All posts by Wendy Van Camp

Author * Poet * Illustrator

THE PLANETS a scifaiku poetry collection by Wendy Van Camp

The Planets: a scifaiku poetry collection by Wendy Van Camp

THE PLANETS: a scifaiku poetry collection
written and illustrated by Wendy Van Camp

The planets have fascinated humanity since the dawn of time. We’ve looked up into the heavens and wondered what these wandering stars are and why they are different from their more stationary cousins. In modern times, humans have sent probes to all the planets in our solar system, sending back tantalizing views from faraway worlds. The planets are woven into our culture and history. They are signposts of our journey ahead.

This collection of 108 science fiction haiku poems (scifaiku) will take you on a journey of exploration showcasing tiny moments of wonder with each of the planets of our solar system.

THE PLANETS: a scifaiku poetry collection is nominated for the 2020 Elgin Award for best speculative poetry book of the year.

AMAZON

Author Interview: Lynne Stringer

I know Author Lynne Stringer as a fellow Knight of the  SciFi Roundtable, an active writer’s group on Facebook.  She writes YA sci-fi and contemporary drama.  Please welcome her to No Wasted Ink.

Hi, my name is Lynne Stringer, and I love writing! I especially love writing science fiction with a young adult focus. I enjoy creating new worlds and exploring new characters.

When and why did you begin writing?

I wrote my first book when I was about eight. It was called Goldie the Pony and was written in felt tip. It wasn’t very good, but I kept at it. I loved it when they asked us to write a story in English at school. It was my favourite thing to do. That hasn’t changed.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Not until I wrote my first full-length manuscript when I was in my twenties. It helped that I started to work as a journalist for a small magazine around this time. It made me feel legitimate.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

The Verindon Alliance takes place in the same world as the trilogy I released in 2013/14. Verindon is a planet where, during the time the trilogy takes place, they have more advanced technology than we have. There are two distinct humanoid species on this planet—the Vendel and the Verindal.

During the time of the trilogy, they live in peace, although there are some tensions and problems beneath the surface. However, The Verindon Alliance is set about a thousand years earlier, at a time when Verindon didn’t have much greater technology than we have today. It was also a time when the Vendel and the Verindal were still at war, so that’s part of the conflict in this novel.

What inspired you to write this book?

The events featured in The Verindon Alliance are referred to in my trilogy. I had loosely sketched out what happened but wanted to see if I could write it out completely.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I don’t like writing outlines, although I have an outline in my head. I usually sit at the keyboard and see where my characters take me.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

With help from my publisher. I suck at titles. We work together to try and come up with the best ones we can.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Racism is something that features in every novel I’ve set on Verindon, as it’s a huge issue there. One thing I featured this time more than I did in the trilogy was implicit bias—how the bias that a person’s been raised with, that has become a major part of their development, is so hard to overcome. It’s a major theme in the novel. The Vendel and the Verindal have to work together. If they don’t …

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

No, it’s all from my imagination.

What authors have most influenced your life?  What about them do you find inspiring?

I’ve loved a lot of the classics. The Brontës are authors I’ve long adored. They wrote a lot of vivid, emotive books. There were no aliens in their stories, but they still spoke to me. In the science fiction world, I like Timothy Zahn and Vonda McIntyre.

If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? 

Probably Charlotte Brontë. I would love to talk to her for hours about Jane Eyre.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

My publisher has some talented people they use to design their covers. Shame on me—I don’t know their names!

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Don’t be in a hurry to get published. You need to take your time and get it as right as you can the first time. Read a lot, write a lot, listen to advice. Find a good professional editor (this is not an optional extra; it’s essential). Always take stock every step of the way before you make a decision.

The Verindon Alliance Book CoverLynne Stringer
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

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The Verindon Alliance

Publisher: Rhiza Edge

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No Wasted Ink Writers Links

No Wasted Ink Writers Links

It is time for another top ten writing articles here on No Wasted Ink.  This time I have a varied selection of general writing tips, better focus in writing, a great article about marketing your books, and if you’ll forgive my self-interest, a beat sheet write up on Persuasion by one of my favorite authors, Jane Austen.  Enjoy! 

The Heart of the Story: A Conversation with Scott H. Andrews

Try This to Find an Extra 30 Minutes to Write, Even on Your Busiest Days

How Seeds of Dystopia in the Present Make a Novel Set in the Future

Once a Bookseller, Always a Bookseller

Persuasion by Jane Austen Novel Beat Sheet

Tangled Threads or Perfect Weave: Writing a Many-Stranded Story

How to Change Your Kindle Keywords, by Dave Chesson

What Words Can Do

Where Novelists Get Stuck: 3 Common Issues with Early Drafts

9 Tips to Increase Concentration Levels

World Building by Bill McCormick

World Building
Photo by Denys Nevozhai on Unsplash

Before we get into the meat of the subject I’m assuming you’ve read Strunk and White and learned grammar and studied Steven King’s On Writing and learned how to craft content. If not those specific tomes then I’ll presuppose you’ve read, and devoured, similar. It all comes down to this, world building isn’t where you start your journey as a writer. You need to have the basics well in place before you throw yourself off this mountain.

