Thursday, November 30, 2006

Other World Environments

Yesterday we had a near record high temperature of 66 degrees. Tomorrow, the forecast is for snow and possibly freezing rain. Changeable weather is one of the joys of living in Michigan–Not. But the weather here inspired my subject for today...other world environments.

I think it’s easier to set our futuristic/SF romance on a planet with a similar environment to what we have here on Earth. Easier for us to write, easier for our readers to understand. It makes sense because our characters are human. Obviously they’re not going to be able to breathe poisonous gas or survive in conditions hazardous to human like...not for long anyway.

But too often I find most fictional other worlds are an almost exact copy of Earth. Oh, the names of flora and fauna may change but a rose is a rose by any other name, true? And as speculative fiction writers, we’re urged to call a cup of coffee...well, coffee. Why? Because odd words are confusing to readers. Okay, this makes sense too. But what do you call a fruit that has no equal on Earth? A blue-strawberry-banana apple? That’s a bit cumbersome. When Keriam and Eric (Heartstone) stop for a rest, he finds some native fruits to eat. Keriam, of course, has never seen these fruits before. All she knows is what she sees–they’re blue and round–then what she smells. Here’s how I resolved that issue.

The man chuckled, a deep warm sound of genuine amusement, as he pulled a narrow-bladed knife from his belt. He slid the knife through the succulent fruit, removing a wedge-shaped piece. The scent, a subtle blend of berry and banana with a tiny edge of citrus, wafted to her nose. This time her stomach rumbled like a freight train.
He lifted the wedge to her mouth. His unspoken message–she would eat from his hand or not at all–was clear. Tempted to tell him to take the exotic food and stuff it, her traitorous mouth opened instead. He slowly placed it in her mouth. As her lips closed around the fruit, taste exploded on her tongue.
Sweet with just an edge of acidic tartness, the fruit seemed to melt on her tongue. She chewed slowly, savoring the taste. Swallowing, she looked up and found him watching her intently.
"This is a tepe'en." His voice was oddly strangled as he offered the name of the fruit. His fingers glistened from the juice as he cut another slice. "It's native to Neraldi and to this continent in particular. We import quite a bit of it to Antiare. Most of our people consider it a delicacy."

Since this story is set on several planets other than Earth, I also had to have a bit of description about them. Neraldi, the first planet Keriam encounters, has a binary star overhead. Here’s a small description as seen from Keriam’s point of view.

She didn't have any idea where she was but she wasn't on Earth. That was obvious from the large, pink-orange sun and its small yellow companion. Even without that, the sight of the delicate winged-lizards leaping from branch to branch would have convinced her. If she hadn't been attacked by a mutant and kidnapped by an alien, she would have been gawking like a Tokyo tourist.
The trees grew in an odd triad formation, three boles rooted companionably together. The color of burnt cork, they were festooned with long, narrow leaves that glistened with a silvery aqua color and rustled in the light breeze. The central bole of each tree cluster hosted branches laden with tiny green berries.
As she trudged onward, she realized the small lizard-birds favored those berries both on the branches and where they had fallen on the forest floor. Keriam thought the little creatures resembled nothing less than wildly colored blossoms. And while they fluttered like busy little bees, they didn't appear to nest or roost in the trees. She watched, curious in spite of herself, as one ruby-colored creature waddled to a slightly raised patch of earth then flipped head over heels into its burrow.

These are things that a normal person would automatically observe when faced by a new experience. Colors, scent, plant and animal life (she later learns that the lizard-birds are called linlies) can provide warnings or clues as to the kind of place you’re in. They can provide life and death types of clues or warnings...if you know what to look for. In this next bit, you’ll see how Keriam reacts when she first sees a bursi.

The linlies fell silent, a living barometer of danger. Every line in Eric's powerful body tensed as he slowly scanned the surrounding woods. Keriam's heart kicked into overdrive. Her flesh tingled as she realized something was out there. Her mouth went dry.
Eric's sword hissed as it left its scabbard, breaking the deathly silence. He gestured her behind him as he faced the thick line of trees to their left.
She heard a noise; a twig snapped in the bosky depths of the forest. Eric turned slightly, orienting himself to the sound.
"What is it?"
He gave a single, impatient shake of his head.
The undergrowth rustled, shook. A heavy grunt broke the silence. Another. Frantically, Keriam glanced around for a weapon as she heard the sound of something large and in a sudden hurry.
It was coming right at them. Her hand settled on a thick branch.
Then a large, hairy creature burst out of the underbrush. Covered with patches of jewel colors, the animal looked as if it had been dipped into one too many cups of Easter egg dye. It was big, a monster-sized bull-shaped creature with a long, barbed tail. Tiny red eyes blinked at them as a pink tongue whipped between smiling, fleshy lips.
Keriam almost laughed–the creature looked so odd, almost cartoonish. Then it opened its mouth to reveal a wide muzzle filled with sharp, yellowed teeth and she didn't want to laugh at all.

