Tag Archives: Psi Adventure Series

Bringing a Story to Life: Single Title V Series

book_series-300x200As an author, I think one of my favorite stories comes from Dianna Gabaldon and since I heard it second hand I won’t quote her.

The story was related several years ago during an Oakland, CA RWA Chapter meeting – told by a NY Times Best Selling author who was trying to make a point as she shared nuggets of wisdom with us.  This author was (and is) the epitome of grace with a no-nonsense down to earth style.

Apparently, Diana was surprised – perhaps flummoxed – to find her Outlander novel filed under Romance.

It was fiction in her eyes.

The lesson that came out of it from the wonderful author talking to our group that Saturday morning was, “To sell your work to a publisher, they have to know where to put it on the shelf.”

In other words, you have to do most of the work for them before you even get a contract.

The story reminded me of when Bill Gates tried to sell the PC to Hewlett and Packard, who apparently asked, “…but what is it good for?”

In other words, how do we sell it – and to who?

The other two take-aways from that session were:

  • Get control of your covers. No bodice rippers as it makes us all seem like air-heads

I was always fascinated by the disgust the female authors had over how they were stereotyped and perhaps lessened by the marketing done to get their stuff off the shelf.

  • If you love something, you’ll find the time to do it

 One of the participants went off on how “it must be nice to be married to a rich doctor so you have time to be a novelist” to which the author smiled and replied, “I got up at 4am every morning to put in two hours of writing time before going to work so I could put my husband through Med School and now he is a surgeon and I’m a writer whose hard work paid off.”

So, where to put something on a shelf – how do you describe your work – that’s a big part of selling it.

I always tell people I do paranormal fiction and I will occasionally mention “romantic elements” but I don’t say “I write romance” because I don’t.  Nothing against romance but my stuff is spy or action adventure or sci-fi but always time travel, ghosts, parallel universes – with people who have sex – yeah – but that isn’t romance – that’s … being an adult? 

Another consideration is whether the story is a single title or part of a series.

This is a hell of a lot harder than one might think.

First of all, there is no wrong way with this.  Whatever the story is – it is.  But it can be easy to get sucked into a series if you aren’t careful.

This is especially true when you start falling in love with characters other than your main characters.

Sometimes, it’s a no-brainer.

I always knew the Kerry’s Game Series was going to be a series.  Each of the characters who work for the paranormal investigation company HQ’d in San Francisco were going to have their own stories.

Metatron’s Army was also a no-brainer though I did spend almost a year deciding on the format for that one.  I realized that having each book being like a chapter in the main character’s life was the best way to go.  To try to short cut the back story would not serve the reader and it would not serve me as the writer.

Other books started as a single title and became part of a series.

Ocracoke.

And I also have Port Gallatan.

This one is different.  The “series” which I’m not sure I’m even going to do because it was never intended to be one – is around a small town rather than a group of characters.

Interestingly, this conundrum is part of an author’s identity.

Something I’m just coming to understand.

I had two different male colleagues misinterpret the scope of books I’d written.

  • In one case, he thought Kerry’s Game was going to be a series about Kerry rather than one for each investigator.
  • In the Port Gallatan situation, he thought everything would be about Clint.

Neither was the case, nor was it ever meant to be the case.

This would be another consideration for a traditional contract – how do we position the author – series or single title?

Where’d They GOOOOOOoooo?  I have a couple of authors I love to read who started a series and then, for whatever reason, quit before it made sense.

Talk about leaving people hanging.

I keep checking back on Amazon to see if they have released anything and to my continued disappointment, no.

In one instance, the author’s adult daughter posted an explanation – her mom took time off to be a mom and though she is still around, she isn’t writing so no – don’t look for any more in her wonderful historical romance series.

Which was actually paranormal fiction but again – it’s about where a publisher thinks they can sell it. 

The attitude.  I have been lucky enough to attend two different RWA conferences.  One when I was a fledgling fiction writer and another later when I was the veteran indie writer.

In the earlier one – 2003 – I had just earned my doctorate – my company was going through merger hell – I walked.

Did the Titanic.  Not interested in the sequel.  Btw:  I’m not kidding.  We had a sandwich board at that company that said, “The difference between us and the Titanic – at least the Titanic had a band.”

