Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Versatile Blogger Award

I want to thank Spacerguy for including me in his recipients of The Versatile Blogger awards. I am honored. If you haven't been to his blog, and you like Star Trek, you are missing out. He has a blog dedicated to Star Trek. You can visit him HERE. I followed him through the A to Z Challenge and it was fun seeing the amazing things he came up with for each letter of the alphabet. He's a very creative person and his blog is fantastic!

Now, I'm supposed to tell you seven things about myself. SOme you might already know, but here goes:

1. I started writing in high school and published my first story in an anthology in school called The Black Box. Even then I was bent towards sci-fi and fantasy.

2. I am a mother of three fantasic children, who are now grown and on their own. I even have one grandchild, who is four years old.

3. I played viola in the symphony for many years and even toured Europe and Japan in orchestras. It was a real eye opener to visit other countires and people. When I was in Japan, my first meal that I was served was Kentucky Fried Chicken! Their hospitality was fabulous.

4. I spent two years studying the ways of Buddhism, American style. It was a lonely time in my life and I think I met more people in this short period of time than the rest of my life.

5. My favorite all time sci-fi movie has to be The Day The Earth Stood Still. I still watch it when the opportunity arises.

6. At age 60, I am taking a class on Imaginative Writing at my local college. I believe it's never too late to learn.

7. I write everyday. It's a habit that I got into a ccouple of years ago and has helped me develop my writing skills.

I'm supposed to choose 15 people to pass this award on to. So here they are, and they each deserve it for their outstanding blogs:

1. Loretta Stephenson - Art By Retta

2. M. Pax - Wistful Nebulae

3. Shallee McArthur - Life, the Universe, and Writing

4. Nancy S Thompson

5. Susanne Drazic - Putting Words Down On Paper

6. Alex J. Cavanaugh

7. Catherine Ensley - Words, World and Wings

8. K M Weiland - Wordplay - Helping Writers Become Authors

9. Talli Roland

10. Stephen Tremp

11. Teresa Cypherbus

12. Amanda Trought - Inspiration, Art, and Creativity

13. Margo Kelly

14. Bethie

15. Elysabeth

CONGRATULATIONS to all of you!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Excerpt From: The Chameleon Effect #2

You can read the part 1 by clicking HERE.

Chavez works for The Acquisitions and Restorations part of The Agency. His assignment is to find Kira and bring her to her home planet, Vega Minor. He finds her in a slave auction and wins the two minute bid. After picking her up from Epsilon 9, an asteroid that is actually a drop off and pick up point for Prison Planet 452, Chavez realizes that she's an unsuspecting pawn in a treacherous business being operated by the warden.

When they reached the ship, Kira glared at Chavez. His air of confidence didn't match with his messy black ponytail and cheap clothes. "Who are you?"
"Be quiet." Chavez knew she had a bug planted on her.
"I want to know what you're planning to do with me!" She stood with hands on hips and feet set apart, ready for any assault.
Chavez let her stand there while he started his engines and disengaged from the asteroid's interior. After they were underway, he manually set a course for Vega Minor and engaged the hyper-drive. Finally he turned to his stoic passenger, who continued to glare at him with icy blue eyes.
"If you want those chains off from your hands and feet, you'll have to agree to some rules."
"Go to hell."
"Fine. They stay on for now. Unbutton your blouse and hurry up." Chavez had no intention of doing anything illicit, but he needed to search her. He glanced at his chronometer. They were almost out of time.

"Not on your life! I may be a criminal and you may think you own me, but we're not going there!" Kira's hands clenched into fists and her shoulders hunched forward in a protective stance.

Chavez didn't have time to argue. He stepped forward and ripped the blouse off her front. His foot caught behind her knee, pulling her off balance and he pushed her to the floor onto her back. His hands grasped her shoulders and he flipped her over so she was face down. Pulling the back of her blouse down, he pushed her hair aside. There at the base of her neck was an automated beacon, a bug and tracking device to bring the warden's mercenaries after them. He pulled out the silver pin sticking up from her skin and threw it on the floor. Then, he quickly stood up and stepped on it, crushing the sensor into tiny particles.

Kira jumped up and grabbed her shredded blouse, attempting to cover herself. But Chavez walked over to a locker and grabbed a jumpsuit, tossing it to her. Then he released the cuffs from her hands and feet.

"You can change in there." He pointed to the toileting area that would afford her some privacy while they were on the ship's bridge. He couldn't take time to leave the bridge until he was sure they weren't being followed.

Before Kira closed the door to the toilet, she said, "You're awfully pushy, you know that?"

