Friday, February 25, 2011

Welcome Guest Author, AR Norris

Living in the Future…Beyond the Techie Monologue
By A.R. Norris

One of my biggest gripes about SF is the techie monologue. You know the one. The characters are going about their adventure and BAM! the narrator cuts into a 3-paragraph lesson -- if we’re lucky -- on the detailed mechanism of the lift devise, weapon, or communication system from the character’s POV. Ugh already! Yes, we know they’re in the future. Yes we know they have cool gadgets. And, yes, they get around in awesome ways.

But how often in your everyday do you think about your surroundings? Do you pause in writing your grocery list to think about the mechanisms of that pen or the adhesive technology of the post-it you’re using your pen to write on? No. Do you think about the engineering and materials of the highways (other than cursing about the road conditions)? Probably not. Do you stop and figure out exactly how the magical computer machine is processing and transferring your important information (or like me, the joke of the day)? No.


Because we’re human beings and we take these things for granted. As a reader, I like to see the characters take their futuristic gizmo’s and lifestyle for granted too…that way I can be jealous without being irritated or put to sleep at the same time. I don’t care the intricacies of the hyper drive system…I just want to visualize the sound and back pressing speed it makes the character hear and feel when it goes vroom. I don’t want to know how the alien’s DNA differs on the minute scale…just describe the wings, slimy skin, and/or multiple eyeballs and how the character reacts or doesn’t react to this appearance.

I’m telling you, for me, it adds a depth of realism to the story. By describing the intricate science behind the world, the writer is wasting word count proving our need to dispend belief. All they really had to do is show how natural the characters acclimated and don't think about the technology to show the natural validity of belief in the world.

I guess my main point, if I were to put it in a one-liner, is: The more humans don’t think about the details behind the aspects, the more realistic and valid the aspects are in the story. (For me)

What are your thoughts on this? Are there limits to this for you…no matter how comfortable the characters might be?

Author Bio:
A published author of speculative and science fiction, I live in Napa Valley and am married to a wonderful husband. We have 4 children ranging from 3 to 15 and two canine babies. One very evil cat -- of which the dogs fear -- decided to accept our offer of residency and has tolerated us for about 7 years now.

More Information:
Adventures of a Sci-Fi Writer
Email Contact

Friday, February 18, 2011

News From The Publishing World - 18 FEB 2011

Most of my information is taken from the Publisher's Weekly Online edition.

It's been an interesting week in the publishing industry to say the least.

Here a couple of items and my commentary.

1. EBooks continue to do outstanding in today's market. Sales figures reported in 2010 estimate that ebook sales jumped to 164.4% totaling $441.3 million. These figures were reported by 14 publishers who report to the Association of American Publishers. Knowing there are a lot more than 14 publishers out there, I have no doubt the numbers are higher.

Steph's thoughts: ebooks continue to grow in popularity. Ereaders do for books what Mp3s and ITunes have done for music. I see sales steadily continuing to increase.

Question: Is the digital transition to ereaders a cause of economic uncertainty for authors?

Steph's thoughts: I'd love to hear your thoughts on this. Bestselling author Margaret Atwood recently addressed a tech-orientated publishing talk and seemed to believe it was. For me, just knowing how much ebook sales have risen, I would say no, at least from an economic point of view. As far as the traditional publishing model, and the big traditional publishers, there is more room for uncertainty, especially since so much goes into producing, printing, and marketing of print books.

Food for thought: What's the best way to sell an ebook?

2. So what makes this week interesting? The news that major book seller, Borders, has filed for bankruptcy. The bankruptcy will allow Borders to restructure into a leaner book seller. Out of 642 stores in the USA, 200 will close.

What does that mean for authors? For Readers? What did Borders do wrong? Were they too late switching to the ereader Kobo? I'd love to hear your thoughts about Borders and the publishing world this week.


Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine Day - enjoy Elmer's Valentine

Hi all, since it's excerpt Monday I thought I share my little children's story, Elmer's Valentine. It's 545 words and I wrote for my Little Children's class. We did it yesterday for them and they loved it. We had the kids hold up flowers so they could be the flower garden.


and PS - Have a great Valentines Day!

Elmer the Gentlemanbug blew into the garden one day on a breeze. He was called a Gentleman bug because that's what all boy ladybugs were called.

The garden was a busy place. A young girl named Addison pulled the weeds. When she wasn't there, though, there were lots of other bugs to help out.

A family of bees lived near the roses. A family of butterflies made their homes in the daffodils. A little frog hopped through the garden on his way to the pond every day. A family of worms helped to keep the dirt nice and fresh.

