Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Belated Birthday Bash!!!!

Happy belated birthday to me!
Happy belated birthday to me!
Happy belated birthday to me-eee!

So how about a nice giveaway?

Yup! Yesterday was my birthday. I was going to run this little giveaway then, but I was called in to work at the last minute. (Seriously. As a sub, I usually feel "safe" once it hits 8a.m. Not so yesterday!)

I had a great day despite having to work. Hubby was out of town (that wasn't the great part.) so daughters and I went out to dinner. We laughed a lot, had some good food, laughed some more. Kids made me a couple of little gifts and cards. I have always loved getting handmade gifts from them and this year was no exception. Thanks, girls!

Since I missed posting yesterday, I want to celebrate the next 364 days (or is it 365 because 2012 is a Leap Year?)by having a giveaway this week. It's very easy. Tell me about your best or worst gift ever. Doesn't have to be a birthday present. Any occasion that you received something and went "OH!" for whatever reason : ) I'll randomly pick a commentor and you can choose a $25 gift card/certificate to Amazon, B&N, or another major outfit (need to keep things legit, of course) or I will donate the $25 to a reputable charity of your choice in your name. Seriously, you pick and I get it for you. That way you know you'll get what you want! Oh, and you will also win a copy of Rulebreaker if you don't already have one ; ) I'll pick a birthday winner on Sunday October 2. Remember to leave your email addy!

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Monday, September 26, 2011


How lucky we are! SF author Robert Appleton is here today with the next installment of his five part series AND this is the release day for his newest book, Sparks in the Cosmic Dust from Carina Press!


Or Thru the Black Hole

iPod fully charged. Check. Assorted Jerry Goldsmith, John Williams, James Horner, Holst and other cosmic composers set to continuous play. Check. Phone off. Check. John Carter of Mars & Dejah Thoris and Luke & Yoda posters nicely lit on the wall. Check. Sisyphean mindset in place. Um, check. Genius in place. I wish. Ideas racing at light speed. CHECK-CHECK-CHECK...

It’s hard to describe the moment-to-moment process of actually writing the book without sounding pretty insane. Sure, I’m using the craft I’ve learned painstakingly over years of storytelling. I can describe to you the structure and the characters and the worldbuilding and how to create tension and emotion. But what I can’t tell you is exactly how I combine all those, moment to moment, to spin the threads uniquely mine.

Without coming across as too goofy, I will say that while anyone with a competent grasp of language can learn the nuts and bolts required to write a novel, you have to take it far beyond that. Not that I’ve mastered this gig yet—I don’t think you ever really do—but what makes a strong piece of storytelling stand out from the crowd is, for me, something that can’t be taught. It’s the moment to moment intuition, the descriptive flights of fancy, the feel for tension and emotion in a given scenario, the insights into human behaviour you’ve picked up over a lifetime. You don’t know for sure they’re going to work on the page but you trust your instincts anyway.

Writing is generating those sparks in cosmic dust and using them to light your way.

You can’t be that intense all the time, of course. Knowing when to step off the gas is just as important in novel writing. You don’t want to exhaust the reader. And the best way to ensure that is to keep the writing smooth and natural: pacing is another intuitive skill, probably the easiest one to get wrong when you’re wrapped up in the grammar mechanics and the plot points and the million other factors jostling for your attention. There comes a point where you have to just glide and let your instincts take over, otherwise you’d be agonising for a year over each chapter.

The hardest scenes for me to write in Sparks in Cosmic Dust were those with group dialogue. It’s like acting all the parts in a play on your own, and each character has to have a unique voice while also driving the story forward. I’m at my best with one on one dialogue—I like generating friction in the backs and forths—but in a five-strong group, it’s harder to settle into a groove. It’s also hard to give each character equal weight. While it’s often necessary to focus on one or two in the scene, you have to at least consider the others’ POV, even if they’re not speaking.

The easiest chapters were, strangely enough, the action scenes. There are quite a few in Sparks, especially in the second half. But I’ve found from past experience that my action scenes flow much better if I write them in one go. The ebb and flow requires continuity, and any time I have to stop-start, I lose that momentum. One extended chase/fight scene ending on the beach of Zopyrus I had to spread over two chapters, but I made sure I got the whole thing done in two days. It also had an emotional climax, which may have ultimately worked better because I was so exhausted. The desperation the characters felt mirrored my own.

I outlined thirty-odd chapters before I wrote Sparks, giving a paragraph for each chapter. That’s always the most critical part of novel writing for me in that the story arcs have to work in condensed form before I even think about embarking on the journey into the black hole. Chapters evolve as I write, but for the most part that initial outline is close to the end product.

It took me three months to write Sparks, and another one to edit it before submission. That’s a pretty quick turnaround, especially the latter part. I think the confidence gained from having written four previous novels allowed me to loosen up and trust my intuition this time. The result is my most ambitious and probably my most consistent SF book yet.

Today is launch day for Sparks in Cosmic Dust! Woohoo! To celebrate, I’m posting a five-part look at the book’s development, from initial concept to book launch. I'm also giving away one SF title from my back catalogue with each segment, ending with a special Sparks giveaway. The winners will be all announced on September 30th on my own blog:

Here’s where you can find the other installments:

Part 1: Concept (Aug 31)—Contact: Infinite Futures Blog
Part 2: Character (Sep 13)—Mercurial Times (my blog)
Part 4: The Writing Process (Sep 23)—Shawn Kupfer’s Blog
Part 5: Publication (Sep 28)—Carina Press Blog

With this fourth installment, I’m giving away one set of The Eleven Hour Fall trilogy ebooks. To enter, either leave a comment here on Cathy’s blog or send me an email at with SPARKS GIVEAWAY FOUR in the subject line. Don’t forget to give your name.

