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Namaste

Walk softly, speak kindly, be courteous, share a joke. Be a source of peace rather than a source of stress. Practice caring and gentleness. Your actions will preach louder than words.

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Meet Solstice Author Chris Hayes!

Chris is new to the world of independent publishing, but has a very interesting writing background in fanfiction. Welcome!

Tell us about your latest book, SIkkiyn.

My book is a science fiction novel liberally sprinkled with romance. Or it could be a romance novel grounded in hard science fiction. It depends upon your point of view. Its title is Sikkiyn, which is both the Arabic word for knife and the name of a group of mercenary warriors to which two of my main characters belong.

When will it be released?

Sikkiyn will be released in Kindle format on November 26th, 2014 by Solstice Publishing and will be available in paperback from Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com by January 26th of 2015.

Can you give us a teaser?

Captain Johan Larsen is in serious financial trouble. His ship, the Valkyrie, is over forty years old and falling apart. In a desperate ploy to get the funds he needs, he agrees to a high risk but lucrative transport contract. His cargo: an accused assassin en route to trial, to be delivered to the other side of Confederate space, cash on delivery. His money problems will be over once he delivers her alive to her destination, provided the people who are trying very hard to kill them en route don’t succeed, and he can somehow keep his passenger from murdering him on the way. And then there’s the fact that he’s stupid enough to be falling in love with her. Okay, so maybe his most serious trouble isn’t financial.

What other books/stories have you written?

Sikkiyn is my first professionally published work, although I did cut my eyeteeth on Star Trek fanfiction. You can find me on fanfiction.net under the nom de plume 2Distracted if you are so inclined.

Do you write in a particular genre or genres?

I write romantic science fiction, if that can be considered a genre. What I’ve managed to produce thus far has a lot more scifi than the average romance novel and a good deal more romance than usual science fiction, plus it has a happy ending (mostly, anyway), which is somewhat unusual for modern science fiction. So you can call it whichever one you want, I suppose.

What grabs you about this genre/these genres?

I’ve spent my entire life reading science fiction novels and romance novels and loving them both. I enjoy science fiction with believable relationships and romance in wildly imaginative alien settings, and it always bugs me when the science is faulty or the characters are poorly drawn. Occasionally I find a book that does both so well that it makes me wish I could write something so wonderful myself. I suppose my novel and the sequel that I’m currently working on are my attempts to give someone else the same experience.

What do you think are the biggest challenges for the type of writing you do?

Honestly, my biggest challenge has been finding the time to write. When you’re a physician your day job pretty much eclipses any attempts at secondary pursuits. Although I have learned in recent years to budget my time and prioritize so that I can get my writing done a bit faster than previously, when I get the idea for a great scene it’s very difficult to postpone writing it down until I have the time to sit down and do it.

What inspires you?

The great scifi authors who have successfully blended real romantic relationships into their science fiction without dumbing it down always inspire me. I’m talking about authors like C.J. Cherryh, Anne McCaffrey, Diana Gabaldon, Lois McMaster Bujold, Jacqueline Lichtenberg, and many others.

What do you think is the hardest thing about being published?

The hardest thing for me was the wait. I ended up giving up on the major publisher I initially submitted to. It was 6 months until I was told I’d made it out of the slush pile. I expected then to find out relatively quickly whether they were interested, but I waited over a year after that without any word. Barely a week after I decided to pull my manuscript from them and submit elsewhere to a smaller publisher, I received a contract.

Are there things you know now that you wish you’d known about earlier in this journey?

I wish I had known that there was a middle ground between self-publishing, which I really don’t have time to do with my current day job, and a major publisher. I’ve given up the option of hardback publication and major bookstore shelf space with my choice of publisher, but so far it seems to me that a smaller publishing house which does e-books and on-demand paperbacks is a good fit for me. I suppose I’ll know for certain very soon.

What advice would you give aspiring writers?

Write every day. Keep writing and find some friends who are honest enough to complain when it’s bad and enthusiastic enough to rave when it’s good. Then, when you’re satisfied with it, let a friend who’s a grammar Nazi dissect it to pieces. Find other writers to give honest criticism and re-write until it reads like a published novel to your eyes (and also to the eyes of several well-educated beta readers). Only then should you research your publishing options.

How did you get started writing?

A friend of mine introduced me to the world of fanfiction about a decade ago. I’ve always read for pleasure and wanted to be a writer, but I thought it was too late for that. I’d made my choice when I chose to go to medical school. When I read the fanfiction stories, though, I thought, “I can do that.” So I did for about five years. Finally I got tired of playing in someone else’s sandbox, and I decided to tell my own story. It was very hard to stop writing fanfiction. The immediate online feedback is like crack. It’s terribly addicting.

Anything else you’d like to tell our readers?

I’m about a quarter of the way done with the sequel, called Farspeaker. It’s coming, I promise!

How can readers contact you?

My Facebook author page at https://www.facebook.com/sikkiyn is the best way. I’m on every day for at least an hour or so, and I love to chat online.

Thank you, Chris, and we wish you the best of luck!