Elmer made his home next to the marigolds. He made a small house of sticks and twigs. He had a leaf to sleep on at night and flowers gave him shade when the sun was shining.

One day on his way to visit the violets, Elmer came across a ladybug.

"Hello, my name is Elmer," he said.
"My name is Elena."
"Do you live here?" asked Elmer.

"I live with my parents next to the lilies. I haven't seen you before. Where are you going?"

"I'm on my way to help the bees scatter the pollen dust on the daisies today. Where are you going?" asked Elmer.
"I'm going to look for some grapes."

"I have to get going, It was nice meeting you, Elena."

"Good bye, Elmer."

Every day for a week, Elmer met Elena near the violets. They said hello and talked about what they were going to do that day. Elmer decided he liked Elena very much.

One day, Elmer met Elena by the violets, but it was very windy out. Elmer could barely fly.

"Hello, Elena."

"Hello, Elmer. Be careful today. Daddy says a storm is blowing in."

Elmer flapped his wings. "I will. You, too."

The wind blew harder. Raindrops fell from the sky. Elmer rushed back home and snuggled against the marigolds in his house.
It rained for a very long time. Elmer was a little scared and worried for Elena. He hoped she was okay.

The next day the sun came out. Elmer peeked out of his house. The dirt was wet and the flowers were damp, but all the flowers were okay.

Elmer realized he missed Elena. He cared for his friend very much. Elmer decided to write a Valentine for Elena to tell her how much he valued her friendship. Elmer visited the worms who were busy swimming in a small rain puddle.
"Hello, Worms. Do you have any paper?"

"I saw a bubble gum wrapper near the lilies," said one worm.

"I think the rain washed it in," said another worm.

"Thank you," said Elmer. He buzzed to the lilies and found the wrapper. He wrote: "Elena, I'm glad you're my friend. Be my Valentine, Your friend, Elmer."

When he finished, he flew off to find his friend.

Elena was helping the bees dry off the roses by flapping their wings. Elmer flew up to Elena.

"I was worried about you," said Elmer.

"I was worried about you, too," said Elena.

Elmer handed Elena his valentine. She read it and smiled.

"Thank you, Elmer. It's very pretty. I'm glad you're my friend."

Elmer smiled. He was glad they were friends, too.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Califorina Lighthouse Series - The Santa Cruz Lighthouse

Located on the northern shore of Monterey Bay, the Santa Cruz lighthouse was originally built in 1868.

I've always enjoyed visiting the ocean, and while I've never seen too many lighthouses, I find them fascinating. They capture the ambience of the romance of the seas. Each lighthouse has it's own unique story which I hope to share with you during these series on California Lighthouses.

The Santa Cruz lighthouse has a rich, sentimental history. It was a wooden structure with a tower modeled after the light at Ediz Hook, WA. Originally, the light was white, but soon was changed to red, so it could be distinguished from the various residential lights in the area.

Interestingly only ten years after it was built, the lighthouse faced destruction from erosion. It was moved 300 feet to firmer ground by several horses. The mover was paid $750.00 for the job! (in 1879)

What gives a lighthouse its personality are the people who care for it though. Every lighthouse has a story.

The Santa Cruz lighthouse's first caretaker was Adna Hecox. He moved into the lighthouse with his family in 1870. He provided for his family by growing a garden and keeping chicken. He passed away in 1883 and his daughter, Laura, become the next caretaker.

Laura was paralyzed on one side of her body, but she didn't let that slow her down. She became an avid amateur marine biologist, well respected by her peers and professors around the country. She retired in 1916.

Arthur Anderson became the caretaker after Laura. Electricity made his job easier. He retired in November 1940 and in 1941, the Coast Guard assumed responsibility for the light. With World War II, the Coast Guard turned the lighthouse into a lookout and the 54th Coast Artillery Regiment, an all-African-American unit, was assigned to the lighthouse with the mission to protect the coastline.

In 1948, the lighthouse, was dismantled, and it's lumber was used for other projects. In 1965, a family tragedy would give Santa Cruz a new lighthouse.

Mark Abott was 18 and drowned while body surfing off the waters 3 miles east of Santa Cruz, Mark's family, knowing his love for the ocean and lighthouses, built the Mark Abbott Memorial Lighthouse on the land the old lighthouse had stood on.

Since then, the lighthouse has been home to the Santa Cruz surfing museum. Currently the Santa Cruz Surfing Club Preservation Society runs the lighthouse museum. Bits of Laura's collection of shells can still be found today at the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History.

