Friday, June 24, 2016

Image credit: earl53 at morguefile.com
Years ago I picked up a gem at a used bookstore, Georgia Heard's Writing Toward Home. The title spoke to my identity crisis of the moment: My parents had retired to Florida, overwhelming me with a sense "you can't ever go home again." Heard's pithy and poetic chapters on developing a creative life are worth savoring. In a chapter entitled "Where does poetry hide?" she includes this poem:

Valentine for Ernest Mann
by Naomi Shihab Nye

You can't order a poem like you order a taco.
Walk up to a counter, say "I'll take two"
and expect it to be handed to you
on a shiny plate.

Still, I like your spirit.
Anyone who says, "Here's my address,
write me a poem," deserves something in reply.
So I'll tell you a secret instead:
poems hide. In the bottoms of our shoes,
they are sleeping. They are the shadows
drifting across ceilings the moment
before we wake up. What we have to do
is live in a way that lets us find them....
(Qtd. in Heard, Georgia. Writing Toward Home. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 1995. p. 10.)

I found tremendous encouragement in Heard's commentary on it. She says, "We don't necessarily need to change our lives around to be writers or to be writing more. We must change the way we look at our lives. By looking at the small, everyday circumstances and happenings, we find ideas to fill volumes."

Where have you found poetic or fictional material hiding in the everyday? Have you ever had a change in perspective--how you look at your life--that opened up a well of ideas for you?
Friday, June 24, 2016 Laurel Garver
Image credit: earl53 at morguefile.com
Years ago I picked up a gem at a used bookstore, Georgia Heard's Writing Toward Home. The title spoke to my identity crisis of the moment: My parents had retired to Florida, overwhelming me with a sense "you can't ever go home again." Heard's pithy and poetic chapters on developing a creative life are worth savoring. In a chapter entitled "Where does poetry hide?" she includes this poem:

Valentine for Ernest Mann
by Naomi Shihab Nye

You can't order a poem like you order a taco.
Walk up to a counter, say "I'll take two"
and expect it to be handed to you
on a shiny plate.

Still, I like your spirit.
Anyone who says, "Here's my address,
write me a poem," deserves something in reply.
So I'll tell you a secret instead:
poems hide. In the bottoms of our shoes,
they are sleeping. They are the shadows
drifting across ceilings the moment
before we wake up. What we have to do
is live in a way that lets us find them....
(Qtd. in Heard, Georgia. Writing Toward Home. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 1995. p. 10.)

I found tremendous encouragement in Heard's commentary on it. She says, "We don't necessarily need to change our lives around to be writers or to be writing more. We must change the way we look at our lives. By looking at the small, everyday circumstances and happenings, we find ideas to fill volumes."

Where have you found poetic or fictional material hiding in the everyday? Have you ever had a change in perspective--how you look at your life--that opened up a well of ideas for you?

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Seasonal prompts can be helpful in your routine, to get you paying attention to your immediate environment and the sensory experiences you can collect. It can also get you thinking about story potential in everyday events. Consider how to spin theses prompts for different genres or milieus. For example, try "the hottest day I've experienced" as memoir, as dystopian fiction, as magical realism, as SciFi, or as middle grade humor.

Photo by http://morguefile.com/creative/pippalou
I know summer has arrived when...

My idea of a perfect summer day is...

Smells I associate with summer.

Summer foods I have been craving for months.

How my protagonist's neighborhood changes in summer.

A homesick kid at sleepaway camp misses….

Someone added a mysterious chemical to the neighborhood pool, causing….

My worst family vacation disaster.

A homicidal maniac uses an ice cream truck to lure out victims.

What my protagonist likes most and least about summer.

Your best friend / worst enemy gets pushed into a pool at a fancy party.

Instead of selling ice cream, the roving musical truck in this neighborhood offers _____.

The hottest day I’ve ever experienced.

The boys’ and girls’ summer camps go to war.

A flea market purchase turns out to have magical powers.

While backpacking through Europe, a group of friends accidentally kills one of their own

A child and his/her cousin are stuck at a remote cabin for the summer with their grandparents and discover….

A tiger gets loose at the local county fair.

My favorite summer supper.

My protagonist’s idea of a wonderful summer vacation.

