Tag: novel

Steampunk lighthouses and roadtripping for research

lavendarstavkirke

Stavkirke on Washington Island

To celebrate making it through another semester of grad school (and especially for passing Intermediate Statistics), I rewarded myself with a roadtrip to one of my favorite spots, Washington Island, Wisconsin. It’s part of Door County and therefore gets hit pretty hard during tourism season, so it was nice to make it there a week before the craziness hit.

The island is accessible only by ferry. It’s small – 35 square miles – but wonderful for hiking or just watching the waves on the beaches. And eating, especially if you like fish, which is caught in the morning and served fresh for dinner.

Driving back, I decided to detour along Lake Michigan. It was out of the way, but I needed to head along the shoreline to find the lighthouse that’ll feature prominently in an upcoming novel, On the Other Side (working title). Unfortunately it was solid fog and I was unable to see any of the five lighthouses on my list. But the trip wasn’t entirely wasted – I was able to stop by Popeye’s in Milwaukee for dinner (the nearest Popeye’s to where I live is about 2 1/2 hours away).

On the Other Side will be a bit of a change from my other stuff. It’s a political thriller featuring a Victorian steampunk heroine, a modern-day Chicago architect, and an inventor in the vein of Nikola Tesla.

And a lighthouse, if I can ever find the right one.

Friday Five: Samyann

Yesterday coverThis week’s Friday Five focus is on Samyann, author of historical and romance novels.

Samyann is a Chicago native. A lifelong fascination with the rich history of her city, coupled with an abiding curiosity about the intersection of past, present, and future, have led to the creation of a speculative masterpiece, Yesterday.

In modern day Chicago, deja vu draws together a handsome mounted policeman and the beautiful young woman who saves his life. A tender love story pulls the reader back to previous lives and a time richly elegant. Yesterday is also a harrowing tale of escape through the American Civil War and The Great Chicago Fire of 1871. In this historical romance, Mark fights through Amanda’s rejection to prove that she will love again as she once loved – Yesterday.

* * * * * * * * * * *

1. What author has influenced your writing style/subject the most and why?

In that my focus is historical fiction with a romantic twist, there are a few. Jude Devereaux, Nora Roberts, Nicholas Sparks, Doris Kearns Goodwin, John Jakes, Ludlum, Michener … too many to list. These are a few that trigger the imagination. I like stories that are historically accurate tales built around fictitious characters. It has always been a way to vicariously live through the character life. For example, in Yesterday, which has an American Civil War history factor, a Great Chicago Fire factor, I was always asking myself “What would I have done?” These types of authors have obviously done the same.

2. Thinking about the stuff you’ve written, who’s your favorite character and why?

My favorite character is one from a current work in progress. Her name is Melanie Benson and she’s in her late 50s. There is a ‘been-there-done-that’ toughness about Melanie, a sage wisdom that she is likely to volunteer at any time … even in inappropriate moments, and it is usually laced with a bit of her humorous outlook on life in general. She’s a favorite of mine simply because she’s fun to write and I sometimes speak vicariously through her. :-)

3. What do you want your readers to take away from your works?

My dream is for readers to close the book after the last chapter, stare at nothing in particular, and ask themselves, “What if…..”. I’d like readers to remember the story and characters, long after finishing the book.

4. If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?

I’d like to have a genie that would grant my wishes. I’d think first, unlike Zeke. :-)

[ED’s note: Zeke is the main character in my upcoming novel, A Handful of Wishes.]

5. How much of your published writing is based on personal experiences?

Not much beyond character idiosyncrasies, mine or those of someone I know. My stories are based on reincarnation. I’ve never been there and been reborn to a new life.

Yet.

That I know of….

* * * * * * * * * * *

Yesterday – A Novel of Reincarnation is available via Amazon.com in Kindle and paperback format and Audible.com in audiobook format read by Darlene Allen. It is also available via Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Audiobooks.com, and Downpour.com.

Become a Friday Five author.

Weekend Writing Warriors 3/1/15 #8sunday

lwcover300x446New month, new story. Because I just finished outlining its sequel (although I don’t have any free time to write it!), I’m pulling from my novel, The Lone Wolf, published by Evolved Publishing in December 2013.

