Writing Out Of My Comfort Zone – Katherine Dell

Harmless_JustFrontCover_Final This week, friend and author Katherine Dell is taking over my blog to tell you about her intriguing, upcoming book. Over to you, Kathy…

About a year and a half ago, I wrote a blog about stepping out of my comfort zone. I talked about facing my fears and taking the plunge into the uncertain, because … great things don’t come from inside your comfort zone! That blog post was centered on me finally learning to ski, which for some reason, I was petrified to learn how. Hey, turning into a human snow boulder is a real fear! It could happen! Any who, I’m getting distracted from what I really wanted to talk about … writing out of your comfort zone!

In my novel, Harmless, I’ve taken a daring step and written out of my comfort zone.  Sure, writing, sharing and publishing  a book is not always roses. We all know that. But have you ever considered writing on a topic that might be a little touchy? Why would anyone choose to write about something that could prove difficult? Well, as any writer might tell you, when the muse takes you, you’ve got to write it.

I’m fascinated by Canadian Native folklore. For my novel, I was inspired by the northeastern folklore about wendigos, and the western lore about white spirit animals. Both the wendigo and spirit animal stories are based in both fact and lore.

When Canada was first settled, the first reported cases of wendigo syndrome were recorded. The syndrome being, people resorted to cannibalism in an effort to survive the harsh winters. In Canada, there were wendigo hunters, similar to the witch hunters in the southern United States. The Hunter captured and killed those with wendigo syndrome.


The Native population, on the other hand, believed that these people with the syndrome were possessed by an evil spirit and that they could be cured. I also found lore about the afflicted not eating their victims, but taking their souls.

Sounds pretty dark, I know, but this is only what inspired my work, not the whole story.

To lighten things up, I incorporated uplifting tales about spirit animals. Instead of coloured fur or feathers, spirit animals are born completely white. Scientifically speaking, it’s a recessive gene that removes pigment. These animals are very rare, showing up around the world in various species. Curiously enough, there is a large population of spirit animals (white bears) in northern British Columbia. They are black bears born white, and named Kermode bears.


So with all this inspiration, I had a great story in mind! But I was faced with the sensitive realities of drawing lines between truth and fiction, while incorporating Native cultural lore that spanned a whole country. How was I to make sure I kept respect for the original culture while knitting my own characters and plot into it? I researched, I traveled, I consulted with people who knew more than me, and I edited.

I took all this ‘muse’ and created something that I hope is respectful, while also entertaining. It still gives me butterflies to think it might offend someone, but then again, I think I’ve done my due diligence with the best of intentions. I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone and written something I’m proud of, daring to go where some would not.

Here’s to hoping it turns out well and if not, I leave you with this quote.

“A truly great library contains something in it to offend everyone.”  Jo Godwin

Happy writing everyone!

Katherine Dell

Graeme's note: Kathy's book, and the research and inspiration behind it, sounds fascinating. Follow her to learn more and to get first news of a publication date. I for one, can't wait to read it.

Katherine (42)Katherine Dell

Katherine Dell is a young adult fiction writer working on her first novel. She also hopes to publish a prequel, graphic novel series to her novel series, Harmless. Katherine takes every opportunity to hone her skills as a writer, including courses from Mount Royal University, workshops and reading everything she can get her hands on. She is also a member of the Alberta Writers Guild. Katherine has called Alberta home her entire life, currently residing in Calgary with her husband and two sons.

Website | Twitter | Facebook


Do you have limited writing time but big goals?

Do you have limited writing time but big goals?

A guest post today, by my fantasy author friend, Autumn Birt.

Are you a writer? If so, are you meeting your writing goals?

Writing is a passion, one usually cobbled together from stolen moments and highs of inspiration. But if you get the writing bug and you get it bad, finding enough time is often a source of frustration.

Why write more?

Because fans like to read more. That is my number one answer. I’m a reader as well as a writer. I’ve fallen in love with a series that I’ve stayed with for 3 years and am now anxiously awaiting the last book – which should come out in two years. That is a whole lot of anxious waiting! And let’s not talk about another story I love that currently exists as short stories spread across several e-zines and books. I have meticulously copied all of them to one spot. I am her number one fan. She has plans to write a book … someday. I want to cry.