A horseback riding trail takes a group of riders magically back in time.

An unlikely ensemble takes shelter in a minimart during a hurricane.

Scientists discover what fireflies are actually communicating through their blinking bodies.

A new swimwear trend nobody could have predicted.

My best summer vacation memory.

A pie-eating contest goes horribly wrong.

The summer all the beaches were empty because….

How my protagonist would feel about going to a public pool in a swimsuit.

Two polar-opposite families are double-booked for a beach house rental and decide to share it.

The song of the cicada is actually a secret message

How three ingenious Girl Scouts saved the cook-out.

An inventor creates an ingenious new way to cool off in the summer.

Which of these appeals most to you?
Thursday, June 16, 2016 Laurel Garver
Seasonal prompts can be helpful in your routine, to get you paying attention to your immediate environment and the sensory experiences you can collect. It can also get you thinking about story potential in everyday events. Consider how to spin theses prompts for different genres or milieus. For example, try "the hottest day I've experienced" as memoir, as dystopian fiction, as magical realism, as SciFi, or as middle grade humor.

Photo by http://morguefile.com/creative/pippalou
I know summer has arrived when...

My idea of a perfect summer day is...

Smells I associate with summer.

Summer foods I have been craving for months.

How my protagonist's neighborhood changes in summer.

A homesick kid at sleepaway camp misses….

Someone added a mysterious chemical to the neighborhood pool, causing….

My worst family vacation disaster.

A homicidal maniac uses an ice cream truck to lure out victims.

What my protagonist likes most and least about summer.

Your best friend / worst enemy gets pushed into a pool at a fancy party.

Instead of selling ice cream, the roving musical truck in this neighborhood offers _____.

The hottest day I’ve ever experienced.

The boys’ and girls’ summer camps go to war.

A flea market purchase turns out to have magical powers.

While backpacking through Europe, a group of friends accidentally kills one of their own

A child and his/her cousin are stuck at a remote cabin for the summer with their grandparents and discover….

A tiger gets loose at the local county fair.

My favorite summer supper.

My protagonist’s idea of a wonderful summer vacation.

A horseback riding trail takes a group of riders magically back in time.

An unlikely ensemble takes shelter in a minimart during a hurricane.

Scientists discover what fireflies are actually communicating through their blinking bodies.

A new swimwear trend nobody could have predicted.

My best summer vacation memory.

A pie-eating contest goes horribly wrong.

The summer all the beaches were empty because….

How my protagonist would feel about going to a public pool in a swimsuit.

Two polar-opposite families are double-booked for a beach house rental and decide to share it.

The song of the cicada is actually a secret message

How three ingenious Girl Scouts saved the cook-out.

An inventor creates an ingenious new way to cool off in the summer.

Which of these appeals most to you?

Thursday, June 09, 2016

Months ago, I wrote a post about mapping interior spaces for your fiction. I'd fully intended to post next about building fictional outdoor environments, then realized I don't know anything about this topic! So I was delighted to discover a mapmaker offering her services to the author collective I participate in. And I'm even more delighted that she's willing to come here to share her tips on beginning to develop a map for your imagined world. Take it away, Angie....

By guest author Angie Grigaliunas

mapping helps you visualize your created world.
As a visual person, I’ve always been interested in maps. I created maps for most of the stories I started, and I worked for hours in Paint tweaking every little detail. As I’ve grown in both my writing and map-making, I decided to branch out and start helping others with their maps. I am by no means an expert, and I still have a lot to learn, but here are some tips to help you create a visual of your world.

One of the best parts for me in either writing or map-making is creating a new world. I can decide everything about it. It can also be daunting – trying to figure out landscapes, mountains, coastlines – especially when you don’t know where to start.

I personally always start with a land mass or continent. For the shape of this, check out actual countries and continents. Take note of how rugged or smooth the coastlines are and if there are islands. Drawing inspiration from real life creates a natural realism. Another great thing to try is searching for pictures of rust and using that shape as inspiration. Erosion works a similar way in both rust and land. You can also do this with a country, but country boarders are often affected by things other than natural causes (politics, for instance).

