Blog Archives

The Time’s Edge Series

We were challenged to create one or two line descriptions that summed up each of our books. Challenge accepted!

The Fiction Writer’s Alphabet

What Great Stories Have in Common

Ever feel deja vu when reading a book or watching a movie? Here’s why.

Fiction in the Garden

We have a lot of fun with our gardens. They are a mix of styles: cottage, Zen. rock, and just plain whimsical. (Plain whimsical? There’s an oxymoron for you!) But they do have one element in common. Each garden contains at least one reference to a work of fiction.

Sometimes it is just the name of the garden. One of  our gardens is called the Thoughtful Spot from A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh. It sits by a large pair of pines tree and has three boulders for sitting and contemplating nature, the world, or the plot of our most recent book. One of the entries to our backyard gardens is guarded by a large stone lion that we call Aslan. Next to him there is a sign that says “Narnia”  with a directional arrow. A rock with a hole in the center has the name “Excalibur” scribbled across it. The roses that line the sidewalk out front are Robin Hood Roses (aka Mediterranean Musk Roses).

As you wander through our gardens, you will occasionally find a helpful signpost. Need to get to the Emerald City? No problem. A sign points the way. Want to visit Hogwarts? The sign tells you to follow the path through the shade garden. There are numerous signposts throughout our gardens, some boldly tacked to trees, others hidden so that they may only be glimpsed by the careful observer. If you look closely you will see directional signs for Camelot, Xanth, Neverland, Middle-earth, and several others. We are always adding to our collection.

The best part about our gardens? Nearly every one has a place where you can sit down and read. Benches, tree stumps, boulders; nooks, crannies, and hideaways. Just follow the sign to your favorite place, sit down, and open a book (or ebook, depending on your preference). You will be there.



The Future: If You Blink, You’ll Miss It

We were recently asked if it was difficult to write science fiction in a world where the future quickly and persistently becomes the present.

You betcha!

How lovely it must have been to be a sci-fi writer one hundred years ago. The inventions and devices you imagined and described were unlikely to show up not only in the near future but in your lifetime. Your futuristic world would remain just that, an imaginative journey into a far-off place.

Not so today. When we wrote the first draft of Time’s Edge twenty-five years ago, the future we imagined included wireless mobile computers, touch screens, voice-activated devices, quantum physics… Well, you get the picture. Flash forward twenty years. We haul out the manuscript, begin to polish it for publication, and notice a big problem. The future we described had pretty much become the present.

We rewrote the story and have since added two sequels, but we wonder how long it will be before the devices and ways of life we described become part of our present lives. And then we wonder what it will be like for the science fiction writers of tomorrow. Technology is evolving so quickly, the future will be happening as they are writing it!

FUTURE WRITER: Let’s see. Orion steps into his personal protection pod (PPP) which will shield him from the harmful rays of the sun that shine through the depleted ozone layer, filter the smog-laden air, protect him from the chemicals that saturate the ground…

NEWS FLASH: Get your very own Personal Protection Pod. Don’t put yourself at risk of our deadly environment again! PPP’s will shield the sun’s deadly rays, filter your air, protect you from toxic chemicals…

FUTURE WRITER: Sigh. I wish I lived in the 21st century. Life was so much simpler then. Let’s see. Maybe Orion could just wear a special suit. Wait a minute. An ultra-thin fabric, transparent yet tough, which provides all the protection he needs from the environment. It will be practically invisible, so no one will know he is wearing it… I’ll call it WonderFabric…

NEWS FLASH: WonderFabric, now available from fine eOutlets everywhere. Transparent yet tough, invisible to others…

FUTURE WRITER: I’m switching to historical fiction.






Writing in Layers

The first draft of Time’s Illusion is nearing completion. And the next step? You’d think it was editing, right? Nope. It’s layering.

When we write, we look at the first draft as the basic structure of the book. It establishes where the action is, who is present, how the characters move through the story. A bare-bones, action-and-dialogue scenario. A lot of experimenting goes on in our first drafts, a testing of story boundaries and character limits.