Animals that have evolved on a planet beyond Earth may bear a resemblance to Earthly creatures. At least at first glance. But we as writers can’t go into the history of their evolution. We have to make it understandable to normal Earthlings...like us :D

Neraldi has plants and animals, forests and lakes, not too unlike our own. But Keriam ends up fighting the Gawan on the first planet it captured. Purlea, she learns, was a terraformed planet (yes, I had to use terraformed even though terra means Earth) but after the Gawan takes over, the mechanics of that terraforming are left in disarray and the planet begins returning to its natural condition. Here’s the description of that planet. (Oh, and Froggie, in the selection below, is a linlie who adopted Eric.)

The landscape was just as barren, bleak and desolate as it had looked on the holo-image. The wind moaned across the rocky plains like a tortured demon. Keriam pulled her cap down and her collar up to protect her face from the blowing dust and grit. The only signs of life were low, sulky bushes and a sooty yellow grass that hugged the ground stubbornly. Keriam thought it would be better off if it let go and flew into space. Eric resettled the pack on his shoulders after Froggie took wing. "Let's go."
With his long-legged stride, he set a brisk pace aiming for the red splotch on the horizon that had to be the singular mountain she'd seen in the holo-image.
In single file, with Keriam in the middle and Eric in the lead, they set off toward the rising sun. Froggie quickly resumed his perch on Eric's shoulder, tucking his head under a leathery wing. The plains weren't flat, she discovered. The land actually dipped and swelled like a vast, frozen sea. Small, bloated plants with waving filaments broke the surface like fishermen in solitary clumps. Whatever those filaments meant to attract, Keriam hoped not to see.
Here and there, when the wind died, puffs of bilious yellow gas burst out of the ground like tiny stinking farts. Obviously, Purlea would never draw tourists in its present condition.
They stopped at mid-morning, then again at noon, to rest and eat. Beyond the ever-present dust devils and a few high clouds, nothing moved. It was easy to imagine they were alone on the planet, but she knew that Purlea teemed with Gawan-spawn. And soon, at dawn the next day, the city and its nearby Defense Base would be bombarded.

Other worlds visited by our characters can be very Earth-like but they don’t have to be identical. Our characters see these unearthly landscapes in terms they understand. And I think it’s important that they see it in terms that reflect their fears or chances of survival. Those who read SF/futuristic/speculative romance are looking for something that takes them past Earth and its normal environs. They’re looking for adventure and new experiences and, yes, romance at its best. These readers are some of the smartest, most intelligent people around and it’s our job to satisfy them.

“Heartstone by Lynda K. Scott is an adventure that starts almost from the beginning of the book. Although there were times that I had difficulties with some of the terms, it was easy enough to follow the story. I enjoyed the interaction between the characters and was fascinated by the worlds the author had created. Although the story of these characters was completed in this book, it is obvious that the back-story can continue and I would be interested in seeing what happens next.”
Reviewed by Kathy Andrico, Joyfully Reviewed

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

ah - that sweet taste of - THE END!

I love my characters and I love my books, but you know what is the ultimate in satisfaction? When you type The End - and you know you've given the story the best you can.

As most people know here, my current book has been a battle. I mean, not only is it romance, and sci-fi, but it does have a streak of violence, mainly because of the story line and the characters involved. The characters, the main hero and heroine, aren't sweet, aren't gentle, but nor are they cruel. They are strong, cold at times, very calm and controlled. So deviation of this has to be for a reason.

I'm a big believer in that characters need to be what they're portrayed, hence if I have a tough heroine/hero, that's what you're going to get.

These two characters and I have fought for at least half of the book. But then, as the deadline loomed, I started burning the candle at both ends (you know, on nights off work writing until 3 or 4am, falling into bed to read for another half hour [of course] then up at 9 or 10am and back to the keyboard). I lived and breathed these characters, and the story suddenly started to pull together.

I finished their story on Saturday afternoon. I had sniffled through a scene in the early hours of Sat morning, had a few hours sleep, and tackled them again, knowing I was nearly finished. When I typed The End, I sat back and looked at it.

It was The End. The end of about three months of internal and external conflict with these characters and the story. Did I do the characters justice? Had I done the readers justice? Many have been waiting for these two to finally have their story. Have I done the villains justice, the side characters, the plot, the story-line?

To that, I can answer yes. It's one of the hardest stories I've written, but it was never going to be easy with these two characters. But the satisfaction of finally having finished, knowing I'd done the best I can...that was a huge reward. And strangely enough, after our fights, I am fond of these two characters, I'm drawn to them. I guess living and breathing and fighting with them for three months has pretty much ingrained them in me LOL.

I have submitted, and now is the waiting game. Is it too violent, too 'hot', too...something? Ah the self-doubts of a writer! Sending our 'baby' into the world is always scary LOL. Now I will see what the response is.

Meanhwile The End may have come for this couple, but it's not the complete The End. Side characters often pop up in my other books, and no doubt these two have their little roles to play in other stories, so it's not the last of them.