TypingSo yeah, keeping fans from becoming the frustrated and then jaded reader I am today is definitely a goal. When I was a teenager, a new book a year was acceptable. It still is, even though THAT was quite a while ago and long before ebooks. Now, a new book every six months is considered a professional target. More often is great. Fans want to be filled with anticipation – not angst.

And professional is the other reason to write and release more books, great books. Because let’s face it, if you have any hope of making a decent income from writing, one where you can potentially scale back that full time job to write, you either need to write and release more or have a really good retirement plan lined up. I’m not a teenager anymore, but I don’t want to wait that long to write full time!

So I committed myself to writing more and writing better because I not only love it, but want to make it a career. With a lot of trial and error, I developed seven key techniques and five writing tools that worked. How well? I wrote 4 ½ books in a year and they are the best I’ve written so far.

To be clear, I’m not talking about typing faster. Who cares how fast you typed a page if you end up deleting it? Meeting a writing goal of producing more novels in a year means creating a great story faster. And there are tips, tricks, and tools to do that. It is a paradigm shift to believe writing more in a limited time is achievable.

It is possible. I’m proof. But I want to be more than proof. I want to help other writers do the same thing. Seriously!

Writing time is a limited resource. Use it well.

Writing TimeI’m serious about teaching this to other authors. So serious that I’m launching a pilot class to not only teach the seven techniques and those five customizable tools, but also to work one-on-one with the students to make sure those same tactics work for them. Everyone is different and in a different situation. I want everyone to be successful.

Since this is a trial course with lots of coaching, enrollment is very limited. If you are interested in learning more please email me. I’d love to talk to you!


Autumn Birt

author picAutumn is a bestselling author in fantasy, epic fantasy, and war – not all on the same series though! She is the author of the epic fantasy, adventure trilogy on elemental magic, the Rise of the Fifth Order. Her newest series is Friends of my Enemy, a military dystopian/ dark fantasy tale laced with romance. Friends of my Enemy will be released in full in 2015 and will be quite the story full of strong characters, tight plots, and lots of action. Meanwhile, she is working on a new epic fantasy trilogy, Games of Fire, set in the same world as the Rise of the Fifth Order. If she stops goofing off and enjoying hobbies such as hiking, motorcycling, and kayaking, she may even be able to release the first book in 2015 too.

Stop by her website and blog to learn more about the worlds of her books at You can also find her on Facebook at or more frequently on twitter @Weifarer.



Dice & Debauchery

I don't often feature erotica on my blog, but I want to recommend a geek-inspired book with more than a passing connection to D&D. My good friend, Christine Rains (member of our Untethered Realms group) has written Loose Corset, Book 1 of the Dice & Debauchery series. (Isn't that a great series title?) Continue reading for a post by Christine on how D&D inspired her, and her great giveaway.







Dice and Debauchery, Book 1

A weekend away at a convention is exactly what overworked student Morgan needs. Dressed as her character from her favorite online game, Morgan is braced—seriously, could her corset be tighter?—to meet the other players. As Lady Gyrfalcon, she’s ready for everything—except her intense attraction to Dean. A clandestine meeting in the hallway of the hotel and Morgan’s corset is looser but now she can’t breathe for entirely different reasons.

Utterly charmed, Morgan decides to roll the dice and indulge in a fantasy-worthy weekend of sexy roleplaying, scorching sex and life-altering orgasms. Still, through it all Morgan is too smart to believe the chemistry constantly stripping her of costumes and control can last more than the length of the convention. But if she wants to keep a relationship so intense she thought it only existed in fiction, she’s going to have to let go of her cool-headed logic and allow herself to fall far and fast for the perfect guy.

A Romantica® contemporary erotic romance from Ellora’s Cave

Buy Now: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Ellora's Cave
Add on Goodreads

How Dungeons & Dragons inspired Christine:

I wish I could say I've been playing Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) since I was a kid, but I wasn't so lucky. My husband is that nerd. One of the first things I did when I met him was play D&D with him and his friends. I fell in love. With him and the game.

Since then, I've played countless hours as brave rangers, steadfast clerics, and wild berserkers. I have an awesome collection of dice and characters. I've sat down on solo quests, with a small group of good friends, and with large groups strangers at conventions. Never once have I been bored or disappointed. Even the most lame stories created by a Dungeon Master (DM) can be made fantastic by the players.

