Hi, gang. A little something special for you today. Sally Cronin has been a huge supporter of mine, both here, and at the Story Empire blog. She’s always there to share my new releases, and to review my books.
I’ve sold books on days when Sally posts a review or shares my newest news. She’s a very active blogger, and someone every author should get to know.
She also bundles up her promotions and posts a Weeky Roundup which gives authors a second bite at the apple. She does all of this without being asked, and never asks for anything in return.
She also covers such diverse topics as cooking, health, music, and more. She’s traveled the world, and lived in an interesting few sections of it. She’s also hosted her own radio show. Through it all, she’s managed to publish over a dozen books of her own. I don’t know how she keeps up with it all, but she does.
What I’m getting at here, is that Sally is a very interesting person.
Someone smarter than I am thought it would be wonderful to do a surprise blog blast on her behalf. I couldn’t agree more.
She’s benefitted my career, and helped us grow the Story Empire blog.
It’s the least we could do to try driving some of our traffic back her direction. I think Sally is someone you should get to know. Won’t you visit her site today, leave her a comment, and check out all she offers?
I might have mentioned it, but I started a side project a month or so ago. I have a loose idea of a trilogy, and wanted to keep something going.
My plan is to have someplace to dabble whenever I have an hour. I learned some lessons from Lanternfish, and I can wait to publish until the whole thing is complete.
Right now, I have the final Lanternfish coming some time late Fall or early Winter. Good Liniment will follow maybe in February. I have time to fiddle with something while I scheme about promo and other needs.
Right now, the side project is at 22,000 words. This milestone stuck in my mind because of something I’m working on for Story Empire. It’s going to be a series about three act structure. At this length, I’m pretty much through act one.
I decided to assess my own story through the lens of act one. This is a found family kind of story, and all characters are on the table. Without a ton of backstory, readers should know who they are and what makes them tick.
I’m always weak on setting, but feel like readers will understand this is science fiction, and each location will differ to a degree. I have to remind myself to detail each new place, but we haven’t gone there yet.
We haven’t seen the actual bad guys, but witnessed some of their handiwork in the form of a terrorist act. Still debating whether to put a character on site, or let them experience it via news broadcasts. Since it’s a side project, I could go back and change things. It’s pretty clear what the problem is, and what kind of plan my characters have.
Because this is intended to be a trilogy, the plan is more personal. They’ll get exposed to the bigger picture as the story unfolds. They’ll need a different plan. I couldn’t do it quite the same way in a stand-alone.
If I’m missing anything, it has to be the stakes. Important in act one of a stand alone, but I have some wiggle room in a trilogy. They’ll figure it out as they get exposed to a bigger universe.
That’s something to consider for my Story Empire posts. I have four posts planned, but there should be a wrap up, and I might get some Expansion Packs out of the deal. Three act structure isn’t a rigid framework.
I’m already moving into parts of Act Two before I finish Act One. This is how it should work in a book. It’s not quite the same as a stage production. My characters are already dabbling in training and research. We might not get to the stakes for a few more chapters.
Eventually, I’ll start another main project. It will probably be something for Lizzie and the hat. If that doesn’t happen until Winter, that’s fine by me.
In other news, I picked more Asian pears this morning, washed them up, then restocked the refrigerator. They’re so much better this year for some reason. It could be the tree is maturing, might be the extra effort I put into thinning them this Spring. Might even be the extreme summer we had. Either way, I’m eating them for as long as they’re still good.
Look at me, blogging on a Wednesday again. I had a productive flex day today.
I started out by working on chapters from two different complete manuscripts. A little here, and a little there, and they’re all getting done.
One of those involved sending a chapter out for critique, which is awesome. I learn so much by having other eyes glance at my material. It also makes it better for human consumption.
I decided to read three more chapters of a book. I don’t normally do that, but have kind of a secret weapon at my disposal now.
Speaking of the secret weapon, I also wrote and scheduled a blog post for Story Empire about it. It won’t come up until the 25th, but if I discover more about it, I have time to update the post.
