Month: August 2017

Water Rescue Dogs – Working Dogs


This week has brought dramatic and heart tugging stories about flooding and rising water in the south of Texas. Tropical Storm Harvey has lashed the Texas coast over the last week. Recently, I came across stories of water rescue dogs around the world. In Italy, Britain, and the USA today, dogs are used in water rescues. Certain breeds have proven ideal for work rescuing people from the water.

For years, water rescue dogs have been trained and serve to help people. The Italian School of Rescue Dogs has trained hundreds of dogs. Currently, 300 dogs work on the Italian coast in rescue work. In 2013, 30 people were rescued. Whizz, a Newfoundland, worked with the Royal Navy Rescue at Bristol, UK. He received an Order of Merit for 10 years of service. He was considered the world’s number one water rescue dig, saving more than 100 people from drowning. In Montana, USA some Newfoundlands are trained for the Water Dog certification.

A story from 100 years ago relates an early water rescue. In 1919, a ship named Ethie ran aground off the Canadian coast. Historians credit a Newfoundland named Tang for saving the entire crew. The massive dog jumped into the water and worked with people on the beach to bring all 92 crew-members safely to safety. The story of Tang continues with a report that the dog received a medal for bravery from the insurance company, Lloyds of London, which it wore for the rest of its life.

Dogs make excellent partners for rescues because they are very competent communicators with humans. They can read cues from gazing at people, and are able to understand commands and these breeds are very comfortable in the water. I hope people continue using water rescue dogs, and that they can be helpful in future natural disasters like the one on the coast of Texas this month.

My story Asante’s Gullah Journey has a dog character. Asa is the dog that travels with Asante and Lakisha on their mission for the Library. Asa, an African Basenji dog would not likely be suitable as a water rescue dog, but he is helpful in their adventures. Asa will be back in the sequel, out in 2018.

Genre – Stories We Like


Genre has become an unfocused, fluid concept in fiction story telling. There are differences of opinion about the origin of the word, how it is used today, and what is means to authors and readers. Writers are told to find their audience based on the genre of the stories they tell, yet many authors and readers don’t agree which genres exist, and which stories are covered by those genres.

The very definition of the term genre generates disagreement. It is either a useful term that describes real differences in types of story telling, or is it an artificial system of classification. Even the etymology of genre can take multiple paths. Genre is derived, through French, to the Latin word genus meaning “kind” of thing, or, perhaps it relates to the Latin gener meaning to generate.

Often, when we refer to genre, we mean conventions which serve to distinguish one story from others, or to group stories together. This use of the term means we are looking at genre conventions. We refer to story settings, characterizations, and story arcs. So, genre can serve to define people’s expectations about the story they will read or view. We think of science fiction as providing expectations of wonder, change, and the unusual. Fantasy we expect to offer us magic and supernatural powers. Mysteries will have crimes, investigators and an arc of discovery.

But, the limits of genre are in contention. What is covered under the term genre, and what is not? YA is sometimes called a genre, yet, a YA story might be science fiction, fantasy, romance, or a mystery. Some seek to use genre to describe emotional response to stories. How the reader feels about science fiction, fantasy, mystery, thrillers, romance, comedy should possibly serve to instruct us.

Fairy tales or folk tales may have been the first genre. Now, it is difficult to list all the genres in existence. Many stories defy any attempt to limit them to one genre. I saw the cover of a book which the blurb describes as following the adventures of a Viking, vampire, angel on a Montana Dude ranch.

Ultimately, genre is useful only as long as the creators and consumers of stories are served by it. If an author believes she writes in a particular genre, then perhaps that is all that matters. If a reader can find the stories she wants to read based on genre categories, then that is all that is necessary.

Plotter vs. Pantser: John Scalzi and the Gremlin on My Shoulder


When I started writing, I read all the tips and tricks and how-to blogs and books. I was doing it wrong. Plotters were good; pantsers were bad. I was, and am, a pantser. I tried to plot using every form and method available: the column system, visualized thinking, the snowflake, starting with the ending—nothing gelled. After spending three hours one day struggling to plot a simple chapter, I gave it up, turned to my keyboard, and let the words flow. I haven’t looked back, but ever so often the little gremlin on my shoulder will whisper, “Pantsers are losers.”John Scalzi

A year after I’d thrown in the towel, I read a blog post by my favorite contemporary science fiction author. OMG! He’s a pantser! I jumped from my desk and ran to tell my husband. “You’ll never guess,” I said, excitedly, “John Scalzi’s a pantser.” At which he replied, “Have…

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Why you should post more cat memes (Sales Model of an Indie Author part 3)



First and foremost, because I really enjoy them floating past my social-media feed.

