Weather Inspiration

Speculative fiction takes a lot of inspiration from what-ifs. What if aliens landed in the middle of the Super Bowl? What if a giant serpent really lived in the ocean? What if robots rose up against the human race?

Those what-ifs stretch the imagination, but there are every day things that spark ideas and generate new worlds. One of those things is the weather. That ever-changing, difficult to predict, mighty force. What makes it more ominous is that there is little we can do about it.

We've had no snow this winter where I live. It's been so warm, previous records have been broken on a weekly basis. What if this continues? Or accelerates? We now have rattlesnakes in the area and brown recluse spiders. People have died from bites. If the warming trend continues, we'll have even more poisonous critters moving up.

With the bouncing temperatures not being too cold or summer hot, it's the perfect environment for viruses. So many folks have been sick and hospitalized recently. What if a virus gains strength in these temperatures? What if it mutates?

I have friends in the southern hemisphere experiencing a brutally hot summer. Crops have dried up, and there's been several power outages. What if the temperature continues to rise? How hot will it have to be before people won't go outside anymore? How will we adapt then?

Some days I dream about winters like I had when I was a child. So much wonderful snow. I've never experienced a storm that kept us inside longer than a day, but the cold can be just as vicious as the heat. What if we were thrown into another ice age? What would our lives be like then?

What are some of your favorites stories that played off the what-ifs from the weather?


Happy Valentine's Day

On February 14th we celebrate a day of Love. Cupids Arrow~Chocolate~Candy~Flowers~Cards.

I was wondering how this celebration came into existence. It used to be called St. Valentine's Day, and somewhere along the way, St. was removed. 

This is taken from Wiki:

The history of Valentine’s Day–and the story of its patron saint–is shrouded in mystery. We do know that February has long been celebrated as a month of romance, and that St. Valentine’s Day, as we know it today, contains vestiges of both Christian and ancient Roman tradition. But who was Saint Valentine, and how did he become associated with this ancient rite?

The Catholic Church recognizes at least three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus, all of whom were martyred. One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death.

Other stories suggest that Valentine may have been killed for attempting to help Christians escape harsh Roman prisons, where they were often beaten and tortured. According to one legend, an imprisoned Valentine actually sent the first “valentine” greeting himself after he fell in love with a young girl–possibly his jailor’s daughter–who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter signed “From your Valentine,” an expression that is still in use today. Although the truth behind the Valentine legends is murky, the stories all emphasize his appeal as a sympathetic, heroic and–most importantly–romantic figure. By the Middle Ages, perhaps thanks to this reputation, Valentine would become one of the most popular saints in England and France.

But, there's more. It's also thought Christians marked the day of St. Valentine's death on Feb. 14th to Christianize a pagan ritual called Lupercalia, a fertility festival celebrated on Feb. 15th. 

How do you celebrate Valentine's Day?


Book Review: The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

While seated in the theater to watch Moana with my daughter, who grudgingly accepts Chipmunk as my nickname for her, we got to see the previews. Popcorn, candy, and drinks in hand, we pointed out which movies we'd like to make sure to come back and watch. There was one that didn't make my daughter's cut, but it snagged my attention. It was A Monster Calls. I'd heard a great deal of good about the book on which this movie is based. So, I had to read it.

And loved it.

Then it got me to looking through my kindle library because the author's name, Patrick Ness, seemed familiar to me for another reason. That's when I found The Knife of Never Letting Go.

About The Knife of Never Letting Go

Todd Hewitt is the only boy in a town of men. Ever since the settlers were infected with the Noise germ, Todd can hear everything the men think, and they hear everything he thinks. Todd is just a month away from becoming a man, but in the midst of the cacophony, he knows that the town is hiding something from him -- something so awful Todd is forced to flee with only his dog, whose simple, loyal voice he hears too. With hostile men from the town in pursuit, the two stumble upon a strange and eerily silent creature: a girl. Who is she? Why wasn't she killed by the germ like all the females on New World? Propelled by Todd's gritty narration, readers are in for a white-knuckle journey in which a boy on the cusp of manhood must unlearn everything he knows in order to figure out who he truly is.

My Review
I can't recall exactly why I purchased this story, maybe word of mouth. But I got this several years ago. I remember trying to read it and being unable to get beyond the first page. I'm not one for DNF'ing (for those not familiar, that is rating the book a Did Not Finish) a book unless I give it another chance, so I moved on to something else until I could come back to this.

I'm a little late in getting back it (yes, please feel free to laugh), but I did. I tried again, struggling with it due to the stream-of-consciousness style of writing. Unlike last time, I held beyond the first page and made it all the way to the end. The writing style didn't grow on me, but I quickly adapted my brain to the style so it wasn't such an issue. It was also interactive, which I kind of liked.

To keep from sharing any spoilers, because I hope you give this book a try as well, the best way I can describe this book is to say it reminds me of zooming out. You've seen photographs where the lens is zoomed in tight on something. You think you might know what it is or what is happening, but you're unsure. As the lens zooms out, you start to see more and more of what is there, but still, it isn't 100% clear, so you can't help holding on for the lens to zoom out some more.

That's what reading this book was like. There's no back story easily laid out. Rather, you experience each new discovery with Todd Hewitt as the story zooms out to eventually paint a picture that, well, some may see coming, but I didn't.

The story is heartbreaking, then hopeful, then heartbreaking, and then hopeful again. Todd is a likable character and I really loved his loyal dog Manchee (Poo!) - when you read the book for yourself, you'll get the reference :-)

I'm a dystopian fan, so this book was right up my alley. As the first in the Chaos Walking series, it did a great job of making me want to find out what happened and seek out the next book.