Yep, it's The End for this particular couple's story, but now there's something else to think about. Another story, another couple, another plot...it's never really The End, is it, in the world of books and romance?

So now, I'm having a week or two off writing, catch up on emails, watch a little TV, read some books...oh yeah, and go to work - that never ends! LOL then it's on to a new adventure in a galaxy full of possibilities and promises!!!

cheers!
Angela

Monday, November 27, 2006

My Turn to be Thankful

I know it's a few days late...but my turn in the rotation came up, and my turn to be thankful. This year, I'm thankful I didn't have to cook. I don't do large dinners so well. Hell, sometimes I don't do small dinners all that well, either.

This love/hate thing with the kitchen began in my early years. As a latchkey kid, I took on an early responsibility for dinner. I'd come home most nights to something large and lumpy in the big roasting pan, covered (mercifully) with aluminum foil, and a note from my mother to put it in at 350 for 45 minutes, take the tinfoil off, and use the turkey squirter to put the juice over the top of it. What eventually emerged an hour or so later was a lump of roasted meat--beef, chicken, or pork, it didn't matter--and potatoes and vegetables of various sorts that had been slowly starved of stiffness under the onslaught of meat drippings with phenomenal corrosive power, thanks to the ten million little envelopes of Onion Soup mix that filled our cupboards to bursting on a regular basis.

By the time my mom got home, it would be time to make the gravy. I'd stand next to her and tell her about my day while she made gravy. I watched it enough times that I thought I could do it, so in third grade one day, I decided I was going to do it before Mom got home, and wouldn't she be surprised and maybe realized I was "mature" enough to handle having a Barbie RV to play with. I was pretty confident I knew what to do. Just put the white stuff in the juices little by little until it turned thick. So I opened the cupboard, and brought in the bobcat to shovel away the envelopes of onion soup to get to the stuff behind it.

Flour--white stuff, baking soda--white stuff, baking powder--white stuff, corn starch--white stuff.

Well, I knew it wasn't flour--you only used flour if there was chicken in the roasting pan, and then you mixed it with milk and blobbed it on top to bake the last fifteen minutes and called it "dumplings"--probably because you dumped them out for the dog when Mom wasn't looking.

Baking soda--well, that was the stuff you put in the fridge next to the onions to keep the whole fridge from smelling like onions. You dumped it into the bathtub when you had poison ivy to keep from itching. Gravy didn't itch, though, so baking soda was out.

Corn starch--what the heck was corn starch. Dad complained when there was too much starch in his shirts--good lord, he'd hit the roof if I put it in his gravy. Because if there was one thing Dad liked, it was his gravy over potatoes and buttered bread. And everything else. French fries, carrots, and probably apple pie, if he thought he could get away with it. Okay, so corn starch was out.

That left baking powder. In it went. Just a little at first. The encouraging little bubbles that frothed up made things look murkier than clear pan drippings and I thought that was a great sign. But things weren't thickening. So I added a little more and turned up the heat.

Mom came home and I impressed her with my hop-to-it-iveness. I went back to my gravy masterpiece and she gave me a pass for setting the table and did it herself. She seemed pleased I was finally showing interest in "girly" things. "Interesting" was a word that would come up later. Along with several unprintable invectives...

Meanwhile, I was showing interest all right. My gravy started to bubble. Aha! I thought. Here's the part where the thickening happens. It'll bubble, and get thick, and I'll turn around and--hey, Dad's home, just in time to see his budding Julia Child!

And the gravy bubbled on. I left it to go greet Dad (something that involved rooting in his bag and looking for dum-dums). Finally, my mother went over to the stove.

"Did you just start this?"

"No, mom. I put a bunch of stuff in it a while ago."

"Stuff?" She gave the gravy a stir while I told Dad that I made the gravy and I cooked the dinner because man, I was The Shit.

It was a vigorous stir, unlike the delicate swipes I'd been giving the pan. Dad peeked over Mom's shoulder just in time to hear the singe of scalded gravy, and with the release of heat, the baking soda in the bottom of the pan frothed up, mixing with the rest of the drippings in a chemical orgy that shot up six inches in the air, spreading over the burners, the counter, and a little of the backsplash behind the stove.

"Volcano!" my little brother yelled from the table.

My mother had gamely poured off what she could of the volcano gravy into the gravy boat and set it out. Since I was the cook, I ladled the gravy over my meat and had the dubious pleasure of the sensations of chewy roast mixed with the effervescence normally reserved for carbonated beverages. To this day, I think I can safely say that I'm the only person in the world who has the experience of enjoying meat soda. My brother delighted in taking the ladle to give the gravy a stir, mixing up the baking soda from the bottom for a fresh round of bubbling frothiness.

That evening, we enjoyed a very dry meal. For my mom and dad, each bite forced its way past lips folded tightly against teeth. Many years later I learned that they were trying hard not to laugh. I don't know if I believe it or not, since I never did get that Barbie RV.