Chavez didn't look up from his screen. "And you talk too much." He continued to search the screen for the inevitable. The warden's mercenaries were out there, but Chavez didn't know where...

Friday, May 25, 2012

Why Blog?

Here it is Friday morning and I'm staring at a blank page wondering: Why am I doing this? Then I remember all the amazing people I've met while online and all the wonderful information that they are sharing and I remember Yep! That's why I'm doing this. There is also another reason I'm doing this.

About two years ago, my sister Loretta Stephenson, who has a wonderful art blog at Art By Retta, called me up and asked me how my writing was coming along. I said great! But I felt isolated and sitting at a computer for five hours a day by youself can be discouraging. She said, Why not start a blog? I had little idea what I was getting my self into, but I started my first blog, which was just posts of portions of my work. The problem there was, all my work was on the blog. I got worried that it was too much for people to read, and it was. So, at the beginning of this year, I started this blog, which is reflections about the writing process.

I enjoy sharing what I learn about writing, and the latest thing I've learned is to follow your heart. When someone says, It can't be done! Do you believe them? If you believe in your dream, then it CAN be done somehow! And this is why I blog. To share what I've learned. I have a dream that someday, I will be able to share my writing with others. And it's coming close to being a reality. I have my first short story in the editor's hand right now and then it will be formatted for e-book. Medieval Muse will be lauched as a free e-book in August for all those interested.

Medieval Muse is the story of a young woman who finds herself transported back to medieval times and has an adventure that will change her life. In a way, I'm having an adventure in writing that has changed my life. It has opened up new and exciting possibilities for me and I want to share it with others. That is why I blog! Why do you blog? Care to share about it?

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Birthdays and Growing Older

Monday we are celebrating my daughter, Heather's 37th birthday by getting the whole family together at one of our local eating establishments. Not only will her brother and sister be there, but her aunt and uncle, (my sister, Loretta Stephenson [Art By Retta] and my brother-in-law) and her 4 year old niece (my granddaughter). Now that you have the role call, I bet you're wondering what all this has to do with my writing? Absolutely nothing!

I'm proud of my family and they have supported me in my endeavor to put my thoughts down on paper. Watching my children grow is one of the most exciting things in my life. They have given me more things to think about than all the books I've read put together. Heather has been my muse when I'm working on a project, or stuck with an assignment from my writing class. She has been a willing listening ear during times when I had doubts about myself and whether or not I should continue. Her favorite saying is: "Oh well... whatever!" Meaning to me, I should think it through.

Heather is my oldest child and as I watch her grow older, it reminds me of my own aging. There are times when this frightens me, but for the most part I look at her and say: "But I don't feel any older!" So what's happening here? Is my daughter getting older and I'm magically staying in same age? You bet! As long as my mind is active and I'm learning, I may in reality be growing older, but in my mind I'm still young enough to enjoy life. So, I say Happy Birthday, Heather! You have kept me young enough to do the things I choose to do.

Are any of you having birthdays this month? If so I also wish you a Happy Birthday! And I would remind you to think: How young am I?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


Plot is the structure that holds up all fiction. It is the bones of the story that holds the rest of the elements together. The theme winds around the plot, just as the characters are developed within the plot. A plot is described as a series of events deliberately arranged so as to reveal their dramatic, thematic, and emotional significance. The plot's concern is "what, how, and why," with scenes ordered to highlight the workings of cause and effect. If it is a plot we read in a story, we ask why. Our desire to know what happened next will keep us turning the pages.

The plot structure by Aristotle defines an inverted check mark. We start with a dramatic question at the base, then it rises with bouts of conflicts, then just before the peak there is the epiphany and arrives at the peak which is the goal, and falls again to the resolution.

1. dramatic question: What does the protagonist want?
2. conflicts: obstacles to keep protagonist from arriving at his goal.
3. epiphany: a totally new understanding of reality.
4. goal: arrival at protagonist's desire.
5. resolution: ties up all the loose ends and finalizes story.

Plots are like puzzles with threads woven through the story. Be careful, however, that you don't let your threads go everywhere, leaving the reader scrambling to figure it out. Make sure your plot is focused and the conflicts are arranged in an increasing level of intensity.

Given this plot structure, make up a story with a plot following this outline. You can have as many conflicts as you need to create tension in the story. Let me know what you've created.

"A story has to be a good date, because the reader can stop at any time... Remember, readers are selfish and have no compulsion to be decent about anything." ~~ Kurt Vonnegut

Monday, May 14, 2012

A Discussion About Character

Aristotle said: "Man is his desire." Desire is motivation in life to get what you want. That is how a character in a story gets what he wants - through motivation. And in that motivation is conflict. So, what we have here is a character who wants something in the worst way, and has to try and find a way to get it. Character motivation. But nothing is easily won, so there is going to be conflict around it.