I also rewrote about three existing chapters of my side project. I fell into the trap of giving things away too soon. I wanted to ramp up some mild tension, and if it’s going to be a trilogy I have time to do it right. They already existed, so it wasn’t like starting from scratch.
It probably needs even more tension in one part, but I’m struggling how to keep something secret and have a character act suspicious at the same time. I have time to figure it out.
I also added words to the side project, and it helped by introducing some new elements to be secretive about. Then there was a fun section that I’m pretty happy with.
I’m struggling with style for this new story. I have one character that wants to come across a bit too formal. Maybe this is from writing Serang for all those years. I keep going back and adding contractions, and softening her presentations.
Aliens are also a struggle. Creating alien species is not all that simple. Pretty much everything has been done unless you get into weird things that can’t communicate or interact.
I spent too much time with Google and Google translate trying to make up my own derogatory term. Eventually, I went with the classic. It can serve as a place-marker, or it might stay that way for good. I’m not overly fond of the word, but it does have impact.
I also have this thing lately for naked women in a couple of different tales. It’s intended to have an effect on the men around them, because the women don’t seem to care all that much. I don’t know that it’s exactly coming across that way. I’m not worried about it in Good Liniment, but might have to experiment more in this side project. It still needs a name, but I hope something will come along as I write it.
This is my short weekend, and I had one important chore to attend to. The appointment fell at about the perfect time to disrupt my whole Saturday. I got my second Covid vaccination today.
I wanted to jump aboard Lanternfish and move the story forward, but sometimes you have to face reality. Next weekend isn’t looking that favorable either. Old What’s Her Face is off the same days I am, and our daughter is coming for a visit. Family first is kind of a personal rule. If they go shopping or something, I might snitch an hour. I’ll have to play that by ear.
I did come up with some fun ideas while waiting in the parking lot for my appointment. This afternoon, I started two new storyboards for Lizzie and The Hat. I don’t know why I do this to myself, because any ability to write them is a couple of years away. Still, if they exist, it’s easier to tweak and perfect them over time. Hopefully, readers will still be interested when I get that far. They are pretty fun ideas.
Maybe tomorrow I can find enough time to add back material to Lunar Boogie. After that, I can send it to my formatter. Lisa Burton posters are on order, and I could get this out before June. This has always been something I wanted to do, and never made it before. If it goes into June, I’ll hold off on publication until Fall.
I also wrote something for Story Empire. It won’t post until May, so I didn’t schedule it yet. Gives me time to make it pretty.
Last injection, I felt like my arm was going to fall off. So far nothing like that. In two weeks I’ll be bulletproof.
Sundays are never good writing days for me. This is the day I call my parents, and that usually eats up a considerable part of the morning. The other bookend is when Old What’s Her Face gets home from work.
Since I just saw my parents, and they’re coming tomorrow to get the repairs finished, our conversation was short. What to do? What to do?
I cracked open the Lanternfish MS, read the two previous chapters, then started writing. James and crew are on the open ocean once more and headed for war. Piracy is a distant memory for now.
I even managed a good section with root monster antics. Today’s effort only came to 1500 words, but I like what I accomplished. Chapters have to bounce between characters since some of them are in other places right now. I feel like it was a productive day.
I also addressed the Lanternfish critiques I’ve been parked on. This chapter was about my married cons, and the game they’re working. My experts seemed to like it, but I made plenty of boneheaded mistakes to address.
I also wrote my next post for Story Empire. I’ll get it scheduled sometime this afternoon.
While none of it seems outstanding by itself, when you tally it all up, I had a pretty good writing day. I was due, and feel good about how the weekend shaped up.
I got a decent start this morning, and didn’t take time to look at any social media. There is a particular section of the book I wanted to complete.
Lisa met me in the kitchen in her pirate garb, then followed me to the office. “Are you going to include the adventure with Waltus, or not?”
