Posts Tagged ‘science fiction’

Stories I’d Like to Write: Fantasy That’s Really Scifi

Okay! This is the last one of these for now.

I love fantasy that is high fantasy, but as you get further into the book or series, hints start to be dropped. Ruins that sound familiar, or hints that there was a previous civilization that has since collapsed.

I think this may be because my very first high fantasy series–the Shannara books, by Terry Brooks–does this. But it’s very subtle. You can read most of the Shannara books without this being obvious. It’s only when you take the series as a whole that it becomes more apparent.

But also, yes, lots of other series do this. Some more obviously than others, some more successfully for others. The Pern series, for example. Dragons! Adventure! But all happening on what’s essentially a failed human colony, Pern standing for “Parallel Earth, Resources Negligble.”

I have actually done this a bit myself already, though not quite how I would like. In City of Hope and Ruin there’s talk of an older civilization, a more powerful civilization, that collapsed because of war (more specifically the bioengineering and biological warfare tactics of that war, though that’s beyond the characters’ understanding, at least for that book). But that’s a completely secondary world.

I feel like to do this trope properly, it’s got to be Earth in the future. An Earth where humanity causes (or, I guess, experiences at the very least) some great calamity, something that has society collapse and humanity change. It’s dystopian, but not exactly. Like, the fact that this is our world and something happened to it isn’t normally important to the plot of the story. It’s background. It’s setting. Maybe some artifacts or something might feature in the plot every now and then, but for the most part it is a fantasy world, doing fantasy things.

And I like that! I like that it’s not necessarily important, it just is. It’s like…an extra dimension to the world.

That being said, I do think you can overdo this. And it may be a bit overplayed as a trope, especially recently where everything has to be dark. You know what I mean. I recently finished the first season of the Shannara TV series, and the post-apocalyptic parts were pushed much more than I remember. Maybe they were always there, and I just skimmed over them in the text, or maybe it as just more apparent because, you know, visual medium and all that jazz.

How do you feel about this trope, squider? Overdone? Fun worldbuilding? Favorite example?

Promo and Review: Taking Time by Mike Murphey

Book 1, Physics, Lust and Greed Series
Humorous Science Fiction
Date Published: June 15, 2020
Publisher: Acorn Publishing

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The year is 2044. Housed in a secret complex beneath the eastern Arizona desert, a consortium of governments and corporations have undertaken a program on the scale of the Manhattan Project to bludgeon the laws of physics into submission and make time travel a reality.

            Fraught with insecurities, Marshall Grissom has spent his whole life trying not to call attention to himself, so he can’t imagine he would be remotely suited for the role of time travel pioneer. He’s even less enthusiastic about this corporate time-travel adventure when he learns that nudity is a job requirement. The task would better match the talents of candidates like the smart and beautiful Sheila Schuler, or the bristle-tough and rattlesnake-mean Marta Hamilton.

            As the project evolves into a clash between science and corporate greed, conflicts escalate. Those contributing the funding are mostly interested in manipulating time travel for profit, and will stop at nothing, including murder, to achieve their goals.





About the Author


Mike Murphey is a native of eastern New Mexico and spent almost thirty years as an award-winning newspaper journalist in the Southwest and Pacific Northwest. Following his retirement from the newspaper business, he and his wife Nancy entered in a seventeen-year partnership with the late Dave Henderson, all-star centerfielder for the Oakland Athletics, Boston Red Sox and Seattle Mariners. Their company produced the A’s and Mariners adult baseball Fantasy Camps. They also have a partnership with the Roy Hobbs adult baseball organization in Fort Myers, Florida. Mike loves fiction, cats, baseball and sailing. He splits his time between Spokane, Washington, and Phoenix, Arizona, where he enjoys life as a writer and old-man baseball player.

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Review:

I enjoyed this book! It’s not the most standard of story formats (in terms of plot and pacing) but that doesn’t really bother me. I don’t think I would call it humorous science fiction. Maybe if you find dick jokes funny, but I don’t. (And if you really don’t, this is not the book for you. To be honest, if they’d gone on much longer at the beginning, I would have put it down.)