Do you have a favorite lighthouse you like to visit?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Guest Author Series - Author Danielle Thorne talks about her Sony e-reader

Author Danielle Thorne

STEPH: Welcome to to my ebook reader series, Dani. Can you tell us a little about yourself?

DANIELLE: Hi, Steph. I've been working online for over twelve years in various capacities. Besides reviewing and editing, I'm the author of five published books. Most of my free time is spent reading when I'm not outside or volunteering for school and church.

STEPH: What ebook reader to you have? How long have you had it?

DANIELLE: I received the Sony eReader (PRS-600) for Christmas in 2009. It also came with a black leather cover and a reading light.

STEPH: What do you like the most about it?

DANIELLE: The two things I like best are first, the cover, which makes it look like a small, leather bound notebook. It's easy to carry around. As far as the features, I like the ability to turn pages by tapping the screen. There are very few buttons to the Sony.

STEPH: What do you like the least about it?

DANIELLE: I do wish the Sony was backlit, but most readers don't have this capability that I've seen. The biggest downside for me, is that it isn't Wi-Fi capable. I have to download books to my computer then transport them from the computer to the reader with the accessory cord.

The only problem I have had is on occasion, it doesn't charge. I'm never sure if it's me or the Reader, but I've read a couple places online that others have this problem. It may be the charger, I don't have details on that. However, whenever I reset it and recharge it, everything is fine.

STEPH: What features are unique to your Sony?

DANIELLE: Because I have an "older" model, I think most of today's readers have the same features such as enlarging the text, making bookmarks and notes, and a dictionary. This reader also comes with a stylus so handwritten notes are possible if you need to make some in a pinch. You can also load photos.

STEPH: Is loading books onto the Sony easy?

DANIELLE: Loading is easy once you are familiar with the "Sony Library" software, but it is time-consuming compared to the Wi-Fi click and buy process.

STEPH What are some of the pros to your book reader?

DANIELLE: I definitely feel it's a quality product. I also like that it doesn't tie me down to any particular bookstore like the Kindle does with Amazon. I can even download doc.'s to my Sony, so that's a nice perk. It opens several types of files. I prefer to use PDF's.

STEPH: Was price a factor when you bought it?

DANIELLE: Not at the time, but it would be for a future purchase if I replaced it.

STEPH: Anything else you'd like to tell us about the Sony?

DANIELLE: I'm still on the fence for which brand to buy for my next reader, but if Sony came out with a Wi-fi version like the Kindle, I'd buy it in a heartbeat.

Danielle Thorne

STEPH: Thanks for popping in and sharing, Dani!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Genre Tuesday - Putting the Conflict in Romance

By Stephanie: Burkhart

Let's face it – the minute readers pick up a romance they know there's going to be a happy ending. So why pick up a romance at all? Ultimately it's about going on the journey the couple takes to fall in love and how they overcame the conflicts they faced.

So what is romantic conflict? The difficulty the couple faces that threaten to keep them from getting together and making a commitment to one another.

Conflict should not be:
A delay
A meddler
Or an unwillingness to admit the other person is attractive.

In all honesty, a reader is not attracted to a couple who constantly argues. It's all right to have an argument or two, but constant bickering does not make the reader root for the characters.

Misunderstandings make the main characters appear incapable of making themselves clear. It's hard to root for a wishy-washy hero.

A meddler – if another person interferes in the budding relationship of the hero and heroine, then they look too passive. Again, it's hard for a reader to root for them.

If the hero/heroine can't admit the other is attractive then why root for them to be a couple to begin with?

So what is good solid romantic conflict?

Short and long term problems.

Short term problem: This is the problem which brings the couple together. This problem lets the couple get to know one another. Perhaps its to solve a crime or overcome a bad situation.

Long term problem: This is the deep problem, the internal conflict which makes it seem impossible for the couple to get together. It may be a fear of rejection or of being hurt again.

Recall some of your favorite romances. Was there a meddler? A delay? A misunderstanding? Probably not. That type of conflict in a romance may be an incident, but ultimately, they don't give the story the realistic conflict needed for the characters' journey.

Reference: On Writing Romance, by Leigh Michaels, 2007, F&W Publications.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Guest Author Series - Author Shirley Kiger Connelly talks about Amazon Kindle Ereader

STEPH: Welcome to to my ebook reader series, Shirley. Can you tell us a little about yourself?