A newbie, I sat at tables and watched and listened.  What I saw was an industry – if not a nation – in transition.

  • New York Times Best Selling Writers who’d never been employed out of the home and had no college education versus Harvard graduate authors who were employed full-time and also NY Best Selling Writers.
  • Older authors who referred to their male agents and editors as their spouses – when they weren’t – and younger authors who basically said “Screw that”
  • Older authors who talked about completing a manuscript as being as difficult as birthing a baby (um – no) and younger authors who looked at them like “Seriously?”  I plead the fifth but vomit comes to mind.  Especially with the whole agent/editor as a spouse thing.  Do their spouses know this?  Do the spouses of the agents/editors?!
  • Older authors who said “Chocolate and hugs and crying with your editor solves everything” and younger authors who said “When the going gets tough the tough get going.”

I literally sat there and listened to the fireworks.

Fascinating.

Honestly, each side had a lot of wisdom and a lot of right but they were too busy being threatened by each other I guess.  Or rather not understanding that it was a Brave New World for authors – just as it is now because – for better or for worse – Smashwords brought the Publishing world to its knees.

So a lot of burden goes on an indie writer.

Even one with a lot of corporate experience.

And at the end of the day I find one of my biggest struggles isn’t marketing or what search words to use but whether or not to make a story part of a series.

Each author needs to do what works for them for each project.

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Bringing a Story to Life – Dream Works

eyesA dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination, and hard work.

  • Colin Powell

 

What’s in a Dream?  Dreams are so much more than stories we tell ourselves in our sleep.  The information and imagery in dreams can help us solve problems and achieve goals.  They can also help in our careers.

In 1993, I had a dream in which I was standing on a planet with a hot wind blowing on me.  As I stood there, other planets, disproportionately large came close then moved away again.  Repeatedly.

In 2016, I read an article about a NASA discovery.  The image in the article was a match for the one in my dream.

I framed the image and display it where I can see it while working on Metatron’s Army.

This morning, I was sent a link to an article about another NASA discovery.  Imagine my surprise and delight to read the following:

“Standing on the surface of one of the planets, you would receive 200 times less light than you get from the sun, but you would still receive just as much energy to keep you warm since the star is so close. It would also afford some picturesque views, as the other planets would appear in the sky as big as the moon (or even twice as big).”

 Exactly as in my dream.

When I scrolled through the images accompanying the article, I saw that the same one from the 2016 article had been included.

 Some might call this a coincidence.  Others will see it as I do, the magic that is and has been a part of life.

I look for it.  I choose to see the magic in my life, in my dreams.

 Dream Works.  This isn’t the only time a dream has had a positive influence on my writing.

Spirit School.  In After Here, The Celestial Plane and What Happens When We Die, I describe a dream state I call Spirit School.  Located on the dream plane, it is a type of celestial classroom where the attendees listen to lectures.

Fiction – Or Not.  In writing fiction, I draw from experience, education, and imagination.  I have inserted dream sequences into novels when appropriate.

Ghost in the Mirror.  In the fourth book in my Psi-Adventure series there is a lecture on the nature of time given by one of the characters.

Time is a Lens That is Curved.

 This lecture was inspired by a very vivid dream I had about time.

As I often do with such dreams, I’d written it down so I was able to pull from it when writing the scene.

 Metatron’s Army.  Just after I began working on the Metatron’s Army project, I had a lengthy dream about time.

It was in the form of a lecture. 

This dream was interactive.

The lecturer was adamant I prove I was listening.

I was asked to recite the entire lecture back, twice.

Upon waking, I wrote it down, knowing I would use it somewhere in the series.

The sequence appears, unedited, in Metatron’s Army, Bishop Pair.

 I’m not the only professional who has benefitted from dreams.

Dmitri Mendeleev.  The Russian chemist and inventor had a dream in which all the elements were arranged in a particular fashion.  He utilized this information to create the periodic table.

Elias Howe.  The inventor of the sewing machine was having difficulty getting the needle to work properly when he had a dream that provided him with the answer he needed.

It was actually a nightmare in which he was being repeatedly stabbed by cannibals.  The spears they used had holes in the top.  The up and down stabbing motion, along with the holes in the spears, provided him with his answer.

 For more stories of dreams that turned into great things, see this article.