The game itself has aroused many stories in me, but it is the players that inspired my Dice & Debauchery series. These people hiding behind their game books and dice are some of the most fascinating and creative folks you'll ever meet.

I confess I like to be behind the DM screen. Not because I like to be in control – every DM knows that if they think they're in full control of the game, the players will remind you that you're not! – but because I love creating worlds and watching how the story unfolds as the players take on their quest. I'm a voyeur peeping over the top of my screen and eagerly awaiting to see what they will do when faced with the next challenge.

There are characters that run blindly into battle just wanting to hack and slash. Or those that check for traps every step. Don't forget the highly skilled that devise elaborate plans, and of course, those who go totally off-track and end up in a tavern demanding more ale.

I watch the people behind those characters. The geeks playing footsie under the table where they think their affections go unnoticed. The gamer who memorized all the rules but can't remember where he left his house key. The shy nerd who blushes when a guy smiles at her, but she becomes a fearless leader in the game.

Where are their stories? I want to read them. Books about gamer geeks are sadly few in number. So I wrote my own series.

D&D has inspired many writers over the years. Great fantasy tales fill bookshelves because of this incredible role-playing game.

Geeks are sexy. It's time for a story about the players.

Christine is giving away some cool prizes, including a personalized d6 dice: CRainsd6
a Rafflecopter giveaway



Christine Rains is a writer, blogger, and geek mom. She's married to her best friend and fellow geek living in south-central Indiana. They have one son who is too smart for his parents' own good and loves to pretend he's Batman. Christine has four degrees which help nothing with motherhood, but make her a great Jeopardy player. When she's not reading or writing, she's going on adventures with her son or watching cheesy movies on Syfy Channel. She's a member of Untethered Realms and S.C.I.F.I. (South Central Indiana Fiction Interface). She has several short stories and novellas published. The Dice & Debauchery series is her first contemporary erotic romance.

Connect with Christine: WebsiteBlog / Twitter / Facebook / Goodreads



Second Daughter – by Susan Kaye Quinn


Second Daughter (The Dharian Affairs #2)

Assassins, skyships, and royal intrigue…

Kindle, Kobo, AllRomance

Second Daughter is the second book in The Dharian Affairs trilogy (Third Daughter, Second Daughter, First Daughter). This steampunk-goes-to-Bollywood (Bollypunk!) romance takes place in an east-Indian-flavored alternate world filled with skyships, assassins, royal romance and intrigue.

I thoroughly enjoyed the first book in the series, Third Daughter and this new book is right at the top of my To Read list. I have no review yet (obviously) but here’s what others have said:

Reviews of the first book, Third Daughter:

“The author fuses carriages, steam trains, airships and clockwork with the rich eastern culture that underlies Bollywood storytelling…” – Cherie Reich, Author

“The political intrigue, the steampunk gadgets, and the beautiful costumes kept me in wonderment.” – Tony Benson

“Third Daughter is vividly breathtaking. Quinn delivers royal intrigue, exotic locations, and sweeping romance. Not to be missed!” – Pavarti Tyler, author of Shadow on the Wall


ON SALE – 99cents until 7/21

Third Daughter (The Dharian Affairs #1)

Kindle, Nook, Kobo, iTunes, AllRomance

(also available in print)

The Third Daughter of the Queen wants her birthday to arrive so she’ll be free to marry for love, but rumors of a new flying weapon may force her to accept a barbarian prince’s proposal for a peace-brokering marriage. Desperate to marry the charming courtesan she loves, Aniri agrees to the prince’s proposal as a subterfuge in order to spy on him, find the weapon, and hopefully avoid both war and an arranged marriage to a man she does not love.

Both books now have a super cool map!


Speedy Tweets to Share:

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WIN Gift Card and PAPERBACK Third Daughter (Dharian Affairs #1) #steampunk #fantasy #romance

Skyships, saber duels, royal romance: Third Daughter (Dharian Affairs#1) ON SALE 99cents


paperback copy of Third Daughter
$10 Amazon Gift Card

check out the gorgeous formatting of the print book!


Linda Mitchell: It’s cool to be an outcast

Today, my guest poster is Linda Mitchell, spec-fic author of Sitawan and upcoming sequels. As well as being a member of my weekly writer’s group, Linda used to teach literature at college. Now she’s retired and living the dream as a full-time writer. Over to you, Linda:


Part I—Outcast as college professor

“Why do you read fantasy and science fiction? It isn’t literature.”

