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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

THE CHRISTMAS VILLAGE

Well, I made it through Thanksgiving. Turkey is cooked and eaten (well, most of it anyways.) The Autumn decorations have been removed and the Christmas ones are going up.


I love decorating for Christmas. The day after Thanksgiving it took me most of the morning to drag all the bins of decorations out from under the house. Since this year will probably be the last in our current home before hubby retires and we downsize and move to Florida, I decided to put up my Christmas village. I have hundreds of pieces in the collection, so it's a BIG job.

I started the village just after I married forty years ago. I'd seen the adorable, tiny houses in catalogs and high end stores, but the price tags were way out of our hamburger and mac cheese budget. So I did the next best thing. After the holidays I went to the craft stores and bought the plaster houses that you paint yourself and created my own village. From 1972 through 1998 I managed to build a sizable village. Each piece I painted has its own story and every villager is like part of my family.

Here are some pictures of my Village.





In 2000 I wrote a short fantasy romance story based on my Christmas village, called what else THE CHRISTMAS VILLAGE. It was published in an anthology. Recently I decided to go the self-publishing route with some of my backlist, so with the Christmas season coming I re-released THE CHRISTMAS VILLAGE through Amazon and Smashwords.




While waiting to purchase another house for her Christmas Village collection Sara falls and hits her head. Transported to a fantasy world she falls in love with a man in her dream. Is she willing to give up real life to be with him? Or should she trust that he'll be there when she wakes up

http://www.amazon.com/The-Christmas-Village-ebook/dp/B009FN83NE
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/238736

Have a Very Merry Christmas and a Safe and Happy New Year!


Monday, November 26, 2012

Revolution - Season Finale


Not sure if you are watching the new series Revolution? I wasn’t so interested in watching when first saw the previews. The concept was somewhat interesting about the power being turned off, but I was thinking not very plausible. But when I heard J. J. Abrams was producing it, I decided to give it a shot. I loved what he did with HEROES. Well, I am hooked. It is one of the shows I try to find time to watch because I never know where it is going to go next.

Well the season finale is on tonight and it will be interesting to see what type of cliffhanger we are left with. The sneak peeks hints that all the missing puzzle pieces of the plot will be tied together. I’m thinking, hmm… More like what twist are they planning? I hope it blows my mind away. I’m not sure the power is going to be switched on for any length of time! How else could they have season two?

Friday, November 23, 2012

What I'm reading

Having just finished writing another long book, my brain decided it was time to take a break. And what do I like to do when I take a break. I love to read. Reading relaxes me almost as much as sleeping. But more than that reading helps me to discover a new way of thinking.
Take, for example, the novella I just finished.
First, it's a novella. Hello? I can't seem to think of many stories shorter than 90K words. And yet here someone squeezed a mystery into a very short amount of space.
But best of all, the author had cleverly made a play on several fairy tales all in one spot. There was a frog prince, reference to Humpty Dumpty and Cinderella, throw in the Big Bad Wolf villain and it was very fun and enjoyable read.
Oh, and there was a dragon.
What was the story?
The Cleverest of Them All.
And so before the tryptaphan kicks in, I just want to say that The Cleverest of them All is an amazing example of how a talented writer can breathe new life into our favorite fairy tales.
Monday, November 19, 2012

RESEARCHING THE FUTURE - by Vijaya Schartz

Really? Sci-fi writers actually research? Many think only historical writers have to go through this process, but research is a great part of writing a science fiction story, romance or otherwise.


Futuristic societies have to be believable to the reader. Instead of researching historical facts, the sci-fi author must research modern science in order to project where the next logical evolutionary step will lead, and what kind of future society it will likely engender.

Creating an unfamiliar world and making it real to the reader, whether in the past or in the future, requires the same skills, the same kind of imagination that projects into a world with different sets of rules, a different political climate, different dress codes, eating habits, different laws and ethics, different religious beliefs, different taboos, etc.

AMAZON - B&N - ARE - SMASHWORDS

Even if your science fiction borders on Fantasy, it still has to be believable, and the best way to anchor the reader is to root the world you created into what is already known, whether in science, or even in other works of popular science fiction.
One only needs to go to a sci-fi convention to see that for the fans, blasters, laser guns and space torpedoes are an accepted fact, whether science agrees or not. So we must navigate a fine line between what is true, what is likely, and what is pure fiction. Besides, what is impossible now will be possible sometime.

