Archive for November, 2014

Sandy after licking snow First, Happy Thanksgiving to all my readers. I’m grateful for so many things in my life including those readers who pick up (or download) one of my books and read it. Though, I’m not sure I’m especially thankful for yesterday’s snow.

Second, I hope some of you are planning on attending Chessiecon this weekend. It’s a small science-fiction/ fantasy convention with quite a bit of steampunk programming. I’ll have art in the art show, be participating on both writing and art panels, be reading from Owl Light, be selling and signing books, and have some of my art, etc. in the vendors’ area. Please stop by and say, “Hello.”

Third, I’ll be a next Saturday’s Authors & Artists Holiday Sale at the Bel Air (Maryland) Armory. Again, I’ll have books and art available for purchase for you or holiday gift-giving.

Fourth, The Gunpowder Review 2014 is complete and currently undergoing a little editorial and typesetting polishing. I expect it to be published soon. (Contributors will be hearing from me shortly).

Lastly, I’ve been out of town visiting family, and have fallen behind on my posts. Don’t worry, I have lots of interesting links and posts to share over the next few weeks.

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My husband and I recently attended the wedding of the son of life-long friends. We were sitting at a table with 3 other couples – all of whom were in their late 20s or early 30s. Up until the time the main course arrived, these 6 potential readers were busy texting and using twitter. A quick glance around the reception hall revealed almost all potential readers under 40 years of age were likewise engaged online with their phones.

Note to self: Find a way to reach those readers!

This is an interesting article on how even the big publishers realize social media is the way to reach younger readers.

What do you think? Do writers need to engage readers on social media? Readers, do you like it when writers reach out to you via twitter, etc.?

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First, let’s cut to the chase, it’s hard to get a book reviewed unless you’re a big name author. That said, it’s hard, but not impossible. And book reviews, especially if positive and posted on blogs and sites like Amazon can make a reader pause and consider looking at your book. (Notice I did NOT say “buy,” rather “look at.”)

I thought this blog post was helpful.

Readers, do you pay any attention to reviews when deciding whether to purchase a book?

I hope you’re enjoying my blog posts and links. Want to show some love? Visit my Amazon page and consider buying a book. 🙂

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Thomas Jefferson’s way with words gave him an important role in the founding of the United States of America. I’ve been to his beautiful home in Virginia, Monticello, and recommend visiting it. One of my favorite quotes from Thomas Jefferson expresses my feelings exactly:

“I cannot live without books.” – Thomas Jefferson

How about you? Could you live without books, or would it be like living without oxygen for you?

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Sandra Ulbrich Almazan Thanks to author Sandra Ulbrich Almazan for stopping by and sharing Seasons Beginning’s journey from short story to novel. Enjoy!

From Short Story to Novel by Sandra Ulbrich Almazan

“A long time ago (but not in a galaxy far, far away), I wrote a short story called “Demon’s Diamond.” I never submitted it anywhere, as it was a story I’d written just for me to help me understand the fantasy world I was writing about in my novels. The story focused on an incident that triggered a magical vendetta against an entire nation. (This vendetta is the focus of later stories in this world.) I did put the short story on my old website, but I have no idea if anyone read it.

Many years later, I revisited that fantasy world and decided it was time to expand on that short story. I’d come up with new ideas about how magic worked, what the characters were like, and how the history in the short story related to the main story I wanted to tell. But starting with a story of about 5,000 words and expanding it to nearly 80,000 words is a daunting prospect. Where do you start?

There are two main ways one can turn a short story into a novel: you can add more material throughout the story to lengthen it, or you can use the ending of the short story as a plot point in the book and develop the events that occur after it. I wound up doing a combination of both.

Demon’s Diamond” became Part One of Seasons’ Beginnings and grew to nearly 18,000 words. Obviously the pacing of this section is more leisurely than that of the short story. Much of the material I added develops the characters and the world. We get to see more background of the main characters that explains why they make the choices they do. Some characters who play a more important role later on in the story are shown briefly, as are some of the locations. Some material was added to the climax, and I had to change some details to be consistent with my overall plans for the series, but the ending of Part One is similar to that of “Demon’s Diamond.”

Although adding new material to the end of a story sounds easier than reworking the entire story, that wasn’t the case for this book. Perhaps it would have been if Part Two started immediately after Part One. However, about a year elapsed between the two parts of this story, and that break was jarring for my beta readers. I originally wrote Seasons’ Beginnings with just chapter breaks, not part breaks, but I identified Parts One and Two to make the transition more obvious. The first scene of Part Two is set in the same location as the first scene of Part One. I set that up deliberately to show the changes that had happened to my character in the meantime. I also added a brief conversation at the start of Part Two where my main character talks about some of the key events that happened between Parts One and Two. This helps orient the reader before returning her to the main plot.