All characters must have credibility. They must be believable and appropriate for their situation. Without this, your reader will shake his head, close the book and say, "No way!"

All characters need to have purpose. Why are they doing what they are doing? A character needs to know what they want, not necessarily how to get it.

All characters need conflict. There are two kinds of conflict. Inner conflict is part of a character's growth. No one is 100% pure and facing the demons that lurk inside are part of a character's growth. A character must be capable of change so they can grow from their conflicts. Outer conflict is where a character meets difficulty with others. This can lead to the inner conflict and produce change. There has to be character development through conflict in the story to create a plot.

I have briefly discussed each idea with you in the hopes that it will help you expand your characters. These are basic character attributes and there are others that could fill a page or two. But without the basics;
1. credibility
2. purpose
3. conflict
your characters will seem flat and uninteresting. Take a moment to create a new character and tell me who he/she is and what they want and why...

Sunday, May 13, 2012


My daughter called me today, reminding me of the official day set aside for celebrating mother's day. I thought that was nice to be remembered. As I sat remembering all those other days of the years gone by, I had to laugh and think of my own mother who once said: "Someday it'll turn around and be your turn." And it is.

It's my turn to remember my daughter sitting in the tiny backyard swimming pool, splashing with the hose and crying: "No! I don't want to get out and go inside! I'm not sleepy!" Or my daughter's first driving lesson. No, I won't repeat that one. How about the time all the dishes fell from the cabinet and came crashing down? Nope. No one said a word. But the best one was at high school graduation. I was very proud... all three times (I have three children).

There are too many memories to put down here. And all of them weren't good obviously, but we made it through and I'm proud of each one of you. So when you call me up and wish me a Happy Mother's Day, is it? You bet it is! It's a happy day every day I get to think of you. When you wish me well on this special day, I can only say I feel blessed to have had you three and my life is that much richer for it.

Happy Mother's Day to all you other mothers of people, pets and whatever else you have mothered and feel like it's your special day too!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Midterms and Muses

While many of the A to Z Challenge crowd relaxed this last weekend, I was busy preparing for my midterm at school. School? Did I say school? Right now I am questioning what I am doing back at school at my age. Do I have some kind of perverse wish to torture myself until I can no longer sit at a desk and write? No, the real reason is that I want to learn about writing. And what better way than to expose myself to other writers.

So right now, I'm exposing myself by reading my writing in front of other writers and allowing it to be critiqued by those same writers. It's definitely a hair-raising experience (as you can see by my photo, lol!) and I don't recommend it for the faint hearted. But I do recommend it for all real writers who are serious about improving their work. Give it a try and experience the exhiliration of pure panic.

At the same time as midterms, I'm also waiting for my novella Medieval Muse to come back from being edited. After that, I will do the last clean up on it and format it for release on Smashwords. My projected release date is August 1st. But that's not all I'm working on at this time. I'm preparing my series The MacKenzie Chronicles. It is in the re-write stage and preparing to be sent to the editor. Plus I'm still pounding out my story for class, The Chameleon Effect, which I gave you a taste of on Tuesday. This all adds up to a lot of writing time, which I seem to be doing more and more of. If anyone discovers how to add that extra hour into the day, let me know!

What are you working on? And you artists out there, what paintings are you creating? Are you having a hair-raising experience? Let's hear about it!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Excerpt from: The Chameleon Effect

After being snatched from her home by slavers and sold to a prison warden who experimented on her, Kira Rostropov is finally found ten months later by Chavez. He works for The Agency and his job is to return her to her home on Vega Minor. But it isn't as easy as it sounds when mercenaries are close on their heels, and are paid to return the warden's property. Kira also finds her body changing, from the effects of the experiments. Can she survive this perilous journey? It's up to Chavez to make sure that she does...

When Chavez stepped through the portal of the Nightshade Bar, the occupants stopped their activity to size up the tall newcomer, dressed entirely in black. The scars on his face were like a beacon indicating trouble, but he ignored their curious looks. The auction would start in ten minutes, so Chavez found a seat a an empty table and hooked up a hand-held computer that would be his link to the bidding. He'd memorized the face of the girl he was searching for and hoped that she would be in this auction. He was tired from ten months of planet hopping, but had been instructed by The Agency to keep looking until he found her. Kira has to be somewhere, Chavez thought, maybe today I'll get lucky.