The story follows three candidates selected to be some of the first humans to travel through time: Marshall, Sheila, and Marta. The formatting in the review copy I received was a little wonky, missing things like page and chapter breaks (and italics) and sticking page numbers and the book title in between paragraphs, which was a little distracting (and sometimes hard to tell when points of view changed) but I figured it out eventually. Marshall, Shiela, and Marta are very different in personality, but all of them are likable and easy to follow along with. There are also sections from other characters.

The story follows the time travel program from when the potential time travelers arrive on campus as the program evolves as they discover more about how time travel actually works.

The story is very readable. The time travel is interesting though not terribly revolutionary if you read a lot of time travel-related stories. The characters are believable and sympathetic. It’s also a fairly quick read, all things considered, and it’s easy to keep reading.

So, if you like time travel stories, don’t mind stories that are a little more meandering in their plotlines, and can withstand dick jokes, you might consider picking this one up.

Promo: The Dark that Dwells by Matt Digman and Ryan Roddy

Good morning, squiders! Today I’ve got a science fiction book for you! Feel free to check it out if it sounds interesting (it comes out today!).


Science Fiction

Release Date: July 10, 2020

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THE DARK THAT DWELLS is a debut space opera novel featuring an unforgettable ensemble cast, planet-hopping across an expansive galaxy on the brink of war.

The story unfolds through the viewpoints of four characters: SIDNA ORIN, a mercurial young arcanist, striving to gain the lost knowledge that could save her people. FALL ARDEN, honorable sword-for-hire, working as a guide on a dangerous expedition into an unexplored frontier. BAN MORGAN, disgraced marine wielding high-tech weaponry, chained by remorse and the ghosts of his past. TIEGER of WESTMARCH, fanatical zealot, empowered with the seemingly divine technology of his overlord and a starship feared across generations.

THE DARK THAT DWELLS holds virtual worlds lost in crystal relics, visceral close-quarters combat, mysteries of the divine and the arcane, companionship and bittersweet romance, insidious deception, and the looming threat of a horror who hungers for the souls of mankind.

This story is essential for readers craving robust, character-driven adventures on fantastic alien worlds, bullet-ridden spaceships barely held together, and the expansive infinity of space-time itself.

 


About the Authors

Matt Digman is exactly one half the creative force behind the epic fantasy space opera novel, The Dark That Dwells. Born and raised in Arkansas, he spent his free time studying Star Wars technical manuals, searching for his next favorite RPG, and watching his Star Trek: TNG VHS tapes until they fell apart. Basically, he was nerdy when nerdy wasn’t cool. He currently works as a pediatric emergency medicine physician in Alabama and writes when he ought to be sleeping.

Ryan Roddy grew up across the southeast, chasing her dream of becoming a professional actress. Though she eventually traded the stage for a stethoscope, she never gave up her love for great storytelling—or for playing dress up as an adult. Now she works as a pediatric emergency medicine physician to afford her cosplay and Disney obsessions. She loves the characters she’s written for The Dark That Dwells with her husband almost as much as she loves him and their four dogs.

 

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Promo: Phantom Frost by Alfred Wurr

Morning, squiders! Hope you’re having a good Thanksgiving week, if you’re somewhere that celebrates such things, and if not, hopefully you’re at least not buried in snow, like I am.

Today I’ve got a sale for you. This book sounds super cool, not going to lie. The book is normally $5.99, so if it sounds interesting to you too, it’s a good deal.



Sci-fi Fantasy
Date Published: October 2019
Publisher: Wurreal Games

On Sale for $.99

A unique sci-fi/fantasy crossover novel set in the universe of the forthcoming Wurreal Games video game.

Shivurr remembers little before the Bodhi Institute, the secret government installation where he’s been held and studied like a lab rat for the past decade.

