30 May 2016

5 Reasons Editing is Fun!

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Many writers dread the editing process, whether it's the initial review of a completed first draft or the final polish on a manuscript ready to hit the press.

Going over your work again and again and again starts to draw on a writer's reserves of enthusiasm, confidence, and patience. But it can be fun and rewarding if you take a deep breath and look on the bright side.

Since we've got to edit whether we like it or not, here are my glass-is-half-full top five editing insights.
  1. You KNOW your story is getting better
  2. Catching typos provides HUGE piece of mind
  3. More chances to write the characters you LOVE
  4. Problem solving flexes those PUZZLE muscles
  5. Who doesn't live to KILL their darlings?
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23 May 2016

Theme Thoughts: Love and lust in the midst of disaster

Source: www.istock.com
Have you ever read or watched a story in which characters are falling in love and succumbing to lust during situations that call for their attention to be elsewhere?

It can seem unlikely from a practical angle, but I think the reason we so often relate to love during a disaster is the comfort it offers. The characters (and readers) get a break from the gravity of loss, death, and destruction swirling around them.

To me, NA or new adult characters can be particularly vulnerable to attraction and desire, not because they're in their first relationships, but because they've had a few experiences that allow them to identify the real thing when it hits.

In sci-fi and paranormal action stories, the incorporation of love (the full PNR package) can be challenging because the plot needs to slow down in places long enough for two people to connect, all while keeping the reader engaged within the larger story arc.

In many cases (as happens to Irina and Jonah) the seeds of love are planted before the plot goes sideways taking a sharp turn into catastrophe. How does it go down in The Variant Conspiracy? You'll have to read the books to find out.

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16 May 2016

Watching the movie before you read the book

Source: www.memegenerator.com

Most writers dream about their books being turned into movies. I'll admit, the idea is appealing, but I'm writing this post from the point of view of a reader. Naturally, what all writers have in common - if nothing else - is that we're readers.

As a reader, you concoct characters and settings in your mind, with the writer's descriptive words as your ingredients. The magic happens when your imagination works on those words to produce a wholly unique world. Your personal version of a book will be different than everyone else's. It's pretty special when you think about it.

Watching a movie after you've fallen in love with a story and its characters can be fulfilling or heart-wrenching or both. I know readers who refuse to interact with a single story in both forms; they will choose one or the other to preserve the experience.

I'm not such a purist myself, but I do tend to prefer, book first, movie second. Mostly because a movie tends to dictate my experience with a book if I watch before I read. While on the other hand, I can appreciate the visual interpretation of a written story without losing the world created in my mind by the original.

So it's with a healthy sense of shame that I have to admit I have consumed many a story in film format before reading the book. In spite of knowing that the movie may disrupt my appreciation of the 'real' story.

Redeeming myself, I do have far more book-first experiences under my belt. Hopefully it will stay that way! I'm curious to know how other readers (and writers) feel about this phenomenon.

What is your take? Book first, movie second? One or the other? Does it matter?

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10 May 2016

Quick Calibre tutorial for Kobo users

This one is for my Canadian friends ...

Not long after getting hooked on my Kobo, I discovered that Amazon didn't love my chosen device. I purchased an e-book and transferred via USB to my Kobo. The file was unreadable. Sad, because this is my very first e-reader and I love it. First loves are a rare and precious thing.

So I freaked out a little realizing that the much larger library in Amazon wouldn't be compatible with my EPUB-fuelled Kobo. If I couldn't find a title on Kobo's site, I couldn't read it ... right? Wrong.

After a few encounters with paid converter apps, I found Cailbre.

If you own an e-reader that isn't a Kindle (and you shop on Amazon), you might be interested in downloading this free software. Having Cailbre on your PC means you can convert any e-book to pretty much any format you like.

Got a PDF but need an EPUB? How about a MOBI?

Calibre can sort you out. There is a bit of work involved, but it's shockingly easy. Check out the screen shots below. That's how fast and easy you're up and running. (And for anyone wondering, yes I was a technical writer in another life.)