After her husband’s infidelities are revealed, Kasey Sanford just wants to rediscover who she is. After an abusive childhood and years as a career soldier, Andrew Adams just wants someone to tell him that he’s doing the right thing with his life. When their paths cross, Kasey and Andrew embark on a tumultuous journey that demonstrates just what they’re willing to do to save the ones they love.

In this snippet, Andrew is enjoying some downtime during a tour in Iraq. While checking in on his unit he notices a bunch of guys gathered around a clothes-covered cot.

* * * * * * * * * * *

I walked over to the cot, looked down, and saw that what I’d mistaken for clothes was a sleeping soldier—Butch, a short skinny guy who was anything but. “Is that…Where the hell did you find yourself Saran wrap in the middle of a desert?”

“My girl sent it to me,” Reyes giggled. “Isn’t this awesome?”

They’d securely attached Butch to his cot with plastic wrap, and judging by its opaqueness, there had to be at least a dozen layers.

“Watch this,” Reyes said as he grabbed a bottle of water and poured it over Butch’s face.

Butch jerked his body up but the plastic held, and I had to admit, they’d done a great job. Butch’s sputters quickly changed to a profanity-laced tirade against his fellow soldiers, their mothers, and the US military in general.

* * * * * * * * * * *

Post a link to your eight sentences blog entry, or join the fun at the Weekend Writing Warriors website.

You can get a copy of The Lone Wolf at Amazon and Barnes and Noble, or the audiobook at Amazon, Audible, or iTunes.

Weekend Writing Warriors 9/28/14 #8sunday

lwcover300x446For September, I’m going to pull from my novel, The Lone Wolf, which was released last fall.

After her husband’s infidelities are revealed, Kasey Sanford just wants to rediscover who she is. After an abusive childhood and years as a career soldier, Andrew Adams just wants someone to tell him that he’s doing the right thing with his life. When their paths cross, Kasey and Andrew embark on a tumultuous journey that demonstrates just what they’re willing to do to save the ones they love.

In this scene from Kasey and Andrew’s first meeting, she’s just bumped into him at the local bookstore. Literally.

I tried to think of something witty to say, or quirky, something that would make him laugh, make him want to get to know me, while he regarded me with a mixture of polite boredom and expectation.

 

I gestured toward the section behind him and asked, “So, you like military history?”

 

“Yep.”

 

“I think it’s interesting, but I always get frustrated by the policy decisions because it seems we go in and do whatever we think is best for a country, without consideration for what they want, and so no wonder they hate us so much, if all we do is use violence to enforce our will.” I paused, realizing I might be ranting, and gave him an apologetic smile, then said, “My dad fought in Vietnam, so I grew up exposed to all this; I’m a pretty strong pacifist.”

 

“Career military,” he said, and all traces of the smirk, or smile, or whatever it had been, were gone.

 

“Oh,” I answered, sure my face was definitely on fire.

 

“If you’ll excuse me?”

Post a link to your eight sentences blog entry, or join the fun at the Weekend Writing Warriors website.

You can get a copy of The Lone Wolf at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords, or the audiobook at Amazon, Audible, or iTunes.

And make sure to get a copy of my latest short story, “Not My Thing,” free at Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, and Amazon.

Weekend Writing Warriors 9/21/14 #8sunday

lwcover300x446For September, I’m going to pull from my novel, The Lone Wolf, which was released last fall.

After her husband’s infidelities are revealed, Kasey Sanford just wants to rediscover who she is. After an abusive childhood and years as a career soldier, Andrew Adams just wants someone to tell him that he’s doing the right thing with his life. When their paths cross, Kasey and Andrew embark on a tumultuous journey that demonstrates just what they’re willing to do to save the ones they love.

Last week, Kasey and Andrew shared a look across a bookstore. This excerpt is from a week after that first meeting.

While browsing McKay’s history section, walking backwards reading the titles, I bumped into the blue-eyed man, who was engrossed in the military history section.

 

He scowled at me for a brief moment, but as recognition dawned in his eyes his expression softened.

 

“I’m so sorry,” I said as heat rushed to my face. “I wasn’t paying attention; I didn’t mean to disturb you.”

 

“No harm, no foul.” The corners of his lips drew back into a smile, or perhaps a smirk. “You come here a lot, right? I’ve noticed you around.”

Post a link to your eight sentences blog entry, or join the fun at the Weekend Writing Warriors website.

You can get a copy of The Lone Wolf at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords, or the audiobook at Amazon, Audible, or iTunes.

And make sure to get a copy of my latest short story, “Not My Thing,” free at Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, and Amazon.

Weekend Writing Warriors 9/14/14 #8sunday

lwcover300x446For September, I’m going to pull from my novel, The Lone Wolf, which was released last fall.

After her husband’s infidelities are revealed, Kasey Sanford just wants to rediscover who she is. After an abusive childhood and years as a career soldier, Andrew Adams just wants someone to tell him that he’s doing the right thing with his life. When their paths cross, Kasey and Andrew embark on a tumultuous journey that demonstrates just what they’re willing to do to save the ones they love.

Last week, Kasey and Andrew shared a look across a bookstore. This continues from where that left off.

For the next few days, my mind kept returning to the eyes of the man at the bookstore. Even after that quick glimpse, they still haunted me; that man haunted me. For some reason, I was simultaneously intrigued and put off. We’d never spoken to each other, never interacted, and all I had to go by was a glance, an overheard conversation. That was no reason to—to what? To think about someone? That’s all it was; no need to overreact. For God’s sake, I didn’t even know his name.

Post a link to your eight sentences blog entry, or join the fun at the Weekend Writing Warriors website.

You can get a copy of The Lone Wolf at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords, or the audiobook at Amazon, Audible, or iTunes.

And make sure to get a copy of my latest short story, “Not My Thing,” free at Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, and Amazon.

Fall 2014 goal review

Every year, I set goals for myself, and every three months, I review my progress. After the hectic summer I had (working 50 hours/week, 20 hour/week internship, two classes, and researching for my thesis), I don’t know why I’m even bothering because I didn’t accomplish anything this summer, but here goes anyways.

1. Finish my third novel, tentatively titled On the Other Side, which will be a steampunk political thriller because, well, why not.

This not only didn’t happen, but On The Other Side has been pushed out of line by outlines for two other novels that I might write first. One is about five characters very loosely based on people I met while interning at a homeless shelter, and the other is a sequel to The Lone Wolf.

2. Write and submit at least one new short story every month.

I’ve had two submissions in 2014: one for a publication that went defunct, and one rejection. I haven’t finished any new stories recently, but I’ve been heavily mulling over plot points; all I really need is to make myself sit down and write them. And then submit them.

I’ve recently joined a local writing group that starts each bimonthly meeting with a short story prompt. I’m hoping to finish each story I write and get them submitted.

3.Get a short story collection ready for publication (not including The Futility of Loving a Soldier, which will be out this fall from Evolved – hopefully).

I have three stories with similar themes and tones, plus a couple more half-finished stories that would fit with them. If I can get six done, I’ll publish them like I did with Us, Together.

4. Self-publish at least two long short stories.

I’m currently working on three that should come out to be about 10-20k words. Depending on when/if I get them done, I’ll probably go through my publisher, Evolved Publishing, rather than self-publish, like I did for “Not My Thing.” The results have been awesome for that – it hit #1 in July on Amazon’s free literary short stories list.

5. Read 100 books.

I’m at 43 – 24 books behind schedule.

6. Learn a new language – either Spanish, Tamil, Arabic, or Icelandic – to the point I can carry on a basic conversation in it.

I plan to really hit this goal this fall. I’m taking a class on campus once a week, so I’m hoping to get some language CDs to listen to on the hour-long drive. It’s nice to decompress to whatever’s on my iPod, but I feel kinda guilt for not being productive during that time, considering how much stuff I always have to do.

If you’ve set goals for yourself, how’re they going so far this year?

 

 

Summer 2014 goal review

Every year, I set goals for myself, and every quarter, I review my progress. This review will be very sad, because I currently work full-time, have a part-time internship, and take a couple classes in addition to writing and sleeping and eating when I get a chance.

1. Finish my third novel, tentatively titled On the Other Side, which will be a steampunk political thriller because, well, why not.

Same as in April: this hasn’t happened, and is nowhere close to happening any time soon. And actually, polishing my next novel, A Handful of Wishes, is taking longer than expected, so its release date has been pushed back to next April.

2. Write and submit at least one new short story every month.

I’m currently 2/6 for submissions. And one of those publications closed since I submitted. But on the plus side, I have a huge long list of story ideas that I’m slowly plodding through.

3.Get a short story collection ready for publication (not including The Futility of Loving a Soldier, which will be out this fall from Evolved – hopefully).