But I can name several members of my family who are also exceedingly thankful every year when it turns out to be not my turn again to host dinner.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Many Thanks

I don't know where to begin. I'm thankful for so many things this year. For my husband for supporting me and being my biggest cheerleader for my writing. For Red Sage for being the first on the block to take a chance on me in a format longer than a short story. For Triskelion for seeing merit in my novels and sending me those oh so lovely contracts. I'm thankful for my ability to come up with stories--sometimes not so original--but undeniably mine. I'm thankful for my wonderful critique partners who show me my faults and help me to strengthen my writing. I'm thankful that I found the RWA and my NJ chapter along with the other chapters I'm a member of.

I can't believe this year has almost come to a close. It moves so fast when you're working to finish projects and write faster, and doing edits, and even still...it drags while you wait for conferences, wait for your books to come out, and wait for that one call that says an agent will represent you, or an editor has offered you a multi-book deal. Yes, even with contracts and books coming out I'm still expanding my horizons and trying to publish my fantasy series. I'm still in the pursuit of an agent. And maybe...just maybe next year I'll have even more to be thankful for.

-Kat

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

I know it's a day early....


But I wanted to say Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. Even if you don't celebrate the holiday, I hope you have a wonderful day.

I love Thanksgiving for a lot of reasons, chief among them being any excuse to sit down to an enormous meal and eat without guilt. But I also like that it's the kick off of the holiday season. As busy as we are these days, I still enjoy this time of year. Another reason I love Thanksgiving is Black Friday. Most people probably cringe at that. I'm not one of those people who heads off to the mall at 6:00 AM hunting bargains. In fact, between now and December 26th, I won't go near the mall. The day after Thanksgiving is a free holiday. It's not a federal holiday but most places of business give you the day off - unless you work in retail in which case, my heart goes out to you. Or the medical profession, in which case you're probably also swamped right now.

Those of us in the business world get the day off just because it's a Friday after a holiday and let's face it, who would really show up?

I put my tree up on Black Friday and sometimes I bake cookies or put something cinnamony in the oven to make the place smell Christmassy.

Finally, I love Thanksgiving because I get to be with family that I don't see very often. We sit around and reminisce. I love hearing stories about the old days and family members long gone. It gives me a feeling of being connected and I like that.

So, whatever you do on Thanksgiving, I hope you get some time to slow down and relax, even if its only for a little while. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

People for a Reason, a Season or a Lifetime?

Since its two days until Thanksgiving, I figured I needed to find a message that expressed the sentiment of the season. My musing led me to recall a profound e-mail I'd received from my aunt a few days earlier. It said:

People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime. When you know which one it is, you will know what to do for that person.

When someone is in your life for a REASON, it is usually to meet a need you have expressed. They have come to assist you through a difficulty, to provide you with guidance and support, to aid you physically, emotionally or spiritually. They may seem like a godsend and they are. They are there for the reason you need them to be.

Some people come into your life for a SEASON, because your turn has come to share, grow or learn. They bring you an experience of peace or make you laugh. They may teach you something you have never done. They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy. Believe it, it is real. But only for a season!

LIFETIME relationships teach you lifetime lessons, things you must build upon in order to have a solid emotional foundation. Your job is to accept the lesson, love the person and put what you have learned to use in all other relationships and areas of your life. It is said that love is blind but friendship is clairvoyant.

When I reflect on the message contained within these words I can't help but think of my friends...and not just any plain old friends. I'm talking about my writing friends. Over the years I've been in RWA I've delighted in meeting other women (and a few men) who share my passion for love, romance and making the best darn Happily Ever After. We are a special breed, especially those of us who venture into the unknown worlds of the paranormal, futuristic and fantasy realms. Eventhough we deal with societies and characters that exist originally in our sometimes overactive imaginations, we still have to get them on the page. And that is where people you've met can be grouped into a reason, a season or a lifetime.

I still recall the first paid workshop I attended at my local RWA chapter in Raleigh. It was Deb Dixon's GMC and Hero's Journey jam-packed into a single day. While there, I was given the fundamentals for Goal, Motivation and Conflict which provides a skeleton for every book I could ever create. I don't think I have to tell any of the writers out there, but this was a lesson that will last throughout my lifetime of writing.

RWA Nationals is the season that comes once a year. I was lucky enough to attend this year in Atlanta, and have never felt so welcome by a large group of strangers. As a mousy, shy introvert, Nationals had me sweating bullets. My pink First Sale ribbon was like Willy Wonka's Golden Ticket. It drew stares, questions, and congratulations that made me beam, even while descending floor-by-floor in an elevator packed sardine-tight with writers eager to get to the next event.

And as of late, I have been inundated by encouragement, advice and commiseration from my friends for a reason. I never expected that the bad news about TIES OF VALOR being pulled from Triskelion's publishing schedule would illicit such a response. And I was honestly surprised that so many people cared about me. Every one of those compassionate e-mails and posts gave me the heart not to give in to tears and not to give up on my dream which is still in my hands to achieve.