I’ve been toying with this section for a long time. It goes in, it gets cut, it goes back in, etc. The main issue boils down to a lot of making ready, setting sail, and traveling. The arctic is a fascinating place, but the interesting bits are few and far between. I know, I’ve been there.
I didn’t want it to be unrealistic, but have to keep the modern fiction reader in mind. I decided to include a bit of crush/romance because people on a ship are still people. Then I added Waltus back into the story.
People seem to love the root monsters, and their tales kind of reflect the truth, but aren’t documentaries either. Instead of living through the adventure, I had James come across the aftermath and ask what the hell happened. Flattop isn’t maybe as animated as the other monsters, but he did a good job filling his captain in about the attack by Waltus on the ships.
This all played out against a stark icy landscape that posed an obstacle to getting the ships where they need to go. I included some wandering around on the sea ice, and eventually found a laborious way to move all three ships. I stopped after moving the first one, but I have two more to go. I’ll likely shorten those parts up, because readers will have already seen that action.
It was 12:30 when I looked up. “Okay, Waltus is back in. I should probably work on my next Story Empire post.”
“I want to read it,” Lisa said.
“You’ll have to wait until I leave. I need to start researching my next post.”
“Killjoy.” The WiFi went down.
“What happened? I need to look up some data about the Guardian Archetype.”
“I turned it off.”
“Don’t be a brat. You can read Lanternfish after I leave. I need the Internet so I can get my next post ready.”
“Nope, I’m the Threshold Guardian. You can’t complete your task without appeasing me.”
“You’ve got to be kidding me! I can’t believe you… oh. I get it. Now turn the WiFi back on so I can rough out this post.”
Lisa smirked, then spun on her heels and left. The WiFi came back on, and I managed to rough out my post, and even found a decent graphic for it.
Old What’s Her Face and I have a combined errand trip this afternoon, and I might even get the post scheduled before the evening is over. It came to well over 3000 words of new fiction, but I didn’t keep an exact count again.
I didn’t even try to write new fiction this weekend. I only get two days, and Old What’s Her Face was off for both of them. I decided to dedicate my time to blogging.
Most of this is the slow promotion of Grinders. I wrote a post that should go live tomorrow, and I’ll try to find time to share it here. I was also invited to do an interview for an old friend, and that will post next week sometime. My promo is all set through this week.
I’m enjoying this promo tour a lot more than past ones. I can manage two a week, and it’s far superior to multiple posts per day for one week. There could be something to keeping the book in the public eye for a longer period of time.
I also wrote and scheduled my next post for Story Empire. I’m working my way through the Character Archetypes over there, and most of them have been pretty fun. This post was work. The Trickster is an odd character to write about, and there are nearly as many opinions about it as there are writing blogs. I have it ready to post later this month, and there is time to tweak it here and there.
Aside from that, welcome to Daylight Savings Time. There is a bill running through the Idaho Legislature to pick one and stay with it all year. Of course it didn’t happen in time to prevent us from changing today. I really don’t care, but know it bothers a lot of people. I need to call my parents this morning, but I’m dragging my feet. Mom probably won’t adopt DST until she gets up this morning.
We managed date night last night, since it was payday. We went to Old Chicago for beer and pizza. I’m halfway toward earning my St. Patrick’s Day tee shirt. We can go back the next payday and complete it. After that we stopped off for tennis balls and Nylabones. It’s not like the dogs are neglected, and sometimes we ought to remember the marketing is designed to hook people.
I’d like to do some reading, but between feisty dogs with new toys, and Old What’s Her Face, it might not happen.
I noticed that I haven’t had a lot of images here lately. All blog posts are better with graphics, and I know that. So here’s a picture of Otto, trying to talk Mom into taking him for coffee. He likes the ride, the baristas all pet him, and he gets one called a pupaccino.
Mae Clair is one of my favorite people. She’s a partner over at Story Empire and one hell of an author. She’s here today to tell us about Eventide, which wraps up her Hode’s Hill Series.
