Month: September 2017

Casting Horses in Fictional Worlds

Nicholas C. Rossis

I found this excellent post on horses on Dan Koboldt’s blog. It is part of his weekly Science in Sci-fi, Fact in Fantasy blog series, where he tackles one of the scientific or technological concepts pervasive in sci-fi (space travel, genetic engineering, artificial intelligence, etc.) with input from an expert. Be sure to join his mailing list to be notified every time new content is posted.

His post on horses was actually a guest post, written by Rachel Annelise Chaney; a woman who spent her childhood inhaling every scrap of horse information she could find and riding every equine she could climb on. Since adopting an ex-racehorse, she’s ridden, trained or cared for everything from Thoroughbreds to Quarter Horses, Drafts to Arabians, Warmblood jumpers to Paint barrel racers. A reader and writer of SFF, Rachel currently languishes in the Eternal Pit of Revision. You should follow her on Twitter

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Balance in Writing


Over the years I’ve worried about crossing lines in my writing. Sometimes I have the job of writing funny material. Once, I was taken off my column in a company newsletter because my humor was too biting. I was nervous when experimenting with fiction writing about creating villains. I feared falling too deep into the minds of the evil-doers. And today, I wonder if compromising my story vision might gain me more readers, and bring in higher income. I want to revisit these questions for my own enlightenment.

To recap, the questions for a writer are: What not to put in Stories?; To thine own self be true, but how much?; and What to compromise for success? The first question for me relates to my ethics and morality. I’m somewhat sensitive to stories I read. I don’t want to read much torture, violence toward the weak, sexual assault, and similar topics. So of course, when I write, I very carefully choose what I include in my stories. I have had a torture scene in one book. It was limited and quick. The second question, I see meaning do I only write what I want, or do I write for others. I seek a happy balance, it should be what I enjoy, but also enjoyable for others. The third question I haven’t answered for myself yet. It remains an open question for me.

I asked these questions of author friend, Stephanie Barr, here is her response:
“I don’t want to put in enough detail that I’m providing voyeurism to someone who gets off on something heinous. I think it would turn off a decent person and only appeal to someone who perhaps wasn’t so decent. I think most people have sufficient imagination they can get the sense without a graphic description. That’s how I see it.”

“I am true to myself, and I make my characters true to certain of my own moral hard lines – but not all of them and part of what I do is point out that some decisions don’t always give you a clean choice, where any choice is good. In Curse of the Jenri, I have a mother who loves her children and kills them out of love for them. That’s a hard sell, but I needed to put her in a bad enough position that the reader could understand why she did it, that she wasn’t evil, even if they could not have done it themselves. I like to push my own boundaries. I think many people can easily become judgmental–I think writing is a venue where you can help people understand a different perspective.”

“I’m fortunate because I don’t have to be successful as a writer. I have the luxury of writing only what I’m proud to write and don’t have to compromise. But, I think people are more likely to respond to writing if you love what you write, if it really speaks from your heart. In the end, I don’t think compromise gives you the kind of readers who will love your writing the way you want them to.”

Writer friend, Jennefer Rogers also gave me her answers:
“Every age has had people who wrote for the morality/trends of the day, and those who pushed the boundaries. There was a time when books by women weren’t published, and there are still places in the world that will harm authors who pose concepts that stray from the Religion of the area. We’re lucky enough to live in a part of the world that allows us to express ourselves fairly freely (Canada does not have the same rights and guarantees on freedom of speech that the US does).”

“It comes down to this – are you a ‘bread and butter’ author, or are you someone who doesn’t have to rely on it for income. Hearing the phrase ‘writing is a hobby’ has always annoyed me – authors and other creative people are pulling double duty to pay bills/hold down a job, and answer the call of their muse. The last time I made a reliable income from my authoring or art was in the 90s. Sticking to what’s safe isn’t a crime – you are guaranteed to find a following, but there is no shame in choosing to push boundaries and potentially make people angry – or generate constructive dialogue and address problems/raise awareness. There is wiggle room between the extremes; I’m sure we could come up with some sort of Venn Diagram to demonstrate the sweet spot. I’ve seen a number of articles that are upselling the idea of using algorithms to compose bestsellers. It’s not a new concept – Romance novelists have been following the same flowchart for decades.”

