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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

You Have Time to Read?

I haven't been reading much of anything this month. In two weeks, the kids are out of school and I've been trying to catch up on my own writing while I have the time. There are last minute field trips, end of school activities to plan around, and the occasional your-child-had-an-accident-on-the-playground-come-get-them calls (and the unexpected trip to the doctor for the rest of the day to make sure he didn't do permanent damage. He's fine and was running around within an hour of being home.)

However since I don't want to be a slacker, Memorial Day morning I picked a book off my To Be Read pile. My selection: Heart of Steel, the second novel in The Iron Seas steampunk series by Meljean Brook

One of the book clubs I attend introduced me to this series when we read The Iron Duke as our second attempt at the steampunk genre. (The first attempt was a resounding failure and we wanted to give the genre a second chance.) I had a bit of a problem imagining some of the scenes in the TID but overall I enjoyed the world building and the characters took on a life of their own.

I wanted to read Heart of Steel purely for the herione Yasmeen. She'd had bit parts in a novella and The Iron Duke.  She's a no-nonsense airship captain who won't let anyone question her on board her ship. Including the guy she could have grown to love when he does something stupid and she had to throw him overboard into a pack of zombies. 

While the nanotech world is not something I'm primarily interested in (I kept having flashbacks to the Six Million Dollar Man), I'll keep reading these stories because the characters are well written.  Heart of Steel read quicker and funnier than The Iron Duke. I think this is because the world building foundation had been laid and the characters were quirkier in Heart of Steel. I definitely recommend reading Heart of Steel if you love sassy, aggressive female characters.

Do you read steampunk?  What's your favorite gadget?
Monday, May 28, 2012

Under My Thumbs -- What I'm Reading Now

Unless you've been living under a rock, you know that Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games is a smash hit. Oh, if we could all be so lucky.


In real life, I work in a county library as a catalog technician. I've only been at this job for about two years, so I missed out when The Hunger Games first came on the scene. I did catalog a copy of Mockingjay that our sister library lost (i.e. some punk stole it!) at the end of last year. I read the first few pages and was confused as heck. What was this supposed to be about? Is Katniss a boy or a girl? You miss a lot of info if you just pick up the last book in a series. What little I read was kind of gruesome and depressing. I was like, pffft, so not reading that.


Admittedly, I didn't pick up The Hunger Games until the movie came out. I wanted to see it because I liked Jennifer Lawrence's performance in Winter's Bone. Daniel Woodrell, the author of Winter's Bone is actually a local author here in Missouri. I've never met him, but I really admire his writing for his portrayal of life in the Ozarks. Winter's Bone is eerily accurate for some of the things that go on in this part of the world. No wonder he doesn't have a Facebook page.


Anyway, my husband and I went to see The Hunger Games. I was motion sick about five minutes in because of the camera. But Katniss' character really caught my eye. She was a survivor, right from the start. Never giving up, never backing down. Which makes her a danger to the Capitol, which wants bloodshed, not heroes.


I managed to get my hands on a copy of The Hunger Games right away because a generous patron donated a paperback copy. Did I mention some punks stole not only Mockingjay, but the first book too? For shame! A pox upon your house.


I struggled with Katniss, who fought and bled and came pretty close to dying in the arena on more than one occasion. I pulled for the romance between her and Peeta because I'm a sucker for a love story. And I liked how Katniss came by the mockingjay pin in the book a lot better than they showed it in the movie.


Dystopian YA has never been on the top of my list for reading. I've since changed my mind. Until last week, I'd been on the hold list at the library for Mockingjay for two months. What was taking so long? The day it came in, I devoured it in about six hours. Collins did a remarkable job of writing a character that people--not just the YA scene--can relate to. Actually, I think if I'd read this as a teenager, I wouldn't have been as responsive to it then as I am now. She crossed a genre that adults can get in to because so many can relate to the sense of loss she presents.


Not your typical sci-fi and sure not an average romance, it had enough of that in it to keep me occupied. If you haven't read it, get your hands on it, because it's amazing. My other recommendation, if you like YA although it's fantasy rather than sci-fi, is Maggie Stiefvater's The Scorpio Races. OMG, easily the best book I've read this year (it came out in Oct. 2011). I wish I had the lyrical voice Stiefvater has.