Good luck!

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Friday, September 23, 2011

A Little Perception with Heather Cashman

Finding new-to-me authors and sharing their fabulous stories with folks is one of my favorite things to do. Becoming friends with them is a perk I will never grow tired of.

Today, I have the lovely and gracious Heather Cashman here. I was supposed to have Heather visit last week, but I totally dropped the ball and she agreed to do a super quick gathering of material for me.

Her novel Perception: Book One of the Tiger Eye Trilogy is a lush YA fantasy:

Your perception will sharpen once you see through a tiger’s eyes.

More than five hundred years after the apocalypse, the survivors of off-grid genetic experimentation have refined their mixed DNA to the point that humans and their animal counterparts share physical and mental links. Varying species have divided into districts, living in a tenuous peace under the President of Calem.

Ardana and her tiger ingenium Rijan leave their life of exile and abuse in the Outskirts, setting out with their twin brothers to redeem themselves and become citizens of the Center. But shedding their past isn’t as easy as they had hoped. When the system that shunned them becomes embroiled in political conflict and treachery, their unique abilities and experiences from the Outskirts make them invaluable to every faction. The runaways become pawns to friends as well as enemies, and with every step it becomes more difficult to tell which is which.

I asked Heather a few questions about her writing and life in general.

How long have you been writing and what prompted you to begin?

HC: I've been writing seriously for about five years now, but have loved to write ever since I was in elementary school. During the mundane tasks of the day (laundry, dishes), my mind would wander to far off locations. I would entertain myself with imagination. When my children went to school, I found a few hours to begin writing the stories down. It took me a long time to study how to write, and I am still working on making my writing better every day.

What is it about your preferred genre(s) that interests you most?

HC: I like Fantasy. It's like creating something all your own, completely unique, where anything goes and you set the rules.

Perception is set in an amazing world full of complex characters. What do you like best about creating such a fantastic setting? What is the hardest part?

HC: I think what I enjoyed the most was discovering the world. It was like taking a really amazing vacation. The most difficult part was taking something I saw so clearly and writing it in such a way that someone else could visualize it, though I'm not sure anyone will ever see it quite the way I do. The original manuscript was over 150,000 words, a lot of which was setting that I cut out to tighten it.

Are the other books out or coming soon? What else are you working on?

HC: YES! I am hoping to have book two, Deception, out by December 1st, but I want to make sure it is top quality before I release it. So Dec. 1st is not a set date, just a goal. The final book, Insurrection, should be out mid-2012. I am also writing a prequel, Resurrection, that will be out late 2012.

My other project is a YA Urban Fantasy, which I hope to have finished by the end of this year.

Juggling work, family and a writing career can take its toll. How do you keep the balance? What do you do for yourself (other than write)?

HC: Deep breath. I accept the wrinkles appearing from lack of sleep, try to keep my head up, and remember that I am doing this because I love to write, not because I care how many books I've sold. I actually wrote an article for a fellow author that you can find here called "Staying On the Roof." It talks about finding balance through tradition (of all things).

What I do for myself--my kids call them "Blow-out Nights." I buy about fifteen kinds of junk food, set them in bowls on the coffee table, and we watch back-to-back episodes of the shows we've missed. I go to bed sometime the next morning feeling sick. Somehow it cures me.

Sounds like you're a busy woman who knows how to keep things in perspective! Thanks for coming by, Heather!

Find Perception
at Heather's
or on Amazon
or Barnes&Noble Nook

Find Heather
at her website, on her blog, or on Twitter

Heather Cashman graduated from the University of Arizona with a Bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry but has always loved to write, winning her first contest in the second grade. Married since 1992, she has three unique children and has moved from Arizona to New York to Kansas. She loves to kayak and canoe down the windiest rivers she can find. She welcomes opportunities to visit schools, libraries, and book groups in person or via Skype. Born in Tucson, Arizona, Heather currently lives near Wichita, Kansas with her husband and three children.

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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Here and There

Going visiting and having visitors is always a lot of fun. Like swapping houses a la the movie The Holiday.

So, I'm visiting the Fantasy, Futuristic & Paranormal chapter of the RWA today. I give my $0.02 on revisions. Pop in and say hi.

On Friday, the lovely and gracious Heather Cashman will be here. I have a few questions about her life as a writer and her fantasy novel Perception.

Look for more visitors and visitings in the next couple of weeks.

And don't forget your copy of Rulebreaker : )

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Saturday, September 10, 2011

Warm Fuzzy Feeling

During the Rulebreaker Blog Tour I was lucky enough to be a guest on several fabulous blogs. There were several giveaways of the book and I received some lovely responses from winners.

One of those winners, author Misty Simon reviewed Rulebreaker on her blog. Misty told me that while she'd never read F/F before she had been looking for one to try. Having someone new to the genre enjoy your story is a warm fuzzy that writers crave. Okay, maybe that's just me, but I don't think so : )

Anyway, I want to say thanks to Misty and to all the other folks reading my book, perhaps getting a first taste of a new genre. You all make my day!

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