Top Five Reasons I love the Karen Chance Cassie Palmer Series

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!

  1. 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. 
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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!

www.karenchance.com

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

A Thank You To Merry Dissonance Press

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!

Merging Sci-Fi and Romance

I just had my first experience with being on a radio show being interviewed by someone. I really loved the experience! The interviewer, Briar Lee Mitchell, was supportive and helped me bring up some really neat information I never put into words before: how do you merge the romance and sci-fi genres? The answer gave me a sneak peek into my own psyche, which I love. I read quite a bit of classic science fiction and fantasy. When I was in my teens and early 20’s, I also had time to read novels that required you to learn a huge amount about another world before you could even begin to enjoy the story. That ability ended for me in my mid 20’s, after I graduated from college and entered the working world. Work and family slowly ate at my free time, and I no longer had the energy after a long work day to focus on a complex book for hours on end.

But as I continued to read and write, my stories evolved and my tastes slowly shifted. Growing up between two cultures myself (French and English), I witnessed the confusion and heart break that can come from cultural assumptions, and perhaps not surprisingly, that theme crept into the stories I was writing. Yet it was very important to me to keep a story simple, easy to read and enjoyable. While I did at one point adore complex stories that built incredible worlds, my brain filled up with the complexities of life and I stopped wanting to read about the complexities of other worlds.

How to balance the two? Bringing to life a culture, yet keeping it simple, believable and interesting as I spun a story? Enter romance, which I also read quite a bit of during my formative years. I didn’t need a complex plot, as I already had a complex situation playing out in the conflict and character interactions. Most romance novels are pretty simple: man meets woman, they fall in love and after some problems which they invariably resolve, they end up living happily ever after. How did that impact my writing? Move the story to Earth, pair the aliens with human characters people could relate to…and voila, I had a story that bridged the two genres.

Do my characters end up living happily ever after? Spoilers are never fun: I can say, though, while I do enjoy HEA’s (happily ever afters) and usually end up there, who said a book needs to end on it EVERY time? I’m playing between genres, after all, and science fiction encourages lots of series. Romance encourages HEA’s….merge the two and you get six more books currently written and just waiting for publication. Stay tuned and we’ll all learn more together!

 

10 Thing Readers Would be Surprised to Know About Me

  1. I avoided admitting I was a writer for a very long time. Everyone else in my life knew it except for me.
  2. I was an Anthropology and French major in college. No English degree for me
  3. I could never write short stories until about a year ago. Now I write them all the time.
  4. I did accounting and tax prep for seventeen years before deciding that I was going to follow my passion, which is writing. Some of you who already know me know this, because they met me when I had my accounting hat on, but there will come a day that this will be news, because I have left all that behind.
  5. Before taking up accounting and tax prep, I worked as a financial aid counselor for my alma mater for five years.
  6. I spent 5 months in France in college. I was nearly fluent, but let it go to focus on writing English. I’d love to pick it up again, though. Immersion is the way to go!
  7. I’ve read more French literature books than I have English literature. While my high school peers were reading English lit classics, I was taking creative writing.
  8. I have never read or seen Game of Thrones. Okay, that’s a lie. I saw one episode. As popular as it is, it requires too much effort to get into the storyline. Yes, I am a lazy reader/TV watcher.
  9. I don’t like cold winters. Which made growing up in a place that has worse winters than coastal Alaska problematic.
  10. I love hiking. I love the outdoors and spending time in it. Especially after I moved to Colorado, where it is sunny most of the time and amazingly biting-bug free. Sshhh, that’s a secret we who live in Colorado don’t want to get out. Unfortunately, I think it’s already too late as Denver has quadrupled in size since I first moved here.

