deja vu with rain on the way

So, just got back from my somewhat daily walk.  

I don’t get out every day.

It was wonderful to be out in the sun.

Even if it was cool enough to justify wearing my Red Wings jersey.

It’s a Fedorov (91).

For most of the walk I mentally wrote the ending to Déjà Vu, the upcoming story. As I neared the end of the walk I decided on my next project.  Titled Rainmaker, it will be another short story tied to the Ghost Games series.

And yep, I’ll do the same as I did with Karma in terms of pricing.

I wasn’t passionate about the next project and in fact, doing another short story solves a problem.  A few actually.

  • I’m able to creatively channel excess energy created by the chaos
  • I didn’t think I had enough to make Rainmaker a full-length novel but loved the plot
  • I needed a break from series fiction.  Even standalone books in a series are intense

I’ve had fun working on Deja Vu though it was challenging, too.

It’s really different than anything I’ve worked on and short stories have always been a challenge for me.

Deja Vu solved a unique challenge I was having with the Ghost Games series.  Namely, What was going to be the inaugural story?

I had three very cool book ideas but couldn’t decide which one I wanted to release as the first in the series.  By releasing a short story, I was able to introduce readers to the style of the series without the pressure of having to choose.

I was also able to double back.  

When first considering the plot for the initial short story, I had two ideas.  I liked both but ended up choosing one for Déjà Vu.  I figured I’d eventually use the other one somewhere along the series way.  By doing it as another short story I tie all that creative chaos into a neat bow.

I’m guessing I’ll have Déjà Vu available for download within 10 – 14 days. 

Stay tuned. 

Here is an excerpt from Déjà Vu:

River’s stomach twisted at the look on his face.  She’d obviously ruined the moment.  “Sorry.”

Dodi put a hand beneath River’s chin, tilted her face so she’d look at him.  “Do you see, River?  The world is experienced not in fleeting moments but what we capture within through what we see, smell -.”  He handed her a glass of cool water, waited while she sipped before setting it down and continuing.  “Taste.”  He put a finger to her cheek.  “Touch.  Love is everywhere but to connect with it you need to be aware on a level that you have not yet mastered.  How could you?” he asked, “when your experience with the world has been so limited.  If you want to know love – to truly know love – you have to embrace the world and all that is within it.  Only once you let it inside through those senses will you be able to know what it is when you finally find it.”

Karma available for download!

I am pleased to announce that Karma, first of the Metatron’s Army Chronicles stories is available for download.

As I have written, there is a free download available. However, the kindle edition will be 99 cents.

I hope you enjoy Karma, a story that ties into the Metatron’s Army Universe.

I am working on Deja Vu, another short story that will be tied to the Ghost Games Series.

I will be releasing Shadow of the Gods in the coming months.

Stay tuned!

learning at home

With l-12 schools across the country closed I thought I would post some information that may be helpful to parents and caregivers by listing resources they can tap while the districts get online learning up and running.

Please be aware that home learning – homeschooling – has been conducted successfully throughout the United States for decades.  Because of this there are a number of great resources to help parents and kids – and educators – during this chaotic time.

Where to Start?  Here is a book that will help guide parents who want and need to be more involved in guiding the education, Home Learning Year by Year.

Kahn Academy:  An excellent online resource for learning.

Singapore Math:  An excellent curriculum for homeschool learning.

They do more than math.

Spectrum Language Arts:  Excellent books and workbooks for language arts.

Owl and Mouse:  Online learning resource

World Geography:  This site is free and fun.

The Learning Store:  Lots of resources including kits for science experiments at home.

There are other online stores where more sophisticated science kits, such as biology and chemistry, can be obtained.

I understand from a woman who homeschools her kids that Brigham Young University has some excellent online classes.  

Her daughter took high school French with them.

There are many successful homeschool stories.  I’m sure some of those parents have blogs where they are sharing information with others.

The woman who homeschools told me there are great online resources for parents who are homeschooling for the college bound, including how to do course transcripts for acceptance.  These individuals are generous with their time and information.

I will update this post if I come across additional resources.  I invite those who follow – if you know of other resources that would help – post in the comments.

Write, drink, and be merry

So, sitting here in the sunny quiet – in my pajamas – sipping a pinot grigio and finishing the first draft of the short story Karma.

I hope to turn it over to the beta reader tomorrow.  If all goes well I’ll beat my self-imposed deadline for release of this no-cost story that is connected to the Metatron’s Army series.

Though I’ve worked from home for 26 years I too have been impacted by this chaos.

I’m usually out of my pajamas by now. In my defense – there are more people hitting the hot water tank these days.

I am used to working from home though.

I worked for DEC in Santa Clara when they became the first corporation to send workers home; the TC’s at least.

 I learned why I never heard my neighbors in the evening.  They worked hours that translated to incredible noise during the day.  

To deal with this I would drive up into the Santa Cruz mountains to do my work. With no cell coverage it was the ultimate place to work uninterrupted by stupid and useless emails.