Everything further down from here is pure conjecture.

If you’ve been around on social media, especially if you are a beginning author still building up your fan base, you’re probably wondering how to get noticed. The following are ideas about what might help you.

WAAAAIIIIT. I didn’t get to the point yet, don’t just rush off to post a cat meme.

First, let’s dispense with the obvious. Unless you’re Stephen King, don’t – ever – drop a “buy my book” kind of link. Social media is for social interactions, not for advertising. Just place yourself in the eyes of the person scrolling past your post. Would you stop what you’re doing, click that links, and rush to buy the book? Didn’t think so.

Second is a corollary. Don’t be an asshole. In other words, be nice. Provide value…

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August 15 in Greece: Dormition of the Virgin

Nicholas C. Rossis

Virgin Mary's Death | From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's booksNot many people may realize this, but today’s celebration of the Dormition of the Virgin is the third greatest celebration in Greece (and the Greek Orthodox tradition), after Easter and Christmas. Although nominally a religious holiday, it is celebrated in the same manner as Easter, with family gatherings, public festivals, and loads of lamb eating. Many go to the beach for a quick swim first, as August is usually the hottest month. Since no one works, it’s perfect for relaxing, and most people will be on vacation this week.

It seems unlikely that people will celebrate so much the death of one of Christianity’s most revered figures. According to Eastern Orthodox and Catholic tradition, however, even though the Virgin Mary died a natural death (called the Dormition of the Theotokos, the falling asleep), like any human being, her soul was received by Christ upon death and her body was resurrected…

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After the Collapse:Boxed Set Release Party


Available together for the first time. This box set includes the first three books in S. A. Gibson’s After the Collapse series. This ebook bundle includes Feeling a Way, A Dangerous Way, and In the Horde’s Way.

Feeling a Way: The battle for the future begins. In this post-apocalyptic world, where new dangers and mysterious happenings lurk around every corner, children are being kidnapped, and swordsman William Way must rescue them. Archer for hire, Kalapati, has begun her own quest. As William and Kalapati race to complete their missions, they soon wonder how their efforts will change the future.

A Dangerous Way: Eleanora is hard at work on her foster parent’s farm training herself in the fighting arts and hoping to avoid the same fate as her parents. William is a swordsman for the library, but when the Librarian steps down, chaos throws all into turmoil. Can Eleanora and William restore the peace to this primitive Southwest landscape after the Collapse?

In the Horde’s Way: Henrietta, a soldier with a secret, begins working at the Southwest Library. Meeting Alaya, the Librarian’s daughter, launches them both on an epic and dangerous journey that leads them into the councils of invaders and the tribal chieftains who rule the desert land of the Southwest.

These interconnected tales of a future world without modern technology, will test each character’s loyalty and commitment and ultimately shape their fate.

You are invited to a Release Party for this new book! Tuesday, August 29th from 4 pm to 6 pm Eastern Time. Join us for fun, gifts and prizes. I hope to see you there. S. A. Gibson.

After the Collapse: Boxed Set Facebook Party

Until August 28th, the boxed set will be available for preorder for 99 cents on Amazon.

Creating Your Writing Ritual – How To Get Your Creative Juices Flowing

Chaos breeds Chaos

Life is full of rituals. It can be a simple morning routine — a shower, a cup of coffee and a half hour of exercise — to get you going after you wake up, or a very specific act that has to happen before you can accomplishing something, like double-checking all the doors are locked before going to bed at night. Whatever it is, you can’t help it; it’s ingrained in your subconscious to help you feel happier, healthier or more secure. I’m sure, as writers, we all have certain rituals we must adhere to in order to find that creative groove and churn out that next great American novel. It doesn’t matter what that ritual might be; everyone has a different personality, so no one ritual will ever be the same. However, if you’re finding it hard to find the time to write, or when you do, you just…

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Writing Your Fighting (the complete story)

I’ve been having some conversations with writers about writing fight scenes, and I thought it might be a good idea to put some information out there. A lot of writers write fight scenes that are, to be honest, just plain ridiculous, if not impossible, and it really bugs me. There is a huge difference between massed-formation military tactics and single combat – but it is single combat that most fantasy writers tend to employ, so we’ll stick to that.In fact, I can’t tell you how to write a fight scene. Every fight will be different, and it’s your book.What I can do is make you aware of some of the variables and pitfalls you need to be conscious of when you write those scenes.First off: this pertains mainly to medieval fantasy sword fighting. I have…

Source: Writing Your Fighting (the complete story)