Tag Archives: Memory’s Child

Writing Process Blog Tour – My Part!

Many thanks to my friend and fellow fictioneer, Jerilyn Dufresne, author of the charming and funny Sam Darling mystery series. She tagged me in her recent blog post (Read it here). Thanks, Jer! I enjoyed the challenge.

What are you working on now?

Lately, I’ve been emulating a scattergun – I’m working on four books. In addition to researching and writing the sequel and prequel to Memory’s Child, I’m also updating and revamping a mystery/suspense novel (Dying to Meet You) and a romance/adventure novel (Trial Run). Both of the latter are set in Florida.

How does my work differ from others in its genre?Memory's Child

Well, how many books do you know of that were generated by a can of tuna? Seriously, I found myself in a small, neighborhood grocery store one day, staring at an entire shelf section packed with cans of tuna. I thought about all the grocery stores in my city and all the cans of tuna they stocked, then all the stores in the country and so on. The idea of all those dead fish was staggering, and I wondered how long the ocean could continue to pro
duce so much fish if the population keeps growing.  You see where that kind of thinking is likely to go.

Memory’s Child is more than a cautionary or post-apocalyptic tale about humanity outgrowing the resources of this planet, though. The idea of prejudice as a fundamental part of humans’ makeup is another of the book’s premises, and it’s an important one, I think. In Memory’s Child, the circumstances of the past have changed the focus of prejudice. As Shelana, the protagonist says, humans no longer have “distinctions of color or collar or cash,” but have replaced that with another kind of prejudice – against intellect. “Hate what you do not comprehend, wage war on what you fear, and destroy what you cannot have. Prejudice is as old as mankind,” she says. I thought that idea was unique enough to explore.

Why do I write what I do?

Good question, and I have no idea. Much of the story in Memory’s Child simply erupted shortly after the tuna incident. I was not planning a novel, had not thought about this story, and had no idea it lurked in my pen, waiting to attach itself to paper. I wrote the word “aberration” on a blank page in my notebook, and from that point forward, I just went along for the ride. If you can imagine trying to write, longhand, every word of a book as it is read to you, that’s what it was like getting Memory’s Child on paper. I wrote as fast as the pen would move, terrified that I would miss something important, eager to read what would happen next.

Over the cpen_nib_with_reflectionourse of about four days, I learned the story as it appeared on the page. I only stopped writing when I fell asleep, pen in hand. I still have the original manuscript with odd little squiggles marking the page. My husband, Randy, brought me food and made sure nobody bothered me with visits or phone calls.

Those were among the very best days of my life. Later, typing the manuscript from those handwritten pages, I added descriptions and other details that weren’t in the original narrative. The story came first, the details later.

How does my writing process work?

Sadly, no other stories have flowed from my pen the way Memory’s Child did. Writing would be so much easier if they did! Instead, I write more than I should, adding and subtracting scenes as I go, until I find what works. I still write longhand and I do not outline as many authors do. Once I tell the story, I’m done, and an outline is, to my odd brain, the same as telling the story. The book would never get past the outlining stage. Instead, I start at the beginning and just keep going to the end. When the story is written, I add in transitions and descriptions (I prefer dialogue and action to writing description). This is my first edit. The whole thing is put away for at least a month to let the story steep. Then I pull it out and edit, edit, edit until I’m happy with it, which can take months. I still itch to edit Memory’s Child as ideas continue to occur to me.

What are my writing plans for the future?

Once the prequel and sequel are finished, I plan to complete the rewrite of Dying to Meet You, then Trial Run. I have a couple more novels in the very-rough-draft stage: Fair Warning and Katie Enigma. My goal is to finish at least the first four this year, if recent health issues allow. After that, I’d like to take my time on Fair Warning, especially, since the plot of that one is quite intricate.

I haven’t warned them, but I’d like to tag Allyson K. Abbott, author of the Mack’s Bar mysteries, a unique new series, and Lauren Clark, author of Dancing Naked in Dixie, Stay Tuned and Stardust Summer.


Biting the Keyboard

I rarely read reviews, especially on GoodReads, where it seems the reviewers can be egregiously harsh, but I read one this morning. I wish I hadn’t, because like most authors, I try never to respond. 

It’s one thing if the reviewer understands your character and your plot and simply doesn’t like it, and another thing entirely when they don’t “get” the character and don’t even read the whole book.  