Next on my list is Veronica Roth's Divergent.


When I'm not here, you can find me at my blog Have Novel, Will Edit, on Facebook, Twitter and sometimes G+.
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Allow me to introduce myself. It won't take long. Basically my "real" life is vanilla bland, so my bio is short and pretty boring. Here goes: I'm Elysa Hendricks. I'm 5'6" tall. I have brown eyes and curly hair. I'm an author, a wife, a mother and a daughter. Everything else is subject to change without notice.



Because physically I'm clumsy, I have no sense of balance, and I'm a BIG coward, my rule for living is: "Boring is good. Excitement is vastly overrated." Once I tried riding a motor scooter. After a wobbly start I ran it into a ditch. When my so-called friends told me it's like riding a bicycle and I had to try again, I then wiped out. I guess I forgot to mention I'm no good at riding a bicycle either. In my younger years before I discovered I'm a klutz I broke my foot trying to ride a skateboard.  Heights terrify me. I get dizzy just watching movies about mountain climbing. After watching JAWS I decided I didn't like swimming in places where I couldn't see what was underneath me. So forget me doing things like sky diving, water skiing, or motor cross racing. Adventure is NOT my middle name. I like things calm and safe. How I managed to live through raising too adventure junkie sons is a miracle I'll never comprehend.

But in my fiction I break my rule into itsy bitsy tiny pieces and scatter them in space during a solar storm from a space ship, preferably a pirate one. I grew up reading Robert Heinlein, H.G. Wells, Issac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke and watching cheap, trashy sci-fi movies and TV shows. Still watch them - hubby is a videoholic. Without risking a single hair on my head (and I have lots of them) I can get all the adrenaline rush I need from fiction.

Though I read and write all types of romance fiction: sweet contemporaries, gritty western historicals, and fantasy, my favorite is sci-fi romance. In my books I can be brave and daring. I can climb those impossible alien mountains. Wrestle shardak bears and water worms. Fight space battles. Have sex with a hot hero or two. All while wearing my flannel PJs, and sitting in the comfort of my cozy office with my fur babies in my lap.

But while I might avoid adventure in my own "real" life, I love hearing from readers and other authors about theirs: http://elysahendricks.com/



STAR CRASH is my first futuristic sci-fi romance.

When Star Trek meets Planet of the Apes, what's a girl to do?

After recon pilot Cora Daniels crash lands on an alien planet she finds herself a prisoner of the Flock: a race of birdlike humanoids. Trapped in their zoo she discovers they intend her to mate. To breed. To be part of their human herd.

She's placed in a cage with a man - a powerful, virile man, but not just any man - Alexander. Was he her lost love, who'd disappeared so long ago? Here he was: naked, glistening, a warrior trained by the Flock to fight for their amusement. How could the brilliant man, the tender lover she remembered have become this animal born to dominate and destroy? Was he a pawn of the Flock or would their flight to freedom be a long-sought reunion?

STAR CRASH is available from Amazon:
http://www.amazon.com/Star-Crash-Chronicles-ebook/dp/B007T2J9T0/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1337177350&sr=1-1



Monday, May 21, 2012

New Shades Series

Over a year ago several of my writer friends and I thought of putting together a short story series about a pair of special sunglasses that get traded from person to person and how those glasses affect that person's life. All of the stories have a decidedly romantic theme, but they are also filled with a mix of humor, fantasy and suspense.

I'm busy working on the final edits of my short story Shades of Gray, the first in the series. I had to put a dark spin on it.

Kennedy Sinclair is given a pair of simple sunglasses. Or so she thinks. Within twenty-four hours, though, she discovers they are far from simple or normal. The lenses open a door to the dark side of her personality and a serial killer who turns his focus on her. Can she outwit, outrun a murderer? And if she survives the night, does she have the strength to become the person destiny has created for her?

