Tag Archives: science fiction

Scifaiku of Wendy Van Camp featured in Quantum Visions 5

 

quantumvisions5-2016

It is with great pleasure that I announce that five of my poems and illustrations have been published in the magazine “Quantum Visions 5” edited by Jude-Marie Green.  It is a chapbook featuring science fiction stories of the Orange County Science Fiction Club’s Writer’s Orbit.  I am the only poet in the edition.  This magazine used to be print only, but this year Ms. Green is offering online versions.  You can purchase an online chapbook at the following link:

Quantum Visions 5

Author Interview: Tabitha Lord

Author Tabitha Lord is a woman who wears many hats.   Not only is she a science fiction author, but she is also a senior editor for Book Club Babble and working on a non-fiction collection of stories connected with an awareness campaign for children with pediatric cancer.  I am honored to feature her here on No Wasted Ink.

author-tabitha-lordHi Wendy! Thank you so much for having me on No Wasted Ink! Let me take a moment to introduce myself. I currently live in Rhode Island, a few towns away from where I grew up. I’m married, have four great kids, two spoiled cats, and lovable lab mix. My degree is in Classics from College of the Holy Cross, and I taught Latin for years at the Meadowbrook Waldorf School. Yes, I’m a dinosaur! I also worked in the admissions office there for over a decade before turning my attention to full-time writing. It’s worth noting that I didn’t publish my first novel until after I turned forty, so for anyone thinking of a career change, it’s never too late!

When and why did you begin writing?

I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. I loved to write stories as a child. In fact, when I was sorting through some of my grandma’s things after she passed, I came across a whole collection of poetry and stories I’d written. It was very sweet. In my professional life I’ve written some ad copy, blog posts, and done some editing for school publications, but I had very little time or energy for creative writing.

When my children got older and the dynamics of my family shifted, I began to consider changing careers. While I pondered what was next for me professionally I took on a yearlong writing project at work thinking it would give me the change of pace I needed. Turns out it was one of the most satisfying things I’d ever done in my career. Since I was in the habit of writing every day for work, I challenged myself to write creatively every day as well. Lo and behold, when the report was finished a year later, so was my first manuscript.

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

I’ve been asked to describe my book in ten words. Here’s what I came up with: Science fiction meets romance meets survival fiction meets military thriller!

What inspired you to write this book?

Thoughts for my stories come to me in different ways. Sometimes it’s a character that appears in my head, fully formed – personality, career, physical appearance, and name – ready for me to create a story around. Other times, there’s an interesting scene that builds up in my imagination over time. Or sometimes there’s a theme or idea I want to explore.

With Horizon, I had two distinct parts of a story floating in my head. The first was the opening crash sequence. It was more basic at the time of its inception – just a pilot who crash lands on a planet, and a young woman, in some kind of trouble, who saves his life.

The second part was more complex. I was playing with the idea of what would happen if one segment of an already small isolated population evolved differently, either naturally or by design, from the other. What if some had gifts that enabled them to imagine a different kind of future for themselves and their world? What if they were empathic and could sense each other’s emotions and thoughts? What if some of them could heal with their mind? How would the unchanged people feel about their neighbors? It created such an interesting premise I knew I had to find a way to make it into a story.

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

There’s a big chunk of survival fiction in the first part of Horizon. Caeli is living alone in the wilderness, fending for herself, and living off the land. I grew up in a rural neighborhood until I was twelve years old and spent most of my playtime outdoors, in the woods, exploring and climbing trees. I distinctly remember the smell of pine, the quiet in the forest after the first snow, the taste of wild blueberries. I tried to call on my own childhood memories to give Caeli’s experience authenticity. And as an adult, I’ve had a few adventures that influenced this particular aspect of the story! Over the years, I’ve accompanied students on several class trips. We’ve hiked the rain forests in Costa Rica, paddled dozens of nautical miles in the open ocean off the coast of Maine, and camped in the mountains of West Virginia. I have actually tended a cooking fire, carved utensils, found edible plants, bathed in the ocean, and slept outdoors.

I’m also a medical school dropout! But my experience in medical school, and for years as an EMT, I think gives Caeli some authority as a healer. And when I wasn’t sure about a particular treatment, I’d call my brother-in-law, who did finish medical school and is a practicing physician!

