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Posts Tagged ‘Anne McCaffrey’

Wendy Van Camp Headshot 2018Whimsical Words welcomes guest author, Wendy Van Camp. Wendy Van Camp writes science fiction, regency historical, and scifaiku poetry. No Wasted Ink is her platform featuring essays, poetry, flash fiction, and author interviews. Wendy’s stories and poems appear in magazines such as “Quantum Visions,” “Scifaikuest,” “Lit Up,” “Writing Cooperative,” and “Far Horizons.” She has won Honorable Mention in the Writers of the Future Contest, and is a graduate of the James Gunn Speculative Fiction Workshop.

Wendy Van Camp’s latest book, The Curate’s Brother, is a novel fans of the Regency time period are sure to enjoy. A quick summary for my readers—In the summer of 1806, a young curate is surprised by the arrival of his brother, who is on shore leave from his battles in the Napoleonic wars. Commander Frederick Wentworth has come to Somerset to spend time with the only family he has in England as he waits for reassignment.

All the good Commander wants to do is flirt and dance with the ladies until he is called back to sea, but when his flirting extends to an outgoing beauty that Edward Wentworth always disdained as “a child,” the curate becomes aware that his opinion of the girl is sorely outdated. Meanwhile, Frederick becomes drawn to the shy wallflower, Anne Elliot. She is the daughter of a baronet and above his station, but Frederick pays no heed to his brother’s warnings that class may prevent their union.

At the end of summer, a letter and package arrive that will change everything for the two brothers. Which will prevail? The bold action of the commander or the quiet manners of the curate?

The Curate's Brother Book Cover Novelette (sidebar)wendy Where did the idea come from for your latest book, The Curate’s Brother?

The idea started out as a different story that I called “Letters From The Sea” that awakened in me a few months after I read the Austen novel, Persuasion, and I fell in love with the characters. Most of the story was told through the point of view of Anne Elliot and Frederick Wentworth. Only the first chapter was told via Edward Wentworth’s eyes. The chapter simply did not fit with the rest of the book. One day, I thought to myself that I should take this one chapter and turn it into a stand-alone short story.

I brought this short story to my science fiction critique group. It did not go well. Half the men refused to read it because it was “romance” and most of the others flat out hated it. Only one writer thought it had promise. She told me, “the story needs ten thousand more words,” and she outlined the main plot points of my short story for me. I had a plot there. A true beginning, middle and end, but it was lacking in details.

Over the next two weeks, I wrote like a demon and the majority of the scenes were added, making the story a novelette in length. I could not get the science fiction critique group to agree to reread my story. I took it to another critique group, one that had a mix of genre. There my new story was greeted with a different tone. Most of the people loved it and several said that they felt it was ready to publish. So a week or two later, that is what I did. The novelette has done well, selling thousands of copies.

Who is your favorite character in the book—and why?

I am fond of Frederick Wentworth because he goes through so much growth in the story. He begins as a rash young officer in the navy and gradually overcomes much adversity, both emotional and physical, to become a mature young man. He grew in a similar manner in Austen’s original novel, but I wanted to showcase more of his life and the culture of the English people during the Regency era.

Is your book traditionally published, indie published, or self published?

My book is indie published. I enjoy keeping complete control over my creative products, be they books, artwork, or jewelry items. I also keep most of the profits of my sales. There are a few disadvantages in that I do need to pay for everything upfront from my own pocket, from editors, to cover artists, and formatters. Since I am a bit tech savvy I can manage to most of the work myself, but this also takes time from my writing schedule.

What is your writing process like—are you an architect (planner) or gardener (pantser)?

I used to lean more toward being a pantser when I first started writing. I still like to leave plenty of room for the characters and situations in the story to grow organically. However, I’ve learned the value of leaving myself a trail of breadcrumbs to follow as I write. In the last few years, I’ve become more of a plotter.

What was your favorite book as a child?

That is a tough one. I have many favorites. I was one of those kids that practically lived at the local library. Of course, where I grew up in the Pacific Northwest, it rained a lot. The library was a comfortable dry place to hang out in! The book that got me hooked on reading science fiction was A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs. The sheer adventure, the gallantry and the spirit of Dejah Thoris and Sola called to me. In my middle years, Anne McCaffrey was my biggest influence and it was a real toss-up between The White Dragon and the Harperhall Trilogy. I loved Pern with its protective dragons and the pet firelizards, but also the music. I still love Celtic folk music to this day, and I believe my first exposure to this came from Irish transplant, Anne McCaffrey.