I’ve seen reviews, and not just of my work, that smack of readers utterly oblivious to character development. Jane Doe must behave this way on page 300 because she behaved that way 250 pages (and in some cases, several years in the tale) ago.

Personally, I prefer books in which the character changes at least a little over the course of the story. She realizes she’s too trusting, he decides to go back to college, she decides to move away from a toxic family situation, he learns to see homeless people as individuals and not a clot in the arteries of his home town, and so on. A character that learns something as basic as “beauty is only skin deep” gets higher marks from me than one that never stops judging people on appearance alone.

I like it when characters who need to grow and change, do. They may not be anywhere near perfect by the end of the book, but that’s okay, as long as they are heading that way. It’s even okay if they are heading in the opposite direction. Some characters become flawed as the story progresses, and that can be interesting, too.

In my opinion, many books, movies and television shows fail to show any character development. Worse, too many that do try to show character development have all the subtlety of an atom bomb. The moment X happens, the character becomes Y. Please.

How many people do you know who changed in any meaningful way all at once? I don’t mean promising to tell everyone they love how important they are because, you know, their best friend just died in a tragic accident and life really is uncertain….

A resolution like that is not at all unusual, but it rarely endures. Life demands too much attention, and sooner or later, most of us turn back to it despite our best intentions.

Most people don’t change because X happens. They change because A through W happen and bring changes to their character first. The neat thing about a book is that you can weave A through W into the storyline, leading up to X. The bad thing is, some readers don’t notice until you get to X, or don’t notice at all.

I am quite proud of Memory’s Child. I like the story, I like the way Shelana starts out a smart-assed, naïve almost-woman who simply reacts to the world. She’s a character in dire need of character development, and slowly but surely, she grows as the story – and time – goes on. 

So I’ll just bite my tongue – er, keyboard – and go on about my business, which is writing.


Freebie for Memory’s Child readers

mc sequel cover 017aPart one of the sequel to Memory’s Child is free to download at Amazon today and tomorrow, March 5-6.

Phoenix Rising: The Battle Begins is a very short, quick read that carries you through the first battle with the Myths.

Part two will be available soon.

It’s publication day!

The Plan is on schedule, more or less. I’m not in love with the cover I made, but it’s not too bad for my first time. It won’t be the cover on the final, full edition of the sequel to Memory’s Child, so I’m at peace with that.

Once all three parts are finished, I will get the amazing Digital Donna to make a professional cover like she did for Memory’s Child.

Knocking on wood that the work I have left to do will go smoothly. If so…Phoenix Rising: The Battle Begins, a novella, part one of the sequel to Memory’s Child, will go live on Amazon sometime tonight. I’m not sure if I have to attach a minimum price to start with. My plan is to offer it free for a couple of days, but I haven’t gotten that far in the publication process.

Wish me luck!

This is the latest draft of the cover I made. I doubt it will be the final, but you get the idea.

This is the latest draft of the cover I made. I doubt it will be the final, but you get the idea.

Honoring My Father

That’s my dad with the notebook in his lap, doing what he did best: reporting.

Memory’s Child is free to download on Amazon today.

I hope some readers will take a moment to write a short review once they finish the book.

I didn’t make MC free for that, though.

Today, my father would have turned 97 years old. That’s him in the lower left of the photo above, writing in a notebook. Looks like he’s interviewing the fellow sitting nearby.

My dad was a career journalist, though most of his career was as an Army journalist in the Public Affairs Office. He wrote speeches, too, for generals and the High Commander of Okinawa when we were stationed there. He had something to do with the old documentary series, “The Big Picture,” though I don’t have personal memories of that. He moonlighted as long as I can remember, serving as copy editor and editor of various civilian newspapers near the Army posts where we lived.

He also served as editor of two post-war newspapers, one in Germany and the ComZ Cadence in France. I didn’t come along until Dad and the family were transferred back to the States.

Dad used to take me along with him sometimes to cover stories, when he needed a kid in a photo, or just to ride around and yak.

He said most reporters would be better at their jobs if they forgot half of what they learned in college. He meant they would be better at writing creatively to fulfill the five Ws without boring the reader. A news report is just a cold, lifeless body — the quality of the writing gives it warmth and a heartbeat, turns it into a story. He loved story.

He was usually serious when he talked about writing, but he had a puckish, irreverent side, too, and a great sense of humor. The photo at the right is more representative of his personality. I  have the original artwork on my wall near my desk to remind me that  you can’t always be serious or you’ll miss the thready pulse of a great tale inside the body of the who-what-when-where-why.