SHIRLEY: I’m not only a writer but an avid reader of just about anything, I think. When I’m not writing books (fiction and nonfiction), or teaching, or moving furniture around, or out with my animals, I’m reading or researching.
My husband and I live on the southern coast of Oregon about two blocks from the harbor.
That’s just a little about me.

STEPH: What ebook reader to you have?

SHIRLEY: I have the Kindle

STEPH: How long have you had it?

SHIRLEY: Got my first Kindle early last year. It strangely went kaput on me, so I called up the ones in charge (somebody over there at Amazon who does Kindle stuff) and told them my Kindle not working. They just said send it back and another was on its way to me, no charge, within days with all the information back on it again. I couldn’t have been more thrilled.

STEPH: What do you like the most about it?

SHIRLEY Oh, wow, let’s see. Probably that I can download a bazillion “samples” of books before I have to make a decision to purchase them. I really love that. (Can I add another reason?) That would be that, with my handy-dandy leather, snap shut case, I can hold it like a book which makes it more comfortable for me, yet it doesn’t take up much room anywhere. So now instead of three or four small books stuffed in my tote or purse, I just stick my Kindle there and I have a lot more than those three or four books to choose to read if my mood changes.

STEPH: What do you like the least about it?

SHIRLEY: Maybe that it’s SOOOOOO easy to purchase something, since it’s immediately THERE, and having to turn on my computer email the next day with the reminder of what I spent the night before.

STEPH: What features are unique to your Kindle?

SHIRLEY: What is unique to me might not be unique at all to someone else. Probably it’s that I can highlight a word that jumps out at me when I’m reading and know it goes in a special “Shirley” file for me to later look at. Or being able to see the definition of a word I don’t often see, and getting a clearer understanding of why it’s been used.

STEPH: Is loading books onto the Kindle easy?

SHIRLEY: I haven’t tried downloading (or is it uploading?) a PDF from over on my computer to my Kindle, although I know it can be done. I just haven’t tried to figure it out yet. But otherwise loading is very, very easy. I also love that my daughter, who can’t yet afford the handheld Kindle could download the Kindle program onto her computer and read whatever she wants right there. That’s so great.

STEPH What are some of the pros to your book reader?

SHIRLEY: Access to books, any books, my favorite books, my favorite authors. Quick access to research material.

STEPH: Was price a factor when you bought it?

SHIRLEY: Price is always a factor for me, but thankfully with Amazon I am in the Prime membership so shipping for me is always free. (Unfortunately it opens up more temptations for me to buy more. That’s the intention isn’t it?)

STEPH: Anything else you'd like to tell us about the Kindle?

SHIRLEY: Well, if you like to color coordinate, you can do so with the skins to protect the outside of your Kindle (all styles and colors) and you can get all kinds of little Kindle holders. Hey ... you can change with what you’re wearing, or to go with your purse, or belt, or shoes, or scarf. It also has that little light you can attach so you can read it in the dark. I’ve also used the audio. I had to laugh when I listened to one of my own books with that. My Southern Belle didn’t sound too much like a French girl from the south, however. And the guy, well, he didn’t sound that romantic. Oh well.

Thanks for being here today, Shirley

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Guest Author Series - Author Gail Delaney talks about B&N Nook Ereader

STEPH: Welcome to to my ebook reader series, Gail. Can you tell us a little about yourself?

GAIL: Gail R. Delaney has been actively writing 'for publication' since 1996. The first novel she ever wrote is still sitting on her computer, waiting for the major rewrite that will make it acceptable. She says she has learned a great deal since writing that book, and it shows when she looks back at that rough draft.

Gail has had several novels published in the genres of contemporary romance, romantic suspense and futuristic romance. Her novels have received several nominations and awards since she was first published in 2005.

Gail and her family recently moved from the cold and blustry east coast to Southern California, and is loving every moment of sunshine she can soak in.

STEPH: What ebook reader to you have? How long have you had it?

GAIL: I have the first generation Nook from Barnes & Noble. It was a pre-order, and I received it as soon as they were ready to ship! ☺ So, I've had it about a year now.

STEPH: What do you like the most about it?

GAIL: I love that I have 67 books in my purse. ☺ I love that I can finish a book at work, and start another one. I love that I can read sitting in the sun wearing sunglasses. I love I can download samples of books before I purchase them. I love the selections I have. I love I can change my font -- make it larger or smaller -- or completely different. I love... okay, maybe that's enough.

STEPH: What do you like the least about it?

GAIL: Hmmmm... I suppose the only 'Kindle Envy' I have is the text-to-voice option that a Nook doesn't have. My Nook can work as an mp3 player if I buy an audiobook, but I love hearing how Kindle users can choose to either read or listen to a book.