So today, lend someone a sympathetic ear, give somebody your honest opinion to help with a problem or just sit beside someone for support. You never know how far or how long one simple action will resonate.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Weekly Author Spotlight

Starting Monday, November 20, I'll be the featured author at Weekly Author Spotlight.

It's a yahoo group so if you're not a member, you can send a blank email to:
weekly_author_spotlight_group@yahoogroups.com (I hope!)

I'll be doing excerpts, chatting and offering some cool prizes.

Mentioning prizes. I'm having two pretty cool prizes for members of my newsletter group (no chat--just a once a month newsletter). All you need do is send a blank email to LyndaKScott-Newsgroup-Subscribe@yahoogroups.com

If you join and can't find information about the prizes, just email me. I'll give you all the juicy details

Rewriting the Unrewritable

Going through my old files, I found a story I wrote about 10 years ago. Reading it is a painful exercise in the futility of major editing. In order to bring this book up to scratch, I'm going to have to start from page one, sentence one and start all over again. Sometimes that is just easier than fixing an existing file.

It had been about 7 years from the time I finished one draft of By A Silken Thread to the time I did a total rewrite and sold it. - The majority of those seven years (about six years, nine months) it spent stuffed in a drawer somewhere while I worked on other projects. By the time I thought to bring it out of moth balls and mouse droppings, the technology had changed so dramatically, I was forced to update it. But that was all right. In the intervening years, I'd learned a lot about craft, character and plot development and knew I could do much better. I never gave it a second thought about delving in and beginning a fresh draft from the very first word.

-That's how I feel about this book. I call it "Timeless" though I doubt I'll stay with that trite title. It's a reincarnation tale that originally took place between NJ and Scotland. But as I started thinking about this story again about six months ago, I thought why did I bother to set the damn thing in Scotland when NJ has the exact topography I need for the death scenes? This state is so rich in history for the same time period I'd set the original story in. I would have information more readily available, since I live in the area I'm writing about. (Northwestern NJ not far from the Delaware Water Gap).

I can still keep the basic premise and action, reactions ect. but I will need to tighten the cast of characters and make more parallels between the past and present. I think with the changes I'm thinking of I may be able to pull this off.

There is something comforting to me about rewriting a story I've already written a few times. I don't know if it's because the characters have lived inside me so long I no longer feel as if I'm getting to know them, but already am very intimately acquainted with them. Or if it's because I already have a good idea where the story is going, even if I've changed it drastically. There is an inexplicable confidence in rewriting a book from scratch.

Have you ever taken something out of a drawer and totally rewritten it from page one, starting in a brand new file? If so, what are your feelings before, during and after the project?

-Kat

Friday, November 17, 2006

The POS Draft

I believe I first heard this term from Nora Roberts. In an interview she was describing her very first draft of a novel, the one she just spit out onto the page with no thoughts about editing or word count or even, necessarily how it was all going to end up. She called it her POS. Piece of $hit.

Would that my finished, polished, edited and critiqued draft had the same selling power as Ms. Roberts’s POS. But anyway, that’s what she calls it.

I’ve begun using the term and have added it to my official writing vocabulary. All my first drafts will be called POS from now on. Not because I think of my writing as a POS...though I do have my moments, but because I think it sums up the way we need to look at our very first draft. If you struggle and strain over a first draft, agonizing over the placement of every word and every comma, and you edit it to death, you may never make it to your second draft. Granted you might have something nice when you’re finally finished with that draft, but if it took you four years to complete it what good is it?

I’ve realized the value of getting something down on paper. Just write. That’s one of the best pieces of advice I would give any new writer. Just write. Worry about spelling, grammar, punctuation and the eloquent turn of phrase later. Get the story down and give yourself permission to write a POS because you can fix it. As Ms. Roberts has also said, you can’t fix a blank page.

I know the stuff I’ve been writing feverishly this week isn’t my best work. It’s rough, it’s loose, it smells faintly of old gym socks. But I have glimpsed small kernels of the finished product there amid the onion skins and eggshells. I can dig out those diamonds later and polish them to my heart’s content once I have the story out of my head, where it has begun to fester a bit, and on paper where it can’t give me anymore late night headaches.

Do you write a POS draft? Would you to? The freedom of it is a wonderful thing. Take my advice and give it a try.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Trust

In between grousing about my on-going kitchen remodel and my day job, I’ve been doing some fairly heavy rewrites on my current wip (work in progress for any non-writer types here). I’m at the stage of the first major turning point about one third into the book.

The hero, who hasn’t been entirely truthful to the heroine (she thinks he’s someone he’s not), is going to ‘out’ himself. But the way he has to do it makes him look as if he’s actually betrayed the heroine–revealed her secrets to the authorities and caused her arrest. He’s got his reasons, of course, valid reasons. She doesn’t see that. All she sees is betrayal by a man she was falling in love with.