I was later on an advisory committee at Hewlett-Packard when they decided to take the plunge.

Flushing toilets heard over concalls was the biggest complaint I explained.

Not even switching to a career that all but screams work at home has allowed me to escape the weirdness of the hour.

But it has spurred an uptick in creativity as I seek an outlet for focusing on something other than the chaos.

I had such good luck getting Karma ready I’ve decided to do another no-cost short story.  As yet untitled, this next work will be connected to the Ghost Games series.

On a lighter note:  I read that California is allowing the delivery of spirits and cocktails.  I figure this will keep crime down and sanity up as people learn who their spouses are and remember they had kids somewhere along the way.

It reminds me of what happens when a spouse retires and decides they need something to do, forgetting that someone else has been managing things – for years if not decades – just fine.

I’ll update readers as things progress.  

Stay tuned.

Career Transcendence

No career should be a dragonfly in amber.

For the past several months if not years I’ve been transitioning my career away from a role I had outgrown.

It wasn’t boredom so much as completion that drove me to move on.

It’s a career that began quite a bit differently than I’d imagined.

Doesn’t that always seem to be the way?

A tremendous amount of work has gone into this process.

Most of it behind the scenes. Read: Internally.

I am proud of what I’ve accomplished and excited about the path before me.

I‘m finally where I intended to be. Not that that will keep me from exploring the new and undiscovered and making changes as appropriate and necessary.

I have been updating my web presence to reflect changes associated with the transition and will continue to do so. As part of these changes I have updated my bio page, adding a section on why I am focusing on science fiction.

No need to check it out. Just keep reading.

Why science fiction?

I’ve been looking at the sky all my life.  

Usually through windows.

Night or day.

But especially at night.

The sky is a doorway that separates our self-imagined existence from the realm of infinite possibility.  In writing science fiction, I can share my experiences from both sides of the doorway with others.

Experiences that transcend what is an accepted but often limiting reality.

Why parallel dimensions?

I’ve contemplated the idea this reality isn’t the only one since I was seven and asked my dad how he could be so certain we weren’t living in someone else’s snow globe.

My contemplation took on more significance after a Near Death Experience left me without a doubt there are other dimensions.

I’ve been living with this awareness for decades.  It has never been irreconcilable with any other part of my life.

In my stories, I explore various aspects of life lived in a world where multiple dimensions are not only an accepted fact, they are embraced through experience.

Why aliens?

Who better to help create wonderful stories than characters from cultural backgrounds completely unknown and foreign?

The possibilities – like the skies – are endless

Fate or Free Will?

QUUHA6ZB3JFG3A4U7IYS43QM4UWhen I was in 9th grade we read Romeo and Juliet in my literature class, after which the teacher led a discussion on Fate versus Free Will..

The class was fairly evenly split, ironically enough and I have a feeling some went to one side or the other because of their argumentative nature rather than actually caring about the discussion..

Reboot.  I had an interesting run-in with this question this morning.  I approached the sofa with a double shot  espresso and as I was about to set it on the table I got a flash that the coffee would spill on a letter that was sitting on the table.

At this point I know to pay attention to these glimpses of the future.

I moved the letter, set the coffee in a place I felt was safe from disaster, sat down, and proceeded to browse a few news sites.

To make sure the Martians hadn’t landed.

Fate?  Within minutes my husband took a seat beside me.  I said hello then reached for the coffee only to find – to my horror truly – the coffee spilled and got the letter!

So – was it fate?  I could have taken additional steps to prevent it.

Aaron pointed out it could have been worse had I not taken the steps I did which raises a whole other level of Fate V Free Will and our role in it.

 

 

 

Bringing a Story to Life: Location Scouting

dpds021438.jpg

Note:  This article is lengthy.

Having a location to visualize when writing a scene puts the writer on the stage with the characters. For me the process of selecting locations for my work is complex even as it’s fun.

The Why.  Choosing a setting for a novel is an important step in its creation.  It sets the tone for the reader so they can identify with the tale but it also provides the foundation for character behavior.  A number of factors encompass the location.

  • Time
  • Place
  • Locations within locations (i.e. business, residences, infrastructure, etc)

When Dragon Core began to take form as a viable idea for a story, the only location piece I had was a bar.

There is a historical element that factors into the plot but that was easily dealt with.  I simply needed to do a bit of research on historical events to get a feel for that environment/location.

Just prior to Christmas I came up with the name of the bar – Aesop’s Cove – but otherwise had no details on the location or setting.

Outside that it would be in an urban environment.

Urban Fantasy. For several months I considered whether to use a real urban environment or make one up.  In the end I decided on a hybrid.

The decision to use a hybrid came from the need and desire to pull elements from a variety of locations.

Considerations. Portland and New Orleans were both in the running for a long time but each presented unique challenges for my story.

New Orleans.  To represent the city with justice I would need to provide insider details that add vibrancy to the story, and I haven’t lived in New Orleans for decades.