It hasn’t been all bad, though, for a soda-pop-loving sci-fi fanboy, especially in 1983. He’s got all the TV, movies and arcade games he could ever want. But lately, flashes of his forgotten past have invaded his dreams: visions of an ancient chamber where the mysteries of his origin may finally be resolved.

Compelled to find it, Shivurr embarks on a quest, fleeing the facility in the dark of night. Escaping is easy; the Bodhi Group guards didn’t dream he’d ever try. The Nevada desert is dangerous for warm bloods; for a snowman, it’s pretty much suicide, even for one with his seemingly magical command of frost and ice.

Hunted by Bodhi Group agents, keeping to the shade when he can find it, he’s determined to survive; he’s got a feeling the world may depend on it. And, if he doesn’t, well, everyone melts eventually, right?


Excerpt

Chapter 1

Lunar Crater

No matter how cool you are, everyone melts, eventually. Those words echoed through my head as I raced across the desert floor, heading northeast toward Lunar Crater, under the Nevada sun. Where I had heard them before, I couldn’t recall. My memory wasn’t what it used to be, but I would hear those words spoken to me in my dreams sometimes, stepping out of the inky black fog of my damaged memory. I think someone close to me had said them ages ago. They were strange words since the only person I knew of for whom melting was a concern was me. Regardless, seldom before was that fate as likely to occur for someone—that being me—as it was today.

I’d been gulping dry air and daydreaming of cold cans of soda pop, muttering product slogans to myself to keep my spirits up for several miles now. Steam rose from my icy shoulders, trailing me in wisps, disappearing into the dry desert air a few feet back. My cold feet left wet footprints on the sandy ground that soon evaporated into nothingness. I kicked a loose rock, stumbled, but caught myself before falling.

Without more moisture, I’ll soon be eating dust, I thought. Just a hot mess for the agents to find. Scratch that—my corpse won’t be around long enough. I’ll melt away, leaving only a trail of faint roundish footprints leading nowhere. They’ll think I flew away, picked up by Soviet agents in a helicopter. I’d love to see Dixon’s face, thinking the Reds got me.

Nineteen hours earlier, I’d escaped a prison—the labs of a top-secret research facility called the Bodhi Institute. For about a decade, I’d been an unwilling participant in more experiments than I care to remember. I’d slipped out a side door in the middle of the night with a small cache of supplies provided by my best friend, Scott. It was easier than expected, but I guess I didn’t seem suicidal to the Bodhi Group watchmen. The weak part of me wished I were back there: trapped but cool, a glass of ice water in hand, watching TV, reading a book, or taking a nap. But my nightmares made that impossible. I’d ignored them for months, while they haunted only my sleep. But when they’d invaded my waking hours, I had to go. I had to find answers. I had to find the ancient chamber that stood at their epicentre and that some instinct told me lay ahead of me, in the desert waste.

I didn’t know who I was or where I came from. Not really; not fully. Sure, I remembered most of the years of my detention with crystal clarity. I knew what I was: an organism of snow and ice, unique in all the world. A snowman, they called me; cold hands with a warm heart. I knew what I was capable of; even with no legs, my feet run like the wind and allow me to jump as high as I am tall. I can do other things—things that frighten and astonish people, people like those chasing me. So much so, they’d locked me up and studied me like a lab rat for the past decade. I remembered all that, but little to nothing further into my past than my capture and imprisonment. And I remembered my name, Shivurr, but it was a name, an identity, that lacked history or context, which was both freeing and frustrating.

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About the Author




Alfred Wurr is a Canadian author, video game and software developer, computer scientist, and former Olympic wrestler.


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On Sale for $.99




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I should be back Friday to tell you how Nano went. Eat some mashed potatoes for me, squiders.

Library Book Sale Finds: Barbary by Vonda N. McIntyre

Good morning, squiders! I finally stopped checking a million books out from the library, so I’m getting back to reading books I actually own.

And, as such, I dug into my big pile of library book sale books from a few summers back and picked out a book.

