Category: Writing


Twin – An apocalyptic short story

Source: Twin – An apocalyptic short story

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Sources for Story Ideas

 

 

I write science fiction and fantasy – sometimes a combination of both in the form of scifantasy. I also write the occasional short horror story.  The first time I was asked from where I got ideas, I’d never really thought about it.  I would just get one and off I’d go writing.

I guess I kind of figured I was pulling them all out of thin air.  Until I stopped to think about it.  Though I admit that there has been the occasion when an image has appeared in my head for no reason I can see and nagged me until I wrote a story about it, most of my ideas didn’t just hit me up side my head from out of nowhere. Nope, once I thought about it, I saw they were coming from a number of places.  Of course, an idea for a story can come from just about anywhere but here is a list of the most common sources for me (and, so far, I’ve never run out of ideas).

DREAMS:

It can be just a snippet.  The first book I wrote, “Boucher’s World: Emergent”, (science fiction dealing with the interactions between a group of humans, cats, dogs, and a race of giant aliens, all with psychic abilities and trapped together for two thousand years) came about because of a dream.

What was the dream?  Well, it was about a girl, or young woman, who worked for a pest company, and her partner was a cat.  They lived in a city covered by a dome.  That was it (don’t ask me why I’d dream something like that! I’ve had even stranger ones!).  The rest of the story sort of worked its way from there.

It was actually supposed to be one book but by the time I got through I had a whole series, which consists of a trilogy, a novel, two novellas, two novelettes, and a short story, and it’s a series because as I wrote, I realized it was becoming ‘way too long for one book.

LIFE EVENTS:

Everyday life, especially recent or current events, is always good fodder for a nice yarn.  I’ve written a number of drabbles (a story written in exactly one hundred words), and some are based on an actual event, such as “Once Upon a Spider”, taken from an encounter with an orb weaver by one of my daughters.  Or the time I opened my washing machine and found I’d forgotten to check my jean pockets, resulting in another drabble, “Tatters”.

VISUAL PROMPTS:

For a while, I entered in a short story writing contest where the five-hundred-word-or-less story has to be written around a given image.  It was quite an enjoyable exercise (only won once, a second place win, “A Moment in Time” but it was fun doing them).  And, you don’t have to enter a contest to use visual prompts, any image will do.  For instance, I  got the idea for my “Cady and Sam” werewolf series from seeing a picture of my house juxtaposed with one of a large, wolfish dog.

AUDIBLE PROMPTS:

The drabble, “Noise”, is based on the fact that I have tinnitus, though I suppose that could also be considered a life event.

ODORS:

The drabble, “Martin’s Café”, came about from the delicious aroma of bacon wafting up to my room one morning when my daughter was cooking breakfast (nuff said!).

MEMORY:

(Which could also be considered a life event but I kind of separate the two when the event was a very long time ago.) In the case of the series on which I’m currently working, the idea came from a memory.  No, I don’t remember having been a dragon (but wouldn’t it be totally cool if I did?), but I’ve found that sometimes a little of myself gets into my stories. I remembered being three years old (I know I was that age because I asked my mother about it once, and she verified my age at the time), and having a bad case of eczema. I spent some time looking as though I was covered in scales.  Added to that was a period a time during which I felt alienated from everyone (for reasons I won’t go into here) and ran away from home when I was twelve (hmm…someday I might get around to writing my autobiography…nah, writing fiction is much more fun!).  Anyway, from those memories came the idea of the Spaceships and Magic series, the first book being  “Turner: Bitter Change”, the story of Juri Turner, the human-born dragon (I’ve written four books in the series and at the moment I’m working on book five).

 

The thing is, story ideas can come from anywhere and these are six examples of from where some of mine have come.  Always try to keep a pencil and pad handy.  That way, when an idea hauls off and slaps you in the face, you’ll be ready.  Believe me, there’s nothing sadder – or more frustrating – than knowing you had a good idea for a story but now you can’t remember it and you didn’t write it down.

They don’t always pan out (sometimes it’s a really bad idea) but all the same, it doesn’t hurt to write it down.

Just in case.

