Monday, September 24, 2012

Excerpt from: The Chameleon Effect #9

Chavez works for The Agency and has been assigned to rescue Kira Rostropovich and return her to Vega Minor, where she resides with her parents. After being in prison and being 'bought' by Chavez in an auction, Kira is not happy about being searched by Chavez. But he finds a tracking device on her right before a mercenary, Captain Maddeson, finds them and demands that Kira be turned over to him. Chavez immediately makes a sudden jump across the galaxy, much to Kira's surprise! Kira continues to have nightmares and is haunted by the fact that her life is in danger. She demands to go back to Prison Planet 452, but Chavez has someone to add to his crew complement first.
Kira's dream keeps coming back. Is it a warning? All she knows is that her destiny lies intertwined with the prison planet. Will Chavez understand? It is six hours away from rendezvousing with Dr. Winters, who will attempt to help Kira with her problems. But Captain Maddeson is on an intercept course to capture them and return them to the warden. Will they escape? Dr. Winters has diagnosed Kira with the Chameleon Effect and they need to find a way to stop it.

Chavez and Dr. Winters met on the bridge after the doctor was finished with Kira’s blood work. Chavez was estimating the arrival time to Darius when Dr. Winters rushed through the doors.

“Chavez, how long is it until we are orbiting Darius?”

“We have seven solar hours until we enter their system. Why?” Chavez saw the concern written on Dr. Winters face and alarm swept through him. “What’s happening with Kira?”

“Transposons sometimes generate gene mutations. This can cause diseases, but can also be a way for an organism to respond to its environment, through adaptation.”

“Tell me in English, doc.”

“Kira is changing on a cellular level. That’s why she has no memory. She wasn’t irradiated with someone else’s memories; they wiped her clean and left her blank so she could adapt to the information in her surroundings. She will adapt to her surroundings like a chameleon. I don’t advise taking her to a planet until I can create an antidote to either halt or eradicate this. She’s liable to try to adapt to her surroundings by hiding somewhere.”

“Okay, we skip Darius.” Chavez reached to changed course, but Dr. Winters stopped him.

“The problem is, I need some supplies. I need protein transposase to combat this.”

Chavez narrowed his eyes. “How do you get it?”

“I’ll need fresh DNA from individual volunteers.”

Chavez bit his lower lip while considering whether or not he should volunteer. He hesitated, then asked,

“Can you use me?”

“Chavez, this is dangerous.”

“How dangerous?”

“I’d be sharing your DNA with Kira. Any type of gene mutation in your past could show up. How did your parents die?”

“My father abandoned my mother and I when I was young and my mother died in the slave camps. But I’m perfectly healthy.”

“I don’t know…” But Dr. Winters needed the DNA and this was his chance to get started. “I suppose I could screen the DNA for aberrations if it was a small sample.”

Chavez paced around the bridge, trying to think. “Why don’t you start with me while we’re waiting to arrive at Darius? After we get there, you use your shuttle to go to the surface and back. Kira and I will stay in space.”

“I’ll only use you once. That way I can create one dose of antidote. One dose of antidote will cover Kira for any eventuality.”

“Alright. Let’s get cracking.”
To be continued...

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

What's In Your Mirror?

With school starting up next week and a whole new focus beginning in my writing class, I got out my notes from last time and reviewed what I learned. Or at least what I wrote down in my notes. Whether I actually learned it all or not will soon become evident as I take the second semester of Imaginative Writing. As I begin this class, I am looking in the mirror and asking: What's changed in my writing?

I believe it's important to evaluate our growth occasionaly, to ensure that our writing doesn't stay static. If I'm not moving forward or at least stepping to the side on a different path, then I must question the effort I put in to create a better outcome. Has my writing improved? Have my stories become more alive with the characters and details that surround them?