Did you know that serious scientists are already working on a portal to other dimensions? If you ask me it could be dangerous business to open even a tiny hole in the fabric of our multiverse. It could invite unwanted guests, no matter how small... pathogens for example.

AMAZON - B&N - ARE - SMASHWORDS

Of course, we do not have to be scientists ourselves, although a few sci-fi authors are. But we must have an understanding of what is possible and what is not.

I grew up in France, reading Antoine de St. Exupery (The Little Prince), but his view of the planets and the universe is not believable, even to children. Of course, he wrote philosophy, not science fiction. Now I watch THE BIG BANG THEORY with delight, including the reruns. Something unlikely, as Dr. Sheldon Cooper defines it in the sitcom, would be that "at the edge of every black hole is a little man with a flashlight looking for a circuit breaker."

So in order to remain relevant and believable, yes, authors of science Fiction must keep a hold on the pulse of scientific progress, on what is being written in their genre, and without being a total geek, educate themselves in the new technologies that might someday run our lives.

I was once told I came from the future, and I tend to believe it sometimes. The future speaks to me. I have visions of what it may hold. Some of them end up in my books. So if you want to know what the future holds, give them a try. Find my eBooks and paperbacks on:

AMAZON - B&N - ARE - SMASHWORDS  -  and all major online retailers.

Vijaya Schartz
Blasters, Swords, Romance with a Kick
Visit my website HERE

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Host Brings Together YA and Sci-Fi Romance


In light of the last movie release of the Twilight Saga (Breaking Dawn 2 in theaters now!), Stephanie Meyers' writing fans will get a different taste of something a little less vampy and sparkly.

THE HOST, according to the Amazon blurb, is about a girl named Melanie Stryder who refuses to fade away. 

"The earth has been invaded by a species that take over the minds of human hosts while leaving their bodies intact. Wanderer, the invading "soul" who has been given Melanie's body, didn't expect to find its former tenant refusing to relinquish possession of her mind.

As Melanie fills Wanderer's thoughts with visions of Jared, a human who still lives in hiding, Wanderer begins to yearn for a man she's never met. Reluctant allies, Wanderer and Melanie set off to search for the man they both love.

Featuring one of the most unusual love triangles in literature, THE HOST is a riveting and unforgettable novel about the persistence of love and the essence of what it means to be human."

Sci-fi romance has usually lingered as a niche genre. I'm hoping what Stephanie Meyers did for the paranormal genre, she'll do for sci-fi romance--cracking it wide open and bringing it to millions of new readers. A movie will help with that, along with all the great sci-fi romance authors and books you'll find here and at every e-book vendor, just waiting to be discovered.

I say bring it!
Wednesday, November 7, 2012

TO BLOG OR NOT TO BLOG



For the last few years I've been fighting being sucked completely into the online world and ending up like Tron fighting my evil cyber self. I successfully resisted joining the MySpace crowd. But as Facebook began to take over the universe I succumbed to the inevitable. The Internet gods demanded my surrender. Resistance was futile. Now I'm addicted. I admit it I'm a total Facebook junkie. Anyone who is interested in my basically boring life can Like my page at: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Elysa-Hendricks-Author/137316289643103
 
So far though I've managed to avoid being sucked into the Twitter world. It's bad enough I'm a Trekkie or is that now Trekker? I don't need to be a Tweeter, too, do I? Forget the world of Smartphones and texting. My phone is totally stupid, it does two things, makes calls and receives calls.

And Blogging? Well, the whole concept makes me shudder in dread. Occasionally I'll read a well written blog on a subject that interests me and I almost always read my friend's blogs, even if I rarely post a comment. But I'm a fiction writer. I write about imaginary people, places and things. And I've been told I do it fairly well.

Now I'm being told in order to be a successful fiction writer, in order to appeal to readers I have to blog. Blogging is a whole other type of writing from fiction. It's non-fiction. And it's supposed to tell the reader something about me, so they'll be inspired to read my books. Duh? Again, my life is totally boring. How can telling the reader about it let them know how exciting my imaginary fictional worlds are? I don't get it.

When I think of writing a blog I'm thrown back into the hell of high school and college English composition classes. To me a blog is another word for an essay. Essays, those horrible things teacher from grade school through college seemed to love to inflict on their helpless students. What I Did On My Summer Vacation. What I Want To Be When I Grow Up. My Most Memorable Character. Or 500 hundred words On A Historical Figure. And then there's the most terrifying essay of all - the college thesis. Each of these essays is judged on a wildly subjective scale determined by a person who controls your future and has already read a dozen or more mind numbing essays before yours.

So you can understand my entirely reasonable consternation at the thought of writing what for all intents and purposes is nothing more than an ungraded essay.

But wait. It is graded and judged and often more harshly than any teacher ever could. It's judged by you - the reader. For a writer looking to engage and encourage readers to check out and possibly buy my fiction, finding something to blog about is a daunting task. Like I've already mentioned, compared to my fiction my personal life is bland and beyond boring (but that's a subject for another essay) so what could I possibly blog about that would interest people who enjoy reading about exciting romances, cowboys, Indians, love affairs, vampires, werewolves and future societies set in space?

So now you understand why the thought of writing a blog gives me pause. That said, I hope you enjoyed getting to know the "boring" me.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Villians


To me nothing beats a good villain in a book or a movie. A villain doesn't necessarily have to be a person. It can be the weather, like in the movie The Day After Tomorrow or a group of people or humans as in Avatar.

I love writing villains probably just as much as writing about the hero or heroine. I also love learning what makes them tic and what motivates them to do what they do. I think if you have a great villain it really can make a good movie or book great.

I really enjoyed writing about Malcolm, the villain in my paranormal, sci-fi romance, Shrouded in Darkness. I tried to make him as three dimensional as possible. He’s self-centered, has great taste in clothing, somewhat of a metro-sexual, has a bit of a God complex, and surprisingly loves the heroine Margot in his sick, twisted way. Secretly he’s very jealous of Jake and doesn't understand why ethics make Jake do the things he does. Below is an excerpt of when Malcolm and Margot first meet after having not seen each other for a number of years.

Malcolm’s casual shrug made her forget caution, forget anything but the anger. She waved her frozen dinner at him. “I want you off my property. Now.”

He caught her wrist. “Or what?” He pulled her toward him until he peered down at her and his breath, moist and hot, brushed her temple. He arched a brow. “You’ll beat me? Or better yet—spank me? Sounds kind of kinky, but I’d like that. You still have a tight little body—at least from what I’ve seen of it. I could go for a little T. and A. right now.”

She jerked her wrist from his grasp. “You make me sick!”

“I never used to.” He reached out to touch her cheek, but she stepped aside. “There was a time when you liked it.” His voice turned husky. “Seriously, Margot. It was good there for a while between us. You have to admit that.”

He was being serious. She saw it in his eyes and was stunned, so stunned that she couldn’t form a coherent response.

“Remember when we’d go to Jackson’s after dinner.” His face softened. “Damn, but you knew how to dance. The way you moved that body of yours.”

She finally found her voice. “Sex. You’re talking about sex. For a brief second, I thought you might have changed, might have actually had some feelings for what we once had.”

He looked insulted. “Of course I did! Why do you think I married you!” Anger darkened his face. “And we’d still be together if it wasn’t for you. You and your damned divorce!”

“My divorce? You’re the reason for the divorce. Any sane person couldn’t live with someone like you. Your temper is frightening. You lose control all the time and—”

“Are you calling yourself sane now?” His lip curled at the corner. “My. I don’t think that would be the correct term to use...not with your past record-—”

“Don’t!” He’d hit way below the belt on that one. Her voice turned sharp with anger. “I’ve had enough of you and your snide innuendoes. You always have to push me, back me into a corner every single time until I can’t do anything but hit back. I think in some sick way you enjoy doing it. I don’t know why, and I don’t want to know why. But I do want you to leave. I don’t want you here—now or anytime in the future. Got that?”

A red flush stained his cheeks. “Oh, I hear you. Loud and clear. You can yell all you want, and I’ll be the only one able to hear you. It’s just you and me up here. All alone. All by ourselves. Got that?” He stepped toward her.

She didn’t move back. They were only threats. She wasn’t about to show him they bothered her as she walked past him, brushing a shoulder against his arm on the way to the front door. And anyway, she could threaten just as well as Malcolm. “I’m leaving, and if you’re not gone by the time I get to the phone, I’ll call Carl.”

“Carl? You can’t be serious. The guy’s a joke. I’ve had the bad luck to meet him twice, but hell, that’ll do me for a lifetime. He’s got the brain the size of a pea. The only thing not funny about him is the way he blabs and snoops into everyone’s business. If he doesn’t watch it, someone’s going to make sure he shuts his trap for good.”

“You might not take him seriously, but what about another restraining order? Will you take that seriously?” Stopping at the front door, she looked over her shoulder and watched his expression change, the slight tensing of his jaw, the angry glitter in the back of his eyes. She’d hit home. “I’ll do it again if I have to.”

“Don’t push me, Margot.”
Fear shot into her veins. That low, deadly tone of voice was far too familiar. If she let herself remember... No. She wouldn’t let herself think back. She hitched her chin up a notch and stared back, hoping like hell she looked self-assured. “Then don’t push me, Malcolm. I won’t be pushed. Not anymore. You’d be smart to remember that.”

She hugged the groceries against her chest and fumbled with the key to unlock the front door. Her hands were stiff, dangerously close to being frostbitten, which right now was almost a blessing. The cold masked the pain from the slivers of wine bottle embedded in her palms. She didn’t want to think how they would feel when warmed.

Sighing with resignation, she gripped the brass doorknob. Suddenly, Malcolm lunged, shoving her away from the door and barring her path into the house.

“Is that a threat?” he asked harshly by her ear, his palm pressed flat against the doorframe.

Margot froze. He was so close that she smelled peppermint on his breath. “It’s more than a threat, Malcolm.” She stood her ground, not about to back away with fear. She wouldn’t give him that satisfaction. Clenching her jaw hard, she glared at his chest and said through gritted teeth, “It’s a promise. I swear if you step into my house one more time without being invited, I’ll call the police and happily press charges. If Carl doesn’t charge you with breaking and entering, I’ll be damned sure I find something else he can arrest you for. Assault and battery is a good one for starters. I bet you’d like that. And what about stalking? I think Arizona has a law against—”

Malcolm grabbed her upper arm. His hand on her made her react without thinking, and she swung the carton of milk. It landed against his cheek. The thin cardboard cracked open, spraying milk everywhere. Chips of broken glass frozen to the carton caught on his cheek, scraping his smoothly tanned flesh and drawing blood.

Margot broke free and dragged frigid air into her lungs as icy milk trickled from her face, down her neck to seep into her sweater and jacket.  For several, long heartbeats they stood without moving, breathing heavily, staring.  A muscle ticked along the edge of his jaw while milk coated one side of his face and dripped from his ear lobe. Then Malcolm growled and lurched for her with both hands.

She stumbled back onto slick ice. This time, she couldn’t regain her footing, couldn’t do anything but helplessly clutch at air.

Her skull hit the side of the railing as she went down. White pinpricks flashed across her vision as the world blurred around her. Then she was falling into blackness.

Friday, November 2, 2012

The New Endangered Species: Words


Every fall, I pick two new shows to take a chance on. This year it was Arrow on CW6 and Elementary on CBS. Since Vijaya already wrote about Arrow, I'll take Elementary, not so much to comment on the show but to stress something as I see in the future of writers.

Briefly, Elementary is a remake of Sherlock Holmes. Holmes a recovering drug addict is doing what he does best in New York and Dr. Joan Watson is hired by his father to make sure he stays clean. Although really deviating far from Sir Conan-Doyle's original, there is much to recommend this new incarnation from the punchy dialogue, the gritty characters and the general messiness of the main character's life.

But as I said, this really isn't about the show, it's about what the main character, Sherlock said on the show. Sherlock texts Dr. Watson as part of his check-in process. The problem is that Sherlock uses first letters of works to create sentences. Now, this isn't your typical LOL or WYSIWYG. These are things no one has ever created an online Rosetta Stone for.

Sherlock thinks he's participating in the evolution of the English language; Watson doesn't understand what he's saying.

And here we have the crux of modern writers. Texting is changing our language--shortening it to reflect our attention spans. A scary phenomenon for writers.

Language is our medium of choice, our sole means to connect with others and share our vision. Instead of lugubrious paragraphs, our world-building will be restricted to sound byte sentences. Words will have to mean more while being sparsely doled out. And while English is rife with precise words, our daily vocabulary is shrinking.

What will the future of writing look like?

IDK.  

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