She’s understandably angry and feeling rather foolish. And even when the hero arrives to break her out of jail, she doesn’t trust him.

He has to get back into her good graces for two reasons. He needs her help to accomplish an important mission and he loves her, can’t imagine a life without her in it. What’s a man to do?

Flowers and candy can’t earn trust. Neither can sweet or charming words. Only selfless acts, some supreme sacrifice perhaps, will do it. Maybe. Trust is, after all, a very fragile thing and once broken is harder than Humpty Dumpty to put back together again.

But it has to be done. Why? Because, in my humble opinion, real love can’t exist without trust. Looking back, I see that as a theme that exists in one form or another in each of my books.

In Heartstone, Keriam has to learn to trust herself before she can trust her hero, Eric. It’s his act of self-sacrifice to save her that spurs her trust and liberates her to love him completely and selflessly. And that allows her to use the Heartstone to fight the Gawan.

Likewise, in Altered Destiny, Liane meets an exact look-alike of her cheating ex-husband in the alternate Earth to which she has been transported. She has to get past her hero’s physical appearance in order to learn to trust him and from that love grows. I was just a little trickier with Altered Destiny and gave her hero trust issues too (what’s good for the goose is good for the gander, no?) But it all worked out in the end. Their love for each other sparked the battle for Earth’s liberation.

But this current wip...the hero is going to have to suffer-a lot-before he earns the heroine’s trust again. The question is how?

Any suggestions?

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Traveling the stars dilemma!

I've been going great guns with my current WIP. Still fighting the characters a bit, but we've come to an understanding. But now I have a bigger problem, and one I've come across before.

Traveling from one Sector to another, throughout the universe - it all takes time! So much time, in fact, that what becomes a one-way trip that takes 2 weeks, and the return trip 2 weeks, and time in between - before you know it, two months have gone past and they're still trying to get to the major action scene. Even if they have super-duper-you-beaut-never-heard-of-before power thrusters that are faster than the speed of light... or faster than my car, anyway.

Whoa nelly! So now you have to fill the bits in-between with lots of things. Good time for relationship growth, but it needs more than just that, too. It needs action and adventure and hot se- I mean relationship growth, too.

If you're not careful, it can get mighty boring, floating out there, taking two weeks to get anywhere. Six weeks. Two months. There's only so many space pirate attacks to go around, so many settlements to call into to fuel up, etc.

This is where, when writing sci-fi/futuristic with travel to the stars and beyond, where distance is no problem, you have to rein in the trips around the galaxy if you've got a tight-knit story with constricted times for action and drama.

So how do those of you who write such things, handle it?

Angela

Monday, November 13, 2006

Future (Im)Perfect

I write Futuristic and Science Fiction Erotic Romance. My characters live, love, and lust after each other in technologically advanced worlds. I'm currently working on two series in two separate universes. One is a near-future universe, where humankind has colonized the inner Solar system. The other is space opera, set in a universe so futuristic and far-removed from Earth that modern existence has faded into the mists of irrelevance--Earth isn't, and perhaps never was. I have other futuristic settings that I've dreamed up over the years as well, but most of them share one common element.

They are imperfect futures.

Two of my favorite fandoms are Star Trek and Star Wars, yet their futuristic settings are vastly different. The future portrayed in Star Trek falls into what I consider the "perfect" category. While far from perfect, it is, by its tone, a future striving towards perfection rather than away from it. The futuristic setting of Star Wars, however, is heading the opposite direction.

I often wonder which type of future we'll really be manifesting. Will we, as a species, reach out to overcome our common problems, like hunger and disease? Or will we allow our imperfections--our ugly and selfish instincts--to take over and create an environment where more and more people are marginalized, and the struggle for survival is a struggle made in a lonely vacuum? And why do I write stories set in dystopic settings when they seem so damn depressing at first glance?

My answer is hope.

A dystopian society presents more of an obstacle to two (three, five, seven, etc.) people finding each other and finding love than a perfect one. Love in an imperfect future is harder...and can be more rewarding. The brightest candle burns in the darkest room, and it has a greater effect.

What kinds of futures do you like to read about?

Friday, November 10, 2006

Don't Steal My Thunder!

We’ve all been witnesses to this crime. That instant when you’re cruising along, then BAM!, a secondary character takes over the show. Out of the blue you’ve been blindsided by this person who is totally charming, relatable, and utterly attention getting to the point of eclipsing the hero and/or heroine.

And that is often times a problem. Anytime part of your main duo loses the reader’s focus is usually a no-no, because if the reader is bonding with someone else, they’re not paying the hero and heroine a lick of attention. Which means they’ve derailed from your plotline and their imagination is saying, “I wonder what happened to [fill in the blank].”

This constitutes the rub. What if you need a cast of characters, call them a family if you will, to flesh out your masterpiece? Sure you can whittle down Aunt Jane and Uncle John Doe to the bare essentials, but Cousin Eric doesn’t want to behave at the reunion. And you kind of like where he’s coming from, though you can’t have him lording himself over everyone. Yet you can’t finagle him into a caricature (or a stereotype) as extra page filler for comic relief, because that would be a waste of a good thing.