One of the things that I know has changed is my level of courage. Or my dimishing fear. Like the lion in the mirror, I see myself beginning to roar back at my kitten meow of last year. Having the courage to explore different avenues available to me has opened up new possibilities for me. Besides self-publishing my books, I've had the courage to submit my manuscripts to a publisher of ebooks. Allowing my work to be critiqued has been the hardest growth for me. I'm learning how to develop a thick skin so I don't crumble when someone doesn't like my work. Now I can ask why? And how can I improve and sharpen my characters and plots.

I look forward to getting back to the grind. If I was thirty years younger I wouldn't be so hard on myself. But I feel the urgency of wanting to get the stories out that are inside, just like a painter would want to paint all the pictures that are in their mind's eye. And so I leave this post with these questions for you. Are you continuing to improve in your writing? Has your story become sharper and clearer as you write? Are you focused so each chapter reflects a mirror of what you want to say?

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Interview with Christine Rice

Today I’m going to be interviewing Christine Rice - freelance writer, editor, and author. She has been publishing her writing since 2007. She is the author of four books - Poetry for the Heart, Essays for the Soul, My Not-So-Ordinary Life, and Freelance Writing Guide - and is planning on publishing two more books by the end of 2012. She has been a freelance writer and an editor since 2011. Her newest book, Freelance Writing Guide: What to Expect in Your First Year as a Freelance Writer, was just released in August 2012.


Karen: Christine, welcome to my blog.


Christine: Thanks for having me, Karen. It’s a pleasure to be here.


Karen: What started you writing? Are you self-taught or did you study writing?


Christine: Mostly, I learned how to write from being an English major in college and my specialization was professional and technical writing. Some of the things I learned were: to conduct effective online research, write literary analyses, keep accurate bibliographical information, edit other students’ writing, design brochures and web pages, give proper step-by-step written instructions, and much more of course. I learned the most from all the writing practice I got from writing essays and papers, because there were so many! I received good instruction on how to write clearly and concisely - to get my message across with using as few words as possible. College was a great experience and I highly recommend that other writers get educated on writing. My newest book, Freelance Writing Guide, has a chapter called “Writing Courses,” which provides information on how to get educated in writing.


Karen: What is your inspiration?


Christine: Life itself is the main source of my inspiration, and my ideas come when my mind wanders. I like to brainstorm to come up with ideas to write about. That was how I came up with the focus for Freelance Writing Guide. I knew I wanted to write a book about freelance writing, and by thinking about the topic and writing down thoughts about the topic as they came to me, I discovered the slant of my book which is reflected in the subtitle: what to expect in your first year as a freelance writer.


Karen: What made you decide on this topic?


Christine: I decided to write about the business of freelance writing, because it was a main part of my life, since I was and still am a full-time freelance writer. I decided on the topic after I had worked very hard for nine months and had learned a large amount of knowledge about the career field, and since I was approaching my one-year mark as a freelance writer, I thought I had enough credibility to write a book about what it’s like to be a freelance writer during the first year. And when I looked back at all I had learned and gone through during that time, I wished I had a book, with all that knowledge bottled inside, to read before embarking on my journey as a freelance writer, because it would have saved me a lot of time and trouble from the research I did and the experiences I went through. Wanting to bottle my experiences in a book to help other inspiring freelance writers was my underlining reason for writing and publishing Freelance Writing Guide.


Karen: Did something happen in your first year that prompted the writing of this book? (Or do you explain this in your book?)


Christine: My experiences in general inspired me to write the book. I had gained a lot of knowledge during my first year, so I had a lot to share with other people. I had learned about search engine optimization, online writing communities, networking, marketing, resume writing, writing for content websites, traditional publishing, and much more, which is all found in my book.


Karen: As a freelance writer, what is the best advice you can give to those new to writing or new to freelance writing?