I’m in a rare position, I don’t need to make money from my work (I’d love to, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t have to) – I’m supported financially in my creativity. As a result, my book (soon to be series) is edgier. I’m writing a story I would want to read. I too don’t enjoy graphic/gratuitous scenes of violence, rape, torture, but they are elements that can be used if done artfully. The best old movies often had things happening off-camera. We all knew what was going on, our imaginations filled in the blanks – we didn’t need to see it. Someone told me to add more of an erotic element to my book, but I declined. Not because I’m offended by it, but because I felt it didn’t fit the narrative. Similarly, I delved into the motivations of my protagonists and antagonists to demonstrate that no one sees themselves as ‘evil,’ and that even good people can fall prey to the abuse of power.”

“My advice to any author – Remain true to yourself and your vision of your story – then listen carefully to what your beta-readers have to say. Somewhere between the two lies the ‘sweet spot’ of success.”

So, we writers face similar questions as members of other professions. How to meet our goals and keep faith with our ideals and ideas. We will continue to struggle with these questions, and hope that the output of our struggles will entertain our fans.

Author links:

September 2, 2017: Informing and Updating Dark Matter Fans!

Joseph Mallozzi's Weblog

I’d like to express my appreciation to everyone who reached out over the past twenty-four hours or so to express their anger, sadness, and gratitude after hearing about the cancellation.  As I wrote on twitter: “I am both touched and astounded by your passion, your loyalty, and your white hot relentless rage.”

Today, I’d like to try to shed a little light on the circumstances surrounding Dark Matter’s premature demise and let you know what’s next.  Before I proceed, however, I’d like to apologize in advance if this entry feels slightly unfocused. Between the stress of the move, the cross-country flight, the jet lag, the time change, the news of the cancellation, the furious attempt to acknowledge the online response, the noisy air conditioner in my new place, and the gauze-like bedroom curtains that do nothing to shield us from the blazing night-time lights of the Roger Center, I’m a…

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Our Friends, Our Foes, Our Characters


The writer’s craft includes many tools. One we seldom discuss comes to light when a friend or family member believes they notice a resemblance to themselves in a story we’ve produced. Our stories require characters. The more real the characters feel, the better the story. This realism creates people in our narratives with fully rounded characters. As we fill our tales, we consciously and unconsciously borrow from people we know in real life.

At times I am aware of people in my life that I’ve used to bring a character to life. I notice similarities between an older male in my writing, and my father. The nosy acquittance of the hero seems remarkably like my next door neighbor. It is inherent in the writing craft, we must borrow from those around us. Khalid Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner wrote, “Writing is an act of thievery, you adapt experiences and anecdotes for your own purposes.” In order to lend believability and real motivations to characters, we steal personalities we know.

A writer friend, Veronica Smith, used my name in a short story. She gave the character my name, using my age and physical features in the story. Another author, J. S, Frankel,  threatened to write me into a story, then kill me off, after we disagreed over movies we liked. Author Stephanie Barr, says it all, “Every exchange, every snarky bus driver, every quirky friend, every frustrated fellow and misunderstood confidante can find their way into your work–often changed so that no one would identify them, different experiences or bullies, different challenges or witticisms, but that spark can be channeled into your writing. And the villains in your life, the cold parents or selfish cohorts, those that stole or cheated or traumatized you, they can make it into your books, too. And, since you have the power, you can let karma have its full measure as life sometimes fails to do.”

I often graft portions of real people, living or not, into the characters I write. I hope none are offended, but it is an essential part of my craft. Even my dog, Cantiflas, finds his way into my books. My fictional dog characters are fierce and protective, if somewhat larger than my chiweenie. I will continue to write stories using the people around me as fodder. I ask for forgiveness in advance and remind family, friends, and neighbors that the depictions are made, in a spirit of creativity, without malice.

Here are links to authors mentioned:

Here is my interview with Dawn Chapman


Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.


Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?

Hello everyone, I’m Dawn Chapman, I am gonna laugh and say a lady never tells her age though 😀

Fiona: Where are you from?

I’m from the UK, Lancashire and I live in a little village where I mostly grew up. It’s a family home, was my grandparent’s and I spent many years here with them, and now live with my husband, sharing alongside are my mum and stepdad, they now have a separate granny flat.

Fiona: A little about yourself (ie, your education, family life, etc.).

Big questions, my education sucked. No one wanted to help teach the fat kid in school. Besides that, and the ongoing class bullying my upbringing was pretty grim. I turned to writing…

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Night Witches by Mirren Hogan


If you have been reading my reviews for awhile now, you are likely aware that even though I mostly review books that fall into the paranormal/fantasy/sci-fi genres, I do also enjoy historical fiction.  Night Witches very neatly falls into that category and given that I also enjoy learning about World War II which is when it takes place, I knew going in I’d be hard pressed to not enjoy it.