There would also be elements I didn’t want to bring into the story, such as Cajun lifestyle, Mardi Gras, hurricanes, and the oil and gas industry.  These don’t fit into my storyline but would have to be dealt with if not included were I to choose this city.

Portland.  The layout of this city – that it is on a river as opposed to the coast – meant I would have to make alterations to the overall environment.  There are also cultural norms for this city that I didn’t want to use as a focus in my story.

Hybrid to the rescue. In spite of the challenges, these two cities definitely provided potential by way of locations within the location.

In other words, neighborhoods within the city at large that held elements conducive to scenes in the Dragon Core series.

These neighborhoods provided some of the vibe I was looking for.  They also contained businesses and/or architectural uniquenesses that I was happy to include in the location I was building.

Living within the location.  I decided the characters would not only work in an urban environment; they would live there. This led to the need to choose the type of living situation they were going to have.

  • Condo, loft, apartment, or house?
  • Roommates or not?
  • Walk to work, take public transportation, or drive a car?

These were some of the details I needed to work out.  Having lived in several urban environments throughout my life I was able to draw from my own experiences for these details.

I’ve been fortunate enough to visit other urban environments throughout the years, traveling for work, so was able to pull details from those experiences as well.

Work within the location.  In this case, it helps to have an understanding of what any specific urban environment is known for.  Large metropolitan areas are often associated with a specific industry and the nuances that go along with the people, places, and businesses that feed that environment.

There is a symbiotic relationship between the industries and the communities that surround those industries.

  • Detroit/Midwest with its auto industry and union influences
  • New Orleans with its Voodoo culture, Mississippi River, and oil and gas industry
  • Los Angeles with its Hollywood and Bel-Air vibe along with being the land of dreams if not dreamers.
  • San Francisco/Silicon Valley with its tech and Gold Rush boom bust history

I pulled from a number of cities along the west coast when creating Dragon Core’s urban environment.

  • San Diego
  • San Francisco
  • Portland
  • Seattle

I also pulled in from a specific neighborhood in New Orleans.

History within the location.  In addition to where the characters currently live, I needed to decide where they came from.

While important for cultural influences such a location isn’t as detail dependent as the current location/setting.  In fact, it was more important to elaborate on personal experiences than environmental details as they have more impact on my character development.

The stage within location.  I use the term stage to refer to a scene setting within an overall environment. In the case of Dragon Core there are a few main stages.

  • Aesop’s Cove
  • Clare’s office
  • Warehouse Square

Each of these stages requires a location and setup of their own.  I drew from personal experience when creating them.

Warehouse Square.  For this location setting I drew from Washington and Jackson Squares in San Francisco, the area in and around Portland’s Chinatown as well as the area near Voodoo Donut, and Pioneer Square in Seattle.

Clare’s Office.  For this setting I visualized the building I worked in my senior year in high school as well as the area around one of the police stations in San Francisco.

Aesop’s Cove.  This was a toughie.  For whatever reason I felt I had to really be able to “wear” this location when writing.

In order to get into the vibe of the interactions with the characters as well as the mood of the place and the people within that place as it changes throughout the story.

I visited a couple of prospects for locations that would fit the vibe I was looking for.

I visited new locations as well as bringing to mind various pubs or bars I’ve been in over the years.

Goldilocks would be proud.  There is a scene in Cauldron of the Gods where I have the character – Clare Edwards – reflecting on the fact her friend described Aesop’s Cove as gritty sophistication.

She tells him she doesn’t want to go to a dive bar to which he replies “Have you ever been in a dive bar that could be described as sophisticated?

To be in the vibe when writing scenes taking place in Aesop’s Cove, I needed a bar that was “just right” (aka gritty sophistication).  It was more difficult to find than I thought it would be.

  • Some bars were too gritty.

gritty = dive.

  • Some bars were too sophisticated.

Sophistication = yuppy and/or beautiful people and/or trust fund babies

With a little imagination I was able to find one that worked though it had enough differences that I needed to meld it with a different location in my mind to get it just right.  The result is Aesop’s Cove, a combination of a place in Pioneer Square in Seattle and a brewery in San Diego.

I’m not going to disclose names only because I don’t want to leave anyone with the wrong impression since Aesop’s Cove, while inspired by real locations, is made up.  It doesn’t exist.

Synchronicities.  I did have a pretty cool experience visiting the bar that serves as the primary inspiration for Aesop’s Cove.  One of the distinctive features of the character who owns Aesop’s Cove – Lage McAskell – is the color of his eyes.  When visiting a very cool bar in a historical part of Pioneer Square, I explained to the lady behind the bar what I was doing and would it be okay if I took a few photos of the place.

I’d also taken photos of the area that I can reference when trying to pull up an image for a scene in the story

She had no issue with it and after I placed an order for food and wine, she gave me her name, Amber.

Amber is the distinctive feature for the main character, the color of his eyes.

I do so love synchronicities.

It’s like life giving you a thumb’s up.