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

This is a tough one. I love genre fiction and my shelves are filled with everything from horror, to military thrillers, to historical romance. I also appreciate good literary fiction with characters I remember long after I turn the last page. I just enjoy a good story, no matter the genre or style!

Some of my all-time favorites include The Stand by Stephen King. To me this is the ultimate apocalypse story, full of disquieting horror. Harry Potter is at the top of the list. Such incredible world building and rich characters! Outlander is fabulous. Diana Gabaldon’s dialogue is beautiful, and the relationship between Jamie and Claire is so complex and lovely. Recently I read, and loved, The Goldfinch. Literary fiction at its best! The Snow Child also really stayed with me after I finished reading. As I write this, I am staring at my library shelves and thinking, how can I leave off Barbara Kingsolver or Isabel Allende! Or my favorite Steinbeck novel East of Eden! I learn something different from each of these writers, but mostly I’m just incredibly grateful for the pleasure of reading their work. If someone asks me this question next week, I’ll probably have an entirely different list.

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

The immensely talented Steven Meyer-Rassow did both the cover art and interior design for Horizon. I wanted to collaborate with someone whose style and artistry resonated with my own. Every single image of Steven’s that I could find was stunning, and when we discussed my project, I knew he really understood my vision. One of the things we talked about initially was the fact that Horizon would be a trilogy, and we’d like to “brand” the series somehow. So in addition to amazing cover artwork, Steve created a title treatment that will carry through and give all the future Horizon books a cohesive look.

Another thing we discussed was that while Horizon firmly belongs on the shelf with other sci-fi novels, it definitely crosses genres. The cover, therefore, needed to have wide appeal. It needed to be intriguing and eye-catching enough for non-sci-fi readers to pick it up, yet stylistically still fit in with its main genre.

Do you have any advice for new writers?

Oh, for sure! First, finish something. A bad draft is better than no draft. Second, keep writing even when you feel stuck. Good habits will help you work through the blocks. But if I had to pick the most important thing for new writers it would be this: a first draft is nowhere near the finished product. This was shocking to me as a first-time novelist – although it shouldn’t have been! I knew edits were going to happen, but I had no idea how much work they would be. If I had to estimate, I would say that writing the first draft was only about one-third of the work. Editing and working through the business side of publishing made up the other two-thirds. What’s fun though, or at least what’s satisfying about the post-first-draft phase, is transforming the story from a rambling, exhaustive, stream of consciousness manuscript, to a work that has structure, flow, and even some artistry. I’ve learned so much about the craft of writing through editing.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

The most important thing for me, as a writer, is to tell a good story. I write because I have to get these stories out of my head and onto the paper, but I also write for my readers and fans. I hope people fall in love with my characters and lose themselves in the plot. I hope they’re transported to different worlds. I hope they open my book and time flies away. This is what I want when I read, and I hope I can provide that experience for my fans!

horizon_cover_03_bTabitha Lord
North Kingstown, RI

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Cover Artist: Steven Meyer-Rassow
Publisher: Wise Ink

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What’s A Book Without A Cover by D.H. Aire

 

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I was a closet sci-fi and fantasy writer for over twenty years. I stopped submitting stories in my twenties. The rejections were just too painful. But as the years went by, I couldn’t stop writing and I felt I was too old to care about rejections.

So my success in getting my first novel published caught me by surprise. It’s nice to have a publisher, who hires a cover artist and, if you’re lucky, seeks your approval of the cover. What do you do if you decide to self-publish and your book needs a cover?

My learning experience went something like this: my first book’s publisher asked me for a few sample cover ideas and sample back cover text. The cover that was created was lovely. The next book I published in the series was with a different small press, who asked me if there was a cover artist I’d like to work with.

At that point, I had been going to sci-fi conventions regularly. That helped me network, and a friend graciously sent out an email to three cover artists they knew, one of whom was available. The process at that point was similar. I provided several cover ideas, back cover text, and my book ended up with what I considered to be an excellent cover. The problem was, the looks were dissimilar. In other words, I didn’t feel they “branded” well. I next self-published the next two books in the same series, using the same artist and now had three novels with covers of a similar style. At that point, the sales of the series shot up and it happened to be when my contract was coming up for renewal with my first publisher.