A basic land mass

Next, I place mountains. Most simply, mountains form where two tectonic plates move against each other (so it may be a good idea to figure out where those plates are in your world and create mountains along those lines). They’re not random, and islands will typically follow this same line. Mountains can cause rainshadows (a dry area on the leeward side of the mountain), so if you want deserts, decide which direction the weather in your world comes from and put your desert on the protected side of your mountains.

Mountain placement is based on tectonic plates lying beneath them.

After mountains, I start adding water. Some things to keep in mind here:

~Water flows toward the lowest point, away from mountains

~Rivers connect; they typically do not divide (unless there is a man-made reason, for instance)

~Lakes/ponds can have numerous rivers feeding them, but they can’t have more than one outgoing stream (as there is only one lowest point)

Rivers, flowing downhill from the mountains to the sea.

After that, I add forests and start deciding where I want my cities to be.

Forests spring up once you have water sources

People build where they have access to key resources.


For me, as an artist, it helps if someone has something drawn out – to the best of their abilities – with details such as mountains, lakes, rivers, cities, etc. That way I can more or less copy their world and put my touches on it instead of creating it from scratch and hoping it matches their vision. So if you’re planning to have someone make a map for you, do your best to draw something out. (It can also help you learn about your world! Win-win!)

When creating a map of your world, keep your people groups/races in mind. This gets into more world-building stuff, but if most of your people are nomads, for instance, you likely wouldn’t have any big metropolitan type area. Or if your nation is a big farming nation, there likely won’t be a ton of mountains – it’ll be flatter land, more field-like.

The best advice I can give is to research geography and study maps! Look at real countries and note how the mountains cut across the land, how the rivers flow, how the coastline changes.

For further research, check out Brandon Sanderson’s World Building Geography lecture series

If you have any questions or would like to solicit my map-making services, you can contact me at my facebook site, Your World Designed.


Angie Grigaliunas is a fantasy writer (mature content and themes) and blogger. She loves Jesus, the woods, and the stars, and has always wanted to be a superhero with a secret identity. She lives in Ohio with her dear husband, their puppy, and their crazy cats. You can follow her on Twitter at @Angie_ZeWriter.




How might mapping your fictional world help you better understand it? Any questions for Angie?
Thursday, June 09, 2016 Laurel Garver
Months ago, I wrote a post about mapping interior spaces for your fiction. I'd fully intended to post next about building fictional outdoor environments, then realized I don't know anything about this topic! So I was delighted to discover a mapmaker offering her services to the author collective I participate in. And I'm even more delighted that she's willing to come here to share her tips on beginning to develop a map for your imagined world. Take it away, Angie....

By guest author Angie Grigaliunas

mapping helps you visualize your created world.
As a visual person, I’ve always been interested in maps. I created maps for most of the stories I started, and I worked for hours in Paint tweaking every little detail. As I’ve grown in both my writing and map-making, I decided to branch out and start helping others with their maps. I am by no means an expert, and I still have a lot to learn, but here are some tips to help you create a visual of your world.

One of the best parts for me in either writing or map-making is creating a new world. I can decide everything about it. It can also be daunting – trying to figure out landscapes, mountains, coastlines – especially when you don’t know where to start.

I personally always start with a land mass or continent. For the shape of this, check out actual countries and continents. Take note of how rugged or smooth the coastlines are and if there are islands. Drawing inspiration from real life creates a natural realism. Another great thing to try is searching for pictures of rust and using that shape as inspiration. Erosion works a similar way in both rust and land. You can also do this with a country, but country boarders are often affected by things other than natural causes (politics, for instance).

A basic land mass

Next, I place mountains. Most simply, mountains form where two tectonic plates move against each other (so it may be a good idea to figure out where those plates are in your world and create mountains along those lines). They’re not random, and islands will typically follow this same line. Mountains can cause rainshadows (a dry area on the leeward side of the mountain), so if you want deserts, decide which direction the weather in your world comes from and put your desert on the protected side of your mountains.

Mountain placement is based on tectonic plates lying beneath them.

After mountains, I start adding water. Some things to keep in mind here:

~Water flows toward the lowest point, away from mountains

~Rivers connect; they typically do not divide (unless there is a man-made reason, for instance)

~Lakes/ponds can have numerous rivers feeding them, but they can’t have more than one outgoing stream (as there is only one lowest point)

Rivers, flowing downhill from the mountains to the sea.

