Showing posts from 2014

Plotting a Series . . . Like Riding the Tiger

When I decided to pull the original manuscript of Dark Rainbow's End into thirds, I thought I was a little nuts. I remember the day pretty well. I'd been rejected by pretty much every publishing company on the planet and the last one stung a little bit. A four hundred page book they said they thought was a little rushed. Rushed? How could four hundred pages of anything be rushed? Anyway, after I was done with my pout, I opened the file and started to skim through. As I skimmed a crazy idea began to wiggle its way to the forefront of my brain. Maybe they were right?

So, I opened three blank word files, named them very cleverly: "book 1," "book 2," and "book 3" and ripped the manuscript into thirds. Then I saved the original file the way it always was and took a close look at the twenty-seven thousand words and change that I had of book one. It was always a matter, for the trilogy, of filling in the blanks. I knew where the story was headed. I knew …


It's that time of year when we all pull out some traditions. For some, it's the insane rush of shopping in the wee hours of Black Fridays. For others, it's feet up and the game on Thanksgiving Day. Still more, pull the Christmas lights out of attics and basements and begin decking the halls.

As writers, we have the unique opportunity to allow our imaginations to go wild and create some new traditions for the worlds we've spun out of nothing but vain fancy, to paraphrase Shakespeare. I know, it's a little bit of an oxymoron, creating new traditions, but I believe that inserting those bits of culture into a book gives it so much more depth than ignoring them. Think about it. If our characters inhabit stale worlds with no traditions, not in dress, celebration or food, we've got pretty cardboard characters. What are they fighting to save? What are they struggling towards? That simple Midwinter's Celebration that your character's mother has had for as long …

Technical Difficulties

So, I turned forty last month. Right at the end of last month to be precise. As such, I raised a few glasses, opened a few presents and ate way too much cake. The big gift I received was a new computer. I'll admit I needed a new one. My last laptop was great. It survived three post grad classes, I don't know how many student papers, and three novels. However, it was slower than a flock of turtles stampeding uphill through peanut butter. It also had an unfortunate accident. I'd had it plugged in on the dining room table. I needed to keep it plugged in since the battery couldn't hold a charge anymore. The two dogs and the small one flew through the dining room, hooked the cord and down it flew. Thankfully it didn't actually break. Thank God, I hadn't pulled all my pictures off the computer yet and there were at least four unfinished books on there. However, the adapter cord just didn't work anymore. I needed to tape it into the computer. Tape. Duct tape. Clas…

The View from The Top

So, I'm looking at a big birthday at the end of this month. I don't know if it's a trick or a treat, but by Halloween I'll be the big 4-0. I know, I know, I know . . . there will be a bevy of "over the hill" jokes. I found my first silver hair this week--a bright, Christmas tree tinsel silver and my students are making me feel really old. I'm older than a lot of their parents even though my little girl is only in first grade. Of course, they routinely make my twenty-something year old colleagues feel like little old lady or men.

I know my dad too. A flock of vultures will come to roost on the front lawn. Don't worry, I'll post pictures. My brother in law is looking forward to the payback. I decided against having a big birthday bash. It's not fair at all. When my husband turned 40 I threw him a huge party, but I put the kibosh on that for me. My birthday's at the end of October when the weather in Chicagoland is sliding from chilly to bit…

Planning and Plotting

I'm at an interesting point right now. For the last couple of years I've been trucking away on the trilogy. I had a plan. I knew what I needed to write next. I knew where one book ended, I had a very clear direction and a plan. I also had Ascent of the Fallen tucked in there. It had been an idea born in traffic on a miserable March day on a school bus filled with 8th graders who's just woken up from their Romeo and Juliet length nap. There too, I had an idea. I changed the direction a few times, but I still had a plan.

Now, not so much. There's no plan. There's no clear successor to my time waiting in the wings. There are no characters I know as well as myself stalking me, tapping me on the shoulder and insisting that I write their stories NOW! I have a few new characters, but we're still in the "getting to know you" stage. I don't really know them, I don't know what they want or need, or where they will eventually go. I have vague plans on th…

Selling Your Soul, but Making A Profit!

