My goal as a writer is to be invisible.
I write in my character's voices. Third-person, and these days I switch among four or five characters in each book – sometimes even climbing into the villain's head, which can be … interesting.
The whole idea behind this is to achieve Total Immersion. I want you, my reader, to forget – at least for a little while – that you're reading a book. I want you standing right there beside the characters, living in their world.
Is it hard? It can be. What I try to do is find each character's Voice – the way they phrase their thoughts, the shape those thoughts take, how each character thinks of her- or himself. For a little while, my goal is to become that character, seeing the world through her, or his, eyes. And write the scene accordingly.
Kat Morales, the human detective in my Portals books, is easy to write. She's kind of an extension of me, so her voice came to me naturally. Hers was the Voice for my first two Portals books. It wasn't until Book 3, Deathtalker, that I got up nerve to tackle scenes from the POV of Tevis, who is Kat's partner – and an elf.
What I hope, with all of my books, is that the reader never sees the author between the front and back covers. At least not while you're reading.
I want to be invisible. How about you, as a writer or a reader? What's your goal?
Monday is Launch Day for my virtual book tour with Sister Hoods, book 4 in my Portals urban fantasy/detective series! Do I sound excited? I am!
This is only my second book tour – ever! – and part of me is still wondering why I've waited so long. I had fun on the first tour, which was arranged by Bewitching Book Tours – the same online tour company that's doing the current one.
There are two ways to set up a virtual book tour. You can do it yourself, which means putting out a call for people who are willing to do interviews, review and post blogs about you and your books. Or … you can hire a company like Bewitching Books, that will make all those arrangements for you. Yes, hiring a company costs money – just like, for example, booking a vacation through a travel agency. But for those of us who are technologically challenged and/or poorly supplied in the “patience” department, it's a great alternative. I contacted Roxanne at Bewitching Books last month, and in a matter of weeks, she had everything pulled together on my behalf – 14 stops over a 14-day period.
Upfront, my tour guide asked for a bio, pix of me and Sister Hoods' book cover, book and buy links, book blurb and excerpts. Once she got tour hosts lined up for me, she sent information on their requests for additional information, and over the last week or so I've been responding with interviews and a couple of blog posts. In other words, mostly all I have to do is answer questions and write – which I love to do anyway! As for the costs, the tour is $85 for two weeks, well worth it to me to avoid the hassle of having to do all the work myself. Put it this way: I pay more than that to the guy who mows my back yard.
And to put it even more in perspective, if I was doing an actual live, on-the-road two-week book tour, I'd pay more than that for the first night in a motel room!
That's another huge positive for me in doing a virtual book tour: My book and I will be seen by a lot more people than I'd get to meet on a live book tour. And all from the comforts of my own little office here at home.
Are you an author contemplating the merits of a virtual book tour? Or a reader who looks to book tours for authors and books? I'd love for you to stop by and share your thoughts.
This is what I want to share with everybody today! This is Sheridan's newest web site, and it's all about one of my favorite places - the town I call home: Sheridan, Wyoming.
The site is also the newest venture of my employer - Sheridan Media, which is a news agency that includes nine radio stations and an online news site (Sheridan Media-dot-com).
Sheridan Wyoming-dot-com went live the day after Christmas, and I think the site is gorgeous! If you've ever been curious about life along the Big Horn Mountains, you can find the answers here in one comprehensive web site. I fell in love with Sheridan the first time I saw the area, more than 20 years ago, and this web site will show you why. The area's history and historic places, arts and entertainment, the annual events, and of course the outdoor recreation - camping, fishing, hunting, horseback and trail riding ...
You can also find out about real estate, schools, the medical community, lodging facilities and restaurants - all the information you need if you're thinking of moving here, or just coming for a visit.
Here's the URL: www.SheridanWyoming.com
I hope you'll check it out. And ... If you like it or decide to come to Sheridan for a visit ... Let me know.
Yesterday was a bittersweet day for me. A great day – because I went to see the third Hobbit movie – The Battle of the Five Armies. A sad day – because that's the last of the Hobbit movies. A farewell to Middle Earth.
Except, of course, in reruns. I do have all the other movies on CD, and I plan to get Battle as soon as it becomes available.
As with the earlier two Hobbit movies, director Peter Jackson brings in some characters that Tolkien didn't introduce until The Lord of the Rings. There's a foreshadowing of The Lord of the Rings – something I think Tolkien himself would have done if he had written The Hobbit with LOTR already in mind.
I have to say, one of my favorite scenes involves the arrival of Thranduil, leader of the wood elves, who is riding … Well, I won't spoil the surprise for those who haven't seen the movie. Suffice to say that horses aren't the only steeds of choice in Jackson's world.
As in all of Jackson's “Middle Earth” movies, the settings and the action are breathtaking. And yes, I will go see this movie again if I get a chance, because there's just a lot to see and take in. If you're a fan of Tolkien, and of Jackson's take on Tolkien, this is another must-see film.
A friend shared this with me. I want to share it with the rest of you. To all who believe, Merry Christmas. To those who don't celebrate Christmas, may you have a blessed and peaceful "holy day" season ...
Soldier at Christmas
T'was the night before Christmas, he lived all alone,
In a one bedroom house made of plaster and stone.
I had come down the chimney with presents to give,
And to see just who in this home did live.
I looked all about, a stange sight I did see,
No tinsel, no presents, not even a tree.
No stocking by mantle, just boots filled with sand.
On the wall hung pictures of far distant lands.
With medals and badges, awards of all kinds,
A sober thought came through my mind.
For this house was different, it was dark and dreary,
I found the home of a soldier, once I could see clearly.
The soldier lay sleeping, silent, alone,
Curled up on the floor in this one bedroom home.
The face was so gentle, the room in such disorder,
Not how I pictured a United States soldier.
Was this the hero of whom I'd just read?
Curled up on a poncho, the floor for a bed?
I realized the families that I saw this night,
Owed their lives to these soldiers who were willing to fight.
Soon 'round the world the children would play,
And grown-ups would celebrate a bright Christmas day.
They all enjoyed freedom each month of the year,
Because of the soldiers, like the one lying here.
I couldn't help wonder how many lay alone,
On a cold Christmas Eve, in a land far from home.
The very thought brought a tear to my eye,
I dropped to my knees and started to cry.
The soldier, awakened and I heard a rough voice.
"Santa don't cry, this life is my choice;
I fight for freedom, I don't ask for more,
My life is my God, my Country, my Corps."
The soldier rolled over and drifted to sleep
I couldn't control it, I continued to weep.
I kept watch for hours, so silent and still,
And we both shivered from the cold night's chill.
I did't want to leave on that cold, dark night,
This Guardian of honor so willing to fight.
Then the soldier rolled over with a voice soft and pure,
Whispered, "Carry on Santa, it's Christmas Day, all is secure."
One look at my watch, and I knew he was right,
Merry Christmas my friend, and to all a good night.
In the late 1700s, one of the British East India Company's finest ships wrecked on the wild, then-unexplored coast of southeast Africa. The Grosvenor – 741 tons, a three-masted square-rigger reported to be “bristling with cannons” – was doomed. But most of her crew – 91 men – and all 34 passengers, including women and children, survived the wreck and reached the shore in safety.
What happened to them next is the subject of author Stephen Taylor's account. The book has been published under two titles – The Caliban Shore in 2004, and Caliban's Shore in 2005 – but under either title, this is a gripping tale of a true event that is as amazing as anything a writer of fiction could imagine. Mr. Taylor draws upon unpublished material and (at the time the book was written) new research, weaving together anthropology, social history and adventure in a story of people rising to heroism and, too often, sinking to less-than-heroic depths.
Don't expect to be plunged immediately into action. Mr. Taylor takes some time to set the scene for the catastrophe that is to come. What you can expect, with a bit of patience, is a tale of people far from home – hundreds of miles, in fact, from the nearest European outpost – and struggling to survive in an incomprehensible land. That's a word, in fact, that the author uses in describing the survivors' discovery that they were not alone on this unknown shore: “They surveyed one another with mutual incomprehension: on the one hand, the disheveled castaways; on the other, black warriors with high conical hairstyles, daubed with red mud ...”
Some of the survivors eventually returned to England. But not all. The author tells of the fates, and probable fates, of both groups. He reaches to the heart of the mystery in a story that is compelling, disturbing, and that will haunt your thoughts long after you close the book on the last page.
A three-headed "Hound of Hell" won the costume contest for pets this past weekend at the Pet-o-Ween in Sheridan's Kendrick Park. I was there taking photos in conjunction with my "day job" as reporter for Sheridan Media - which is an amazing outfit in an amazing town. All of the proceeds from the Pet-o-Ween event benefit the Sheridan Dog and Cat Shelter - a no-kill facility, BTW. And a lot of the pets that came to Saturday's event were rescued from the shelter, which I think is pretty cool! If you want to see more photos from the Pet-o-Ween, visit www.sheridanmedia.com.
Got another book to share with everybody! I'm posting the review I wrote for Amazon.
There are some ghost stories that are fun to read on a dark and stormy night when wind-whipped trees are casting witchy shadows across the windows.
This book isn't one of them.
Take my word for it. You want to read The Showing at high noon. Outdoors. On a bright sunny day.
It's still going to give you the willies.
I would rank The Showing right up there with Dorothy Macardle's The Uninvited, which, until now, has been my all-time favorite haunted house tale. Will Macmillan Jones is a master of stirring fear with only a few deft strokes. BTW, I have visited this man's author page, and seen the picture of him with that wonderful smile and those dark sunglasses. He looks rather harmless.
It's a façade. There is a true Horrormeister lurking behind those dark glasses. I give this book five stars. For the sheer creep-factor, that feeling of something lurking just on the edge of being seen, that sense of something ... waiting ... it's deserving of a Ten.
I'm reprinting my review of Book 5 in Jean's Star Sojourner series. The books, and my review, are available on Amazon.
Jules Rammis is an astrobiologist with telepathic (“tel”) powers and a penchant for getting into trouble. In this, the fifth book in Jean Kilczer's Star Sojourner series, trouble has come to him. He's been kidnapped by Boss Slade, the Altairian master of a none-too-nice mining operation on the planet New Lithia. Slade is losing too many slaves to attempted rebellion, and he needs Jules' tel abilities to help him keep the situation in hand.
Rammis is my kind of hero – a good guy who just works at doing what he sees as the right thing to do. Kilczer handles dialog and action with equal aplomb, and in good balance. And … There is plenty of action, especially as Jules digs in to the task of taking down the lithium mine and rescuing the 300 slaves who have been captured from across a galaxy. There's also humor, romance, and adventure in abundance.
I must make note that, even though this book is part of a series, Satan's Forge does fine as a stand-alone. There's enough backstory to provide what the reader needs to know, when he or she needs to know it.
If you enjoy an exciting SF read that focuses on people rather than hardware – which, to my thinking is the best kind of SF – then you will love Satan's Forge. Since 5 stars is as high as the rating goes, I give it 5 stars. I'd give it more if I could.