I would appreciate it, and I know Mae would, if you would use those sharing buttons at the end of her guest post.
Hi, Craig. Thanks for hosting me today with my new supernatural suspense/mystery release.Eventideis the last book in myHode’sHillmystery series. As in the first two novels,Cusp of NightandEnd ofDay,I’ve chosen to use dual timelines with dual mysteries that converge at the end.
It’s challenging writing a book with more than one timeline. In essence, the author has to plot two separate stories, balancing two separate sets of characters, then find a way for everything to gel at the conclusion. This is even harder when you’re apanster.
In the past, I never had a problempantsingmy novels, butEventidewas an exception. It’s common for me to panic whenever I reachthethird quarterpointand realize I have to tie upnumerousplot threads—without a plan. Somehow it always works out smoothly, despite anxiety flareups.Eventide, however,challenged me on a levelI hadn’t encountered before. My panic turned intoPANIC!Made even worse because I was up against a publisher’s deadline. I swore up and down I’d become a plotter after survivingEventide,and for the most part, my groundwork is much stronger than before. I’m stillpantsing, but at least now I have a safety net for backup.
Something that did help withEventidewas working with established characters. The leads in thepresent dayportion of the story will be familiar to anyone who readEnd of Day. JillianCleyand Dante DeLuca are back, joined by Jillian’s sister Madison, who made an appearance inEnd of Day.This is really Madison’s storyas she starts life over, after spending three years in a care facility without speaking. She’s strong and determined, her husband’s murder behind her. But the house she purchases is isolated and rumored to be haunted. And when she discoversan old cistern in the basement, it’s just the start of unraveling a mystery that spans centuries.
In this short excerpt, Madison’s boyfriend, Roth, has been working to remove the lid from the cistern:
“Hey, come here. I think I’ve got it.”
Drying her hands on a tea towel, she picked her way down the steps. Roth had hooked a cage light to an overhead beam for more illumination and had a variety of tools strewn around the cistern. He’d managed to remove all eight bolts. Looking at the long ends scattered by the lid, Madison was surprised by how deeply they’d been threaded into the floor.
“Did you hear anything while you were working?” she asked.
“Nothing.” Roth sat back on his haunches. He’d drudged up a sweat again, the knees of his jeans grimy with dirt, black muck freckling his hands. The least she could do was offer him a place to shower when he was through.
“Ready?” He indicated the lid with a grin.
In many ways, it felt like opening a treasure chest. A long time ago someone had taken extra effort to secure the lid in place. Maybe it was nothing more than she thought. An old cistern, decades or centuries out of use. And yet—
With effort, Roth shoved the heavy cover aside, back and shoulder muscles bunching with the exertion.
“What the—” His face contorted. Gagging, he recoiled.
A noxious cloud of sulfur and decay engulfed Madison.
“Oh, that’s awful!” She pressed the tea towel to her nose and mouth. “It smells like something died.”
“Not even close. It smells a hell of a lot worse.” Roth snatched a flashlight from the floor. With one hand cupped over his nose, he angled the beam into the hole. “I can’t tell if anything’s down there. It looks about ten feet deep, maybe more.”
“Is there water?” Despite the stench, Madison inched closer.
“Not that I can see. If there is, it’s a long way down.”
A blast of cold air hit them in the face, strong enough to make Madison backpedal. The bare bulbs dangling from the rafters flickered then died. Roth’s flashlight sputtered, failing altogether.
Chilled, Madison hugged her arms to her chest. “What was that?”