Have you read The Knife of Never Letting Go? What other dystopian novels or series do you favor?


How to Handle the Empty Page

Sometimes, it's just necessary to start.

At the moment, I'm feeling like I've been hit by a truck. I don't know why. I think it started on Friday, when I woke up with a headache that turned into a migraine.

But ever since then, I've been feeling so exhausted. Even when I sleep enough.

So the result is that just the thought of opening a document, or even the blog creation window, feels like having to climb a mountain.

And then I haven't even started actually writing.

So the blank page that appears if I do manage to open becomes a little bit more intimidating. A little bit more... empty.

That's when I write something silly. Or something random. Or just... something. Like "Sometimes it's just necessary to start."

Because the moment there are words on the page, it gets easier to follow up with more words. And even more after that.

And eventually, I can look back at what I've written and discover that I did, in fact, climb that mountain and reach the summit.

Because now I have a blog post.

Now, I just need to go do the same thing with my work in progress.

How do you handle writing when the words don't seem to flow? 


Silly Pets Communicating Serious Emotions about Writing (or not)

During this time of political unrest my writing has slowed, and my book promo has suffered. For a while, I was preoccupied with watching news and reading articles in a way I haven't done for years. In fact, nothing seemed as important as the state of affairs in the world.

That said, for the most part I have forced myself away from Facebook and other news sites at least until the day is over, and I have recommitted to the writing craft. The feeling that writing matters is seeping back into consciousness, and I'm happy about this.

As a result, yesterday I finally finished a draft of a novel that I've been working on for more than a year!!! Yay!!!

Without getting into political specifics, how has this election cycle affected (or not) your work? How is your work coming along, and what do you hope to accomplish this spring? This year?
Memes and silly pets communicating your messages welcome but not necessary. LOL.


The Dragon or the Egg?

Which came first?

Why am I asking this question?

Well, on January 20th, the 45th President of the United States was sworn in. The 44th said adieu. Before getting to this point, and after, truthfully, there has been this frenzy of information, opinion, and activity overload. It's like that Teen Titans Go! episode where the whole world got wrapped up in a blanket and a giant stink bomb blew up creating the universe's largest dutch oven (if you are going EWWWW! at this point, can't say I blame you, nor could I blame you if you're laughing like a hyena).

But...that's actually my point. You see what I did? I totally pulled in a reference to a TV show. There have been, and continue to be, so many TV, movie, and book references used throughout this recent election process. It got me to wondering: How much of life is an imitation of art OR is art an imitation of life?

Think of the food generators on Star Trek. It was so cool to see the actors/actresses tell the computer what they wanted and then watch it appear right before them, whether hot or cold. I haven't seen this in in my neck of the woods just yet, but we're getting close:

Hot food vending machine. Picture credit to Throwback Tech.
There are even three-dimensional pens and printers that can produce three-dimensional objects from scans and designs like seen in the movie Big Hero 6.

So which came first, the dragon or the egg. Is art an imitation of life or is life an imitation of art?

When it comes to writing science fiction and fantasy, we as writers can create the foundation for a world drawing out how such spectacular beings as dragons, vampires, were-animals, leviathans, and other fantastical creatures, came to be. As readers, we get to embark on the adventure of discovery as the lay of the land is artistically woven for us a paragraph at a time.

But I am curious. What about you? What are your thoughts?

Please share in the comments then feel free to share this post with others so they, too, can comment and we can have a fantastic discussion.


What's it Like to Live on Another Planet? #SciFi #Science

Exploration and discovery is what I love best about science fiction. I want to know what's out there, even if it's just our imaginations that take us there.

Earth and Moon from Mars

We have no idea what's out there, so we're free to imagine anything. Which is the most awesome part.

We've set foot on the Moon and we've sent robots to Mars and Titan (a moon of Saturn's). Otherwise, we've not actually landed on another world. Our species has a long way to go to get off this planet.

The machines, ships, and other technologies will certainly get us to other worlds. The biggest stumbling block will be our bodies and our minds. We have no idea what prolonged stays in space will do to us, or if it's even survivable. Humans are adapted very well to survive on Earth and nowhere else. In the Backworlds, I changed our biology to make us more adaptable. Either that or a suit, or nanites, or a vaccine, or a combination will be necessary for our kind to thrive off Earth.

If we do leave, there's no guarantee we can come back. Mars is 1/3 the gravity of Earth. We might lose too much muscle, bone, and whatnot to survive a return trip.

And what would it be like to be the first human settler on a world we're not made for? How would we go about it?

Mars, on NatGeo, gives us a taste of what it might be like. It's an excellent blend of drama with documentary. WARNING: it's addictive.

Intriguing as it is for me, I know I'd make a poor settler. I enjoy electricity, running water, internet, and convenient groceries too much to like being a settler. I learn this during every storm, and we've been getting hammered in the OR.

And, as I write this, we're getting more snow on top of the two feet we already have. They haven't plowed. And we're supposed to get freezing rain and snow all week.

Husband Unit was driving, not me

That's my car buried back there

But we have my new book to cheer us. FreeFall is now available at all ebook outlets. It's the best book I've written yet. Enjoy!

AmazonFR / IT / ES / NL / IN / JP / BR / MX

The first shot of a new war echoes through the galaxy. Craze has high hopes for what the alliance with an old enemy, the Foreworlds, will do to defeat a worse enemy, the Quassers.

The test of a highly-advanced weapon, created by the efforts of the alliance, pushes tensions over the brink and kills thousands. To make it worse, the Foreworld ambassador is keeping secrets.

Conventional warfare against the Quassers isn’t working, and if the alliance ends, Craze has become the most hated man in the galaxy for no reason.

With nothing left to lose, Craze sets in motion one last chance for survival.