Exploring the Desert

IMG_0950-e1443641431857.jpg

I recently had the occasion to spend nine glorious, beautiful days in the desert. First, I sojourned in Phoenix (which is only recommended if you have a liking for overly oppressive heat and friendly biting bugs known as fire ants) and then in Sedona. Phoenix was just that, a beautiful, fiery glorious bird-being, flying high above the world on glittery wings of gold. Heat, yes, giant bugs, yes, but still stately, and alluring. I never understood why I always saw my beautiful planet, Azelle, as a desert until I spent five days in the heat of a Phoenix summer and realized the beauty of it. Well, five days in a Phoenix end-of-summer-cooling trend, but considering I spend my summers in Colorado, it was probably a good thing I didn’t brave the 120 degree heat out of the starting gates. 106 is quite daunting enough. Despite the heat, despite my wilting flower tendencies, I love the desert. The stark beauty. The majestic rocks. Even the heat that plays tricks on your perception of distance and vision. There is something about a desert that strips down everything and reveals the sheer beauty of being. There is nothing to distract. No green, no living things (except those tough plants that thrive on harsh heat and little water), no gentle blue of water. It is the bones of the earth, showing through the lush carpet of life that covers its surface.

I fell in love with the desert.  The energy of Colorado is light, lissome, teasing. Coy. The energy of Phoenix is clear, expansive and joyous. Sometimes unforgiving, raw and honest, but never hiding. There is no pretending in the desert. You are a part of something much larger than yourself. If you have the courage, you can embrace it. Or you can let it overwhelm you. The choice is yours. The desert welcomes either.

Then I made my way to Sedona. There are no words for the power of that place. A place of healing, of love. Nurturing. Beautiful, of course. Hiking on one of its myriad trails, I found myself moving quite unconsciously in tune with the Tai Chi I am learning. Embracing my body was easy, effortless. Nothing seemed out of place or upsetting. Everything just flowed.  Spontaneous healing, emotional barriers collapsing, openness where none was available before…Sedona is a mysterious, beautiful place that is the universe’s gift to us. A marriage between Earth and cosmos, where stars beyond counting and the bones of the earth meet in glorious harmony.  I could spend all of my existences through all time and space there, in that glittering place.

It is Alawahea, the title of my book and a word I created to explain that beautiful concept of embracing and celebrating everything exactly as it is, without needing to change anything at all. It is an acceptance and a rejoicing, a throwing open of the heart and knowing that everything is…just as it is. Not good, not bad, just what it is. It feels like home….and perhaps it is.

 

 

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.

 

 

Who would I cast in a movie of Alawahea?

As I have been touring different blogs, doing interviews, having my book reviewed, putting up excerpts, I have discovered that the most important part about being an author—something I never imagined when the sometimes schizophrenic voice inside my head was insisting I HAD to publish the stories bubbling around in my psyche—is the readers. There is a magic that happens between an author’s creation and the readers who enjoy it. This has been one of the biggest gifts that I’ve gotten with my blog tour for Alawahea. Another gift is the fun questions that are asked in the interviews. One I had the most fun with: who would you have play your characters if your book was ever made into a movie? I really had no idea who I would pick, yet as I thought about that question, I realized I had some very strong opinions about it.

Tamara Carrington: Felicity Jones. She’s got a very sweet, gentle quality and is quietly pretty. And I’ve really enjoyed the movies I’ve seen her in!

Alarin Raderth: Alex O’Laughlin. Ever since I saw him in Moonlight, I have had a fascination for his stage presence. Although he’s not a redhead, he’s the perfect combination of supreme self-confidence and charm that I see in Alarin.

Merran Corina: Francois Arnaud. He’s got the sheer sexual presence to pull off Merran Corina. His performance in The Borgia’s, was perfect. Before he wandered too far into the realms of extreme ruthlessness that was Cesare Borgia, that is. Merran has that streak, too, and could go there. He just doesn’t show it very often.

Greg Tenricth: Michael Stahl-David. I loved his performance in the movie “In Your Eyes”. His gentle, but strong support of the person he cared about and the willingness to support his own viewpoint to the point of not caring what the rest of society thinks is very much Greg.

Justern Memaxthal: This one took me a while, but considering I was huge fan of Moonlight, and then wandered into Veronica Mars as I worked backward and explored Jason Dohring roles. Logan from Veronica Mars is very much Justern in many ways, although Justern came into being in the early 90’s, long before I’d ever seen Veronica Mars.

Mellis Mennak: This one, too, took me a while. One of my very good friends, Alissa Barry, is actually the perfect Mellis. But if we have to go with actors, I’d say I haven’t quite found the perfect Mellis. There are lots of quality actresses I think are awesome, but I have yet to find one that I say yes, that’s Mellis to. At least not yet!