I hope you’re curious enough to find out.Eventideis now availablefrom all online book sellers,so if the story sounds like something that interests you, please considerordering. You’ll make this author very happy. Thank you in advance for your consideration!J
The darkness is coming . . . The old house nearHode’sHill, Pennsylvania is a place for Madison Hewitt to start over—to put the trauma of her husband’s murder, and her subsequent breakdown, behind her. She isn’t bothered by a burial plot on the property, or the mysterious, sealed cistern in the basement. Not at first. Even the presence of cold spots and strange odors could be fabrications of her stilltroubled mind. But how to explain her slashed tires, or the ominous messages that grow ever more threatening? Convinced the answer lies in the past, Madison delves into the history of the home’s original owners, only to discover the origin of a powerful evil. An entity that may be connected to a series of gruesome attacks that have left police baffled. No matter where she turns—past or present—terror lingers just a step away, spurred on by a twisted obsession that can only be satisfied through death…
Joan Hall is with us today. I first met Joan when she joined Story Empire, and she’s a powerful addition to the team. I’ve read some of the Driscoll Lake series, and enjoyed every bit of it. I need to finish the rest of it, and it’s on my list.
Make Joan feel welcome today, and feel free to use those sharing buttons on her behalf. I know she’d do it for you if you were on tour.
Hello, everyone. It’s a pleasure to be here for Story Empire’s Something Wicked Tour. Craig, thanks for hosting me on this final day.
Jealousy is a powerful emotion that is often hard for some people to control. In some cases, it can lead people to do unthinkable things, up to and including murder.
A Belgian woman killed her sky-diving partner because of a love triangle. A Florida man, Brian Bates, murdered his ex-wife when he learned she’d began dating again. A Miami high school student killed his best friend because of jealousy. The list goes on.
In Unclear Purposes, the third and final book of the Driscoll Lake Series a jealous person is set on revenge. They won’t allow anything or anyone to stand in the way of getting what they want. Curious? Here’s an excerpt from the book.
Some occasions required a person to be an extrovert. To mingle with the crowd. Other times one needed to blend into the background. Being able to disguise oneself had its advantages. The ability to be virtually unrecognizable.
Tonight was a time to remain hidden. To observe.
Three couples sat at a table close to the stage. It was a cozy little scene with lots of interaction among them. The women each had a distinct beauty, the men all tall and handsome. Talk about standing out in a crowd.
Who wouldn’t envy the brunette and her six-foot-four husband? Or the auburn-haired physician and her successful man? But the third couple was the most intriguing.
What exactly was between them? Casual friendship? Something more? The desire to know had been festering for several weeks. It was the reason for tonight’s visit to Pinnacle. To confirm what was already feared.
It didn’t take long to determine the answer. The way Christine and Vince danced together wasn’t something casual friends would do.
When the song ended, Rachel Nichols whispered something to them before leaving the floor with her husband. Whatever it was, caused a change in Vince. It wasn’t hard to see he had gone into alert mode as if looking for something or someone.
Careful. He’s been in law enforcement. Trained to be observant. Wouldn’t take much for him to notice something out of the ordinary.
The inner battle began.
Calm down. Breathe. There’s no way anyone would recognize you. Still, it’s probably best you leave. Your mission is accomplished. You’ve got the information you came for.
The relationship between Christine Lawrence and Vince Green would have to end. There were lots of ways to ensure that would happen. But when it came down to it, there was only one way to guarantee success.
Some people take secrets to the grave…
Three years after her husband’s murder, Christine Lawrence still struggles for balance. She has a rewarding career and a close circle of friends but feels oddly unfulfilled. Worse, the close relationship she once had with her teenage daughter has grown increasingly strained.
Former FBI agent, Vince Green, is battling demons of his own—painful secrets that drove him from Driscoll Lake. Newly resettled in the small town, he makes his living as a private investigator.
When Vince and Christine cross paths, stumbling over the body of a murder victim, he’s forced to confront memories he thought long buried. The circumstances surrounding the killing are eerily similar to a victim from his past.
As the body count continues to rise, Christine finds herself drawn to Vince. With a murderer stalking the streets of Driscoll Lake, neither is aware the killer has targeted her as the next victim—or that Vince’s past is key to unmasking a disturbed and deadly killer.
Your Story Empire authors are on tour this week. It’s my great pleasure to host Staci Troilo today, but she’s incognito. This series is published under one of her pen names. Make her feel welcome, and share this on your social media if you can. I’ve read this one and think it’s awesome.