(It was on the top of the pile. That was the deciding factor.)

Vonda N. McIntyre (the usage of the middle initial in her author name interests me, since her first name is fairly unique. Maybe it was to match the convention of other scifi authors at the time?) I’ve read before. (Oh no, I just Googled her, and she died in April. Rest in peace.) She wrote some Star Trek novels, which is where I know her from. Most notably (for me, probably not for other people, since she also wrote the movie novelizations for Star Treks 2 through 4) she wrote Enterprise: The First Adventure, which I picked up because it sounded like total crack–for its very first mission, the Enterprise has to transport a space circus, complete with flying horse–but it was actually really well done.

She also won a Hugo in 1979 for Dreamsnake, which I’ve not read, but sounds cool. And another Hugo in 1998 for The Moon and the Sun.

There’s some spoilers in the discussion, because unfortunately I can’t really discuss the plot without revealing something that the book keeps secret for the first few chapters.

Title: Barbary
Author: Vonda N. McIntyre
Genre: Science Fiction
Publication Year: 1986

Pros: Quick, easy read; includes a cat and aliens
Cons: Ends a little abruptly

We meet Barbary (a 12-year-old girl) waiting, on Earth, yet again, as she attempts to get a shuttle to a space station to meet her foster family. (She keeps getting bumped off for more important people.) Barbary doesn’t really read like a 12-year-old most of the time–I’d put her a little older, maybe 14 or 15–but I suppose the argument could be made that she’s had to mature a little faster due to being in the foster care system for so long. (There is a point, later in the book, where her new foster father, a friend of her mother’s, is upset about something, and Barbary fully expects him to hit her, because that’s what she’s used to, which is heartbreaking.)

Adding to the complication of getting off Earth is that Barbary is smuggling her pet cat, Mickey, with her. Mickey, or Mick as Barbary normally refers to him, is a major motivation for her as well as a plot driver, and directly contributes to the climax of the story.

Once Barbary manages to catch a shuttle and get off Earth, she learns that there’s an alien ship approaching Earth, which is why it’s been so hard to get off-world (all the politicians and so forth keep taking priority). It’s on a course to the station Barbary will be living on.

This was a quick, easy read, one that was enjoyable. There’s not a lot of depth to the plot, but that’s fine. Barbary is a fine viewpoint character, mostly concerned with the wellbeing of the people/animal close to her and making sure she doesn’t get sent back to Earth (though the wellbeing does trump that). The alien ship is important but in the background for most of the story, which makes sense since, as a child, Barbary is more interested in things closer to home. There’s some nice, logical discussion about moving and living in space, and the technology predictions (we’ve talked before how older scifi tends to be good at predicting societal trends and bad at predicting technological trends, or vice versa) are not particularly jarring.

I’d recommend it overall. And if you haven’t read anything by Vonda McIntyre, you probably should.

Read anything by Ms. McIntyre, squiders? Read Barbary?

Foundational Books: Alien Secrets by Annette Curtis Klause

Woo, squiders, it took me a while to figure out what this book was. I mean, I remembered the book itself–I read it probably a dozen times as a kid. I remembered the main character’s name.

I did not, apparently, remember the title of the book properly, nor could I find it in my basement stash (which is where the books I took from home ended up). Hooray for the Internet, I guess.

(But where did the book end up, then? Questions, questions.)

Alien Secrets is a 1993 children’s science fiction novel by Annette Curtis Klause.

This was probably one of the first science fiction books I read that was really, truly science fiction. (That wasn’t related to Star Trek, at least.) A lot of the books we read when I was a kid was your standard collection of Caldecotts and Newberry winners–things like Maniac McGee, Number the Stars, Caddie Woodlawn, Bridge to Terabithia, Where the Red Fern Grows–all wonderful books in their own rights, of course.

The closest thing I think I’d read before was A Wrinkle in Time, which is arguably science fiction, but it’s not mainstream science fiction, with spaceships and aliens and all that jazz.