I’ve heard this from people who’ve never read either genre, people who should know that an uninformed opinion is shallow, lazy thinking. These people are my colleagues, college professors, many of whom are fiction writers themselves.

What did I do? I ignored them of course.

In the mid 1990s when my coordinator learned that I was teaching The Hobbit in my English classes, she wasn’t pleased. A coordinator supervises a program but has little control over another professor’s teaching methods as long as the students exit the class with certain predetermined writing and reading skills. She said The Hobbit wasn’t literature and was inappropriate in a college classroom. Because I was newly hired at the time and admired this strong-minded woman that had recently helped me get the much coveted tenure track position, I might have gone along and stopped using any speculative fiction. However, there were two other colleagues: the department chair who taught the scifi/fantasy literature course, and another professor who had been a Tolkien scholar since the 60s who I have always suspected is secretly in love with Galadriel.

So I wasn’t a lone wolf, but that was just the beginning of my colleagues’ resistance.

English professors believe that students should read stories that are good examples of fine writing, that expose them to challenging ideas that improve their critical thinking skills, and that have characters that will be positive role models. As a result, students become literate, enlightened, and improved persons. Most of my colleagues fail to see those qualities in science fiction and fantasy (mostly because they have never read the good stuff, I suspect).

And The Hobbit, along with the best science fiction and fantasy books are all of that—stunningly thoughtful stories about the human condition. Bilbo Baggins transforms from being a self-centered xenophobe into one with a deep sense of responsibility to all of Middle Earth, so much so that that he betrays his misguided friends in order to try and stop the battle of five armies.

Part 2—Outcast as reader

I belong to the coolest book club on the planet: readers of scifi/fantasy. We don’t have meetings or pay dues and aren’t organized in the traditional way, but we talk about what we read and love (Yes, I know there are formal groups but I am talking about something much more viral here). We share with one another the awesome new story we just finished or have read for the 17th time. We are scifi/fantasy geeks. And it doesn’t take us long to spot one another.

For example, a few days ago, I made reservations for the Bracebridge dinner at the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite. I tried to do it online, but ended up calling the reservation line and talking to a real person. Bracebridge is a formal medieval dinner complete with actors performing in period dress. The reservation clerk told me it was black tie formal, so I asked did some diners wear costumes? When he sounded startled by my question, I quickly explained that I attend ComiCon. He immediately knew where I was coming from with the costume question because…he had attended ComiCon and was a fan of science fiction and fantasy! With excitement in his voice, for the next five minutes he asked me what were my favorite novels and I know he was busily writing them down while I did the same from his suggestions. Just like that the best book club on the planet connected us.

We hide our love of those stories like a guilty pleasure, or we boldly announce to our parents, family, co-workers, friends, and random strangers that we are scifi/fantasy lovers, luxuriating in the knowledge that we know what they don’t. We may want them to join us so we can share and discuss remarkable storytelling that can help us view our world and the human condition through a different lens. We may simply want them to enjoy fascinating and fun reads.

In the end, whether they approve or not, we don’t have time to worry about it because we’re spending every spare minute in the world of our next story.





Most humans wake up to mice in their kitchens, Sitawan wakes up to Werewolves in hers. Pack Leader Lavaka pursues Sitawan’s talent for dream prophecy like he’s stalking an elk on a full moon hunt, her environmental consulting firm remains solvent mostly because of Werewolf business connections, and she dates a human cop at a time when Werewolves are no longer shot on sight as long as they live in the Texas Relocation Camp. All that is business as usual until another pack wants her dead.



The Author

linda_redwoodsLinda M. Mitchell is putting the finishing touches on her much-anticipated prequel to Sitawan: A Humboldt Pack Story. In Nightmare at Angeles Crest a terrifying vision of Michael being tortured sends sixteen-year-old Sitawan on a 1200-mile rescue with more than twenty angry Werewolves. She’s frantic their methodical preparations won’t save him in time and her agitation fuels their aggression. Available May 2014 at

Linda’s second Humboldt Pack novel is 50% complete. For her entire 30 years, Sitawan has successfully avoided Humboldt County’s arrogant, vengeful Witches. She’s relieved they’ve always seen her dream prophecies as “a little gift, more nuisance than a helpful predictable tool.” When the nastiest of them demands her help, she can’t refuse. Even with two Alpha Werewolves, Lavaka and Michael, watching her back, she fears not only for her life but also her sanity.