What writing project are you currently working on?

I am in the process of finishing up my historical regency series. The other three books are drafted, they need revision and polish before release. But I do have a new potential series in the works. It takes place on the planet Mars in the near future. I want this to be more of a hard science fiction story with attention to the real science behind living on the Red Planet and focusing how it would affect the lives of those that colonize this new world. In conjunction with this new Martian series, I am creating a chapbook of Martian poetry that will feature my scifaiku poems and longer form free verse all on the theme of surviving on Mars. I tend to write haiku poems as I research a new setting for a novel. A haiku captures tiny moments or emotions in connection with a place. The poetry lets me get a good feel for a world before I start writing the book.

What’s the best writing advice anyone ever gave you?

Be consistent in your writing and get a little bit more done every day. I try my best to follow this advice, although I do take a day off now and then for family and friends.

Want to learn more about Wendy Van Camp and The Curate’s Brother? Check out her:  WebsiteNewsletterFacebook pageTwitterMediumWattpad, and  Amazon Authors Page.

Or better yet, purchase a copy of The Curate’s Brother.

Thanks to author Wendy Van Camp for stopping by. I’ll be posting over the next two weeks, then watch for more author interviews in April. Happy reading! – Vonnie

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Shultz-photo-128x128 Whimsical Words welcomes guest author, Jill Shultz. Jill Shultz has always been enthralled by the places where the wild meets the fantastic. She’s the award-winning author of Angel on the Ropes, science fiction with a Cirque du Soleil vibe. For most of her career she’s zigzagged between environmental and arts organizations; some of the strange but true consequences can be found on the author page of her website.

Born in Brooklyn before it was cool, she now lives upstate, where she awaits the arrival of transporters to whisk her to the sage flats of Yellowstone every dawn.

Jill Shultz’s latest book, Angel on the Ropes, is a novel circus and science fiction fans are sure to enjoy. A quick summary for my readers—Amandine Sand lives to fly. Unfortunately, she’s hobbled by a life-threatening secret: she’s one of the spotted humans wrongly accused of being a plague carrier. These “leopards” are hunted by zealots to protect their off-world colony from the scourge. Despite this threat, Amandine spends her days guiding other leopards to an underground shelter run by the pacifist Seekers. At night, with her own spots hidden, she soars on the trapeze, the one place she feels free and gloriously alive.

When the persecution of leopards explodes into widespread violence, the Seekers demand more of her time. But her circus is teetering toward bankruptcy and desperately needs her, too. She has no time to breathe…then she meets a stranger who leaves her breathless—and might be the biggest risk of all. If her trust is misplaced and she’s unmasked, everyone she loves and everything she’s fought for could crash.

To survive, Amandine must draw upon all of her circus and Seeker skills. But can a pacifist defend her violent enemies to stop a civil war? And can this reluctant angel fly beyond her limits to save her life, her love, and her world?

AR_cover-trade_120312.indd Where did the idea come from for your latest book, Angel on the Ropes?

The origin of this novel was quite unusual for me. Generally, my curiosity is piqued by some unusual fact or phrase or experience that prompts research, which deepens my intrigue and eventually develops into a story. Angel on the Ropes, however, began with an emotion. For a day or so I walked around feeling my protagonist’s longing. I had to figure out what she wanted so badly—she was driving me nuts!

Once I realized she was an artist and a performer, I decided to focus on the circus (based on an experience some years before that transformed the way I thought about circus.) Amandine’s personality was inspired by interviews with professional circus artists. When I uncovered her biggest problem and her secret dream, I had the story.

Who is your favorite character in the book—and why?

Amandine Sand, the protagonist. She longs for the basic things that most of us want: love, happiness, a sense of accomplishment… but she’s caught between two opposing worlds, and to make matters even worse, she has a life-threatening secret. So this very flamboyant and passionate trapeze artist is also secretive and constrained. I love passionate people who are full-throttle, and is she ever. Her transformation was so satisfying.

Interestingly, I’m terrified of heights. Imagining what it was like to adore flying was truly entering a new world! I did try flying trapeze during my research and actually launched the book from a flying trapeze, because, “book launch.” How could I resist?

Is your book traditionally published, indie published, or self published?