Upon this base we add layers. This process fleshes out the details that really bring the tale to life. Descriptions are expanded. Dialogue is enhanced. This is the five-senses phase, when we get to play with color, sound, and sensation. Like a stage production, we decide what our characters will be wearing, we paint the scenery, adjust the lighting. The worlds we have created come alive.

For those who aren’t into play production, think of it as baking a cake. The cake itself is the basic story. The icing holds the story layers together. The fancy flourishes give the tale depth and beauty. When it is complete it is a feast for the eyes. It smells delicious. Your mouth waters in anticipation. The first bite makes you want to take a second bite.

Just like a good book.

5 Good Blogs About Writing

Over the past few years we’ve read some great blogs that offer excellent advice for writers. Here are some that are worth checking out:

1. Creativity? Train Your Brain to Be an Idea-Generating Machine.  by Cheryl Craigie

2. Why You Shouldn’t Follow Trends by Nathan Bransford

3. George Orwell’s 5 Rules for Effective Writing by Erin Falconer

4. Writing Exercise: Switching Points of View by Jodi Cleghorn

5. Want Some Advice? Ignore Any Advice by Russell Smith

Sneak Peek: Time’s Secret

Time's Secret, book #2

What would you do if you were on a quest you didn’t like to find an object you didn’t want…

If your wife made a prophecy that hinted you could not succeed…

If an oracle warned that everyone close to you would perish if you failed…

If those closest to you were keeping secrets that affected not only your quest but your very life…

If your life and your destiny were the most closely guarded secrets of all…

Most answers are revealed by Time.

But what do you do when time is running out?

Click here for a sneak peek at the prologue of Time’s Secret, the sequel to Time’s Edge.

Genre Busting

Every book has a genre, right? Or perhaps not. Trying to describe the particular genre of a book these days is not as cut and dried as some may think or even want it to be. When is a mystery not a mystery? When it’s suspense. But aren’t mysteries by definition, full of suspense? And what if a mystery novel also has a romance? Then it’s romantic suspense. Throw in something supernatural? Paranormal fiction. Add some magic and set it in the present day. Urban fantasy.  But what do you call a book that has mystery, romance, and a little magic? A paranormal urban fantasy suspense novel? Sheesh! Labeling can be taken too far!

Many folks want books to fit neatly into one major category, and we understand readers’ desires to find books in genres that they love. But good stories often have details that fall outside “the genre”. We love tales that include a little mystery, a little romance, a little adventure. Unexpected elements add interest and depth to a story. And if that means the book doesn’t fit neatly into one genre, so what? Most things that happen in life don’t fit neatly under one subject heading. Why should our books?

Of course, we know books must be classified in some way or searching for something to read could become very much like Indiana Jones searching for the Lost Ark. What we are applauding are writers who stretch the boundaries and take their particular genres for rides down new roads. Sure this may befuddle the people who love tidy labels, but the rest of us get the fun of enjoying stories that challenge our expectations.

Our book, Time’s Edge, is basically labeled sci-fi/fantasy. One review claimed it was pure fantasy, while someone else praised the book for being great science fiction. One called it a sci-fi romance, another a sci-fi/fantasy adventure. But several readers realized the book didn’t fit neatly into one particular genre. A recent review on Amazon said “I enjoy reading mystery books, science fiction books, fantasy books, and good ol’ fashioned shoot ’em ups. This book literally had all of these in there somewhere, plus a healthy dose of romance and, dare I say, lust thrown in for good measure.” Now this is our kind of reviewer. He understands that the line between genres has become blurred and what’s even better, he doesn’t seem to mind.

A Time’s Edge Sampler: Meet Michael and Max

Even writers need to paint their living rooms occasionally. While we work on that, please enjoy an excerpt from Time’s Edge, Chapter Two: “Do You Believe in Fate?” In this scene Commander Michael Blayne has landed in an Old Earth sidetime with a Mutlipurpose Advanced eXperimental Computer (Max).