It's all about who you know, isn't it? This past weekend I had a great time at the Villa Park Library's Author Showcase. There were more authors in attendance (about 12-15 of us) than there were audience members, but it was still a really good time. The weather was iffy--freezing with pellets of spitting rain, then almost too warm for the tights and boots I'd worn. We all got to give a five minutes spiel on ourselves, our books, our writing process. Alrighty then. That pretty much killed the hour. The ranges of experience and age in the writers was phenomenal--a kid right out of college to a great grandmother who had spoken before Congress on the landmark special education law PL94-142. I'm an education geek so that last one was pretty cool to me. There were self-published authors, those of us with indie labels, and one mass market author who actually made her living writing four books a year for Harlequin.

We talked, we exchanged business cards and ideas. We discu…

Welcome to Cynthia Ley!

It is really my pleasure to have Cyn here today. Not only, does she have a new book for everyone to check out, she's also a fabulous editor. She's edited my last two novels and does a wonderful job. I'm so happy to be able to be working with her again. I just hope she doesn't decide to drop editing completely in the future, in favor of writing. I'd be lost!

I came up with a few questions for Cyn. So, sit back, relax and learn a little bit more about one of Solstice's newest authors.

Thank you for having me, Rebecca! It's a pleasure.

1. Where did you get the ideas for your most recent project?
All over. I think writers need to be a bit hyper-observant, whether of the world around them, or the world they are creating.

2. What is the easiest part about writing for you?
When it's ready, just writing the story. The tweaking comes later. I'll often scribble a rough sketch of part of a story, but not necessarily the beginning! Then …

The End of An Era

Twenty-four years. I think that's how long Aerin and Robyn have been bouncing around inside my head. Hundreds of pages, thousands of words and many, many years and here we are at the end. Part of me can't believe that I just sent in the second edits of Dark Rainbow's End--Book three of what became The Star Circle Trilogy. It was originally all called Dark Rainbow's End so it was very important to me to keep that title. Clare and I came up with the idea a long time ago. It's been changed so many times that only a few of the names are the same as the original version.

So, in a couple of weeks, Dark Rainbow's End will be on the figurative shelves and that era of my life is over. I have other stories to tell. Lots of them. I just hope I can find enough time to write them all down because I believe that you can't write the great American novel without living the great American life. For right now though, I think I'll take a quiet moment and lift a glass for …

Guest Author--Bernard Foong Young

Initiation: A Harem Boy's Saga Book 1 just came out in May and seems to be turning some heads. I think the best thing to do is start off with the book blurb:

"This provocative story is about an adolescent who was initiated into a clandestine sexual society. He was spirited to the Middle East, from his UK boarding school. He attended the Bahriji School (Oasis,) in The United Arab Emirates in preparation for serving in Harems for the wealthy and elite.

It is also a love story between the young man and his ‘Valet’ who served as his chaperone and mentor during the boy’s Harem service.

Author’s note:

I had a privileged and unique upbringing in Malaysia. Following in my brothers' footsteps, I was sent to an exclusive boarding school in England. It is there that I was inducted into a clandestine organization, E.R.O.S. The Enlightened Royal Oracle Society. For four years, unbeknownst to my family, I was willingly and happily part of a Harem.

My story has been kept u…

A Measure of Immortality

I've lost several of my favorite writers over the last couple of years. Anne McCaffrey, David Eddings, Elizabeth Peters just to name a few. I remember picking up a copy of Dragonriders for $.50 in a barrel at a used bookstore. I remember sitting silently in the Museum of Science and Industry waiting for the judges to come around for the Regional Science Faire in 8th grade while I read Guardians of the West. Eddings was my first frustrating experience in waiting for the sequel to come out. I read the first series The Belgariad in a matter of weeks then tore in Guardians when I was able to get it away from Dad. Then there was that long slog until the next book came out. An entire year! When you're thirteen, that's like waiting in dog years. As for Elizabeth Peters--we were on vacation and I finished reading The Ape Who Guards the Balance and I made my husband find a mall so I could find a bookstore and buy He Shall Thunder in the Sky RIGHT NOW!!!

They're all gone now. Ad…

Welcome to Crackerberries Anderson!!

Today I welcome one of my fellow Solstice authors--Crackerberries. She's an amazing writer with a great sense of humor (seriously--you need to read some of the answers, I was rolling) who's also celebrating a birthday today. So, let's learn a little bit more about her . . .