When you create the world your characters are going to live in it can be something simple, like Toledo, Ohio, or something amazing like the gas clouds of Orbius Prime. No matter which, you’ll need ground rules to get started.

  1. Let’s say you picked Toledo; you’ll need to mention the Mud Hens, the city’s devotion to sausages, the national museum of the great lakes, lunch at Grumpy’s and so on.
  2.  If you picked the gas clouds of Orbius Prime, then you need to let readers know about how light refracts in the gasses, what does , and does not, work as a means of propulsion, whether or not the beings living there are corporeal, and how communication is achieved. I would assume varying shades of illumination would work best, but you have options.

In other words, it’s not just a name you toss out it’s a place you bring to life. When the reader closes the book they should feel like they were there. Maybe even bought some souvenirs.

I have found that detailing the world I’ll be creating first, and then adding characters works best. I didn’t do that for my first novel and ended up having to go back and do so since there were glaring inconsistencies in locations and tone. I, literally, had a desiccated desert near a lake.

Before you ask, yes, that was a huge pain in the ass.

So, to save yourself the irritation, lay things out in a simple graph.

  1. Where: Name your place and then detail, at least, ten things which make this place unique.
  2. When: Based on a current reader’s perspective, is this something that happened before or after their existence. If it’s current, try and avoid pop culture references. Since they won’t be current when your book comes out they immediately place the story in the reader’s past.
  3. Tech: It’s well known that any tech sufficiently advanced enough would appear to be magic to a less developed society. The same holds true in writing. If you introduce the “multi phased Frombulator” you have to be clear as to what it does, why it exists, and be able to give a rudimentary idea of how it works. You need not get into the physics of the thing, unless you feel it’s required, but you do have to be able to make readers believe it could exist. Contrariwise, if you’re setting is medieval Europe, you can’t give the princess a Buick to make her life easier. The tech you add has to fit the rest of your universe.
  4. Consistency: Despite popular tropes, it is not the hobgoblin of little minds. Foolish consistency is. Now, whether you’re creating a magical fairy kingdom, interplanetary battles featuring alien warlords, or a whimsical a rom/com starring Satan, you need to set out the rules that guide your universe. And those rules need to apply to every character, and in every event. Remember, it’s not the suggestion of physics, those are laws for a reason. If your characters can violate them, you need a believable reason. This is less true in comic books where characters can fly unaided. Yet, even then, the rest of the universe follows basic physics leaving the flying people as outliers.

One easy out from all this, that lazy writers like to use, is to create a universe of gods. Since their characters are all gods they can do whatever they want. Unless you have multiple iterations of Yahweh, that won’t fly. And if you do, where’s the conflict? Even Satan doesn’t directly challenge God. In fact, in many interpretations, he’s fulfilling a function required by God. So, you’re back to needing some rules, and characters to live within them.

Another thing to look out for is accidentally creating multiple generations of morons. A wildly popular series of books, and a related TV show, have characters who, according to numerous plot points, have been at war, and fighting dragons, for eight thousand years. In that time the only weapons they have come up with are variants of a pointy stick. Some large, some small, some metal, some wood, but, at the end of the day, they’re all just pointy sticks. You would think that, given the fact there were constant airborne threats, someone might have given artificial flight a try. All of the needed materials are right there. And the inspiration is literally eating their livestock.

However, there was also an abundance of naked boobs, so that made up for a lot.

World building can be, and is to me, fun. There are lots of guides you can use to help they’re just not marketed as such. Books on mythologies will help you create believable powerful beings. Dungeons and Dragons is a great guide for your magical realm. NASA.gov has tons of free research online that will help you build realistic alien homes. And, if you want to bend some brains, don’t neglect the various conspiracy sites.

Once you have your feet firmly on the ground, let your imagination loose and see what it brings home.


Author Bill McCormackBILL McCORMICK is a critically acclaimed author of several novels, graphic novels, comic book series, and has appeared in numerous anthologies. He began writing professionally in 1986 for the Chicago Rocker Magazine in conjunction with his radio show on Z-95 (ABC-FM) and went on to write for several other magazines and blogs. He currently writes a twisted news & science blog at WorldNewsCenter.org. That provides source material for his weekly appearance on The Big Wakeup Call on WBIG 1280 AM (FOX! Sports). You can find out more about him at BillMcSciFi.com.

Splice by Bill McCormack