1. Start with the red book icon labelled Add books.

2. If you've made a purchase on Amazon and delivered to Kindle for PC, you should have a folder called My Kindle Content. Find the file you want to convert and click Open.

3. Make sure the file you're converting is selected within Calibre.

4. Click on Convert books and choose the appropriate Output format. Click OK.

5. Confirm that the desired format appears under the cover on the right hand side of the Calibre window.

6. Open your Calibre Library folder. Locate the folder for your desired title and open. You should find the newly converted format of your book. You can transfer to your Kobo via USB from here.

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09 May 2016

Theme Thoughts: The intersection of sci-fi and the paranormal

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"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."

- Arthur C. Clarke

Inspired by the recent launch of In Irina's Cards (The Variant Conspiracy Book 1), I'm going to start exploring themes from the trilogy as a whole. Hence the term, "Theme Thoughts".

Possibly the broadest theme for the entire trilogy is the exploration of where science and the paranormal overlap. It's a simple idea. Someone who doesn't understand the tech behind a given device, process, food - anything really - will view its form and/or function with awe and perhaps suspicion.

I'm sure we've all wondered what it would be like to show an iPhone to one of our parents in their own childhood. Or better still, demonstrating something now as basic to us as a remote control to a medieval farmer. Magic, right?

Science fiction relies heavily on this notion. To achieve suspension of disbelief, authors must gently convince readers through a story's subtext that the research and technology behind a made-up invention is real and sound.

Because my academic and professional background centres around arts and social sciences, I've always known that any sci-fi I would ever write had to be of the 'soft' variety. In keeping with that perspective, my protagonist, Irina, is not well-versed enough in hard science to relay knowledge of the exact chemistry or mechanics that her friends and co-workers are developing.

While steering clear of technical details may keep the narrative more accessible, it does miss opportunities to craft a stronger story, rooted in believable real-world science.

When discussing this trilogy, I use the term sci-fi because the context of the plot includes genetics, pharmacology, seismology, and botany. I use the term paranormal because central characters have mutations, aka 'variations', that move beyond real-world science including psychic abilities such as mind-reading and remote viewing, pyrokinesis, aquakinesis, super-human strength, and many human-animal hybrids.

What are your thoughts? Do you read sci-fi for pure entertainment? Or do you want it to spark ideas for the exploration of actual scientific concepts?

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04 May 2016

In Irina's Cards is finally here!

That's right! You heard me! Release day is here! I'll rein it in to just a few lines so I can get back to dancing. Here is the Amazon page if you're raring to go already.


Irina Proffer leaves mundane small-town life behind when she experiences visions inspired by a strange deck of tarot cards. To get answers, she travels from her northern British Columbia home to the province’s coastal capital. She quickly discovers a world of fringe genetic science and supernatural mystery.
Working for Innoviro Industries, Irina is drawn in by a powerful first love and compelling, yet dangerous questions about the nature of the company’s business. Meeting other ‘variants’ brings Irina closer and closer to the dark truth about her origins. She finds herself at the heart of two overlapping love triangles as she scrambles to escape her employer’s grip.
Before she leaves the city, Irina realizes she has merely scratched the surface of a frightening conspiracy on a global scale.

Get a copy of In Irina's Cards

#NewAdult #NA #sci-fi #paranormal #PNR #TheVariantConspiracy

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02 May 2016

Welcome to Simon Rose and Future Imperfect

It's been many moons since I've had a guest here on my blog. So today I'm very excited to welcome YA author Simon Rose!

He's joining me from Calgary to talk about his new release Future Imperfect, now available from Tyche Books.

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C: Future Imperfect sounds like a fast-paced sci-fi. Can you share your inspiration for the story?