Marcia's Book Talk

In today’s guest post, I have the immense pleasure of welcoming author Bea Cannon to Marcia’s Book Talk. Bea, author of the BOUCHER’S WORLD series of science fiction books, the CADY AND SAM paranormal series, and SPACESHIPS AND MAGIC fantasy series, discusses six ways which provided inspiration in writing her books, and how these can be helpful for writers to explore. Now, over to Bea for more about this compelling topic…

Bea Cannon, author photograph Bea Cannon, author photograph

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Six Ways of Sparking Ideas by Bea Cannon

I write science fiction and fantasy – sometimes a combination of both in the form of scifantasy – and the occasional short horror story. The first time I was asked from where I got ideas, I’d never really thought about it. I would just get one and off I’d go writing.

I guess I kind of figured I was pulling them out of thin air. Until I stopped to think…

View original post 809 more words

Writing Tip(s)?

I’ve been wracking my brain trying to come with some clever writing tips, and…*sigh*… I guess I’m simply not that clever.  I could only come up with one.  Wanna hear it?  Here it is:

WRITE!

Not trying to be facetious but that’s all I have.

WRITE!

If you want to do so…

WRITE!

Thinking about it, reading everything you can about it, waiting ’til you’ve got all your ducks in a row…none of that is writing.  Writing is.

I suppose I should add that reading is certainly a good idea, especially reading books and stories in the genre in which you wish to write.   In fact, all the writers I know are also readers.  The thing is, though, that if you want to write, you have to – at some point – put the books down for a while, and actually…

WRITE!

What I’m saying is, all the writing tips in world – and there’s some truly good ones out there by some real clever people  – won’t help you at all if you don’t grab your dictionary and thesaurus, park yourself at your desk, or wherever you choose to do it, put your fingers to your keyboard or take pen in hand (whichever suits you best), and commence to putting that great idea you’ve come up with, into written form.

In the final analysis – and I know I’m sounding a bit repetitive here – the only way to write is to get on with it, and…

WRITE!

Why I Write, and What I Write

Okay, I was tired of seeing that outdated post of free books when I zipped past my blog, so I took a few minutes to try and think of something interesting to blog about but my mind kept going back to my current writing project(s).

I couldn’t think of a darned ‘nother thing.

Then I thought, “Why don’t I just do a repost from a while back?”  Yeah, but what to repost?  Then I remembered one from a couple of years ago, when I did a guest post, and was asked the question of why I write and exactly what it is that I write.  I went looking for it, but, I couldn’t find the blog on which I’d made the post.

Now, I don’t know if that means that blog no longer exists, or if I’m just mis-remembering the site but I still have a copy of the post in Word, so, with a few updates, here it is.

 

Why I Write, and What I Write

The first time I was asked why I write, I had no idea how to answer.  I sputtered, hemmed and hawed, and finally said something like, “Gee, I dunno, I just like to”.

Dumb, huh?  Shouldn’t a writer know why she writes?  Shouldn’t she (or he) have at least an inkling, a clue maybe, as to exactly why she sits down and puts pen to paper – or fingers to keyboard, nowadays – and lets all those words loose on the world?  Well, shouldn’t she?

I thought I should, so I sat down one day to think about it.  I wanted to have a good, pat answer if I was ever asked that question again.  And sure enough, someone did, and that time – hurray! – I had an answer.

“I write because, ever since I was a child, I’ve loved to read, and I’d always wanted to write, too, so one day I finally got around to doing it,” I said, smiling triumphantly because, now, I had a bona fide response, one that I knew to be true.

And I was satisfied.  Until one day someone asked me, again, “Why do you write?” and I opened my mouth to give that great reply I’d thought up, but as my mouth went open to speak the words, it occurred to me that they weren’t precisely correct.  Oh, they weren’t wrong, mind you; that was a reason why I write, just not the reason.

So, I sat back down to think about it some more.  And it finally struck me that, no matter what I came up with, and I came up  with a lot of reasons – all true to a certain extent – for me it boiled down to one final truth: I write because I have no choice.  That’s it.  The whole enchilada, the final explanation.  Simple, huh?

What brought me to that particular understanding of why I write, was the realization that, not only had I always wanted to write, I always did write.  When I was a child, I would write stories based mostly on the fairy tales I read, and I would write little stories for my mother, or my siblings.

Someone gave me a diary one year when I was around eleven or twelve, and instead of recording my thoughts and feelings as most pre-teen or teenaged girls would, I wrote stories in it.  And I was a letter writer.  I loved to write those.  Still do, though I mostly send emails now, which, somehow is not quite the same.  Anyway, I just loved to write.

As to what I write, well, that would be, mostly, science fiction, fantasy, and paranormal stories (I’ve written three dealing with werewolves, and no, they’re not romances.  Just some unconventional paranormals).  I also write in a genre that’s called “scifantasy”, which is what it sounds like: a blend of science fiction and fantasy.

The tales I write come from all those fairy tales I read as a kid, I think, and I graduated from those to science fiction at an early age.  I’ve also written a few short horror stories, though I haven’t formally published any of those as yet, just on Wattpad with copies on my blog.

Of course, I have reasons for writing a particular story, such as the one for writing the “Boucher’s World” trilogy.  I like science fiction.  It’s one of my favorite genres, and I’ve always especially liked the kind that deals with the encounters between humans and aliens.  I wanted to see if I could create such a meeting, and resolve the inevitable conflicts that would occur.  The idea came from a dream I had.  Ideas can come from anywhere and I never turn my nose up at one, so I went with it and it turned into a trilogy.

I started this story a number of years ago but had to put it aside because it was during a period when I didn’t have much time for writing.  After I retired, I pulled it out and began working on it again.  As I wrote, I saw after a while, that the story was going to be much too long for just one book so it became a trilogy, the first book of which I called “Boucher’s World: Emergent”.  It’s a science fiction/fantasy set two thousand years in the future, about a society composed of humans from Earth, and an alien race called Elvwists, who have spent the last two millennia trapped inside a dome on a planet in the Epsilon Eridani star system, and they all have a wide range of psychic abilities.  So do the dogs and cats.

The first two books of the series deal with how they finally get out of the dome, and what happens after they do.  The third book addresses what happens when people from their respective home worlds show up.

I decided to publish, so three years ago I self-published the first book in the trilogy as an ebook.  (Just so you know, the reason I self-published is because after doing some research, I decided that since I was already old enough to retire, it was the best way for me to go if I ever wanted to get anything into print before I died.)

Since then, I’ve published more stories, about half of them shorts or novellas set in the  Boucher’s World universe.  These include the second and third books in the trilogy, “Boucher’s World: Transformation” and “Boucher’s World: Encounters”.

I have also published two books in a new series that I call Spaceships and Magic: “Turner: Bitter Change” and “Turner: World Change”, a scifantasy set in a future closer to the present day than the one of my first series.  It’s more of a dystopian/alien invasion/alternate worlds type story, that involve not only aliens and spaceships, but also dragons and magic (thus the Spaceships and Magic designation).

Altogether, I have sixteen publications out, and currently, in addition to working on book three of the Spaceships and Magic series, I’m also writing several others as I can’t seem to write just one story at a time.  I keep coming up with ideas that I just have to write down, so I do.

Harking back to my first answer to the question of why I write, I do like to write – most of the time.  There are times when I don’t especially like it, such as when I have to edit or re-write, but on the whole, I enjoy it.  I love creating new worlds and putting characters into different situations they have to work their way through.  I really do.  But I don’t write because I love to.  I write because I have to.

A question I’ve never been able to answer is: why do I have to write?  Maybe one day I’ll sit down and think about that.  Maybe I’ll come up with an answer, too.  If not, I won’t worry about it.  I’ll just keep writing.

I don’t have a choice.

Don’t Wait, Write When You Can

Recently, I was asked by a young woman why I waited so long to begin writing, to which I replied, I didn’t wait.

I’ve always written.  When I was a small child, I wrote little stories – mostly based on fairy tales I’d read – and poems.  When I was a teen, I wrote, usually as an assignment from my English teacher, but sometimes because I just wanted to.  Also, as a lot of teens did (perhaps still do), I kept a diary from time to time.