Tentative release date: June 7, 2012.
Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Best Lesson was Unspoken

My mother is a wonderful person. As the daughter of sharecroppers, she never had much and rarely spoke of those tough times. I know she'd often go to school hungry and most winters she didn't have shoes. Yet, her childhood stories were always full of laughter and fun.
She taught me so many lessons while I was growing up but the one I've kept closest to me and learned the best is probably the one she never knew she was teaching me.
 I am the youngest of six and after a while, she was able to stay at home and keep an eye on us. Because of that money was tight and often she would take it upon herself to fix things that were broken around the house. There was very little my mom couldn't do and I found myself watching her, following her around and eventually getting to help her.
 The first time I was a full on apprentice, my mom wanted to string lights in our two-car garage, she'd turned into an art studio. She'd already erected a wall, dry-walled, taped textured and painted it, plus she built rows of shelves along the side, so now she just needed to adjust the lighting. The single bulb and small window in the garage side door just wasn't enough. So on a piece of paper, she sketched out where she wanted the lights to hang then wrote out the items that she would need and the approximate lengths.
After she had her list, she and I headed out to the home improvement store. She found most of the items without help but eventually one of the salesmen found us and asked if we were lost. Lost? Really? Do most lost people stand beside a cart full of stuff waiting to be rescued by salespeople? My mom said no, but could he direct her to the thingies that hold the wiring.
 I guess he was bamboozled by her technical jargon because he asked if Mom wanted my Dad paged, apparently to rescue us.
 With grace my mom said no again and asked about the thingies.
After about a couple more offers to find my dad, the man finally took us to the thingies (junction boxes).He then lectured my mom about the dangers of everything she touched and flat out told her she shouldn't be messing with anything.
 She thanked him, got her stuff and off we went to the register to check out. I couldn't believe she let him talk to her like that. Why didn't she stand up to him, tell him she knew more than he did? She just looked at me and said, "Why? I learned something new. These things are called junction boxes and I didn't need as many because of the sizes. He saved me money."
 By dinnertime that night, my mom had wired five fluorescent lights and the garage glowed--perfect for her art studio.
From that example, I learned that there will always be people who think you're not capable, that bad experiences can teach us unexpected things and that it is faith in your own abilities that matter, not a stranger's opinion. I've never told my children these lessons, but I live by them everyday and I see that by doing so, I've passed them on to the next generation. Of course, I usually have thingies and doohickies on my list of stuff to get at the DYI store.
Wednesday, May 16, 2012

My mother was a kind, but strong woman.  She raised four children the last three alone.  My dad died when I was five.  My oldest brother was eighteen and rather than be another mouth to feed he quit school 2 months before graduation and joined the army.

Mother grew up in Texas during the Depression. She saved everything.  She would wash plastic ziplock bags to reuse them.

She wore her bras until they had to be held together with safety pins.  And she hated it when we bough her things.  We knew she needed them and we, her children, wanted her to have nice things.  She thought we though her stiff wasn’t good enough, which made her feel bad.  But she was right.  Her old, ratty clothes, her broken down appliances needed to be replaced.  But it hurt her feelings when we never meant to happen.

I remember one summer when I was nine.  I wanted to go to camp ID-RA-HA-JE.  It stood for I’d Rather Have Jesus and was a bible camp.  It cost $35.00 for the week.  This was a huge amount of money for us.  It would have put food on our table for two weeks.  I never really expected to be able to go, but Mom found a way.  I never did find out how she did it.  I do know she was only making $2.00 to $3.00 an hours and my dad’s social security was less than $100 for three children.

She always managed.  She taught us a lot about money, but more importantly, about what was really important.  She never wasted anything.  She always made sure we had was we needed and when something extra was needed and was IMPORTANT she made sure we got it.

And isn’t that what all good mothers do?  They love us, teach us what is important and push us out of the nest so we can be the best people we can be.  So we can make our mark on the world.  Each of us in our own way, just as mother taught us to be.
Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Winner of the $25 USD Gift Card

Congrats to Kiru Taye. She won the amazon gift card. Please contact me at linda at lindaandrews dot net to collect your prize.
Monday, May 14, 2012

WHAT'S THE DEAL ABOUT CATS IN SPACESHIPS? - by Vijaya Schartz


Viking, the rat hunter, in Noah's Ark

I love cats. That’s no secret. You only have to visit my CAT PAGE to find out. But what could possibly bring a cat into a spaceship? Well, think about it. Space is a lonely place. A cat would be good company for a lone space traveler, or for a small crew. Cats don’t eat much, they are clean, and they bring a lot of love and affection. Their purr is calming in stressful situations... their contact has healing properties... Pets are known to prolong the lives of their owners... I could go on and on. Even Captain Picard, on the Enterprise, had a small dog. Not as good as a cat, but I’ll forgive him. Most guys prefer dogs.