S: Future Imperfect is an exciting technology-driven adventure featuring teenage geniuses, corporate espionage, and mysterious messages. In the novel, we’re introduced to Andrew Mitchell, who was one of the leading experts in highly advanced technology in Silicon Valley, until he vanished following a car accident, which also injured his son, Alex. When a mysterious app later appears on Alex’s phone, he and his friend Stephanie embark on a terrifying journey involving secret technology, corporate espionage, kidnapping, and murder in a desperate bid to save the future from the sinister Veronica Castlewood. The original idea was about someone receiving messages from the future. These would have an impact on something they needed to do in the present to alter the course of events but for a while that's all I had. Like most writers it's sometimes difficult to pinpoint exactly when the inspiration arrived to develop a full-length story from the initial idea, but that's where it all started. The story will appeal to all young readers for whom technology plays such a large role in their lives, whether it’s cell phones, laptops, tablets, gaming, or the online world, but it’s also a very compelling adventure story, with lots of cliffhangers, twists, and turns. There might even be a couple of sequels, but we’ll wait and see what the future holds, I guess.

C: You've written ten novels and six guide books. How do you keep the ideas coming?

S: I don't have much of a problem generating ideas. The books have all been in the science fiction and fantasy genre featuring such themes as time travel, parallel universes, other dimensions, superheroes, history, and the paranormal, so there's never going to be a lack of inspiration when you're dealing with those kinds of topics. The more difficult part is developing the ideas into a story that's going to appeal to readers but I have a number of projects coming up, including two sequels to Flashback, my 2015 paranormal novel, which will be published next year. I'm also working on a trilogy about a dark parallel world and formulating ideas for sequels to The Sphere of Septimus, my fantasy novel that came out last year. The guides for writers all feature tips and advice that I've gathered over the years through my own experiences in the writing and publishing world so again, no shortage of ideas there. I may publish some more of these guides but it's a case of finding the time to dedicate to those projects with all these novels in the works.



C: When did you decide to write for a young audience?

S: Growing up I read a lot of science fiction, fantasy, ghost stories, short story collections, and a tremendous number of comic books. At high school, I studied a great deal of history and have retained my interest in the subject up to the present day. I also read voraciously on ancient civilizations, mysteries, the supernatural, and the unexplained. I always had lots of ideas for stories but never thought about creating my own novels  until I became a parent. Around that time the Harry Potter books appeared, as well as The Golden Compass and its sequels, and these books inspired me to create stories about the topics that interested me.

C: It sounds like you wear several hats in addition to writing fiction. How does it all fit together?

S: It's all connected in many ways. The nonfiction books are for children and young adults and the guides for writers are for adults that wish to write for young readers. This is the focus of the classes and courses I run with Mount Royal University and the University of Calgary, as well as most of my own online workshops and coaching courses. My corporate writing for social media, blogs, and websites, along with magazine articles, might seem unrelated but it's still all about writing. The same applies to my screenplays or my work with other authors with regards to coaching and editing. I work in all genres not just in children's fiction or nonfiction. Last year I worked with authors on a memoir, a Christmas story for young adults, an inspirational book, a biography, and some fantasy novels for adult and children.

C: Do you have any advice for aspiring authors on how to get started?

S: Writing is in some ways the easy part. It can be a very long process not only to write a book, but also to get it published. A book is a marathon measured in years rather than weeks or months. Don’t be afraid to revise and revise over and over again. Most authors go through many revisions before their work reaches its final format. Remember too that your book will never be to everyone’s taste, so don’t be discouraged. A firm belief in your own success is often what’s necessary. After all, if you don’t believe in your book, how can you expect other people to?

Read as much as you can and write as often as you can. Keep an ideas file, even if it’s only a name, title, sentence or an entire outline for a novel. You never know when you might get another piece of the puzzle, perhaps years later. You also mustn’t forget the marketing. You may produce the greatest book ever written. However, no one else is going to see it if your book doesn’t become known to potential readers. Be visible as an author. Do as many readings, signings and personal appearances as you can. Get your name out there and hopefully the rest will follow. Especially for newly published authors, books don’t sell themselves and need a lot of help.