As part of the renewal agreement, I negotiated for my cover artist to re-envision my first cover for the second printing. The publisher and I have been very pleased with the result, which effectively brands the entire series.

Now, I’ve launched a new series, which I was looking to have a signature look. So, I was interested in finding another artist. I tried the networking approach, but the search was not bearing fruit. That’s when I did an online search and checked out 99Designs (an online cover art service). They offer a contest approach. I thought that’s what I was going to do until I spoke with someone who had done a contest for a logo through 99Designs. That contest took up a week of my friend’s life. So, I checked out elance.com, which is now Upwork.com.

I was very specific about my project’s requirements, including my vision for the cover, who my intended market was, text for my cover, back cover text, etc. I posted my cover art project and let people bid. I could check out their portfolios or websites for examples of their work. I had four or five artists who looked like they might be a match.

I selected a European artist, whose price was in keeping with what I have been paying for my covers and her website portfolio was, well, spectacular. Her portfolio offered solid fantasy elements, which was important for my urban fantasy cover. I also was looking for someone who had a good command of English, since I wanted to prevent any misunderstandings about my project. Payment through the site is generally done through an escrow approach. The site takes a cut as the broker (Elance took 9%, Upwork offered to maintain that deal for those who transferred as part of the Elance takeover). Those seeking to freelance often also offer hourly rates for work, too. The site’s service offerings are broad, ranging beyond graphic arts and website design to bookkeeping and other freelance services.

I recently completed the process and I have received just the cover I was hoping for.

The process took a lot of give and take. I also showed the cover to members of my author group on Facebook to get their input and advice. I sought advice from colleagues at work, who told me what they liked and didn’t like, too, which the artist was more than happy to correct. Additionally, when I was trying to figure if the book would look better with the title at the bottom rather than the top, I went to Amazon and checked out other books in the genre to she which look I liked best.

The paperback cover took over a week to get “just right.” But my cover artist showed she’s a professional. I gave her latitude to show me options of what she thought could make the cover better. The point is to get readers to gravitate to my book. I hope they will… and I know that covers and books also change over time, so if it doesn’t “work,” one day I can change it for another edition.

I have spoken with authors over the last few years who have spent more than what I typically spend for cover art. Then again, I know authors who spend far less, cropping photos to create a great and inexpensive cover. Just know, if and when you need a cover artist, there are truly talented people all over the world who will love working with you to bring your book through their art to life.

Seeing my characters there on the cover, that glimpse into my story on an entirely different level is difficult for me to describe. The book, which I will all too soon hold in my hands, featuring those characters who are like family, will hopefully, just hopefully, invite readers who will soon become their friends, too.

***

 

D. H. Aire has walked the ramparts of the Old City of Jerusalem and through an escape tunnel of a Crusader fortress that Richard the Lionheart once called home. He’s toured archeological sites that were hundreds, if not thousands of years old… experiences that have found expression in his epic fantasy series with a science fiction twist, Highmage’s Plight and new Hands of the Highmage Series. The seventh and concluding book of his Highmage’s Plight Series, Paradox Lost is being released in 2017.

An Author of eleven fantasy and science fiction novels, including those in the urban fantasy Dare 2 Believe Series and the space opera Terran Catalyst Series, Aire’s short stories appear in a number of anthologies, including in Street Magick: Tales of Urban Fantasy. A native of St. Louis, Missouri, Aire resides in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area.

This article originally appeared at dare2believe.

 

#CHWG Podcast – The Writer’s Platform with Wendy Van Camp

CHWG-podcast (blog)

Writers need a platform to reach their audience. Don’t know where to begin? Podcast #6 of the CHWG Podcast with Wendy Van Camp discusses it. Plus Scifaiku (Science Fiction Haiku). Hosted by J Bryan Jones. Available on YouTube, iTunes, and CHWritersGroup.org now!

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CHWG

 

Find Wendy Van Camp
https://nowastedink.com/
Twitter: @wvancamp

Find J Bryan Jones
facebook.com/JBryanJonesWriter
Twitter: @JBryanJones

Generating Science Fiction Stories

Filofax and Notebooks

The act of creativity has been a subject that fascinates me. I have always been a creative woman, I can not stop creating things any more than I can stop breathing. It is a major part of my life and shapes who I am. When the desire to write burst within me in 2010, a single character demanded that I start to write his story. More characters in the story followed and together all these people have become a steampunk science fiction series that I will one day publish. Yet, a single series does not an author make. From time to time, I have been asked to contribute a story to an anthology or a magazine and I found myself frozen, unable to write a word or meet a deadline. I was forced to let these opportunities go without submitting a single word.

Outline The Problem

I became determined to overcome my science fiction writer’s block. While I have published memoir shorts and a regency romance, I consider myself to be a science fiction and fantasy author. I am well versed in the genre having read most of the classics from Robert A. Heinlein, Issac Asimov, and Arthur C. Clarke, to a range of women science fiction authors such as Vonda McIntyre, Andre Norton, and Marion Zimmer Bradley. This has allowed me to become familiar with the genre tropes and style of the “golden age” of the 1950s and 1960s when science fiction gained its footing in popular culture. Yet, how to generate science fiction ideas for myself eluded me.

My first thought to solve the problem was to listen to other authors in the genre and get an idea of how they developed their ideas. I attended convention panels with Vernon Vinge, Todd McCaffery, Greg Benford, David Brin and other famous authors to glean how they came up with material that gained them Hugo and Nebula awards. Over time, I realized that each of these authors had a system to store ideas for themselves related to science fiction. Every author had a different way of obtaining these core ideas. Some had buddies who worked at JPL or NASA, others were scientists themselves with years of training in their chosen field. They attended science conferences or read journals about the world of technology today, took these raw facts and concepts, pushing the ideas into the future and giving it a literary twist.

The Past Through Tomorrow

Being a collector of fountain pens and notebooks, I had read how people in the past had kept journals known as “commonplace books”. This was a compilation of ideas and information that the author thought relevant. It was popular with the thinkers of 15th century England and eventually became a scholarly tool adopted by major universities. I liked the concept of the commonplace book and wondered if I could apply it to my science fiction idea generating problem.

To find the basic facts to form ideas from, I signed up for free science journals on a variety of subjects. I joined science fiction clubs and listened to what concepts intrigued the readers.

My paper notebook failed.

There is such a barrage of information in the journals, many fields are expanding their knowledge at speeds that make it difficult to keep up with, that copying the information by hand became overwhelming. I switched to using Evernote and set up folders where I could cut and paste various science-based articles that I thought might have a possible idea to base a story on. Using this collation method proved to be easier to maintain and slowly, I began to have folders of possible science-based​ concepts to write about.

Sharpening The Tools

Although I was generating facts to draw on, I was still having trouble generating science fiction stories except for my Opus Magnus. An author friend of mine suggested that instead of writing short stories, I should try poetry. The form was short and wouldn’t take up as much time to write. I had also taken an online writing course put out by the University of Iowa where one of the lessons said that to practice scene building, try writing haiku first. Haiku was about describing a single moment in time, which are the building blocks of stories.

This is where my love of Scifaiku was born. The poems are only three lines long and I can do them in batches. I would start with facts from my commonplace folders in Evernote and then apply an emotion, setting and time to them. It worked. I began to assemble science fiction poems and much to my surprise, people seemed to like them.

In September of 2015, one of my online writing communities held a writing challenge. Write one flash fiction story a day for the entire month. If I did the challenge to the end, I would have thirty flash fictions to show for it. I decided to try. I would focus all my creative energy on writing science fiction or fantasy and see where it led me. As it turned out, writing with a group of authors gave me the support I needed to complete the challenge. Not all the stories I wrote are good enough to submit, but a number of them were good enough to either send out as a flash fiction or to expand into a longer and better story in the future.

I have followed up with doing two more challenges in 2016. For the first time, I have a backlog of science fiction and fantasy stories to draw on. What is more, I seem to be able to create new characters and plots without the strain that I used to feel. This practice has sharpened my skillset.

Last Word

Today, short stories and poetry come to me more easily. I have established a method of generating science fiction stories that works for me. As time passes, my files grow richer with more science-based concepts to draw from. I hope that by outlining my creative process this gives you ideas on how to be more creative in your own writing.