Then, I fell in love and began marriage and motherhood when I was eighteen.  Not a good choice on my part, but, at the time, nobody could tell me it wasn’t.  Ten years and three children later, I was divorced.

In between taking care of my kids, my household, and sometimes working two jobs but always at least one, and all the overtime I could get (not to mention going to school at the community college!), there wasn’t much time for writing though I would often get ideas for a story and scribble them down on whatever was handy.  Then I’d put them in a drawer and somehow, over the years, I never got time to finish any.

Then, six years ago, I retired (yayyy!) and three years ago I found one of the few stories on which I’d actually managed to get several thousand words written.  I had transcribed it into Word, and saved and moved it every time I got a new computer.

Gone were the days I ran from one job to another, or stayed late at my fulltime one and dragged home so tired I’d fall asleep in the shower, or try to read a book only to wake up with it on my face (though I still managed to get in some reading – couldn’t have made it without that!).

As I read over that unfinished story, it occurred to me that I now had time to write, and a strange thing began to happen.  It started to seem as if the characters were speaking to me, telling me the story, urging me to write it down.  So, I did, and before I knew it, I found I’d written the first book in my Boucher’s World series, which now consists of a trilogy, a full-length, stand-alone novel, two novellas, two novelettes, and a short story.

I had written enough material for several stories in that particular universe, and even now, those characters call out to me, though I now have another series (the Juri Turner Spaceships and Magic series ) for which I’ve published book one and am halfway through book two, pulling at me for my attention.  I’ve written other stories (the Cady and Sam werewolf stories) with more to come.

I did wait to publish but that was mainly because I wasn’t writing to publish.  I was writing because I couldn’t not write (yeah, I know that ain’t grammatically correct as auto-correct just pointed out to me, but it’s true, so shut up, auto-correct!), but after a while I did sort of want someone other than family and friends to read my stories so as soon as I discovered I could publish as an independent author, and for practically nothing, I did (I’m now into that fixed-income thing, sooo…practically nothing, or free, is good).

The point is, and I repeat: I did not wait to write.  I guess you could say I kind of dodged between the raindrops and skated around potholes and wrote when I could.

If you want to write, if you have to write, then do it.  Any way you can.

And I hope to write until I’m dead.  And even afterward if I can swing it.

Coming June 30th

Coming June 30th – Bridge, a novel

 

Randa and Ostrich17

There are many tales from the period in Boucher’s World history known as the Change.  This is one from near the beginning of that time.

The race of beings on Boucher’s World, called Elvwists, are telepathic psychics with various other extra-sensory abilities, and now, suddenly, the new generation of the Humans of that world has been born with these same abilities.  It is an event that will change both societies forever.

Two years after Randa faced  hard changes when her vow-mate left home to go fishing and met with misfortune, she had to take her family and leave her home in the foothills of the mountains, fleeing marauders who would kill her children for being different.  They were rescued by the Elvwists and taken to a village set up for the safety of the new Humans.

Randa is not one of the Changed Humans, having been born six years too early, but this does not worry her and she is neither jealous nor afraid of the new Humans as are some people.  How can she be, when her children are among the Changed?  Her task now is to raise them and figure out how to carve out a place for herself in the much different environs in which she finds herself, and where she has to fight culture shock and loneliness.  Will she be able to bridge the gap between the old ways and the new?

 

This is a sequel to the novelette, Hard Changes

The #MyWritingProcess Blog Tour

I’ve been asked to participate in the blog tour, #mywritingprocess, and, I must say, when I was asked, I was  just a teensy bit…well, nervous.

Cause of nervousness?  Simple.  I’ve not been a good blogger.

Three reasons I’ve not been good:

1.)  I tend to neglect to do regular updates, mainly because I’m usually working on a new story – or four (or six…or more) – and don’t like to take time to stop and do anything else (a caveat: I do take time to go to Twitter and tweet!  Well, I primarily retweet, but it doesn’t take long, and for some  reason it relaxes me.  I’ll retweet practically anything but I mainly retweet about someone else’s book or blog post, especially indie authors.  Heh, us indies need all the help we can get!).

2.)  I don’t know why, but I sometimes have problems writing anything other than fiction.  I only come up with something I want to post, oh, say, about every two or three months or so, and after that I have nothing else to say for a while.

3.)  I’ve always believed that if you don’t have anything to say, you ought not to say it.  So I don’t.

However, I am hoping to get better at finding things to blog about, because, in the end, what’s the point in having a blog if you don’t blog?

So, I was intrigued by the blog tour, and thought maybe I could answer the four questions posited,  after all, I am a writer, and I do have a process – um, well sorta – so, though I’m a tad quivery in my flip-flops, here goes…

 

What am I working on?

Currently, I’m nearly finished with the first draft of a novel that I’m writing as a sequel to a novelette I wrote last year called Hard Changes.  While it’s definitely a sequel, it’s a story that will stand totally on its own.  Tentatively titled Bridge, it continues the tale of  Randa and relates what happens after she and her children escape from marauders with the help of the non-humans who occupy the same world.   Hard Changes  is itself a stand-alone, side story/prequel in the Boucher’s World  science fiction series in which I’ve written a trilogy, a couple of novelettes and novellas, even a short story (all of the stories are prequels to the trilogy – at least so far!  And, I guess you could say the new book is a sequal to a prequel… 😀  Clearly it’s a universe that keeps pulling me back in, and is not yet ready to let go of me, so there will also be sequels to the trilogy!).

I’m nearly finished with the first draft of another novel (in an entirely different universe from Boucher’s World) that I plan to publish by Fall of this year.  It’s kind of a dystopian/fantasy.   And, I’m also doing one  in my werewolf series  (Cady and Sam), not to mention three other’s that have nothing to do with any of the above…sigh.  You get the picture.

 

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

 How my work differs…hmm…well, in the case of my science fiction series, it includes elements that I guess aren’t strictly science fiction, in that the main characters are all psychics endowed with certain types of extra-sensory-abilities.  There is an alien world, and aliens (also psychics), star ships, domes (no, not like that one), all ingredients that are part of a science fiction story, but these stories are much more character driven.  And my female protagonist, while strong, isn’t exactly a tough kick-ass.  Um, well, in one instance, she does kick-ass but it was a fluke – and he deserved it.  These stories are mostly what you might call “soft” science fiction, but, while in some cases there is a love interest (and in some of the stories, a bit of, ahem, “mating”), the stories aren’t romances (er, um, there is that soul-mate thingy, but I don’t think it’s really romantic).

As for the fantasy/paranormal stories about the werewolves: unlike most such stories floating around, there is no romance involved here, either (I don’t think the neighborhood flirt trying to hook-up with Cady’s husband counts!).  There’s no alpha male and some young woman (or female werewolf) going hot and heavy at each other, no wolf-pack drama with the beta fighting to be alpha or to take the alpha’s mate.  There is actually no alpha, or even a wolf-pack, as  such.  There are some vampires around (mostly friendlies and they don’t sparkle) some ghouls (unfriendlies) and a few demons thrown in for good measure (good and bad – and neutral).  These werewolves are a happily married couple trying their best to live a quiet and uneventful life in their small town, going to their jobs as a barber and a masseuse, and raising their young daughter, but they keep running up on situations that throw a monkey wrench into their serene existence.

 

Why do I write what I do?

 I write what I do because it’s also the genre(s) I most enjoy reading.  I started out as a small child reading fairy tales (still like them, too.  After all, they fall under the umbrella of “fantasy”!), and graduated to science fiction when I was in fifth grade and came across Isaac Asimov’s I, Robot series that someone had, apparently by mistake, placed in the school library.  After that, I read every science fiction book in there (which, sadly, didn’t consist of many) and at the public library (which, happily, had many, many more, thank God!), and when I ran up on Zenna Henderson’s People stories, I started looking for others like those, too.  I was hooked for life, and I knew that I wanted to write such stories.  It has taken a while – one might say a lifetime – but now I do.

 

How does my writing process work?

 Well, I’ll get an idea – and I nearly always know how the story begins and ends, it’s the middle part that’s a bit tougher – and sometimes I’ll make an outline, though it’s usually only a loose one (I confess that I often stray away from the outline).  Then I set aside time to work on the idea.  I’m retired so I can work on a story whenever I want, but I work on it for at least an hour every day (usually more)  and I do write every day.

Other times, there is no outline, not even a loose one.  The urge to write is so strong that I just take off writing by the seat of my pants and don’t quit until I have the basic story down.  I have been known to write all day – or night – when the story grabs me by the throat and won’t let go (since I’m retired, I can also write for however long I want, which means that I have, upon occasion, come to, and found myself lying face down on my keyboard hoping I haven’t slobbered on the thing and shorted out something!).   Then, of course, there’s all the editing and rewriting and proofing, that sort of thing.  It’s a tad messy sometimes (okay, all the time), but it is a process.  One that I enjoy a great deal.

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I was invited on this blog tour by a very nice Twitter pal, Sonya Craig, science fiction writer of the Outbound series, who is a previous blogger on the #mywritingprocess tour.  See her post here.

The next blogger up is Freddie Silva, a writer of science fiction and fantasy.  His novel, The Order of the Wolf, is the first of his Kingdom of Haven series.  A link to his post will be placed here as soon as it’s published.  Meanwhile, take a peek at his blog, Fred on the Head.

Okay, as promised, here is the link to Freddie Silva’s post on his writing process: How Do I Write Thee?

 

This last book in the Boucher’s World trilogy will be out on March 30th.  It is available at Smashwords for a sample and/or pre-order.

encounters cover5

Boucher’s World, a planet in the Epsilon Eridani star system, is occupied by humans and an alien race called Elvwists.  Having finally emerged from a two thousand years long confinement inside a continent covering, transparent dome, they undergo a life changing transformation, and learn, from the beings who originally put the dome in place, the reason why they were kept inside.

As they go about the task of adjusting to their redefined place in the scheme of the universe, they discover that ships from their respective home worlds will soon be arriving, and the ones from the humans’ planet, Earth, are coming with a mandate: secure Boucher’s World for their government.

The captain of the expedition, Timothy Moore, knows the planet may be occupied but supposes the people are at least semi-primitives who can be appeased with trinkets and/or a show of might.  He has no idea that they are coming to an planet inhabited by a high-tech society of psychic adepts, some of whom are non-human.

What will Captain Moore do when he realizes Boucher’s World is not as they presumed?

Will the new humans from Earth undergo the same change that befell the human ancestors of the current occupants a thousand years ago when they became psychics, and will they, too, then, transform? Will the Elvwists from the home world, who are already psychics, transform?

Find out how and why Jade, one of the discoverers of the exit from the dome, once again finds herself in Between, the world of the astral plane, and what she comes upon there.

So I’ve been absent for a while…

I’ve been absent for a while.  I’ve been dodging between raindrops, so to speak, what with the holidays, trying to get in some reading, working on the first draft of the third book in my trilogy (Boucher’s World: Encounters, remember?), which, by the way, I’ve finished and am in the middle of a first edit before getting beta readers.  I’m also trying to finish proofing two short novellas I’m publishing on Createspace.  I got sick on the second day of the new year and couldn’t function for nearly a week (except to tweet – only missed one day of doing that, LOL), so I’m not nearly where I’d intended to be by now.  Oh, well.  Stuff happens, and then you move on.  I’m not sweating any of this, just taking it one day at a time.  I’m feeling better now, though I had a slight set-back yesterday, but today, I’m moving on.

I did manage to get to the first meeting of the year for the writing meet-up group I’m a member of (the University Area Write to Publish group), and lo and behold, there was a very nice young lady there who’s a free-lance writer for our local newspaper, The Charlotte Observer, and she has written a wonderful article about our meet-up group.  It can be found here.  I thought she also took a great picture of the group to go along with the article.  This young lady, Marjorie Dana, is also starting down the road to becoming a novelist herself, so I’m wishing her the best in her endeavors, and, judging from how well she writes articles, I can believe she’s going to be quite impressive with her book.

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