The solution? Make your charismatic character integral to the plot, but insert him/her sparingly like strong herbs. That way the reader has to pay attention to the character, possibly even bond with them, but there’s never enough to do more than wet the reader’s appetite. Which can set up a follow-up book, especially if your readers’ lament to the publishing house adamantly enough.

This is exactly what prompted me to brainstorm books for all the Shandar children. In TIES OF VALOR, we meet Awyn, the Prince Regent who can’t assume the throne because of a societal shift. But the nagging question of what would happen to the heir apparent, his sister Anida who’d fallen in love with an off-worlder, hadn’t been shown. Which meant another book. And everyone who’s read the manuscript loved their younger brother Talis, who was outgoing and carefree. (Dare I mention Cousin Eric?) So I knew everyone would want to hear his playboyish tales. That left the middle son, Oron, who never ventured out from his lab in TIES OF VALOR. Though the storyline makes one wonder, just what was he up too with CHIRI, the sentient computer, behind closed doors?

As if I hadn’t learned better (or gotten tired from the neverending story told through several characters) the same thing happened in JUST ONE LIFE. Though in my defense, it’s basic lore that magical power is greater with a trinity of three. My heroine had enough on her plate with dying and being reborn as a cat, so I had my hero stumble across a shapeshifter while browsing in a local bookstore. From that moment, Kass (who was inspired by Ty Pennington) leapt from the page ready to overshadow Kendron, who at first glance seems like a stick-in-the-mud. But I invented a way for him to relate differently to both the hero and heroine, while not inundating the reader with his enthusiasm. To Gwynan he represents a man who tried to save her in ancient France, and Kendron has him cowed to understudy by the star-power of his lineage.

Though I can’t count the number of contest judges who’ve said WE LOVE KASS!, as of yet he doesn’t have a story. I haven’t found the right girl…make that woman, since he needs someone to tamp his spirits down. Lord knows his coven of male buddies would only egg him on if left to their own devices! But they’ve learned an important lesson. If you have a jester who can’t wait to take center stage, wrestle him to the ground, sit on him, and when the time is right let him shine.

Do you have a character whose mouth you'd like to duck tape shut? Or perhaps you've read about one that you wish had a book of his/her own?

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Why Do Fools Fall in Love?

I’ll admit that I’m fickle when it comes to heroes. Way back in the 70’s it didn’t take me long to get over Shaun Cassidy as Joe in the Hardy Boys Mysteries and fall for Parker Stevenson as Frank. I gave up on Erik Estrada’s Frank Poncherello in CHiPs pretty darn fast and developed a crush on his blond, blue-eyed partner Jon, played by Larry Wilcox. {What ever happened to him, I wonder?} Then along came Mark Harmon in 240-Robert and I was hooked. {Anyone watching him in NCIS?}

Aside from showing my age and how incredibly nerdy I probably was back then, this confession serves to show that romantic heroes come and go. We get over them and we move on.
Case in point – yes, I’m back to talking about Dr. Who. Remember back in June when I wondered how the Tenth incarnation of the doctor would work out, considering his role as the albeit reluctant romantic hero to Rose Tyler? I predicted it would take Rose a while to warm up to this new ‘shell’ that had grown around the man she’d fallen in love with.

I was wrong. After three episodes of Series 2, it’s clear to see that Rose has fallen head over heels and so have I. The new Doctor is a little shorter, probably a little less meaty than the last one, but egads, he’s just adorable. He possesses a joie de vivre that’s contagious, a ready and winning smile and an underlying fierceness that makes him the perfect Gamma hero.

Why, I wonder, is it so easy for me [and Rose] to move on? Well, for Rose I guess it’s because he’s just a new face on the same man. He knows her, he obviously cares deeply for her, and she absolutely, positively can’t tear herself away from the heart stopping life of adventure he offers. For me, it’s because I’m a hopeless romantic [I know, I promised not to use that term, but in this case, I guess I truly am hopeless]. I like love. I love love in fact. I have to or I wouldn’t write about it all the time. If I can’t root for Rose and Dr. No. 9, then I’ll root for Rose and Dr. No. 10. No big deal.

I wonder, would romance readers accept such a change so readily? How would you react to a book – or more accurately – a series of books in which the heroine changed heroes – lost one man and fell in love with another over the course of time? Would it be a turn off, or a new type of adventure? It’s done all the time on television, but would it work in romance novel? It is only true romance if the heroine falls in love only once [I’m not talking about ménages here, btw]? Or can you simply love love enough to root for the heroine, no matter who she sets her sights on?

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

War

I’m living in a war zone, or what looks like one and I really haven’t thought about my article for this blog. So you all get my deepest and most sincere apologies.