Thanks for welcoming me here today, Craig.
Ciao, amici! For the last two days in the Story Empire Something Wicked tour, I discussed some of the ancient lore woven into my Astral Conspiracy series (specifically the first book, The Gate).
Today, I’m going in the other direction.
My series is a combination of ancient history and futuristic tech. It’s time to delve into the futuristic tech part.
Science fiction can be a fascinating genre, with story worlds as rich and complex as the fantasy genre. But instead of magical realms filled with dragons, elves, and ogres, we’re looking at medical, communication, and transportation advancements.
There’s a trick to writing sci-fi tech that fantasy writers don’t necessarily need to concern themselves with, though. And that’s believability. To an extent. Let me explain.
In every novel (set in “real life” or not), readers have certain expectations about what the world is like. Obviously, the real life stuff is easy enough to deal with—research the time period or, if it’s contemporary, design the story-world to be like what you encounter every day. Fantasy worlds are limited only by their imaginations. If they want something to be a certain way, they only have to attribute it to magic. (Most fantasy fiction has an element of magic in it.) It’s a little different for sci-fi.
Science fiction has “science” right in its name. That means the author has to rely on scientific principles, or the readers won’t buy into the story. Those principles can be pushed well beyond our current bounds, but everything has to be rooted in science fact.
Take, for example, worm holes (a favorite subject of mine, and if you’re interested, you can read more here). Einstein proved worm holes are theoretically plausible. Do we have the technology to use them now? Not even close. But they’re a possibility authors can use in science fiction because the theory is rooted in proven fact.
In the Invasion Universe, a lot of scientific technology is introduced. Some things, like self-driving cars and holographic entertainment, are easy for readers to accept. We’re on the cusp of those technologies becoming commonplace, anyway. Other things (like intergalactic space travel and medical mesh that heals injuries) are barely on our radar.
So, how do writers get away with these advancements?
Simple. It’s a matter of introduction.
Things that take a lot more explanation and suspension of reader belief are better introduced as alien technology instead of human invention. That way, readers aren’t bogged down with trying to understand something that isn’t logically explicable. (It’s kind of the scientific version of the magical workaround fantasy authors can use.)
It doesn’t have to be that way. But it helps. It’s a solution I relied on to make things more acceptable to my readers.
How a sci-fi author handles writing about advanced tech will inevitably vary. The most important thing is to not get lost in techno-babble. Readers don’t want or need a four-page description of how something functions. Fiction is an immersive experience. Put yourself in the reader’s shoes. You want to experience this world just as you experience our reality. In real life, you don’t get a dissertation anytime you use technology. You turn on your television and expect to watch a show. You aren’t told how that happens (and thank God for that); you just trust that it will.
That’s the most organic way to introduce technological advancements in fiction. The characters live with it, so they know what it does and don’t over-think it (or maybe don’t think about it at all). And if the characters come across alien tech, they would discuss it in their own terms. They might marvel at what it does, but they won’t take it apart to learn how it works.
Save that kind of writing for instruction manuals.
There is a lot of advanced technology in my novel, The Gate, book one of my Astral Conspiracy series. I think I introduced these advancements in a believable and organic way. If you’re interested in seeing how I handled it, I encourage you to read the book.
He lost his job. Lost his girl. Now it’s all he can do not to lose his life.
Landon Thorne is a disgraced archaeologist, a laughing stock in his field because of his unconventional beliefs – he’s an ancient astronaut theorist. No one takes him seriously.
Until an alien armada targets Earth.
Now Landon’s in high demand – by the US government and someone far more sinister.
They race across two continents to the Gate of the Gods, the one place on Earth that might give humans an advantage over the aliens. But no one is prepared for what they’ll find.
That’s some awesome advice that goes beyond science fiction. Thanks for that Staci. We’re all on tour today, and we’d appreciate you finding us and checking out our posts. I’m over at Staci’s today, by pure coincidence of the schedule, if you really miss me.