, before finding that path, he lost himself for a time, wandering and creating a sexual legacy for himself that would continue to haunt him years later.
Merran Corina - about a month and a half after his arrival
She left me. Kaelynn left me. Says it’s because she’s not ready to settle down, that she came to Earth to get away from me and she didn’t expect me to follow her. They all know I am Liporinn and even my Corina blood can’t balance it out. The aarya damn them all.
Humans have some very colorful language for times like this that I didn't learn in school. One of the women I went out with last night gave me quite a list, in between our other activities. Taught me quite a bit, too. Who would have thought humans could be as talented and innovative as the acolytes when it comes to sexual exploration? Women seem quite fascinated by the question of whether or not my resemblance to human males is from head to toe...Apparently I do resemble human males in all the particulars: the physical ones, anyway. The mental ones are another story. They don't know about those, and I'm not going to enlighten anyone.
Of course, no one seems to care that my mother was a Liporinn...they just seem quite enamored of my body and what I can do with it. I suppose I might as well distract myself for the moment.
Want to learn more about Merran Corina and his experiences on Earth? Read an excerpt from Alawahea: Excerpt of Book 1
We continue our view of Merran’s early life on Earth. Only twenty years old, just stepping into adulthood, Merran has followed his girlfriend from Azelle to Earth. He's exploring Earth with all of the enthusiasm of someone who has never been away from their home before. Excited about what is coming his way, he's learning as much as he can.
Merran Corina—about a month after he first arrives
Kaelynn wants to talk tonight. I wonder what she wants to talk about? We’ve been together for a couple of years now, we moved to Earth together. Maybe she wants me to move in with her? Right now, we’re keeping separate domiciles. It seems silly to me to do that. I love her, she loves me. We could declare it publicly and live together. If she does, I’m ready for it. I’m so glad I met someone who doesn’t care what my mother’s family name was. I love her so much.
Humans have a concept of exclusivity, too. They have another name for it. I learned about it when I met my first human this week. She is married. Interesting concept, to spend one’s life legally obligated to someone else. Even the Raderths, who are pretty archaic in many of their practices with their families, don’t legally link themselves to their mates. Seems odd to do that.
There’s got to be a history of marriage on the internet. It’s really helpful that humans have computers and track their history so easily where anyone can access it. It doesn’t even require a trip to the Temple or a talk with the Keepers to get access to it. Maybe I’ll do some research. Humans are really rather fascinating beings. Such a rich, complex history. I’m so glad I came with Kaelynn to Earth.
Learn more about Merran Corina and his experiences on Earth. Read an excerpt from Alawahea here: Excerpt of Book 1
Merran Corina has always been one of the characters who speaks the most loudly to me. In early versions of Alawahea, he was meant to be a minor character, someone distant and uninvolved. That didn’t last very long. From early on, he sauntered onto the stage in my head and proceeded to take over. Who is Merran Corina? What makes him tick? Why does he act the way he does? I asked those questions of myself and of him, and I got the next several blog posts of “diary” entries: an intimate peek inside Merran Corina’s head.
Merran came to Earth as a young man, just out of acolyte training, wary, but still willing to hope for the best, before he learns that there is something beyond both hope and fear.
Over the next several posts, we will be playing inside Merran’s head and getting a peek into the man we first meet in Alawahea: Book One of the Azellian Affairs. If you're meeting him for the first time, welcome! If you have already read Alawahea, have fun learning more about Merran...I certainly did!
Merran Corina—one week after his first arrival on Earth, fifty years after the first Azellian embassy was established on Earth.
Interesting planet, Earth. Full of people who are so wide open. No barriers to their thoughts at all. It's like standing in the middle of a party of people talking and shouting at once....overwhelming and nothing more than noise, unless I stay shielded all the time. I don't know how other Corinas do it. I don't think a Healer, sensitive as they are, would ever survive here. If I hadn't had extra training from the aarya, I'd be a mess and heading home as fast as my feet could carry me. Even if it meant Kaelynn left me.
Speaking of Kaelynn, we had really great sex last night. I'm really glad both of us were acolytes. They taught us stuff that I'd really miss if she ever left me. I wonder if she thinks the same thing? I mean, I might be Corina on my father's side, but my mother...I'm not going to think about that. Kaelynn isn't from a High Council family. She’s an acolyte, like me. Surely she doesn't care if I'm...never mind. She doesn't care.
Want to read more about Merran Corina and his experiences? Read an excerpt from Alawahea to learn more: Excerpt of Book 1
As I come home from watching Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens, I am reminded of the pleasure and fun I had as a teenager first watching Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. Although I saw that movie first, before the first two, I had played with the action figures from the first two movies and knew the basic story line even before stepping into the movie theatre. Going to the movie with friends was as much fun as I’d had in my entire, rather reclusive, teen years. Seeing a movie three times in the movie theatre? Going to a movie with a crowd of other teenagers? That was a first for me…and well worth the trip, all three times.
Besides the fun mixing of old and new, the new movie reminded me of what a science fiction fan I actually am. I have always been a science fiction fan, but it has dimmed these past few years of focusing on other things instead of the realms of fantastical, possibility-stretching entertainment. Watching a masterful blend of science fiction and romance reminded me again why I write what I do. Star Wars has become so intertwined with our culture that it’s pretty much part of it. It certainly contributed heavily to my writing, along with other sci-fi classic writers like Marion Zimmer Bradley and Andre Norton. It melded drama, with a leavening of humor, and action, building characters we all got to know, then as children, played with endlessly. So much so, thirty odd years later, we bring our children to the newest release and reminisce with them over memories thirty years old.