Christine: For writers looking to embark on a freelance writing career, don’t expect a lot of profit in the first year. I’m sure many writers don’t want to hear that, but we can’t live in denial. The first year of freelance writing is about getting acquainted with writing for the Web and print publications, building a network, starting and maintaining a blog and website, and finding your niche in the freelance writing world. So if you plan on quitting your day job to become a freelance writer, you should save up enough money to cover expenses for the first year before you become a freelance writer, or make sure your family can cover household expenses with less income. Also, you may have a lot of business expenses, if you need equipment and supplies to start, and that would factor into your net profits. It’s best to have a financial cushion, so-to-speak, so that you don’t get stressed over money. The profits will definitely increase, but in the beginning it’s good to have a financial backup.


Karen: What kind of writing goals do you set for yourself?


Christine: My book reviewing goal is three books a month. I have another goal of writing at least one blog post a week for each of my two blogs. Mostly, I have a to-do list or a list of goals, but with no deadlines. I’m very self-motivated and productive, so items don’t stay on my to-do list for long. When I have things I need to accomplish, I often stay up all night to get them done, because I don’t like leaving loose ends. My long-term goals are to publish Chronicles of a Troubled Girl and Articles for the Mind by the end of 2012, Freedom from Fat in mid-2013, and second editions of two of my books in 2013 as well.


Karen: As a freelance writer, how much time do you spend on marketing your books?


Christine: An average amount, I suppose. Most of the marketing I do is when the book first gets published. I write and publish a blog post, a press release, forum posts, and events. After the book has been on the market for at least a year, I will seek out additional reviews from book reviewers. I create postcards with my book cover as the image and mail them to people I know. I have giveaways and discount days. Marketing gets done in short bursts so to not overwhelm the public with constant promotion.


Karen: All the books you've written are non-fiction. How does this plan apply to someone who writes fiction? In your opinion, can a fiction writer do as well in these areas?


Christine: Sure, fiction writers can become freelance writers. They can publish short stories online or in print magazines, and novels. And my book talks about all of that. Being a freelance writer is mostly geared to writing content for websites and clients, which tends to be nonfiction writing. But some fiction writers I know are great freelance writers, because they are able to write both fiction and nonfiction. It is definitely possible for a fiction writer to do well as a freelance writer.


If you are interested in my book, Freelance Writing Guide, you can pick up a copy at Amazon, Lulu, or Smashwords. If you wish to learn more about me, you can find me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and my blog.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

About getting stuck...

Yesterday I was stuck with my writing, so I turned on an old re-run of The Waltons and watched an episode called The Easter Story. In this particular episode, the mother of seven children contracts polio and decides she's going to walk again, no matter what. But, the more she tries, the worse she feels until she finally gives up in defeat, saying "It's time to get busy living with the way things are, and not the way I wish things could be." (not an exact quote) Anyway, that night she has a dream that her youngest child is calling to her, so she gets up and starts walking to her. The family is elated that after she relaxed, she was able to walk again and all was okay.

I thought about that and how I've been trying so hard to write a story I've been working on. Maybe if I just relaxed and let the story flow, it would be more natural and forthcoming. So, last night I accepted that the story was not happening the way I wanted and decided to let it go. I woke up this morning with new ideas that seem fresh and vivid. All I had to do was relax and let things happen the way they are, and not try to push things into a mold.

So much of life is like that. We get an idea of the ways things ought to be, and forget to look at how things are. Reality gets pushed out of perspective and is distorted. It becomes unusable and forced. I'm going to try to embrace the way things are and let my stories create themselves. That way, what actually comes from me will be a whole lot more real than any sci-fi/fantasy I could dream up. Oh, I'm still going to write fantasy, it'll just be more like what's going on inside my head as I let it come out in its own time.

My sister, Loretta Stephenson, at Art By Retta, sent me this quote today:

“Perhaps, it is just as well to be rash and foolish for a while. If writers were too wise, perhaps no books would get written at all. It might be better to ask yourself 'Why?' afterward than before. Anyway, the force from somewhere in Space which commands you to write in the first place, gives you no choice. You take up the pen when you are told, and write what is commanded. There is no agony like bearing an untold story inside you.”