After that, I add forests and start deciding where I want my cities to be.

Forests spring up once you have water sources

People build where they have access to key resources.


For me, as an artist, it helps if someone has something drawn out – to the best of their abilities – with details such as mountains, lakes, rivers, cities, etc. That way I can more or less copy their world and put my touches on it instead of creating it from scratch and hoping it matches their vision. So if you’re planning to have someone make a map for you, do your best to draw something out. (It can also help you learn about your world! Win-win!)

When creating a map of your world, keep your people groups/races in mind. This gets into more world-building stuff, but if most of your people are nomads, for instance, you likely wouldn’t have any big metropolitan type area. Or if your nation is a big farming nation, there likely won’t be a ton of mountains – it’ll be flatter land, more field-like.

The best advice I can give is to research geography and study maps! Look at real countries and note how the mountains cut across the land, how the rivers flow, how the coastline changes.

For further research, check out Brandon Sanderson’s World Building Geography lecture series

If you have any questions or would like to solicit my map-making services, you can contact me at my facebook site, Your World Designed.


Angie Grigaliunas is a fantasy writer (mature content and themes) and blogger. She loves Jesus, the woods, and the stars, and has always wanted to be a superhero with a secret identity. She lives in Ohio with her dear husband, their puppy, and their crazy cats. You can follow her on Twitter at @Angie_ZeWriter.




How might mapping your fictional world help you better understand it? Any questions for Angie?

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Image by 5demayo at morguefile.com
I am out and about sharing the news of my new release Almost There with new readers. But I thought you lovely folks might be interested in seeing excerpts and interviews and some thoughts on developing a character's faith.

Writer's Alley

As part of her regular feature "YA in the Alleyway," Sheri Larsen interviewed me about Almost There--my writing process, setting, characters, and what's next.

She is also hosting a giveaway of  the prequel Never Gone. Just leave a comment on the post for a chance to win! 

Check it out HERE.

Author spotlight with Catherine Bennett

Catherine writes Christian romances and invited other faith writers to share a bit about their new releases this summer.

There I share one of the romance scenes from Almost There. As you might guess from the book blurb, Dani gets into some romantic messes in this story. Long-term dating relationships take work, and even the best ones can suffer serious shake-ups in the midst of family crises and separation.

Check it out HERE

Haven of Hope

My approach to writing Christian YA has been to write a character for whom faith is a natural part of life. It’s Dani’s framework for understanding the world, just like her artistic ability is. The imagery and stories of her faith weave through her thought world as much as the language of painting and drawing.

In my guest post for Shayla Hilton's blog "Haven of Hope," I talk about the hope that we, like Dani, can draw from  not only knowing specific verses in the Bible, but also drawing parallels between our experiences and those of Bible characters. Which Bible prophets inspire Dani to do the right thing when she'd rather run?

Check it out HERE


What are you up to these days?

Wednesday, June 08, 2016 Laurel Garver
Image by 5demayo at morguefile.com
I am out and about sharing the news of my new release Almost There with new readers. But I thought you lovely folks might be interested in seeing excerpts and interviews and some thoughts on developing a character's faith.

Writer's Alley

As part of her regular feature "YA in the Alleyway," Sheri Larsen interviewed me about Almost There--my writing process, setting, characters, and what's next.

She is also hosting a giveaway of  the prequel Never Gone. Just leave a comment on the post for a chance to win! 

Check it out HERE.

Author spotlight with Catherine Bennett

Catherine writes Christian romances and invited other faith writers to share a bit about their new releases this summer.

There I share one of the romance scenes from Almost There. As you might guess from the book blurb, Dani gets into some romantic messes in this story. Long-term dating relationships take work, and even the best ones can suffer serious shake-ups in the midst of family crises and separation.

Check it out HERE

Haven of Hope

My approach to writing Christian YA has been to write a character for whom faith is a natural part of life. It’s Dani’s framework for understanding the world, just like her artistic ability is. The imagery and stories of her faith weave through her thought world as much as the language of painting and drawing.

In my guest post for Shayla Hilton's blog "Haven of Hope," I talk about the hope that we, like Dani, can draw from  not only knowing specific verses in the Bible, but also drawing parallels between our experiences and those of Bible characters. Which Bible prophets inspire Dani to do the right thing when she'd rather run?