Michael’s ship passed smoothly through the Time Tunnel, the name Division 9 had given to the passage between two time portals. It emerged into the first of a series of shimmering, rainbow-colored curtains of light.

“Transition complete. Frequency achieved. We are approaching sidetime 7,” Max announced.

“Initiate time braking,” Michael instructed. He swung around in his seat and ran his hands over the multicolored console.

“Time braking complete. We are currently in orbit around the planet Earth.”

“Phase out.”

“A wise precaution,” Max approved. “Although the technology level is primitive, the sensors of the period would have been able to detect our presence.”

“Thanks,” Michael said dryly. “Did you transmit our history-making arrival to RMB 1020?”

“Certainly,” Max returned. “However, I did not use the term ‘history-making’. In fact, we did not make history since a probe made the trip prior to our arrival.”

“Ah, but we’re the first living beings to do it,” Michael replied sarcastically. “Or so I’ve been told.”

“I do not see how anyone could possibly make that claim with any assurance. The SAF supposes they are the only ones to have the technology, but they cannot prove it. There may be others making the attempt. Also, I am not a living being, so you are the only one to make history.”

“I wonder if I am the first one to make this trip,” Michael said. “When Alrick said I was perfect for this mission, I had the distinct impression he didn’t mean probe retrieval.”

“A probe was sent back to this sidetime. It was launched from RMB 1020 on—”

“I’ve been briefed.” Michael sat lost in thought for a moment. “The probe may just be a cover for whatever the real mission is. Unfortunately, I have no information.”

“Chief Zartollis will most likely provide it when he arrives.”

“When he arrives?” Michael sat up straighter. “How do you know he’ll be here?”

“He told me.”

“Why didn’t you inform me?”

“You said you had been briefed.”

“Don’t be snide, Max.”

“I am not capable of feeling emotions, Commander.”

“No, but you’re very good at expressing them. Division 9 will be overjoyed. Now give me Alrick’s entire message.”

“He will be arriving in this sidetime within one Earth hour of our arrival. If you find the probe during that time, he asks that you wait for him.”

Michael drummed his fingers on the console. “There’s obviously something more than probe retrieval going on here. But it makes no sense. If Valda, Lucas, and Franc are involved, why send us to distant corners of the galaxy? What could be so secret that even the agents involved can’t be told?”

“I cannot answer those questions. There is insufficient information.”

“I agree. We’ll have to keep our eyes open for anything unusual and see what develops.”

“Commander,” the computer said, “I do not have eyes.”

Michael sighed and swiveled back to the main screen. “I suppose we had better get on with it. Show me the last known location of the probe.”

A picture of Earth came up on the screen. It was succeeded by a map of North America and then one of the northeastern section of the continent. This zeroed in on New England and became a state. The town was displayed and then a specific quadrant of the town. The final image was a picture of a cluster of buildings built around a square of grass.

“This is the last transmitted image from the probe,” Max said.

“Any information on what type of institution that is?”

“None from the probe. I will begin scanning as soon as we are within range.”

“Good. Notify me when you have the information.”

Michael brought the ship into orbit and then guided it down to the last location of the probe. As the ship hovered unseen over the buildings, Max began his report.

“I have locked onto the central computer system. My preliminary scan indicates this is an institution of learning, Clarondon University to give its exact name. It is a multi-disciplined school with 10,243 students. The breakdown of teachers—”

“I don’t need that. Print out a plan of the grounds.”

The computer immediately ejected a map of the campus. Michael studied it carefully.

“A university,” Michael mused. “A teacher or perhaps one of the students—”

“Commander,” Max interrupted, “I am receiving signals from the probe.”

Michael leaned forward attentively. “Location?”

“The signal is emitting from the building directly beneath us. The Verne Science Hall, to be exact.”

“This is going to be the shortest mission of my career,” Michael commented as he stood up. “Pinpoint the exact location. Also, do a visual of the inhabitants and generate appropriate clothing. I won’t be able to wear my uniform in this time.”

“Sidetime,” Max corrected.


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