Self-published. For me, the key advantages of self-publishing are creative control, nimbleness in marketing, and longevity. I had a great relationship with my editor and cover artist. Of course, when you’re acting as both writer and publisher—in effect, starting a business—there’s a lot more work to do and higher costs. Plus, science fiction and fantasy is not yet as open to self-published authors as other genres, so many promotional opportunities are unavailable.

What is your writing process like—are you an architect (planner) or gardener (pantser)?

I’m both. I tend to do a lot of research before I begin writing, and develop character profiles based on psychological theory. With my current novel, I’m pushing myself to create fairly detailed chapter summaries first. That’s tough but productive.

The research continues as I write, though it changes. If I simply need to fact-check something, I just leave myself a note in the margin to do that later, which allows me to keep up my momentum. If I can’t write a scene effectively without more information, then I’ll stop and do the research I need right then. Of course, if a fabulous interview opportunity arises, I’ll make time for it.

During the first draft, I’ll write scenes that are rattling around in my head and not worry about whether they’ll end up in the story, knowing they’ll contribute to a deeper understanding of my characters, if nothing else. The combination of planning and writing into the unknown helps me navigate my doubts while still remaining open enough for those lucky discoveries.

For me, the most fun happens during revision.

What was your favorite book as a child?

The first book I remember falling in love with was Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson. Just thinking about it makes me smile. That book was so full of joy and discovery, so boundless, so magical.

Like many others, Anne McCaffrey was one of the first science fiction and fantasy authors I encountered, beginning with the Dragonriders of Pern series. I wanted to be best friends with a dragon, though I probably would’ve freaked out while flying (see fear of heights above). I’m still a sucker for dragons. And witches. And shapeshifters of all types. I’m equally drawn to science fiction and fantasy.

I’ve always been a voracious reader and a member of the Bad Decisions Book Club (readers who make bad life choices they know they will dearly regret the next day because they just can’t stop reading a good story, even if they toothpicks to prop their eyelids open).

What writing project are you currently working on?

A novel about a wolf biologist in Yellowstone who’s going to have to make some very hard choices to protect what she loves most. In the process, she’ll wrestle with a pack of werewolves who are radical environmentalists. It’s full of wildlife geekiness, moral challenges, and love…which pretty much sums up my life.

What’s the best writing advice anyone ever gave you?

“Don’t flinch.”

Andre Dubus III said that during a workshop. The more I learn about writing, the more it makes sense to me. My early drafts are full of flinches. Sometimes when the discomfort is really bad, I’ll just write notes to myself about the work I need to do and move on. Does that count as a half-flinch? Other times I try to push through right then, knowing that if I wrestle with this, I may discover something powerful. Learning is often uncomfortable, after all.

A special offer from Jill: If you’d like a free copy of the ebook version of Angel on the Ropes, send a message to Jill here.

Want to learn more about Jill Shultz and Angel on the Ropes? Check out her:  Website and Amazon Authors Page.

Or better yet, purchase a paperback copy of Angel on the Ropes.

Thanks to author Jill Shultz for stopping by. Watch for an interview with author Wendy Van Camp on March 19, 2019. Happy reading! – Vonnie

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Claire Davon bio photo Whimsical Words welcomes guest author, Claire Davon. Claire Davon has written on and off for most of her life, starting with fan fiction when she was very young. She writes across a wide range of genres, and does not consider any of it off limits. If a story calls to her, she will write it. She currently lives in Los Angeles and spends her free time writing novels and short stories, as well as doing animal rescue and enjoying the sunshine.

Claire Davon’s latest book, Water Fall, is a novel fantasy fans are sure to enjoy. A quick summary for my readers—Lara thought she had time to ease into her role as water Elemental, guardian and defender of the sea and all its creatures. Time to learn the skills to rise to the next Challenge, many decades away. Then she felt the shift. When Sullivan intrudes upon her oceanside sanctuary, stirring memories of the blazing night he bound her to him, body and soul, the shark king confirms her suspicions. A new Challenge is upon them. And Sullivan, the prime suspect in her predecessor’s death, demands her trust.

Sullivan remembers the carnage—human and paranormal—the last time the Elementals failed to win Challenge. It must not happen again. But in the six years since he reluctantly left Lara’s side, she hasn’t learned nearly enough to defeat a rapidly rising enemy. A gargantuan Demonos that makes him look like a minnow. Shifters don’t normally aid Elementals, but Sullivan made a deal with the gods to teach her to fight. Now if he could only convince his wayward body to put aside the searing memory of her touch. Because distraction now could spell disaster to them all.