– Zora Neale Hurston from Dust Tracks on A Road

Monday, September 10, 2012

What's Your Chocolate? Blog Hop!

Welcome to the What's Your Chocolate? Blog Hop. You can check out M Pax's website HERE for more blogs to visit. I've been doing my own drooling with anticipation while I thought about what my favorite chocolate was. I decided that my chocolate desires changed with the seasons.

I associate chocolate covered cherries with Christmas. In fact every year I buy a box to eat throughout the season. I can remember having a box when I was twelve that I shared with my brothers and sister.

During Easter, my chocolate takes on a different taste when it is chocolate covered marshmallows I crave. I can't wait until next year when I can share it with my granddaughter in the form of brightly colored tinfoil designs.

My summer favorite is M&M's peanuts. The chocolate doesn't melt in the heat (as long as you don't sit out in the sun with it).

My all time favorite would have to be chocolate peanut clusters. I remember my mother keeping a candy dish with goodies in it, when I was young. I loved lifting the lid of the cut glass candy dish and picking out one piece to eat after school. My mother loved that particular kind of chocolate also.

As much as I love chocolate, I don't eat it very often. Because of physical problems, I'm not supposed to have any at all, but I do indulge occasionally. I imagine that eating low-calorie chocolate would help, but it doesn't taste the same. Since I don't need to eat it to make me feel better, I will continue to take an occasional bite of chocolate and enjoy the seasons as they come.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Insecure Writer's Support Group

I have a confession to make: I've been hiding out for the last week or so. You know, when that feeling comes over you that says you are the worst writer in the whole world? Naw... you've never felt that way! That's only for beginners and young writers. But I'm a beginner at 60, and a young writer. And some days I wonder why I ever decided to try and write at all!

It's then when I remember that I have a dream to share the stories I hear inside. I have always created something in my life. I wrote music and played the viola in orchestras across three continents. I've seen some amazing things during those tours and right now, and idea is bubbling inside for a new story. Will I decide to write it?

As soon as I let go of my fear and insecurities, I can begin to allow the story out. Being transparent has always been difficult for me. And allowing others to see a part of my life sounds scary to me. But isn't that why we have this support group? So we can lean on each other and encourage one another through the rough times. Also, I think the best thing I've gotten from I.W.S.G. is the inspiration to move forward and put those words on paper (or computer). I leave you with a quote I saw recently:

"The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams." ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Do You Have Time?

"You will never find time for anything. If you want time, you must make it." ~ Charles Buxton

Bobbi Jones Jones

Recently I was scrambling around trying to finish the formatting of my book, Dragon Kind, when I found myself grumbling about how there was never enough time to do anything. I couldn't write because I needed to work on the formatting, and I couldn't do the formatting because I needed to make a new post for my blog, plus I hadn't done any visiting to my blogger friends, etc. and so forth. You know what I'm talking about.

And then I ran across this quote and it smacked me up the side of my head! I've read about making schedules before, but I'm not very good about keeping them. Usually when I get up, I would start by putting out the fires that were shouting for my attention and hope I'd get to what I wanted to do. Well, today I did something different. I refused to listen to the alarm bells and decided that if they had waited this long, they could wait a little longer.

I made a list of what I wanted to accomplish today, and in what order I wanted to accomplish it in. I gave myself ample time with each task so I wasn't racing through the job and then I started with number one. Believe it or not, even though the day isn't over yet, I'm zooming through my list and I don't feel harried or pressured.

I'm sure there will be days when things go off kilter, but I'm prepared for those also. If something else demands my attention that I can't avoid, I have an eraser on the end of my pencil and I can re-arrange my list. This wasn't any profound idea that I'm revealing to the world, it's just the simple idea of deciding to do what I want and need to get done. And the rest can wait until tomorrow!

"We can do anything we want to do if we stick to it long enough." ~ Helen Keller