What does your imagination conjure up for actors to play these roles? Let’s have some fun and cast our very own version of The Azellian Affairs…

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Interview with Merran Corina

A wonderful fellow author, Melissa Kline, suggested that I play with having characters talk to me through an interview. The first character I chose is also the most intense of my characters. Merran Corina swept me away when I first started writing about him, and he still does. We have been through many adventures together…I am so excited to have them finally out there interacting with everyone!    Sara: It’s been a while since we sat down and talked, hasn’t it? I’ve missed you.

Merran: We’re here now, aren’t we? Let’s chat. This is supposed to be an interview. We’ve done lots and lots of those, haven’t we?

Sara: Yes, we certainly have. You’re a camera hog, you know.

Merran (laughs): When did you figure that out?

Sara: The day you walked onto the pages of the first book and took over. The first book was not supposed to be about you, you know. You were originally a very marginal character.  Someone who was a distant figure….the Azellian ambassador who loomed over everything but had no immediate interaction.

Merran: Me, marginal? No immediate interaction? Oh, that’s funny. I can’t imagine not having a connection with you. We’ve been together for nearly twenty years now. When DID the story shift from to Tamara and me and all the others?  You didn’t start there, remember?

Sara: That’s true enough. I didn’t start there, not with the play I wrote for my friends and me to act out, and not with the stories that took off from there. Of course, the original characters were the voice of an overly dramatic adolescence and too many romance novels. Tamara and you were so much more sedate.

Merran (with a grin): I’m not sure I’d call our adventures sedate. I went through hell.

Sara: Well, what did it bring you? Peace, love, harmony. Joy. Everything you were looking for.

Merran: What about you? You ready to step back in and play with us some more?

Sara: Oh yes! I love playing in your reality. You ready for me to come in and channel some more of you?

Merran: Bring it on. You’re going to love what’s going on here in our world. (Extends a hand)

 

An Interview with Tamara Carrington

I first met Tamara Carrington many years ago, when exploring the new world I’d just begun to discover through my stories. A young woman, barely beyond adolescence, she captured my imagination and made me wonder just what made her tick. We discovered many things about each other in those years, including things I never would have imagined. Listening to her has been an amazing journey and I’m very glad to let her speak:  Tamara: We haven’t spoken in a while, have we?

Sara: No, but the best friendships are the ones that last no matter what happens. The connection is still there.   

 Tamara: That’s what they say. It feels right on, too. What was your favorite part to write about my life?

Sara: That would be giving out spoilers….but I’d say that you had a particular relationship with a particular person that was my favorite to write. You seemed happy in it, too.

Tamara: I am happy. Deliriously so, even if it took a while to get there. I was so volatile when I was younger! Everything seemed so much more…dramatic. Earth shaking! But richer, too, somehow. As if throwing myself into life was the only way to fully live.

Sara: Isn’t it?

Tamara (laughs): I could live without the emotional extremes. Committing to life doesn’t necessarily mean being a firecracker.

Sara: Does it have to mean anything? What if it could just be something we do without effort? What if living fully is our natural way of being and it takes effort to cut ourselves off?

Tamara: You sound like Greg. Or the aarya. Not that I ever really had much exposure to the aarya, but they don’t see reality the way the rest of us do.

Sara:  No, they don’t. It’s taken me a while before I could even hear what they had to tell me. I’m not sure I know even now.

Tamara: I’m not sure I want to know.

Sara: You’ve never liked the deeper stuff, have you?

Tamara: I don’t know about that. I’m more interested in things that you can hear and see and touch, yes, but there’s something to be said for the perceptions you get from the other awareness. We call it psi. Greg would know more than I would about the theories behind it all.

Sara: Yes, there will be more about it all, you can be sure about that.

Tamara: Good. I’d hate to be the only representative of the story. Thank you for writing about us, by the way. I’ve had fun and it’s great to share it with the world.

Sara: So have I! Tell me when you have other stories, by the way. I can hardly wait to see what they are!