At this point it’s been a long time, and I don’t remember the story too well (and with my copy currently MIA, I couldn’t flip back through it to remind myself). The main character Puck (not her real name, never is) makes friends with an alien on her way to meet up with her parents, who are on another planet. Said alien has had an important artifact stolen from him, so there’s a degree of mystery to the story.

Now that I’ve looked the book up on the Internet, I can see that there’s wildly varying views on it (Publisher’s Weekly, for example, did not care for the book’s pacing), but, for me, this was an important book, and helped cement my love of science fiction.

Read Alien Secrets, squiders? What book do you feel got you into science fiction and/or your favorite genre when you were a kid?

Alternate Universes

Morning, squiders! The bigger, mobile one has a “virtual day” today, which is the worst. Basically, when the district declares a delayed start, his school just has everyone stay home and do work on the computer. Let me tell you how self-motivated a first grader is.

(Hint: Not especially)

So, since I have an added complication today, I thought I’d dig up another of those old, old saved blog drafts. Today’s comes to us from Dec 2010, where my notes say:

“ALSO AWESOME”

Once again, this is so helpful for deciphering what I wanted to talk about.

(Also, this begs the question, if this is “also awesome,” what was the thing that was originally awesome?” Alas, that knowledge is lost to time.)

I did go back and look at December 2010 and who knows. There’s a post about Turtleduck Press (which launched in Dec 2010, so that makes sense), a bunch of link round-ups, and the periodic rant about how I’ve tried to do much. It might potentially be about the lunar eclipse. The word awesome is used.

But, hey, alternate universes! I wonder if I meant “alternate universe” in the Sliders sort of way, where characters travel to universes that are essentially ours with some tweaks, or more in the “Man in the High Castle” or “Iron Moon” sort of way, where something in history went a different way and changed everything that went after it.

Or maybe I wanted to talk about the fanfiction concept of alternate universes, where you take characters from a book or a movie or a TV show and stick them somewhere else. Like, instead of galloping about the galaxy on a spaceship, everyone’s in high school. Or vice versa, for that matter.

Anyway you look at it, alternate universes are kind of fun, and a mainstay of science fiction. A lot of science fiction comes from “what if?” questions, and alternate universes are a direct response to that. What if Columbus didn’t find the Americas? What if we discovered space travel in the 1850s? What if gravity wasn’t automatic? What if the United States had rejected capitalism?

They’re good for fantasy too, though they work differently. Alternate universes in fantasy tends to be more synonymous with portal fantasy, where characters are actively traveling somewhere else, often using magic.

But, really, you can’t go wrong.

How do you feel about alternate universes, squiders? What’s your favorite example (of any kind)?

Movie Round-up

I don’t get around to a lot of movies (a combination of small, mobile ones combined with just not liking to sit still for that long in one go), but I have actually watched three in the last week. Madness, I know. And since movies seem to be more of a common element than books (i.e., a person is more likely to have seen the same movie than have read the same book), hey, let’s talk about them.

Solo: A Star Wars Story

While we are generally Star Wars people, we didn’t go to see this last summer, partially because summer was very busy, and partially because the hype around the movie was very lukewarm. (We did however, get tickets to go sit in the Millennium Falcon’s cockpit.)

But I actually really liked this. I thought the story was fun and while the guy playing Han doesn’t look like Harrison Ford, he did sound and act like him. And I ♥ Chewy. So if you missed this for whatever reason, I’d give it a try. I’d watch it again.

Lego Movie 2

So, hey, my sister-in-law got us tickets to a special preview showing of Lego Movie 2 (which comes out on Feb 8). In general, I liked it. It’s about what you’d expect, though I had this weird feeling for a bit, like, uh. How to explain this. Like, the Lego Movie is self-contained and I’ve seen it so many times (it is a favorite of the small, mobile ones) that it felt like the existence of a sequel was some sort of weird fever dream. I missed part of it because the smaller, mobile one had to go to the bathroom, but I don’t think it was anything terribly important.