Visit her at and Facebook

Listen to this fascinating 30-minute interview with Linda on Through the Eyes of Women Radio where she talks about Sitawan, being an author and self-publishing.


Excerpt from “The Ghost”

TheGhostblogtourbadgeSo you’ve probably heard me rave all this year about Christine Rains‘ paranormal series The 13th Floor. Though I’m not usually a reader of paranormal romance, these are among the best books I’ve read in 2013. Today I’m part of her blog tour marking the release of the final book in the series, The Ghost. Although each book is its own story and stands on its own merits, you probably want to go and read them from the beginning, especially as The Marquis is free!

Here is an excerpt from The Ghost, with inline comments from the author, rather like those Director voiceovers you get on DVD movies. Fun.


Setting up the scene: Chiharo and Jeremy find a spirit that survived an attack the monster that’s killing people in the building. They want to question the tortured spirit, but most of his essence is gone.

“Adam.” Chiharo whispered his named and then cleared her throat to say it louder. “Adam. It’s okay. It’s over.”

A portion of the mist swirled in her direction. His head? Did he hear her? (It took me a few days to come up with how this scene was going to go. A powerful ghost talking to a lesser ghost. How could I do it? I eventually decided to go with how it might be if a psychic were speaking with a spirit.)

“Adam.” All the books said to remind the spirit of who they were. Help them focus. “Adam Creel. We’re here to help you. My name is Chiharo. I used to live on the eighteenth floor. Two guys live there now. One burps a lot. Remember being in the elevator with him last week? He laughed when his burp echoed in it. You laughed with him as not to offend, but later you told your mom you thought it was gross.” (I thought humor like that might trigger a powerful memory in a teenage boy.)

The mist thickened slightly, forming a barely recognizable facial structure. The mouth moved. (Chiharo and Jeremy are fully formed ghosts. She’s in full color while Jeremy is less powerful and gray.)

“You’re doing it. Keep talking.” Jeremy urged her on and rested his hand on the small of her back.

The gesture took her out of the moment with Adam. The coolness of Jeremy’s palm and the imagined weight of it was immensely vivid. There was no open back to her dress, but it felt like skin on skin. Technically, there wasn’t flesh either. Just their energies mingling to form these impressions. It was far more sensual than she anticipated. (I loved writing the small things between Chiharo and Jeremy. Touches are so much more than simple touches between ghosts.)

“Chiharo. Are you okay?” Jeremy’s voice made her blink and brought her back to the situation at hand.

“Yes, fine. Just a bit unnerved.” A huge understatement! She held out a hand toward Adam. “It’s okay, Adam. Just focus on the words. You can speak. No one can hurt you now.”

The fuzzy shape of a teenage boy moved toward her. Not exactly floating, but something between that and crawling. A brumous limb shot out, and an icy chill claimed her hand.

“Something in the room! I couldn’t see it! I couldn’t hear it! It just had me, and I couldn’t get free. I fought so hard, but it had me. I couldn’t get away.” Adam’s cry sounded like the scratching of mouse trapped in a tin can. Tiny, squeaky, and frantic. “Help me, help me, help me!” (I had Adam speaking gibberish at first, but I didn’t like the way it sounded. There’s a portion of him still there, and he needs to get this message across to Chiharo. Language is ingrained to us and so I believe he could still talk so she understood him.)

“It’s all right. Adam. We’re here. The monster is gone.” Chiharo really hoped the fiend was gone. Fighting the urge to steal a look around the room, she kept her gaze upon Adam. “Do you remember anything? You didn’t see or hear a thing? No warning?”

“Nothing! It just suddenly had me. Please help me. Where’s my mom?” Adam blubbered. A lost little boy. Too young to die.

Chiharo’s chin quivered. “No one else is here. I’m sorry. It’s just us. We’ll take care of you. You’re safe now. Do you think you can get up?” (Chiharo is protective of the tenants of her building. She especially relates to Adam being an only child and a bit different from his peers.)

“Mom. I want my mom.” Adam didn’t move, but his grip became fiercer. “I can’t move. My legs. It ripped off my legs and drank me. It drank me!”

“It drank your blood?” Chiharo gasped.

“I knew it was that bastard vampire!” Jeremy whooped.