A man sporting waist-length dreadlocks banged on the bar with his fist and waited for the room to become quiet. He spoke in basic Terran, which was the common language in this part of the galaxy. "Alright everyone, the bar is closed until after the auction, so get your last drink and settle down. For those of you who are new to this, you bid on the slave you want by entering their numbers in the red box and your bid in the black box. We only deal in interplanetary credits, so if you don't have any, don't waste our time. The highest bid at the end of two minutes wins. You'll receive a pick-up destination at that time and you pay when you pick up your retainer. If you don't show up, you lose your slave. Now, if you'll look at your screens, the first item is up for bid.

Chavez sat and waited to see if Kira's picture would show up onscreen. About two thirds of the way through the auction, he saw her. She wasn't plain, even though her long brown hair, blue eyes and pale complexion could have belonged to any number of girls. It was the shape of her face. It curved like the edge of a heart into a delicate chin. But her unsmiling face looked detached and defiant. Chavez stared at her picture as he had so many times before. He had memorized each curve and detail of her face and had even dreamt about meeting her.

His reverie ended as the clock began to tick on his screen. Chavez waited to bid until near the end of the two minutes, and then put in the high bid. Another bidder was driving up the bid with each new entry Chavez made. Clever of them, he thought, they can get a lot of credits that way. With the last few seconds ticking off, the other bidder withdrew. Chavez didn't care; he'd gotten what he came for. Kira was his!

I hope you enjoyed reading the beginning excerpt from The Chameleon Effect. This originally started out as a homework assignment and has grown into a more detailed story of love, deception, crossed swords and all the things you might find in an interplanetary space drama. I hope to include it again, over time, in small parts.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Presenting: "The Backworlds" by M. Pax

The Backworlds is here!

The first story in the Backworlds series by M. Pax. A vision of how humanity might colonize the galaxy some day in the distant future.

The Backworlds

After the war with Earth, bioengineered humans scatter across the Backworlds. Competition is fierce and pickings are scant. Scant enough that Craze’s father decides to hoard his fortune 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.

Available from: Amazon / AmazonUK / Smashwords / Feedbooks

Other links to more outlets can be found at either Wistful Nebulae or MPax

The Backworlds is an ebook and a free read. All formats can be found at Smashwords and Feedbooks.

It’ll take a few weeks to work its way down to free on Amazon Kindle. It will also be available on B&N and iTunes. Sign up for M. Pax’s mailing list to be notified the day it does go free on Amazon, and when the book becomes available at other outlets. You’ll also receive coupons for discounts on future publications. NEWSLETTER

M. Pax’s inspiration comes from the wilds of Oregon, especially the high desert where she shares her home with two cats and a husband unit. Creative sparks also come from Pine Mountain Observatory where she spend her summers working as a star guide. She writes mostly science fiction and fantasy, but confesses to an obsession with Jane Austen. She blogs at her website, www.mpaxauthor.com and at Wistful Nebuae. You’ll find links there to connect on Twitter, Goodread, FB and other sites.

The sequel, Stopover at the Backworlds’ Edge, will be released in July 2012. It will be available in all ebook formats and paperback.

I've just finished reading M. Pax's book "The Backworlds" and it was an exciting read! It was a page-turner that left me wanting the next book in the series. Since there is a look at "Stopover at the Backworlds' Edge" in the back of the book, I am eager to read the entire second book now. Great stories! ~ Karen

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Your Character and Conflict

With the changing of the weather to Spring, I have taken my notebook outside to join with all the butterflies, bees and birds in the celebration of renewed life. I am awed by all the new flowers coming up, the yellow daffodils, red tulips and the ever present yellow dandelions. That's right, with every new season and all the new life, there is still the weed that adds its presence to the mix.

As I sit outside and contemplate this phenomena, it reminds me of story and plot. What is the protagonist without his antagonist? Just a washed out gesture of happiness that has no flavor or spice. Sure, you can make a story about a protagonist who meets the girl, gets girl and lives happily ever after, but somehow, it leaves a dull taste in your mouth. Is life really like that? Where is the challenge? Where is the conflict? Where is the "stuff" that makes the story full of zest?

When developing the plot for your story, remember that man is his desire. What that means is that you have to know what the man wants. What he truly craves for. And while he is trying to get it, there will be roadblocks along the way. Conflict. That conflict will bring reality alive in your story. We are creatures that struggle and we relate to the struggles of others. And when we see those struggles come alive and overcome the conflict, then we shake our head and say: "Yes!"

So as you sit down among the flowers to write your next novel, remember that your plot needs conflict (even though it is Spring) and an antagonist will add a great deal of that conflict for you. What are you working on this Spring? Something old or something new? Let me hear about it...