I have an idea for a themed anthology, kind of in the vein of Not My Thing, and I’m slowly working on some of them. Again, no time to write.

4. Self-publish at least two long short stories through my publisher.

My publisher, Evolved, released “Not My Thing” in April. It’s free everywhere, and currently #3 on Amazon’s list of literary short stories.

5. Read 100 books.

I haven’t read anything for about a month. According to Goodreads, I’m currently at 33 books – 16 behind.

6. Learn a new language – either Spanish, Tamil, Arabic, or Icelandic – to the point I can carry on a basic conversation in it.

Slowly but surely, I’m conquering Spanish. I’m able to read the Spanish billboards around town (although I think that’s more from knowing French than any Spanish I’ve learned). But I’ll get there!

If you’ve set goals for yourself, how’re they going so far this year?

Spring 2014 goal review

Every year, I set goals for myself, and every quarter, I review my progress. So, here goes.

1. Finish my third novel, tentatively titled On the Other Side, which will be a steampunk political thriller because, well, why not.

This hasn’t happened, and is nowhere close to happening any time soon.

2. Write and submit at least one new short story every month.

I wrote about twenty stories when I was in India in January, and I’m slowly working through edits. But so far, I’ve submitted two stories (one in January, one in February). I have one forthcoming from my publisher, but I’m not counting that one because it didn’t technically go through a submission process.

3.Get a short story collection ready for publication (not including The Futility of Loving a Soldier, which will be out this summer from Evolved – hopefully).

I don’t have nearly enough short stories right now for a collection.

4. Self-publish at least two long short stories.

I may revise this, because if my publisher is willing to release them, it’ll be better publicity. I guess it all depends on when I get something finished, and how long it is. I have a series of novellas in the planning stages that may fit here.

5. Read 100 books.

I’m at 19, which Goodreads tells me is 6 behind where I should be. I’m actually pretty impressed with this though; I’m working fulltime and taking a full courseload this semester, so I don’t have much time for anything.

6. Learn a new language – either Spanish, Tamil, Arabic, or Icelandic – to the point I can carry on a basic conversation in it.

I found a great podcast, Coffee Break Spanish, that I listen to at work. So far my Spanish skills aren’t great beyond the whole “Hi, how are you?” thing, but I’m slowly making progress.

If you’ve set goals for yourself, how’re they going so far this year?

Resolutions: 2013 review and 2014 goals

2013

Last year, I set some goals for myself.

  1. Publish my novel, The Lone Wolf.
    Yes! It was just released by Evolved Publishing in December. As of right now, it has a 4.6 star rating on Amazon, from 5 reviews. And a reader told me it made her cry. So, score.
  2. Average a short story acceptance each month, with the majority of them in paying markets.
    No. I had one acceptance this year, probably because I crapped out on submissions after about March.
  3. Put out a short story collection.
    Yes! I released Us, Together: A Short Story Collection in June. It’s 6 stories about the problems teenagers face, from relationships and unplanned pregnancy, to absent parents and poverty, loosely based on stories and students I encountered while teaching at-risk kids.
  4. Get another novel ready to query.
    Kind of. Evolved is scheduled to publish A Handful of Wishes in December 2014, which means I should probably get it all shined up soon.
  5. Read 100 books this year.
    No. I read 72, which isn’t bad considering I was also working and going to grad school and writing and wasting a ton of time on the internet.
  6. Kayak the entire length of the Hennepin Canal.
    No. The closest I came was looking at kayaks at Scheels.

2014

  1. Finish my third novel, tentatively titled On the Other Side, which will be a steampunk political thriller because, well, why not.
  2. Write and submit at least one new short story every month.
  3. Get a short story collection ready for publication (not including The Futility of Loving a Soldier, which will be out this summer from Evolved). Maybe the stories about India I wrote on my trip?
  4. Self-publish at least two long short stories. I have half a dozen in the works; it’s just a matter of finishing them.
  5. Read 100 books.
  6. Learn a new language – either Spanish, Tamil, Arabic, or Icelandic – to the point I can carry on a basic conversation in it.

Ideally, I’ll have something new coming out every 3-4 months, in addition to more published short stories which will later be compiled into a collection. I think this is doable, but it’ll require massively-focused time management skills that I seem to be lacking.

What are your goals for 2013?

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