Also, there are Lego velociraptors.

The Greatest Showman

The husband came home and was like, “I ordered us a movie from the library!” Like, weirdly excited. This is the movie from 2017 with Hugh Jackman and Zac Efron, which is honestly all I knew about it going in (and I think I also knew it was about P.T. Barnum but I’m not 100% on that).

Guys, I enjoyed this stupid movie so much.

The music is amazing. And the story itself is mostly fluff, which I appreciate in a time when it seems like everything has to be gritty and realistic. I have already watched it twice.

(I got chills during the first number, which probably means I have to buy the movie now. That’s why I own the 2004 version of Phantom of the Opera. Have you seen that? When it goes from black and white to color and the Phantom theme starts…that’s my favorite part. Sometimes I watch just that part. The last time the play came through they’d taken that part out of the musical which is SACRILEGE.)

(I’m not a huge Phantom fan–I think the characters are dumb, except for Meg–but I do like the music. And the beginning.)

ANYWAY, that’s what I’ve seen lately. Watched anything good yourself? The new season of Star Trek Discovery has started, so I need to get on that ASAP.

Why Science Fiction/Fantasy?

I was ditzing around the blog and discovered a variety of draft posts that never got written, for whatever reason. This is the earliest, from 2010, right after I started this blog up.

No reason to let things sit around forever, right?

Here are the notes I left myself for this post:

“Why I write scifi/fantasy

Including points:
-why read the real world?  It is sad and depressing
-you can do anything with scifi/fantasy (not even the sky is the limit)”

Good job, Kit. Very useful.

Maybe I felt like I had to explain myself, back then? I know that sometimes people who write genre get pushback from “literary” types about how genre stories aren’t real literature or whatever. I don’t think I’ve ever really run into that in person, so I don’t know if that was it. (2010 was an awfully long time ago.)

Since this was from the beginning of the blog, maybe it was as an introduction? Kind of a “here’s what you’re getting yourself into” sort of thing. I think I’ll go with that one.

In my case, the question wasn’t ever “Why Science Fiction/Fantasy?” I don’t think there was ever any other option available to me. I watched Star Trek with my parents before I could talk. My parents were huge scifi fans, and that definitely rubbed off. And when I found and read my first real epic fantasy book in sixth grade (The Sword of Shannara, Terry Brooks), well…I’ve never looked back.

That’s not to say I don’t like other genres. You guys know I love mysteries, and I’ve read my fair share of classics, romance, historical fiction, thrillers, horror, etc. But there’s something about science fiction and fantasy, about the possibilities, that has always stuck with me. In most cases, there’s a sense of wonder, a sense of possibility, even in the bleakest of storylines.

Plus, you know, dragons. And spaceships. Oooo, maybe dragons on spaceships?

It’s probably for the best. When I try to write something without fantastical elements I get a little melodramatic.

So the question isn’t “why science fiction/fantasy?” It’s “Why wouldn’t it be science fiction/fantasy?”

How about you, squiders? Why do you write/read your genre of choice?

Guest Post: The Sea of Distant Stars by Francesca G. Varela

Good morning, squiders! Happy Thursday! Today I have a guest post about writing process for you from Francesca G. Varela, who is currently doing a virtual tour for her science fiction book, The Seas of Distant Stars.

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Literary Science-Fiction
Date Published:  August 7th, 2018
Publisher: Owl House Books
 
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Agapanthus was kidnapped when she was only two years old, but she doesn’t remember it. In fact, she doesn’t remember her home planet at all. All she knows is Deeyae, the land of two suns; the land of great, red waters. Her foster-family cares for her, and at first that’s enough. But, as she grows older, Agapanthus is bothered by the differences between them. As an Exchanger, she’s frail and tall, not short and strong. And, even though she was raised Deeyan, she certainly isn’t treated like one. One day, an Exchanger boy completes the Deeyan rite-of-passage, and Agapanthus is inspired to try the same. But, when she teams up with him, her quest to become Deeyan transforms into her quest to find the truth―of who she is, and of which star she belongs to.
Excerpt