STEPH: What features are unique to your Nook?

GAIL: Well, until recently, the whole 'sharing' option was unique, but now you can do that with Kindles. However, to the best of my knowledge, the Nook is the only reader with a fully expandable memory so you can hold a gagillion books rather than just a gazillion. ☺

Also, the Nook has a color/lcd touchpad for navigation, and I can turn the page with a slide of my thumb. ☺

STEPH: Is loading books onto the Nook easy?

GAIL: Exceptionally easy, whether I buy from or not. If I buy at, the next time I turn on my Nook... there they are. ☺ And I can also easily load epub files to my library, and read them as easily and efficiently as if they were bought from I use Calibre, a free ebook library software program, and love it.

STEPH: What are some of the pros to your book reader?

GAIL: I think I rambled on about that in answer #3. LOL

STEPH: Was price a factor when you bought it?

GAIL: For me? In truth... no. It was given to me as a gift. I was asked "So, what do you want... a Kindle or a Nook." I loved the idea of the color touch screen, so I said Nook.

STEPH: Anything else you'd like to tell us about the Nook?

GAIL: Only that I love it, and if you're a 'reader', you deserve one of these.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Announcing my latest release - The Count's Lair

I'd like to announce my latest release, "The Count's Lair," Book Two in the Budapest Moon Series, with Desert Breeze Publishing.

The Count's Lair is a paranormal romance set during Christmastime in Budapest, Hungary 1901.

Here's the BLURB:

Count Anton Varga is haunted by the curse of the moon. It tugs on his emotions, ravishing his soul. Anton abhors the beast he must learn to tame if he is to find peace. 

Lady Amelia Andrássy is an accomplished pianist, but her life in Budapest had been filled with heartache. When Amelia faints in the Duma's bookstore, it's Anton's strong arms that cradle her fall. His unusual indigo eyes spark with hers, replacing their individual loneliness with the promise of feral passion. 

After a two month separation, Anton is ready to walk into Amelia's life again, but is Amelia ready to fan the spark they shared into a flame? 


No snow had fallen yet, but the frost was thick in the morning, the air was cold, and the perennials were bare. Snow would soon follow; he didn't doubt that. He would have to be careful not to let Amelia stay out in the cold too long. Even though she was well dressed, she would get colder faster than he would. They finally turned down a dirt road with a group of evergreen trees on the side. Anton directed Tomas to park on the shoulder of the road.

An abundance of evergreens in all shapes and sizes dotted the wood line. Anton got out and opened Amelia's door. She stood and stretched her legs. He pulled an axe out of the trunk and looked at Bryant.

"Do you mind staying here with Tomas? We won't be long, and the auto will keep you warm."

Bryant looked at Amelia, who nodded. "We'll wait here."

Tomas got back into the auto and turned it on. Amelia stayed beside Anton, and they walked into the woods. He balanced the axe on his
shoulder as if it were a toothpick. While it looked heavy, Anton's unusual strength allowed him to pick it up with ease. They walked into a small clearing surrounded by the trees.

"What size tree do you want?" she asked.

"A medium-sized one, I think. I have a tall ceiling in the den, but I don't want the tree to dominate the room."

"Sounds reasonable."

He slowly walked around the clearing, eyeing the trees. "Do you want me to cut down a tree for you as well?"

She grinned. "How will you get two trees back?"

"I'll return for your tree tomorrow."

"Just pick out yours, Anton. I'll have Bryant get one for me."

Anton looked at her. "Let me be the one to help you with your tree."

"I'm sorry. I'm just so used to depending on Bryant."

"You like the man?"

She softened. "He's like a father to me."


"He taught me Hungarian. He's taught me a lot about Hungary, actually."

"I'm sorry. I suppose I was jealous for a second." He looked at the trees just past her shoulder, as if embarrassed.

Amelia walked over to him and stepped into his personal space. "Bryant is a loyal servant and a good friend, nothing more."

"I see."

Anton's eyes found hers, and her aura flamed up, casting a white shadow over her cloak. Her jasmine perfume infused him with desire. "I could stay here with you all day."

"I'd catch a cold," Amelia said.

"I would put my arms around you and keep you warm."

She raised a curious eyebrow. "All day?"

"I can think of nothing else I'd rather do."

THE COUNT'S LAIR is available as ebook with Kindle, B&N Nook, Kobo, and Sony Ereader.

Here's a link to the Publisher's Website:

Here's a link to the Book Trailer on You Tube: