Tips For Aspiring Writers

Tips For Aspiring Writers

As I take a break from beginning production on Triangle: Book Two of The Azellian Affairs, I find myself reflecting a bit on writing. One aspiring writer I met recently worried that she couldn’t write stories as good as the ones she was reading. This is a very real, and very legitimate fear. I still face it. With every new book it pokes at me—I’ve just gotten better at facing it and fear doesn’t change my behavior any more. 

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What If I’m Wasting My Time? Leaping into the Abyss of Publishing

What If I’m Wasting My Time? Leaping into the Abyss of Publishing

I recently interacted with people who are struggling with another very real and very legitimate fear: “okay, I got over all those hurdles to begin writing, wrote a book, published it and now it’s not doing as well as I’d hoped it would. What if my time is being wasted and I’m losing money and it’s all for nothing?” 

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Soulmates

Soulmates

Our society loves to play with the concept of “the one”—the “prince” or “princess” who is our soulmate, bound to us through all eternity. We see it over and over again in romantic comedies and romance stories. For some of us, it’s a knight on a white charger who will battle our demons and rescue us from our lives. For others, it’s a person with whom they have an intense, soul-deep connection. Still others fight against the concept and dismiss it out of hand.

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The Art of Writing

The Art of Writing

I’ve always loved language. Using a different word might completely change the subtle shading of what I am trying to say—how each and every word contributes to the look, the feel, and the texture of a book. Words deepen the experience a reader has with a book, or drags the reader out of the story if something is jarring or out of place. Words are also one of my favorite “geek out” places.  

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Hunting For Me

Hunting For Me

When my friend, Alissa Tyler, asked me to hunt for a picture of the first car that made a powerful impression on me, I had some trepidation. The burgundy Mazda 626 represented my first foray into true independent adulthood. I am not a picture taker—could I even find a picture of my first experience of the independence of owning a car? 

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The Birth of Inspiration

The Birth of Inspiration

One of the strangest experiences I have had recently is an awareness that the “fiction” I’m writing might not be entirely fiction. The Azellian Affairs series is about an alien race with psychic abilities and its interaction with humanity. Is it possible that I’m not writing about things as “out there” as I think? Where DO I get my inspiration? 

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Being An Empath - Pain

Being An Empath - Pain

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. 

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Evolving Into Something New: Science Fiction

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? 

The Next Steps

The Next Steps

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. 

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Lessons from the Writing Process: Book 3

Lessons from the Writing Process: Book 3

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. 

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Holidays on the Planet of Azelle

Holidays on the Planet of Azelle

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…

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Holiday Musings

Holiday Musings

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.

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The Other Side of the Rainbow: Book 2 Update!

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! 

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Visit From a Bird of Prey

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.

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The Fantastic Everyday: Cars and Empathy

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.

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New Beginnings: Here We Go Again!

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. 

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Azellian Affairs: Diary of Ambassador Merran Corina #5

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

The Beginning

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.

Azellian Affairs: Dairy of Merran Corina #4

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