Where did the idea come from for your latest book, Water Fall?

WaterFall_Digital_Large claire Water Fall is the third book in a five-book series called Elementals’ Challenge. Each one centers around an Elemental, who is an immortal being with powers related to their element. In this one the water Elemental, Ondine, is new to the Elementals and has to find her core strength in order to fight her enemy. I loved writing about a new Elemental, one who was human not so long ago and who had to figure out her new station while facing a great threat to the world, and to herself.

Who is your favorite character in the book—and why?

As much as I love Ondine (the Elemental) I think my favorite character in this book is her love interest, the shark shifter/demi-god Sullivan. He is a both a strong character with a core of steel but also a romantic who has wanted this woman for eight years. He does what needs to be done.

Is your book traditionally published, indie published, or self published?

This one is self-published. The series started out at a publisher (Samhain,) but they closed two weeks from releasing the second book. At that time, I opted to self-publish the remainder of the series (a total of five books) for many reasons, but the primary one is control over the subject matter and the covers. I love my covers. This series and the covers are interwoven to me.

What is your writing process like—are you an architect (planner) or gardener (pantser)?

I am a total pantser. I think about reforming and becoming a plotter, but it never works out for me. My books ebb and flow and take unexpected turns. I usually start a story by simply starting, with a general idea of what I want to write about, but no real idea of how I am going to get there. Maybe someday, I’ll plan…but I’m not holding my breath

What was your favorite book as a child?

If by child, you could say a twelve/thirteen-year-old, then hands down my favorite book was Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey. My parents had tons of books laying around, and I picked this one up and my world changed. It was not only my introduction into SF/fantasy, but also an introduction into my own fantasy life. For years, I wanted to be a dragonrider and would invent elaborate stories around the world and dragons. I think my interest in SF/fantasy started the day I picked that book up, and it has never waned.

What writing project are you currently working on?

I just sold the second book in the Universe Chronicles series to Soul Mate Publishing. In addition, I am working on edits for the fourth book in the Elementals’ Challenge series, as well as writing a paranormal romance that is going to be in a box set the middle of next year. I’ve usually got a short story or two in the pipeline, but at the moment my focus is on the novels.

What’s the best writing advice anyone ever gave you?

There are two pieces of advice that stick with me. The first is to write every day, and I do that. The second is to write a story, send it out, and start working on a new one. Both pieces of advice have served me well. I may not always like what I put down on paper every day, but it gives me a framework to go off of. You can’t edit what doesn’t exist.

Want to learn more about Claire Davon and Water Fall? Check out her: Website, Facebook page, Twitter, Pinterest, and Amazon Authors Page.

Or better yet, purchase a copy of Water Fall.

Thanks to author Claire Davon for stopping by. Watch for an interview with author Suzanne Reynolds-Alpert on February 7, 2019. Happy reading! – Vonnie

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I’ve been a fan of Anne McCaffrey’s Dragon Riders of Pern series of books since they were first published. I think I fell in love with the idea of a dragon who was both apart from a character and a part of the character. I even had compassion for the poor watch-beast who tried to protect Lessa in the first Pern book.

Perhaps it’s because I was born in the Year of the Dragon (I’ll leave you to figure out which Year of the Dragon that is), but those magical reptiles have always held a special place in my heart. I’ve included a dragon in a few short stories, most notably in “Weathermaker,” included in my book The Greener Forest (soon to be updated with an additional story and poem included and released from Pole to Pole Publishing).

Plus, a dragon plays an important role in my novel, The Enchanted Skean – though Fafnir is a wee dragon in this first book of The Chronicles of Lifthrasir. For fans of the The Enchanted Skean, look for a novelette length tie-in book from Pole to Pole Publishing by year’s end.

Now, back to Pern! I loved the fantasy vibe of the series, even though it was officially science fiction. These books tread that delightful ground between genres where I often like the stories I read (and write) to exist.

So hoorah! Though Anne McCaffrey is no longer with us, her marvelous dragon-filled world can still bring joy to fans new and old. As for me- I can’t wait to see what movie technology and good live-action can do for The Dragon Riders of Pern. Here’s the link to the article.

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