I’m having my kitchen remodeled. So far, they’ve cut out parts of walls (I had wet plaster–they’re replacing it with drywall) and charged me an extra $500 for some electrical work that I thought was covered under the original contract (I suppose that falls under the old Read Your Contract Adage. Sigh. I thought I did but apparently I missed that part. Double sigh.) The worst part is that I’m sure I could have gotten this done at a far cheaper rate by hiring my own electrician. Heck, part of this was $100+ for a double duplex. Highway robbery? Maybe not but damned close. (Figure the box might cost $5 and the wall plate another $1 and the amount of labor had to be all of 10 minutes. Maybe.)

On a brighter note, I’ve had a couple of nice reviews for Heartstone. Here are some snippets.

“Heartstone by Lynda K. Scott is an adventure that starts almost from the beginning of the book.”
Reviewed by Kathy Andrico, Joyfully Reviewed

"Heartstone has an interesting storyline with a diversity of races and planets... All in all, this is a wonderful futuristic read. 5 Angels"
Gretchen, Fallen Angels Reviews

"Heartstone is a satisfyingly complex contemporary fantasy novel which will keep the reader involved from paragraph one. 4.5 Stars"
Annie Kudzu, Ecataromance Reviews

"This story grabs you at the beginning and never lets you go until the very last word. Be sure to pick up a copy of this book, it is not to be missed. 5 Stars"
Sandra Marlow, Historical Romance Club

"Heartstone is a masterpiece by Lynda K. Scott. This new author has the
remarkable talent to bring science fantasy to life."
Sloane Taylor
Teddi Turns On coming June 2006 from Triskelion Publishing

And I’ve got a cool interview up in the featured author section of The Romance Studio those of you who are interested might want to check out.

I’m also working on a fairly hot little story for Triskelion’s new Interlude line tentatively titled Great Escapes. It’s about a B&B that has some, um, interesting activity taking place in the two upper rooms. It hasn't been accepted yet but I’ve got hopes that it will be :D

Friday, November 03, 2006

When Bad Chapters Happen to Good Writers...

Not that I'm saying I'm a good writer...but I had a most frustrating experience the other night. I have been busily writing on my WIP. I'm on chapter 27 and bammo...it sucked so bad I could have used it for a vacuum cleaner. It seems as if some chapters come so easily, effortlessly. The flow and plot and characters are all doing what they need to be doing and the world is a beautiful place. Same writer, same story, but suddenly it's weak and stiff and wooden. Why?

I'm a plotter. A very loose one, but a plotter all the same. So I have certain expectations going in that sometimes don't always come to fruition. Something wonderfully unexpected will happen and I'll decide that new path may be a better, more exciting one, and still incorporate the essence of the planned scene into the new one. Why then do I find myself with a bunch of characters that act as if they don't know their lines, or have stage fright. Why does one day my prose sound as if it was tuned like a fine instrument, and others as if I had never heard of characterization, setting, or plot.

The long and short of this is that I have chapter 27 that does absolutely nothing. That I spent a day and a half writing, and will never use. Perhaps some of the conversations will show up in the new 27, but I'm scrapping it.

Ever finished writing a chapter or two only to realize you hated it? Or do you usually catch that while it's happening?

-Kat

Thursday, November 02, 2006

NaNo and Mars

So I, like about 70,000 other writers, am doing NaNo this year. "Doing NaNo" being shorthand for participating in National Novel Writing Month. I've done this for three, maybe four years, and each time, I get something out of it. Sometimes it's "man, I can't write this way--I need to edit!" Other times it's, "man, I have to write this way--editing's just holding me back!" I have one of those cyclical writing processes--nothing I do works the same way twice. My process is a constantly-evolving thing.

Much like this blog post. The story I'm working on for NaNo is a full-length sequel to my novella, "Hounded" which just came out this month from Liquid Silver Books in the anthology "A Witch In Time." "Hounded" takes place in the future, where humans have colonized the inner Solar system and brought with them some interesting not-quite-scientific denizens. In the sequel, the hero is a Martian (yes, go ahead, make the "Men are from Mars" jokes now. Better? Okay, then, moving on), and most of the action is slated to take place in the Martian system.

So I've been keeping tabs on Mars news, and discovered that NASA is gearing up to go look for all the Martian crap they keep losing. I, for one, am grateful for this. It means that Mars is in our sights once again, and more importantly, it means we're thinking far enough ahead to attempt to recycle before we make a craptastic mess of somebody else's neighborhood.

The fact that we're now looking for the space-junk we'd previously write off makes me hopeful, and hesitant at the same time. What happened to the value of space exploration? Are we that cheap? On the other hand, the fact that we're looking to clean up our mess tells me that one day, we'll want to maybe live and work there...so let's not turn it into a garbage dump beforehand.

In my universe, Martians are a stubborn and contrary lot, prone to hard livin'. Mars itself has not been kind to our Earthly probes. Both the US and Britain have lost equipment attempting to land on the surface of our ruddy brother planet. Makes me kinda wonder if Mars itself isn't as contrary as his future settlers. ;)