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Brack Friday musings

Yes, that’s “brack,” with an R. Because this time of year can turn us into a psychological swamp, if we let it.

I dunno about you, but I was horrified when TV ads came up for ten day long Black Fridays. As if it wasn’t already bad enough to see Christmas decorations up before Hallowe’en!

The Spouse and I were chatting the other night about how much times have changed since we were small children back in the 60’s, Our parents were the generation which saw the Great Depression, a World War, a baby boom, and the evolution of the suburbs. Instead of having to make everything, mass production took over the world, and with it, buying power followed close behind. Purchasing things which were once rationed became as easy as picking something off the store shelves.

On top of that, we were encouraged to buy. As a child, I remember TV ads about how Mom or Dad should get this widget over that one if they were a good parent. Guilt became ensnared with the idea of purchasing power. It was great to be able to buy “the latest,” whatever that might be. It was status. It was “I do better for my kids than you do.” It was the era when the middle class spoiled brat emerged, and those who produced and marketed knew it.

Along came buying on credit. What an idea! To buy now, and pay later? Of course, we’ll buy it all now, pretending it’s all ours when we are in fact renting it until it’s paid off. If we can’t afford it now, it doesn’t matter. We have time…and interest payments which can easily double the price. We’ll pay it off eventually. Consumerism Conquers All.

We’re paying for it now. We’re starting to catch wise to the ills and benefits of credit. We’re learning the lessons our parents learned as children, those hearty and resourceful survivors of the Great Depression. No one faults enjoying a boom, as long as at the end the lights are turned off, the doors are locked, and the hall is paid for by the end of the night.

What did our parents learn as children? How to make things last. How to take skills and build on them in ways to improve their lives, and the lives of others as they can. These are things we need to do now. I see a lot of this in my town. Simplicity needs to be the wave of the Present.

Here at home, Black Friday is best enjoyed after the onslaught. The mobs are gone; the mall is quiet. We stroll casually through, laughing and pointing, enjoying the decorations and displays, and never buy a thing. For us, the holidays are for spectators, and the nights are brilliant with landlocked stars.


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Holidaze – The Beginning

So here we are, less than a week away from stuffing ourselves fatter than our Thanksgiving turkeys. Bombarded by images of perfect tables and perfect families whose biggest dispute seems to be over who gets that last dinner roll.

Oh my God–the STRESS.

How did we get ourselves in this mess? I blame the media.

But then, I blame the media for everything.

Because it’s all their fault for dumping this on us.

It’s ours for believing them. Or worse, wanting to. So we drive ourselves forward in a frenzy of getting ready. By the time the guests show up, we are tired, cranky, and wish they would all leave. We won’t have to go shopping for food for the next week.

That’s not such a bad prospect, is it?

The point of this ramble is to lose the hype. It’ll just mess you up anyway.

Myself, I plan on kicking back with my beloved Spouse and critters and cheerfully enjoying our tradition of Thanksgiving pizza and a good movie.

* * * * * *

To all those being affected by the winter storms–we wish you safe, we wish you warm, we wish you cared for. The Powers keep you.


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Organized Writer? Or an Intuitive?

Kelley Abell (blog Writing With Kelley–check it out!) had an interesting discussion on her blog today about types of writers. She asked if we as writers were outliners or scribblers. Great topic!

If you’re the type who writes a full story outline and is able to follow it to the end, I salute you. I couldn’t do that on a bet. You are an extremely organized writer!

I’m on the other side of your fence, hanging out with other intuitive writers. We’ll have a sketch of an idea. We know what we’re trying to do, but how we get there may seem a bit odd to an organized writer. We tend to be organic in our approach, just letting the words flow, sketching the odd sentence or note here and there to remind ourselves of where we’re going. We often talk about stories just telling themselves. We could give you an outline of the tale after the fact, but before we set fingers to keyboard, no such thing exists. Just a thought, a hook on which to hang the words.

I have a notebook full of scribbles, ideas which are fermenting. Once decanted, I hope they make for a rich and satisfying wine.

As do all who write.


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Spellcheckers– and why I hate them

Hi all!

One of the things which gets bandied about from time to time in the realm of writing is the wonderful world of the computer spellchecker and how it is such a huge help to us, ta-da. Um…NO.

I hate spellcheckers with a passion that falls just shy of the seismic force of Mt. St. Helens when she blew on that fateful day in May, 1980.

Why?

Spellcheckers iz stoopid. They have no grasp, however fleeting, of context. Homonyms completely escape them. “I right my bicycle and rite away I realize I’m going to be late, almost missing my friend’s write of passage.”

They also don’t care what word you used as long as it is spelled right or wrong. The difference between “homonid” and “homonym” is two letters, and both are spelled correctly. “English is full of confusing homonids.”

It most certainly is.

There’s nothing wrong with using a spell checker, but it should not be your only tool. Read with your eyes, with your ears, with your voice. Teach yourself to see what is, and isn’t, on the page. The very best spell checker is in that creative space between your ears. To proofread, use your brain.

And while you’re at it, turn your grammar checker off. Damn things have no sense of style.