Metatron’s Army Bishop Pair will be available in 2017.

Writer Wake Up!

 

blueprint 2 Up until now, going between fiction and nonfiction writing, though challenging, was relatively painless.  I now recognize this is because I was following a blueprint.

NONFICTION: For the last six years I’ve been living,  eating, sleeping  EMF Sensitivity. Combine that with a lifetime of living holistically – a focus on natural healing – and you see how it would be fairly easy to publish material based on a condition I was living every moment.

A lot of work went into it, it just came naturally given that I was living with the condition I wrote about.

FICTION: I came up with the premise for the Psi Adventure Series in 2003.

First drafts of Kerry’s Game and Ghost In The Mirror were written in 2003.

I came up with the premise for the Hangover Series in 2007.

Silicon Valley Hangover was written in 2007.  Psychic Hangover was written in 2011. In between? A debilitating health condition known as EMF Sensitivity, which made writing a monumental effort .

Passion will get you far even when you’re about out of fuel.

Now that I’ve cured both my rheumatic arthritis and the EMF Sensitivity, I am turning my focus back to my first passion, fiction.

I have plenty of nonfiction left.

But…

For the other books in the series I followed the blueprint laid out  previously.  New Material?  That’s a whole different ballgame.

wondering-18wkfa0It wasn’t for a lack of ideas..  I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was three.  I’ve got lots of ideas…

 

 

 

 

Writers are notorious for keeping every scrap of every idea we’ve ever had, every project we’ve ever started, or finished, often stuffed into the back of a closet or other dark storage place.

So, I did have several ideas floating around, but …  so much has happened since then!

I was a different person when I wrote those ramblings.  

While I still feel connected to the main concept, the original story arc no longer works.  It needed work. A lot of work.

Free of the illness and feeling triumphant as a result, I was desperately anxious to get to work. I felt good, health-wise, and wanted to take advantage of that. Still, I made myself wait.

The story in its current form was not ready.  There was a lot of work to do.

Inside:  Without my blueprint I felt adrift.  My confidence was shaken.  It was as if I was that aspiring novelist of 2003.

Outside:  I remembered a book I’d read years ago, From Where You Dream, The Process of Writing Fiction.  What stood out the most was how the author, talked about the need to get into the deepest darkest part of ourselves,  and how too many writers write from their head, not their soul.  

toonvectors-11544-940Because the place where it dwells, this deepest darkest part of ourselves, is terrifying.  

 

 

 

Show the world what’s inside of us?  EEEKKKK!

 

I began rereading this book and to my delight, found that the part of me that has been trapped beneath illness (and toxins) was eager to get back into the game.

waking_up_with_bed_head_by_bluesuit

It just had to wake up.

 

 

 

The exercises in the book are brilliant. They were also familiar.

He speaks of using index cards in a specific writing exercise.  Instead of cards, I use MS Word documents filed away  for future use in folders bearing the project idea names.

He also describes an exercise of pre-dreaming. This is exactly what I do when I play rounds of FreeCell. I totally zone out and get into my characters, my stories, and into the scenes.

It is incredibly reassuring to have this man’s wisdom at my fingertips as my muse comes to the surface.

Especially since the project I’m working on is challenging me as a writer.

I really feel as if I have access to a wise counselor who understands the feelings of the writer inside.

The novelist who has been buried under an avalanche of environmental poisons.

I encourage aspiring and accomplished fiction writers to consider reading From Where You Dream. It’s a wonderful repository of wisdom and tools to help you improve your craft.

Like any good teacher, the author is compassionate yet firm as he guides writers through a journey of discovering what’s locked deep inside.

An unexpected bonus was an ability to see the wisdom of tossing material that doesn’t work.

Bookshop_Nice2_525To those writers who believe it essential to hold onto every scrap because you might use it someday?  Watch an episode of Hoarders – imagine that clutter in your mind!

 

 

 

 

Starting Over:  Without a blueprint, it’s as if I’m back where I started – an aspiring writer just beginning my career.  Except…

Experience. And with that experience comes the wisdom needed to steer my career in the direction iI need it to go, one that reflects my passion.

The fear and anxiety don’t go away, but they don’t paralyze me because…

Knowledge is Power and Experience Is Power to Share.

The book provided new Knowledge. The Experience provides the path forward.