Check it out HERE


What are you up to these days?

Thursday, June 02, 2016

Science fiction is one of those genres I really enjoy reading but have always been too intimidated to write. But not all compelling stories of future worlds and interplanetary travel require you to have degrees in physics, aerospace engineering, xenobiology, and the like (but an interest in topics like this certainly don't hurt). With some very basic aspects of your future world researched, you can write a compelling story that focuses on the human interactions rather than the tech, what is sometimes called "soft" science fiction (versus "hard" --the very tech focused).

As part of her blog tour, author Aubrey Hansen has come to share some insights into creating Red Rain, a Christian "soft" science fiction novella. Take it away, Aubrey....



Good morning, Ladies and Gents! Welcome aboard Flight 74 heading for the Red Planet, Mars. Please strap on your seat belts because this promises to be one wild ride. We've got free books galore, three fun giveaways, an author interview, and more. Let's get this adventure started!

Interview with the Aubrey Hansen, author of Red Rain

What are some key aspects of the future world you've created?
The key aspect—the one that inspired the whole book, actually—was the idea that my character lived under an oppressive government that forced kids to attend public school. These were the thoughts that terrified my fourteen-year-old mind! Although the world has developed to include a lot more political intrigue—especially in the upcoming sequel—the first scene of Red Rain, with those dreaded school buses, has remained almost exactly the same as I originally imagined it.

Tell us about your heroine: How did you chose her name? What are her interests and skills and struggles? 
My oppressive one-world government, the United, was loosely inspired by “the Beast” in the book of Revelation. Therefore, I thought it would be cool to name the major characters after the seven churches of Revelation; I used the churches’ implied strengths and sins as models for the characters’ arcs. Plus, I always thought Philadelphia was a beautiful and unique name!

[As someone who resides in Philadelphia, I'm pretty partial to the name, too. --Laurel]

Philadelphia doesn’t see herself as skillful or talented, especially when compared to her tech-genius father and brother. What she hasn’t realized yet is that she’s actually very intelligent—perhaps not with book knowledge, but with the ability to think outside the box and create solutions. She only has to realize that, just because she’s quiet, doesn’t mean she’s not brave enough to stand up to the evil that threatens her family.

What research did you do to write this book?
This is why I write soft sci-fi—so I don’t have to research! While most of the tech in the book is fictional, I did do some research on Mars and space travel. Of course the space travel in the book is extremely advanced, but I still wanted to make sure I wasn’t forcing my characters to travel faster than the speed of light!

What was the hardest part of writing this book?
Since this was my debut novel, I made it easy on myself—I kept it short and didn’t allow myself to edit for too long. The hardest part has actually been coming back to write new material for the series. Trying to work with your old writing is difficult. You want to improve on your writing, but you need to preserve series integrity and don’t want to ruin everything your readers loved about the original story. But it’s worth it!

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
I’ve always had a special place in my heart for writing Ephesus and Standyard, so all of their scenes were fun. I’m thrilled that all my readers adore Ephesus as much as I do. (They don’t love Standyard yet... but they will... in a few more books.)

What question do you wish that someone would ask about your book, but nobody has? Share it and your answer.
I feel like I’m “incepting” myself by answering this, but here goes. I wish someone would ask me what I’d do differently if I were to rewrite Red Rain today, now that I’m older and stupider. I can see, looking back, some of the juvenile and misguided theology that worked itself into the book. The United is also single-sided in its evilness. But then, when you’re a teenager, evil is still fairly black and white in your mind. So perhaps that isn’t such a bad thing after all.

How do you find or make time to write?
I do that?

What advice would you give to someone starting out in your genre?
You don’t have to be technologically-minded to write science fiction. Not all sci-fi focuses on the tech, and even if there’s tech in your book, your character doesn’t have to dissect how it works. It’s perfectly acceptable to write “softer” sci-fi and just revel in the fanciful settings and beautiful imagery that’s possible in the fictional future!