Chiharo nudged Jeremy with her elbow, not taking her eyes from Adam. “Tell us what happened so we can help you.”

“It drank me. Not my blood. Me!” Adam screeched. He said something more, but Chiharo couldn’t understand him. His anguish muddled his words. (I wasn’t sure how to put what the fiend did to Adam. It stole his essence, drained him of his being. I wanted to stick with something basic. Something a terrified boy could explain.)

“What did he say?” Jeremy poked her.

Chiharo threw him a stern look. She knew he wanted it to be Kiral. Just another reason to hate his murderer, but she wasn’t going to let him have it. “Adam said it drank him, not his blood. I don’t know what it means. He’s not making much sense. You can’t hear him?” (It’s not a secret that Kiral killed Jeremy five years ago. Before Kiral changed and sought out his redemption. Jeremy thinks the monster killing people could be Kiral, but Chiharo is certain it’s not.)

“Nothing. I can see his smoky lips flapping, but it’s like having the TV on mute.”

Her contact with Adam’s hand must’ve given her the channel to speak with him. The new ghost had no form now. The trauma was too fresh. Adam needed time and that was something none of them had.

“I don’t think he’s going to be able to tell us anyth—” A bright flash of light cut her off. She held up an arm to cover her eyes. Spots danced behind her lids. Jeremy cursed beside her.

When Chiharo could see again, there wasn’t a trace left of Adam’s spirit. Not one wispy strand.

“Dammit! He went into the freakin’ light.” (This part wasn’t something I planned. It happened as I wrote the story. I love being a pantser! Chiharo and Jeremy briefly talk about the light, but neither of them ever saw the light. I don’t get overly philosophical. I deleted a few paragraphs so it wouldn’t be. Perhaps if the situation weren’t dire, they might have a long talk about the afterlife. As it is, they have much more important things to worry about!)


About The Ghost:

Chiharo Black lives with six supernatural tenants in a haunted building’s mysterious thirteenth floor. Of course, no one knows she’s there except the cats. Being a ghost can be a bit frustrating and lonely, but it isn’t as bad as her mother made it out to be.

Until another ghost intrudes on her territory. Jeremy Emerson wants revenge on the vampire that killed him and won’t stop until he has it. To top it off, a nightmarish shade sneaks in and leeches the energy from the building’s residents before setting its sights on Chiharo and the thirteenth floor. She can’t decide which one is more frightening: the one wanting to eat her soul or the one who might win her heart.

Chiharo must convince Jeremy to stand with her against the hellish parasite. If they cannot work together, the greedy fiend will not only drain their energy but everything that supports the thirteenth floor’s existence.

Christine Rains

ChristineauthorsmallChristine Rains is a writer, blogger, and geek mom. She has four degrees which help nothing with motherhood but make her a great Jeopardy player. When she’s not reading or writing, she’s going on adventures with her son or watching cheesy movies on Syfy Channel. Christine is a member of Untethered Realms and S.C.I.F.I. She has twenty-one short stories and eight novellas published.

Contact Christine via her Website, Facebook, Goodreads or Twitter as @CRainsWriter


Fight! Fight! Fight! Excerpt from Ocean of Dust

Anyone want to read another excerpt from Ocean of Dust? Sure you do :)

Pop over to The Book Hookup and take a look. A little while ago, Celeste over at The Book Hookup did a review too.

After reading the excerpt, stay there and scroll down for a giveaway, but only if you like winning free stuff!

That scene required help from my writing group to get right. Not being a girl (duh!), I didn’t know how they fought. In my original draft  I had them punching each other and all sorts of things. The women in my writing group (bless them!) explained to me “that isn’t how it works”. Apparently girls go in for hair pulling and hair dragging. Who knew? So hopefully you female readers are now nodding your heads in agreement in that fight, perhaps remembering your own school days?

I recommend you add The Book Hookup to your RSS reader or follow it by email. It’s a great review site. Thanks, Celeste.

How dirty did you used to play in your fights as a kid? Please leave a comment below. Maybe I can feature your signature move in a future book. That would be fun. :)



Movie Cast for Ocean of Dust

Hello everyone. Sorry, but you can’t take the title of this post literally. Alas, Hollywood producers have not come knocking at my door with a movie contract. I wish! Even so, what’s the harm in thinking about who I would pick to play the characters in a movie version of Ocean of Dust? It’s all a bit of fun. I quickly discovered that it’s not as easy as it looks.