Whether you like (or saw) Star Wars or didn’t, chances are you certainly are aware of the phenomenon of it. For those of us who did see it both when it originally came out, the re-releases, the re-boot (continuation) and now the re-re-boot of the franchise, it is a reminder that the innocence of childhood lurks not all that far behind our grown up lives. Stories that are driven by character, action and plot? Sign me up, please! After seeing Star Wars again, I am reminded that my fascination with science fiction and romance is ever growing and continues to this day. I get to play there now, in a different way, through my stories and my sharing of posts with fellow sci-fi readers, writers and fans and I remember how grateful I am to be a sci-fi geek who has allowed herself to play in this space. I get to write fun stories, too! What could be better than that?
Creating a look for a series has a whole different set of challenges and joys to recommend it. When I first started, I was looking for some symbolic and interesting art that suggested what was going on in the book. It’s taken me several months to realize that a series is a different set of thought processes than a single book and that having the input of other people is very important.
I’m beginning to launch the process of starting the second book and am taking a moment to review the first one and what I’ve learned so far. Where do I want to go with the series? What look do I want to create? What would be fun on the cover, giving hints about the story behind it, but also is eye-catching? I recently discovered 99 Designs, which runs a contest for designers all around the world to compete for a chance to design a cover. I’ve seen some beautiful artwork based on a short paragraph I gave them about the story…and they responded. And best of all, it’s led to some really great concepts for covers!
For the next four days, I’m going to be running a poll to help me decide the direction of the covers for my series. I want to know what you like! And of course, I’m showing the work of some very talented designers in the world of 99 Designs. Some of these designers have really floored me with their talent and insight—they all created these pictures from a description I wrote about the story. There are some really amazing artists listed here. Which is your favorite?
The voting link is here:
Tell me what you think!
Karen Chance just recently released her newest novel in the Cassie Palmer series: Reap the Wind. I read the book and found myself re-reading the entire series (again). That’s the way the best books go: you read them over and over and they splash their magic every time. Yummy!
- Intricate, interesting plot line that goes in totally unexpected directions. I certainly have my preferences for where the story will go…and so far, it hasn’t. Yet the way it turns out is always perfect and leaves me wanting more.
- A time travel story that links back to itself. There have been scenes with a later Cassie that have happened in the story (but occurred in earlier books with an earlier Cassie, just from a different perspective). I always try to dig up the one scene I’m looking for to see how it went the first time and compare…ebooks are great for that, although most of mine are now littered with bookmarks where I’ve earmarked a scene to go back to.
- Madcap action. These books are quickly paced, and MOVE through their plot lines. Yet they’re not simple plots. Some of them are downright…Machiavellian in their complexity and twists (worthy of the vampire society she creates in them). But they are delightfully entertaining as they do it. I can read them over and over and find something new every time.
- Wonderful, robust mythology. My favorite books always have what I call a “mythology,” a backstory that is rich and varied and delivers all kinds of surprises and discoveries. The more internally coherent they are, the better I like it. It’s challenging to write out a coherent culture and history. I’ve done it myself and have lots of admiration for those who manage it. Karen Chance does it beautifully.
- Funny, engaging humor. The books have a dry, sometimes sarcastic, sometimes silly sense of humor. Yet for all that they explore some very dark subjects (some pretty intense stuff happens), they aren’t dark. I love the goofy and the sarcastic characters and the rich depth of them all....even the ones intended as comic relief, since they perfectly balance the violence of the fight scenes.
- Pritkin. I have my preferred character and my favorite “romantic” lead. As I mention in item 1), I have no idea WHERE she is taking this character or his story arc, but I wait in breathless anticipation to see where it goes.
Yes, there are only five reasons in the title, and I’ve added a sixth, but like the war mage Pritkin says, do the unexpected. It keeps you unpredictable, just like the Cassie Palmer stories themselves. Well worth the read! Even after the 101st time I’ve read them….
Here is a link to her site and a list of her books. I'm always looking for a new read, so if you know of any other quality authors with fun characters and a great storyline, please comment below!
The Cassie Palmer Series:
Touch the Dark
Claimed by Shadow
Embrace the Night
Curse the Dawn
Hunt the Moon
Tempt the Stars
Reap the Wind
Although I am not technically self-published (I am working with an indie publisher), there is a certain power to publishing through the indie circuit that reminds me of the edgy, remarkable, very powerful movies that get made through the indie industry. My publisher, Merry Dissonance Press, has been a blessing and a huge help as I wandered into a brand new world, sometimes quite literally. I had to learn a new language, a new set of rules, an entirely new paradigm from which to function, and Donna Mazzitelli helped me do that. Step by step, as my book went from edited manuscript through to final product, Donna helped me navigate the steps to actually holding a copy of my book in my hand.
So much goes into the production of a book: cover art design, layout design, putting the book up into various e-book outlets (from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, all the way to Smashwords), making sure it looks good and is professional at every step of the way, and even registering it with the Library of Congress and getting an IBSN number. Even help with the book launch party and making sure I had all the supplies for that….I had no idea you even needed any of that to launch a book. No idea of the sheer work that goes into the background of getting a book out there. I have quite a bit more sympathy for the publishers of the world, and for the authors who self-publish. Diving into the world of publication, while it is very different than it used to be, can still be a bit bewildering to the novice. Merry Dissonance Press helped me face that challenge and really navigate it. I’m very excited for book 2 and where it will take us!