It's HERE...The Book is Launching

So many changes since I last posted an update! It’s official…my book is launching tomorrow!! After a long journey and lots and lots of details I never knew went into publishing, I have finally reached that milestone…I am published! And Alawahea: The Azellian Affairs Book One is now fully birthed into this plane of existence. To help send this baby of mine on its way, I am also starting a blog tour this month. That means I will be visiting twenty  five or so different blogs over the next month, offering free excerpts, interviews and in general enjoying the wonderful and amazing writers/readers out there who are willing to feature Alawahea on their blogs. Such excitement! I can hardly wait to see how avid readers interact and play with the story.

I will be posting each week with updates on each of the stops. The possibilities are endless…I’m very excited to see how this all plays out! And for those of you who can be there, I look forward to seeing you at the launch. For those of you who can’t, you’ll be with us in spirit. Lots of love to all of you, and see you all in the world of Azelle!

Dissolving Myths: The Editing Process

IMG_0312
IMG_0312

Now that the primary jobs I have (my “day jobs”) have eased up a bit, I’ve started to focus again on my writing and the editing process. One of life’s biggest mysteries has always been that I have never carved out time to write. Yet it’s something I just love to do! Why do we typically block ourselves from doing what we love? We create so many excuses! So many “reasons” why NOT to do something, when it’s really that we’re just not willing to give ourselves the time to do something that is so fulfilling, so caring toward ourselves. We allow ourselves to get distracted by the little things in life—whether it be our children, our spouses, our jobs, our hobbies, the news, the plight of those around us—all of those things are nothing more than a distraction from this bigger picture. What do we love? And will we allow ourselves to just do it?

For me, writing is one of the ways in which I express that love. I’ve been writing since I was eight, and been doing it constantly since then. I might take a year off here, a year off there, and the writing might change shape and not look like a novel, but I have been writing since I could write.

There has been nothing more fascinating for me than the actual process of writing and editing. I had told myself, as part of the “excuse” for why I didn’t send my writing in, was the fear of what the editor would say. What if it’s bad? What if they tear it apart? It’s my baby!! I can’t stand the idea that someone might tear apart my baby!

Except that’s not how it worked. My wonderful, amazing, incredible editor instead pointed out the places I already knew the story had holes—which was why I went to her in the first place, for help in realizing the story around the holes. Her questions told me immediately that there were spots I hadn’t explained adequately. Her comments highlighted the areas I hadn’t fully visualized the character, so there might be inconsistencies. Her perspective helped me visualize the somewhat squashed timeline that I had to expand. And her ability to see the overall picture with completely fresh eyes—I wasn’t there to explain the story, so it had to stand on its own—well, all of that was hugely invaluable to me. And in the end, the second edit produced something I had hoped to see: a stronger story that would pop on its own. We are a team, my editor and me…and together we are going to see this story brought into the fullness of what it can be. Thank you, Donna! So glad I found you!

The Journey to Publication

Sara headshot 1 edits
Sara headshot 1 edits

I’m so excited for publication! Today is the launch of my new website!! It’s finally happening; the unfolding of a dream I’ve had since I was a young child. Publishing a story….it’s been with me a long time, the whisper of possibilities in my ear, the ideas about what could be. It’s time to let that out, to see what’s hidden in the whisper of the infinite.

Such a journey it has been—after spending most of my life telling myself I couldn’t do it, and coming up with a thousand reasons why not, I’ve finally woken up to the realization that all of it, the excuses, the reasons, the hundreds of piled of “because’s” were just more stories. Entertaining, but only true if I allowed them to be true. Why not spread my wings and fly? We’ve forgotten that we could have fun with our lives. I’m ready to remember what that feels like!

As I work through the editing/rewrite process all the way to the finished work, I’d like to share the process, the fun and the joys of it all. Allowing loved ones to read what I’d written, getting an editor who would support me in my vision, starting a website, revealing to friends on social media that I’d done these things, getting involved with an entrepreneurial mastermind group….so much support from everyone. My story was that no one knew what I really wanted, that I was hidden from the world. Yet when I told everyone I was stepping onto this path, there was no surprise from anyone. I write. It’s what I love to do. So I’m doing it, following my heart…and the possibilities are infinite.

It’s time to see what we can create when we play! Are we ready for creative power of what if, what then, what more?