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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Do I Suck? An Author's Biggest Fear

Do I Suck? An Author's Biggest Fear

One of the more interesting aspects of being a writer is that secretly held fear that we authors are really terrible and our friends and people who know us are just being nice when they praise us for what we wrote. This perspective really dominated my thinking for a very long time. At times, it prevented me from being willing to go through the process of publication. At others, it nudged me not-so-gently into putting my book into contest after contest to prove to myself that this not-so-secret fear was just hot air. 

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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? 

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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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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My top 5 authors who inspired me to write

The top authors who inspired me to write when I first got started:

  1. J.R.R Tolkien: I love how he created stories, developed worlds and cultures. As a linguist, he had a fine understanding of not only language, but culture itself. I am still in awe that he created a language. It’s quite a bit tougher than it sounds. My own efforts in that direction were never all that successful beyond words and concepts.
  2. Marion Zimmer Bradley: Her Darkover series is a masterful creation of a culture, which she then pits against humans in culture clash. Although the series became darker than I tend to like to read, she has had a considerable impact on my writing and my story building over the years. I voraciously read any Darkover novels I could get my hands on.
  3. Julian May: Her Pliocene Exile and Galactic Milieu series were incredibly intricate, interwoven through six million years of history. Each character (and there were a large number of them, long before George R. R. Martin appeared on the scene with large numbers of disposable characters) was meticulously drawn, down to the sub characters and characters who appeared only for several arcs in the story, then disappeared. Even after reading that series more times than I can count, I could never manage to find any holes or consistency errors. That intricacy and interconnectedness of the story has always been something I’ve aspired to.
  4. Katherine Kurtz: Deryni series. Historical novels set in an alternate past England-ish. I adored this series when I was a teenager. She followed several characters in different story “arcs”, offering clash between humans and humans with “extra” psychic abilities, something that inspired me and made me realize you didn’t need to follow one set of characters to keep a story interesting. As I’ve read more about the actual Earth history of the region, the attention to detail, the historical and political accuracies always made that series feel so realistic, and is something I’ve always wanted to reach toward. I want you to think you could meet my characters walking down the street, or I wouldn’t have done my job as an author.
  5. Jennifer Roberson: Chronicles of the Cheysuli. This series made me more interested in dynasties (as did my endless fascination with English and French aristocracy). Although this series got rather darker than I liked, it definitely left an impact on my writing and the dynasties I created in my culture.

By the time I was in college, much of my writing style and story was formed and the authors I read, while quite enjoyable, were no longer as influential on my writing. They still inspire me now, though, and there is nothing more I love than a series that gets my creative muse whispering in my ear.