Book recs and mini interviews; and Writing, then & now

Book recommendations & mini interviews

Last month, I reviewed R.W.W. Greene‘s The Light Years – highly recommended. I had asked Rob where he got the initial idea for the book. His response:

The short version is the shower. I’d just gotten home from a sci-fi convention, and I had a lot of thoughts whirling in my head. I took them with me to the shower and came out with a nearly complete short story idea. I banged out the short, “Love in the Time of Light Speed,” and it later grew into the novel.

If you’re into paranormal/urban fantasy or military sci-fi, you may also want to check out these books:

Reese Hogan tells me:  “I wanted to write a WW2-slanted fantasy world with “magic” tattoos, spies, and epic sibling rivalry. Also, as someone starting to question my gender identity, I was interested in writing about a woman disguised and living as a man. When I rolled all that up into one ball, Shrouded Loyalties was born.”

I also asked Reese what is her favorite scene in the book – no spoilers, of course: “One of my characters is a teenage prodigy struggling with self-loathing and depression, and there’s a scene in the middle where he puts things together that’ve been happening right under another character’s nose. I think it’s a great moment for the reader to see his mind working in action, as well as experience the thrill of complications this scene creates for the spies and their mission.”

About Shrouded Loyalties: A soldier returns home with a dangerous secret from an alternate realm, unaware that she is surrounded by spies and collaborators, in this intense military science fiction novel.

Find Reese at Her book is available on Amazon, B&N, and Angry Robot.

Anne Barwell‘s paranormal/urban fantasy Family and Reflection is Book 3 in The Sleepless City series, and available on Amazon. Anne’s favourite (note the spelling as Anne lives in New Zealand!) scene:

I have a few favourite scenes [in Family and Reflection]. Although this is Declan and Lucas’s book, I love the found family they’ve a part of with the other guys at Boggs’ Castle, so my answer would be the scenes where they’re all interacting with lots of teasing. It’s difficult to choose just one, but I did enjoy the scene the morning after [insert spoiler] with the lines – “I don’t howl” and “I bet none of you thought to record it.”

About Family and Reflection: When a rebel werewolf and a vampire thief fall in love, only one thing is certain—trouble.

Writing – then & now…

Back in 2015, I wrote a blog post with 7 facts about me as a writer, concentrating on my writing background and roots in science fiction. I thought it could be fun to take that post and see what might have changed, what updates I would add now in.  So here goes… 

1. I didn’t write many stories when I was young. The ones I wrote down were required for school. But my imagination was my playground. I had stories of the past, present, and future—of real people and imaginary ones in my head. Apparently I had the Partridge Family on Star Trek, and an original female character from the future who time-traveled, ending up in the American West of the 1880s and 1890s. Somehow I’d managed to forget that Partridge Family idea until an old friend reminded me of it. (You’ll probably want to forget it too.) 2020 addendum: Yes, do try to forget I told you this.

2. I have never taken a creative writing class. 2020 addendum: I have been in 2 different critique groups and have learned so much. I’ve been meeting with my current group almost weekly since 2009, and personally feel it’s made a world of difference to my writing.

3. The first short story I wrote and submitted was accepted for publication in a role-playing game magazine licensed by Lucasfilm, Ltd. in 1994. Artist Mike Vilardi did an exceptional job capturing the look of my original main character Alex Winger2020 addendum: I am still so very proud having contributed to the Star Wars universe, even if those works are called “Legends.”

4. I get a little upset when people refer to my Star Wars short stories as fan fiction. My stories were vetted by an editor at West End Games and by content editors at Lucasfilm. Though my inexperience as a writer shows in those works, someone saw a glimmer of hope. 2020 addendum:  Bonus points if you get the pun. : )

5. After publishing several short stories in the Star Wars Adventure Journal, I worked on my first original novel, a SciFi story. I wrote about 40,000 words and got stuck in the middle. I didn’t write another word for almost 6 years (from 1999-2005). Family came first, and work exhausted my creative energies. I finished a first draft of that SciFi novel around 2005. It’s still sitting on the hard drive. I re-read it in 2013 and hope to resurrect it some day. 2020 addendum: That story is Echoes of the Storm! 

6. In retrospect, I wished I’d received more constructive criticism on those early short stories. Fortunately, I have wonderful ‘teachers’ in the writing group I joined in 2009. I still have a lot to learn, but I feel my writing is improving. 2020 addendum: Sure hope you think so!

7. Dialogue is my strong point. The first drafts of my first 2 published novels were written in what I’d describe as a screenplay format with very little narrative. Once I had the story down, I went back and revised, adding the descriptive elements. I struggle with narrative and description, but as I mentioned in #6, I feel like my writing is improving. 2020 addendum: For my last 3 novels, I wrote rough drafts that were still heavier on dialogue than description, but I surprise myself at times in that first round.

I guess there’s a moral to this story. If you want to tell a story, keep writing. You may have to take a break, but dive back in when you can. 

If you have questions about my writing journey, I’d love to hear from you.


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