But what would be the scientific justification? Keeping up the morale? Studying cats in space? Maybe. The thing is that if I had to go in space for a long period of time, I’d like to have at least one of my furry friends with me on the voyage.

In the older days of ocean exploration, ship captains used to keep cats onboard. The felines took care of the rodent problem. This could also apply to a spaceship. No matter how sterile the environment, all that food stored in the pantry could fall prey to a stowaway rodent, familiar or alien, and the crew could die of starvation or disease if the sealed packages were ever compromised. Trips to the grocery store are not an option in space.

In NOAH’S ARK, my latest romantic science fiction novel, cats are part of the scenery. Here, of course, they belong to settlers who intend to colonize a new planet, and for them, cats are just part of the natural order they want to bring to their new world. They also have horses, goats and sheep and dogs and even cattle. But as all cat lovers know, cats are special.

In many cultures they are imbued with mystical powers, whether it’s good luck or bad luck, but no one can deny the magic effect of cats on people and on their entire environment. In my mind, a well organized society includes cats. From the Egyptians to the Greeks to the Romans, and in all civilizations since, cats may not be sacred, but they have a special place in our hearts.
NOAH’S ARK
Chronicles of Kassouk Prequel
by Vijaya Schartz

When Trixie's star freighter, Noah's Ark, drops out of jump space in an uncharted part of the universe, she believes the M-class planet on her viewer represents hope and salvation for her motley crew and the ragtag settlers aboard her ship.

Kostas, ex Space Marine, the expert survivalist recruited for this expedition, doesn't believe in coincidences, and knows that when something looks too good to be true, it usually is.

Everyone on this voyage to seed a new planet with life, is running from something, and harbors dangerous secrets... including Trixie, who vowed to never let a man control her life again. As for Kostas, he would get lynched on the spot if anyone suspected who he really is. Even Viking, the furry rat hunter, has a secret.

But on this seemingly abandoned planet, others are watching, herding them for evil purposes... And when the truth emerges and secrets unravel, Trixie and Kostas will have to fight for survival, for freedom, and for the right to love...

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Vijaya Schartz
Blasters, Swords, Romance with a Kick
Friday, May 11, 2012

Science-Fiction and Pop Culture


I once had an English teacher who taught us Shakespeare with an episode of Star Trek--even wheeled the big AV Dept television set into class. Obviously, he was my favorite teacher.

The Star Trek episode was based on The Tempest and featured Kirk mincing around in a diaper-looking thing as Ariel. Shakespeare had never been so fun.

My teacher was a huge fan of the show because no matter what crazy things happened--space babes, time-travel, man-diapers...the characters always acted true to their established arcs. They were faithful to themselves. They were human--and acted every inch of it.

Another show that offered a bit of wisdom in this area was The Brady Bunch.


I was a latch-key kid and must've seen every episode about ten times after school. In one particular episode when Marsha is trying on her mother's makeup in an effort to be cool, she tells Carol "Times change." Carol comes back with "Times change, but people don't".

That has always stuck with me, and for me, is a reason why science-fiction romance resonates with readers. Not only are plots and story ideas as endless as the writer's imagination, but they can always resonate with readers when we realize people are still people--who will act in predictably human ways.

Even in the most trying circumstances throughout history, people still met and fell in love, and made babies to repeat the cycle. It's what makes it all worth it.

That's what grounds us and makes us able to endure wildly changing circumstances--and the sight of William Shatner in a pink loin cloth.
Wednesday, May 9, 2012

What Happens When You Look Like Your Mother?