I learned a lot from my dad in the short time I had him. He died of a heart attack while at work in 1968, exactly two weeks before my 14th birthday. We didn’t have access to video cameras and camera phones — in fact, cassette tapes were fairly new back then! I don’t have much more than photos of my dad, the cute drawing of him, plus a rather large collection of newspaper clippings and entire newspapers dating back to World War II. He wasn’t much for writing letters, unfortunately. Not only do I have a good portion of his body of work, but I have plenty of memories. Not all perfect and pristine – he was human, after all – but mainly good ones.

As soon as I was old enough, I followed my dad into the newspaper business, and found myself working in some of the same places he had worked. People remembered him, and to me, that was a great honor.

He confided in me once that he was writing a novel. He showed me the typed pages that were in his dresser drawer, though he didn’t want me to read them. Adult stuff, I assume, like war or some other grownup-type strife. I respected his wishes, but oh, how I wish I hadn’t. The unfinished manuscript disappeared after his death. I don’t know what happened to it, though I suspect it was tossed in the trash.

As I write this post, Memory’s Child is ranked #1 in Amazon’s top science fiction list, and #25 in the Top 100 Free eBooks list. More than 7,000 potential readers have downloaded the book since it went free on Sunday.

I hope that everyone who reads the book will like it, even though they don’t know the free download is my gift to them, passed on from my father, for the love of story.

Happy birthday, Dad, and thanks for the gift.

What’s in a Name?

Yeah, yeah, we know, Will.

When it comes to naming your characters, will any old moniker do the trick? How do you decide what to name your characters?

Years ago, I bought a variety of baby name books that I thought might help me come up with fitting names for my characters. I looked up American Indian names, Jewish names, Spanish names, girls’ names, boys’ names, even ancient names.

In the main, this was a complete waste of time and money. Only one character in any of my stories got his name from a baby name book.

Now, of course, you can look these things up online, but to me, virtually the only value baby name lists have is either the name’s origin or the name’s meaning. It’s fun to look up the name’s meaning or origins and see if it fits.

I believe that, rather than surfing lists of names to hang, willy-nilly, on your characters, you should let the character tell you their names themselves. There, I said it, and I don’t care if it sounds crazy. Almost all of the characters in every story I’ve written revealed their names to me, not vice versa.

A friend asked me long ago why I chose to name an important secondary character in Memory’s Child something so “obviously contrived” as Fellon. He’s a thief and plunderer (they’re called Sackers in MC), so hence, Fellon, i.e. felon, right?

Nope. I didn’t notice the Fellon-felon thing for several pages. Fellon is simply his name. Any resemblance to crooks at any time in the history or future of mankind is purely coincidental. Or at least, deeply subconscious.

My skeptical friend gave it some thought and then opined that most readers wouldn’t notice the Fellon-felon similarity, anyway.

But the name fits his character, whether the sound resonates in your mind with images of burglars and jewel thieves or not.

There is a story behind the name of Shelana’s mother, Memory. I once met a woman whose name was Memory. Fascinated, I naturally asked why her parents named her that. Although I can’t remember her answer, I decided on the spot that someday, I’d write a character named Memory. Fortunately, this unusual — but very real — name worked out exceedingly well in the book.

Not all of the characters in your stories may reveal their names. Minor characters might not, and for the most part, who cares?

A minor character does give you the opportunity to play with names, though. How about a petty thief named Guy Purloyne? An acquaintance named Misty whose brief cameo in the story is purely to muddle the mystery? A bodybuilder nicknamed Tank, a dedicated jogger named Fleet, a banker named Coyne. All fun ways to play with minor characters’ identities. Poor things.

Over the course of writing a couple million words of fiction (most of which will never be seen by any eyes but mine), only one major character has given me trouble. He’s the one whose name came from a baby name book. The meaning of the name fits him, but he doesn’t like it. He prefers a name I don’t want to let him use. We’re still fighting over that.

After Action Report

It’s Thursday, and my free weekend event ended on Sunday. The final free download count is 1197, which isn’t too shabby for a new author, I think.

Since Memory’s Child went back to its usual sale price of $3.99 for the e-book (I’m still working on getting it into print form), I’ve sold 12. That doesn’t sound like much, but that’s a lot in less than one week, again, because this is a first book from a new author.

I’m happy with the step-up in sales and of course, I hope sales continue to grow exponentially.

Now, if only some of those 1200 freebie and purchased copies generate reviews, I’ll be ecstatic.