It had been so long since Agapanthus had really swam—train-swam, counting her strokes and holding her breath until either her forehead ached or the upper, back end of her throat began to complain. Now she just floated, usually. Maybe a steady, parallel lap from one end of the shore to the other. She wasn’t even sure what she thought, anymore. Part of her had given up on the right-of-passage, but the other part of her wanted to prove it to them. What if she did it? What if she really did it, and she emerged from the small round boat to a feast and cheering crowds, and Leera would cup her chin in her warm hands and say, smiling, “I can’t believe it,” and Pittick would at first rest his hand on her head, but then hug her, and she couldn’t even imagine what he would say. Something about how he was wrong. About how much stronger she was than any of them had guessed. Something about being proud.

Agapanthus looked down at her legs. They were coated completely in red sand, no skin showing at all. She stood and brushed off the clinging particles. They felt like little teeth boring into her. Drops of mist speckled the edge of her cheek as the wind climbed over the Waters. She was going to brush the droplets away, but, instead, she left her fingers splayed over the side of her face as she stared out toward Shre. If anyone saw her, they would think she was odd—just staring with her hand up like that, her other hand wrapped over her ribs, her shoulders fallen, like the Contact’s had been. But no one was there to see. That was the good thing about being alone. One of the few good things.

 

Guest Post – My Writing Process

A lot of people ask me where I get the inspiration for my novels. Sometimes, a character pops into my head from nowhere—from the ether, it seems. They are real, and alive, and I know instantly that they are the one I should be writing about. Other times, I see a vague image—a quiet, numb sunset on another planet, or a girl looking up at a field of stars in the broken wilderness of some future world. This image is my sole starting point. Other times, I have a message I want to spread; a plea to protect wild places, an invitation to enjoy the connection we share with all things, or a warning to not take this connection for granted.

For the most part, I usually begin my novels blindly. I have an idea where things will go, but I let the writing take me there.

The hardest part for me is getting started. Back in high school, when I wrote my very first novel, I learned that the only way to not to get overwhelmed by the length of a novel is to go word by word. To think of writing 60,000 or more words when the pages are empty—well, that’s intimidating. But to think of writing your first 500 words—that’s achievable.

Typically, my daily goal is 500 words. Once I hit that mark, I feel accomplished for the day. 500 words a day will get you to a full-length novel in only a few months, if you’re diligent. And, even if you take a few days off here and there, or take a break when you’re off on vacation, you’ll still make good time. Using the 500 words a day method, I finished my second novel—Listen—in about nine months, and I finished my newest novel, The Seas of Distant Stars, in about six months.

Once the writing is finished, I take time to edit. First, I read through and fix up any issues with the plot or character development. Then I read it again and make grammatical corrections and changes to the prose. Then, and only then, do I let friends and family read it and give me feedback.

I long ago decided to keep my books a secret until they were finished. So, every time I’m working on a novel, no one is allowed to know what it’s about until it’s done. I guess this is because I want the story to be purely my own for a little while. Some of the best writing advice I can offer is to write like no one will ever read it. Write for yourself. Take chances. Be creative. Be edgy. Get those words on the page. After all, the only way to write a novel is by actually writing it! So, write a little each day, and let your instincts and imagination guide you.

About the Author

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Francesca G. Varela was raised in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. In 2015 she graduated from the University of Oregon with degrees in Environmental Studies and Creative Writing, and she then went on to receive her master’s degree in Environmental Humanities from the University of Utah.

Francesca’s dream of becoming an author began in third grade, and her writing career had an early start; she wrote her award-winning first novel, Call of the Sun Child, when she was only 18 years old, and she wrote her second novel, Listen, when she was only 20.

When not writing or reading, Francesca enjoys playing piano, figure skating, hiking, identifying wild birds, plants, and constellations, and travelling to warm, sunny places whenever she can.
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