Mirren Hogan brings us in this fictional account, a story of how the famous 588th Night Bomber Regiment came to be through the eyes of one of the young women who volunteered. It follows not just how this woman and the others would go onto prove themselves as belonging in the thick of things with the men but that they were going to become feared by the Nazis (from whom they got their nickname of Night Witches).

You get pulled…

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Making the Future with Science Fiction


The other day, my spouse mentioned the topic of the changes that had come to the world, after being predicted in fiction stories. Mary Shelley imagined modern medical accomplishments including surgical transplants and tissue regeneration. Arthur C. Clarke wrote about space science ideas that have become common today. Jules Verne imagined men landing on the moon. Ursula K Le Guin wrote about planets with no sexes or multiple genders. We have seen changes in how we live, technology available to us, and even what social behaviors we accept as appropriate.

Many of the changes we have lived through in the last century have been written about by fictional writers. Science fiction can incorporate different technologies, social conditions, or thought patterns. We have heard developers of new technologies who have credited their drive to invent to reading science fiction. Martin Cooper, credited with helping to invent the mobile phone credits his interest to Star Treks communicators. Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, a father of rocketry, admired Verne’s From the Earth to the Moon. Neal Stephenson wrote of computer hacker groups and trojan horses within virtual computer networks.

Science Fiction has perhaps contributed to social changes as well as technological advances. Some of the most intriguing stories about alternate worlds, from a social perspective have come from the pens of women authors. In 1660, Margaret Cavendish wrote The Blazing World, where an empress rules a utopian kingdom. In 1905, Begum Rokeya wrote “Sultana’s Dream,” in a gender-reversed India where it’s men who are kept in purdah. Octavia Butler in Parable of the Talents, wrote of a US Presidential candidate who raised a fear of Muslims, dangers from our border neighbor, and with a campaign slogan of “Make America Great Again.”

Today, some companies acknowledge the possibility that science fiction can help them compete in the fast paced competitive marketplace. Microsoft, Google, and Apple have sponsored lecture series in which science fiction writers give talks to employees. Writers like Cory Doctorow, and my friend Daniel Suarez write about the future, and consult with large companies to comment or advise on the uses of new technology.

From technology to social conditions, science fiction has served over centuries to offer road maps, warnings, and suggestions. I predict current and future authors will continue these tasks. We can walk possible future worlds, on paper, before we walk them with our feet. My series called After the Collapse describes characters living on a future Earth where modern technology has been lost, and new ways of living must be found.

Londinium Cover Reveal!

Dawnrigger Publishing

I’m really excited today because I get to help Debbie spread the word about the brand-new awesome cover for the next book in her P.A.W.S. Saga, LONDINIUM. The cover was created by the hugely talented Rachel Bostwick who also made the cover for the new box set of books 1 to 3 that are now available on Amazon.

So here goes – drum roll please – LONDINIUM (The P.A.W.S. Saga 4), on presale now.


“The pea soup has spoken,” said Caradog. “You are destined for Londinium.”
“Londinium?” asked Miri.
“It was the ancient city from which London sprang. The P.A.W.S. Institute of Londinium is the oldest in the world. It started before the city of today existed and straddles the old and the new. Unfortunately, today it is run by a fool.”

Join Miri as she continues her journey through Umbrae and Londinium with the help of werecats, wild…

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Author Interview: Stephanie Barr

No Wasted Ink

Author Stephanie Barr is a storyteller with a focus on people, whatever form those “people” might be. And she loves to make you think, feel, and laugh. Please welcome this dynamic writer to No Wasted Ink.

Author Stephanie BarrStephanie Barr is a part time novelist, full-time rocket scientist, mother of three children (two still at home) and slave to many cats. I have three blogs, which are sporadically updated: Rocket Scientist, Rockets and Dragons, and The Unlikely Otaku. I like to read, though I’m currently obsessed with manga, and I love to write and tell stories. But I can also do the math.

When and why did you begin writing?

I started writing no later than thirteen because that’s when I first started saving it. I used to write poetry and throw it away—usually telling a story because I’m a natural born story teller—then I wrote one I thought my father, who…

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10 Things Writers Don’t Know About the Woods

10 Things Writers Don’t Know About the Woods

Diane Morrison

By Dan Koboldt

It’s hard to put a number on how many books I’ve read that feature characters in the woods. Sometimes they’re fleeing, sometimes chasing, sometimes just looking for something to eat.

As someone who spends a lot of time in the woods, I should tell you that most authors get it wrong. Here are ten realities about the woods that every writer should know.

Read the full article on Dan Koboldt.

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