Seasons rgb, FINAL, med, low res Whether you write short stories, novels, or both, I hope my writing experiences have given you some ideas you can try with your own stories. If you’re a reader, I hope you enjoyed this glimpse into the writing process. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.”

For your reading pleasure, here’s the Seasons’ Beginnings Blurb:

“Kron Evenhanded is an artificer, able to enchant any man-made object, but he finds people more difficult to work with. When he visits the city of Vistichia, he encounters Sal-thaath, an extremely magical but dangerous child created by Salth, another magician Kron knew at the Magic Institute. Kron attempts to civilize Sal-thaath, but when his efforts lead to tragedy, Kron is forced to ally himself with a quartet of new deities and their human Avatars. Together they must defend Vistichia as Salth attempts to drain its life and magic. But Salth has Ascended halfway to godhood over Time. Will Kron’s artifacts be enough to protect the Avatars, especially the woman he loves, or will Time separate them?”

About the Author: Sandra Ulbrich Almazan started reading at the age of three and only stops when absolutely required to. Although she hasn’t been writing quite that long, she did compose a very simple play in German during middle school. Her science fiction novella Move Over Ms. L. (an early version of Lyon’s Legacy) earned an Honorable Mention in the 2001 UPC Science Fiction Awards, and her short story “A Reptile at the Reunion” was published in the anthology Firestorm of Dragons. Other published works by Sandra include Twinned Universes and several science fiction and fantasy short stories. She is a founding member of Broad Universe, which promotes science fiction, fantasy, and horror written by women. Her undergraduate degree is in molecular biology/English, and she has a Master of Technical and Scientific Communication degree. Her day job is in the laboratory of an enzyme company; she’s also been a technical writer and a part-time copyeditor for a local newspaper. Some of her other accomplishments are losing on Jeopardy! and taking a stuffed orca to three continents. She lives in the Chicago area with her husband, Eugene; and son, Alex. In her rare moments of free time, she enjoys crocheting, listening to classic rock (particularly the Beatles), and watching improv comedy.

To learn more about Sandra and her books, visit at her website, blog, Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads.

Like to buy one of Sandra’s books? Here are a Buy Link for Amazon (Kindle) and Createspace (paper).

Thanks again to Sandra Ulbrich Almazan for her guest post. Watch Whimsical Words for more guests, Quotable Wednesdays, Owl Posts, blogs from me, and occasional Readers & Writers Recipes. Have a magical day! – Vonnie

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Here’s another blog in the series of owl-focused posts to promote Owl Light, my new YA-friendly collection of stories featuring owls. If you’re a fan of owls, or know someone whooo is, follow my blog, buy my book, and be kind to these beautiful birds.

A few Saturdays ago, I wrote an Owl and Pussy Cat post. This week, I thought I’d give a nod to all the wonderful dogs out there (my beloved Black-Mouthed Cur included). Here are 4 Owl and Dog videos for your enjoyment. Three of them feature the same duo, and the other is a puppy being introduced to an owl.


Owl & Dog One

Owl & Dog Two

Owl & Dog Three

Owl & Dog Four

And, of course, here’s a buy link for Owl Light.

Or buy it from The Owl Pages and help out owls.

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As a writer, one of the tricks to drawing readers into your world is to create well-rounded characters. Characters can’t be just two-dimensional sketches, they must have depth and complexity for readers to care about where they’ve been and what will happen to them now and in the future.

Author Stacy Couch does a nice job of examing well-rounded characters in her recent post on the Maryland/ Delaware/ West Virginia Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators blog, As The Eraser Burns.

Readers, which well-written characters do you enjoy?

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One of my favorite authors, Charles de Lint, writes in The Blue Girl: “Don’t forget – no one else sees the world the way you do, so no one else can tell the stories that you have to tell.”

And that’s why so many of us write. We have stories to tell born from our view of the world, and a desire to reach out to the millions of readers turning pages in the house next-door or thousands of miles away. We hope we’ll find a few souls who hear us – and understand.

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For Browncoats, die-hard fans of the short-lived Firefly television series and Serenity movies, there’s news in the ether.  A Firefly tie-in game is set to release in 2015.

Now, I’m not a gamer, but every time a Firefly related item or book hits the market, I hope for another movie. (As much as I’d love the series to return to television, I’m a realist – Nathan Fillion is having too much success with Castle, and I’m sure he’s signed a long-term contract.)

So Browncoats celebrate – Firefly lives on!

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2 Pawprints large art The Day of the Dead customs celebrated in Mexico and elsewhere are fascinating. The Dead are welcomed. Seemingly macabre toys, food, and costumes are actually colorful and festive symbols encouraging ancestors to return to this world for a visit.

Here’s a link to a site with lots of Day of the Dead information.

And a link to the complete version of one of my Day of the Dead stories, “Gifts in the Dark,” included in my newest story collection, Owl Light.

Gifts in the Dark  Like what you’re reading? You can check out Owl Light and my other books on Amazon.

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