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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.

10 Reasons We Love Book Trailers

1. They are fun. Fun to watch, fun to create. (The Highlander Trilogy by Maya Banks)

2. They give novels a visual dimension. It’s a quick peek into the world created by the story. (Give Up the Ghost by Megan Crewe)

3. They give readers another tool to help them decide if they would like to read the book. (Time’s Edge by J.M. Dattilo. Yes. Shameless self-promotion.)

4. They can tell a story in (usually) two minutes or less.  (The Hot List by Hilary Homzie. 45 seconds.)

5. They whet the appetite. (Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs)

6. You don’t have to be a professional book trailer designer to create a good trailer. (Demon Hunter by Cynthia Vespia)

7. They make you laugh. ( Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart).

8. They can be artistic. (Tell Me a Secret by Holly Cupala)

9. Some are really beautiful. (Beautiful Places by Chad Prosser)

10. They don’t always take themselves too seriously. (Magic Slays by Ilona Andrews)

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.

Fan Art

A fan art picture of Kate from our novel Time’s Edge. Thanks to Amber C. for the drawing!

Whither Goest Publishing?

There have been arguments all over the Web (and off it!) about the future of publishing. Some believe printed books are dead. Others think ebooks are a fad. (Yes, we actually heard someone say this.)  It was inevitable that, as authors, we would get asked our opinions about this burning question. And our reply?

We don’t know.

That’s right, we  have no idea what direction publishing is going to take. Are print books dead? We don’t think so. Are ebooks a fad? Nope. But do we have to choose one over the other? We aren’t so sure about that.

Let’s face it. Technology changes so quickly that discussing traditional formats vs. ebooks seems silly. Who knows what will be available ten years from now. And fifty years out is even more vague. We’ve read many of the predictions about publishing and are frankly amazed that so many seem so sure about something so nebulous.

Our first novel, Time’s Edge, is available in ebook and printed formats. Yes, the ebook is out-selling the paperback version, but we’re willing to bet price is the deciding factor. (The ebook is $3.99 and the paperback is $9.99.) Everyone loves a bargain.

We wish we could get into a space ship and time travel as the characters in our book do. However, we are stuck with today. And since that is all anyone has anyway, arguing about the direction the future is going to take seems unnecessary. If pressed on the subject, we’re willing to say that new ways of sharing information and emerging technologies are going to change the publishing field in ways no one is even considering.

It’s an interesting intellectual exercise. But that’s all it is. The important point is to stay current and to be open to new ideas and adaptable to new technologies. However, if any one does have a time-traveling space ship, let us know!

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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