Growing up, I looked exactly like my mother.  I hated this fact with a violent passion.  While vacationing with my grandparents over the summer, old high school friends of my mom would stop me on the street thinking I was her.  Then I'd spend the next 20 minutes standing around as they talked to my grandmother. Nothing overly wrong with this except when you're ten, standing on a street doing nothing isn't fun.  This was summer and the only free time I had. 

As I grew older, my relatives called me by her name.  They would look to me to fill in the blanks of the story they were telling. And I could only give them an empty stare.  Because I had no clue what they were talking about.  'Older' people love to talk about their history together.  Too bad I wasn't alive for the exciting parts.

At home, it wasn't much better.  The sales clerks would always comment on high nice it was for my older sister to take me shopping.  One guy even asked if we were twins.  Twins?  My mom is twenty years older than me.  Uggg.  So not what a teenager wants to hear.  During high school when I was in the band, my mom worked the concession stand.  Everyone commented on how they'd seen my mom. 
 
I couldn't escape.  There was no hiding. For good or ill, everyone knew we were together.  Sometimes I wanted to disappear but I could never go anywhere without hearing, 'Hey, I saw your mom XXX.' 

Even after college, we're still mistaken for each other.  At my first surprise baby shower, my friends regaled me with the story of how they thought I'd come to the party early because they'd seen my mom get out of a car.  These were people who saw me almost every day.  And they still thought my Mom was me.   Sigh. 

The one good thing is I know how I'll look 20 years from now.  Not much different than I do now.  :)   

I do appreciate my mother more now that I have an almost teenager.  And the fact that we look very much alike doesn't bother me as much as it once did.  

Happy Mother's Day to all the Moms out there.  Don't forget to leave a comment to be entered in the drawing for a $25 gift card.

Monday, May 7, 2012

A Little Mother's Day Mention

There are days when you're thankful you have a list with kind authors who will prod you when you don't realize it's your day to post. Good job, ladies. High fives all around.


I think the topic this week was supposed to have to do with Mother's Day. Okay, I can handle this. I'm not a mother. Unless you count furbabies. I have a 4-year-old Japanese Chin named PeeWee, a 6-year-old toy Aussie named Bandicoot (aka Cooter) and a 4 year-old Border collie/Australian Cattle Dog named Mungo. As a mother, you shouldn't have favorites, but dogs can't read, so I'm going to admit that PeeWee is my favorite. He sits on my lap while I write and whispers plot turns in my ears between sneezing on my laptop screen. In this photo we were working on a critique for one of my very good friends. PW is hell on grammatical errors. Also, I'm not entirely sure he is all dog. I suspect he may be part horse and/or alien.


I could talk all day about PW and his fursiblings, but I want to do something else instead. Yesterday was my brother's birthday, so my family got together to celebrate. Little did they know that I received my proof copy of The Treasure Hunter's Lady in the mail. So I whipped it out of my purse and you should've seen the look on my mom's face. It was like she'd won the lottery. And I didn't even let her keep the copy I had. She had to order her own this morning. But here's a shot of her holding at the restaurant we went to.


My mom and I haven't always gotten along. It comes from being too much alike. My dad worked unusual hours, so I didn't see him as much as I saw my stay-at-home mom while I was growing up (although I was very obviously a Daddy's Girl). But throughout my life she's helped me with decisions big and small. She taught me to read, suffered through math and science with me, played Jeopardy! with me, said yes when my dad found a Mustang he wanted to buy for me (after years of telling me no). 


She's always supported my writing, even when it gets a little weird. She edits and reads first drafts, she makes the best suggestions on covers. She was the first person I called when I got my contract for The Treasure Hunter's Lady and she was there to hug me when the publishing house went under before it got published. I don't think I could have asked for better support. 


I just wanted to say, "Thanks, Mom" for everything. By the way, spot on on that font size for the next book in my trilogy.


I hope everyone has a terrific Mother's Day this upcoming weekend. If you still have a mom, tell her you love her, or at least I hope you have someone in your life who was a positive female role model. 


So until next time, when hopefully, I'll remember to post on time, you can find me on Facebook, Twitter, & at my blog Have Novel, Will Edit.


Also, don't forget that we're giving away a $25 gift card to a commentor on this blog, so be sure and leave a comment for a chance to win!

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