The owners of LovLivLife Reviews (That’s tough to spell!) were very kind enough to allow me to create my movie cast on their site today. Hop over and see who I chose. Then comment below: Do you agree? Who would you pick?



Stars get in my Eyes, by M. Pax

Pine Mountain Observatory Today, I’m excited to feature a post by M. Pax, sci-fi and urban fantasy author, and keen astronomer. OK, over to her. :)

Pine Mountain Observatory is my favorite place on Earth. Thirty miles east of Bend, OR, it sits near the summit of a 6400-foot mountain which once was either an island or part of the shoreline of the Great Basin. That was a sea that once covered the Western US about 10,000 years ago.

Central Oregon is one of the last great bastions of dark skies in the United States. Even in town, I can see more stars than I ever saw living anywhere else. Honestly, until we moved to the west coast, I had no idea it was even possible to see the Milky Way – that great swath of light with all the stars.

It looks like a cloud, but it’s not. It’s billions and billions of stars, so many stars that their light forms a cloud to our eyes, and it’s one of the spiral arms of the Milky Way, called the Orion arm. It’s the arm of the galaxy that our solar system is in, along with pretty much every star we can see by eye.

Pine Mountain is surrounded by great nature, and UFO and strange light sightings are common on the road that leads out to the observatory. One night I had my own experience with them and I called it a UMO [unidentified moving object], because they didn’t fly. Every night since, I’ve looked for those lights, but haven’t been blessed with another encounter. What were they? I’m pretty sure the truth would bore me, so it’s probably better not to know. Mystery is often more fun.

Cattle mutilations have taken place in the valley at the base of the mountain, real X-Files stuff with strange lights. One of our fellow volunteers had been a forest ranger and witnessed one. I asked him countless questions. Strange and interesting.

Big Foot sightings abound in the forests around us. I haven’t seen him, although I joke with all the visitors that the rock formations at the top of the summit are yeti houses. Sometimes they believe me. All great fodder for my stories. It all feeds me with so much inspiration.

M Pax and Telescope

Better yet, I’ve come to know the beauty of moonrise and the desert, the utter peace of sitting alone under the stars on a mountaintop, and the jaw-dropping awe of meteors shooting overhead. I peer through the telescopes at worlds far away, at stunning and stellar sights, and I have to wonder whether someone is looking back at me.

What are those worlds like? What do they know about the universe? Their perspective is vastly different from ours. If we lived in a globular cluster or closer to the center of the galaxy, we might have no idea that other galaxies existed. How would that change who we are?

Some of that leaks into my stories – the wonder, the strange, the dust [Central Oregon is very dusty]. What’s out there? Mulder says the truth is. And I wonder, what is the truth?

M. Pax

M. Pax is author of the sci-fi series, The Backworlds, and the new adult urban fantasy Hetty Locklear series. A Browncoat and SG fan, she’s also slightly obsessed with Jane Austen. In the summers she docents as a star guide at Pine Mountain Observatory where the other astronomers now believe she has the most extensive collection of moon photos in existence. No fear, there will be more next summer. She lives in stunning Central Oregon with the Husband Unit and two lovely, spoiled cats.

Contact M. Pax via her Website, Facebook or Twitter as @mpax1

She is also a member of Untethered Realms, a group of  friendly, like-minded spec-fic writers.

Backworlds Try The Backworlds for free. (Available on all e-readers)

[Graeme’s Note: This is a great read! Reminiscent of Firefly, a great tale of the gritty frontiers of space.]

In the far future, humanity settles the stars, bioengineering its descendents to survive in a harsh universe.

After the war with the Foreworlders, Backworlders scatter across the planets left. Competition is fierce and pickings are scant. Scant enough that Craze’s father decides to improve his fortunes by destroying his son.

Cut off from family and friends with little money and even less knowledge of the worlds beyond his own, Craze heads into an uncertain future. Boarding the transport to Elstwhere, he vows to make his father regret this day.


Why Writing is like Dieting – on Novel Rocket

Today I am guest posting on this subject over on Novel Rocket. This is a site well worth following regularly – full of great advice about writing, and fascinating author interviews.

My thanks to Michelle Griep for making the post on my behalf. Check out my review of her fantastic Viking book, Undercurrent, on Goodreads.

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