 About Red Rain

17-year-old Philadelphia has been imprisoned most of her life because of her Christian beliefs. When her father is sent to Mars against his will to work on a mysterious science project and a benevolent official allows her to accompany him, Philadelphia knows she must keep her head down or be sent back to prison on Earth. But when she stumbles into the wrong hallway and accidentally learns too much, Philadelphia is faced with a question she doesn’t want to answer: the choice between returning to Earth—or destroying it.

About the Author



Aubrey Hansen is a pink-haired, caffeine-fueled twenty-something. She's a writer (obviously), barista, dog trainer, and the co-founder of Penoaks Publishing. She shares her house in Kansas City with three cats, a pit bull, a snake, a ferret, and a husband.




Free Offer



Aubrey is such a generous gal. She's not only offering Red Rain for free this week, but if you sign up for her newsletter, you can also get the prequel short story for free! What are you waiting for?

What Reviewers are Saying

I was hooked from the first few sentences. In fact, I stayed up late when I got home (even though I had to get up early the next morning) to finish the book.”-Amazon Reviewer

With solid craft and poignant world building, Aubrey Hansen has outlined a future both horrifying and realistic. I appreciated Hansen's character building skills.”-Amazon Reviewer

I loved this book! I didn't realize it was a short novella, and I wished it would have been longer.”-Goodreads Reviewer

“The story was fascinating. I wasn't really sure what to expect, but everything came together in the end and it made sense.”-Goodreads Reviewer

Giveaway

Aubrey is offering three paperback copies of her book, Red Rain. This book will have the new cover on it. And the grand prize offering will also have the paperback of Faith Blum's book, Heaven's Jubilee, a Christian futuristic collection of short stories. To enter the giveaway, please fill out this Google form (you do not need a Google account to enter). The only required entries are your name and email address, but the more you do, the more chances you have to win.

Excerpt

 


June 2
Bookish Orchestrations-Tour Introduction and Excerpt
Laurel’s Leaves-Author Interview

June 3
Gabriellyn-Excerpt and Author Interview
Joyful Peacock-Author Interview

June 4
Another OtherWorld-Character Interview with Philadelphia

June 5
Mary’s Writing World-Book Spotlight
Rachel Rossano’s Words-Excerpt and Author Interview

June 6
Tale Weaver-Author Interview

June 7
BookishOrchestrations-Tour Wrap-up and Giveaway Announcement


What genres are you afraid to try? Any questions for Aubrey?
Thursday, June 02, 2016 Laurel Garver
Science fiction is one of those genres I really enjoy reading but have always been too intimidated to write. But not all compelling stories of future worlds and interplanetary travel require you to have degrees in physics, aerospace engineering, xenobiology, and the like (but an interest in topics like this certainly don't hurt). With some very basic aspects of your future world researched, you can write a compelling story that focuses on the human interactions rather than the tech, what is sometimes called "soft" science fiction (versus "hard" --the very tech focused).

As part of her blog tour, author Aubrey Hansen has come to share some insights into creating Red Rain, a Christian "soft" science fiction novella. Take it away, Aubrey....



Good morning, Ladies and Gents! Welcome aboard Flight 74 heading for the Red Planet, Mars. Please strap on your seat belts because this promises to be one wild ride. We've got free books galore, three fun giveaways, an author interview, and more. Let's get this adventure started!

Interview with the Aubrey Hansen, author of Red Rain

What are some key aspects of the future world you've created?
The key aspect—the one that inspired the whole book, actually—was the idea that my character lived under an oppressive government that forced kids to attend public school. These were the thoughts that terrified my fourteen-year-old mind! Although the world has developed to include a lot more political intrigue—especially in the upcoming sequel—the first scene of Red Rain, with those dreaded school buses, has remained almost exactly the same as I originally imagined it.

Tell us about your heroine: How did you chose her name? What are her interests and skills and struggles? 
My oppressive one-world government, the United, was loosely inspired by “the Beast” in the book of Revelation. Therefore, I thought it would be cool to name the major characters after the seven churches of Revelation; I used the churches’ implied strengths and sins as models for the characters’ arcs. Plus, I always thought Philadelphia was a beautiful and unique name!

[As someone who resides in Philadelphia, I'm pretty partial to the name, too. --Laurel]

Philadelphia doesn’t see herself as skillful or talented, especially when compared to her tech-genius father and brother. What she hasn’t realized yet is that she’s actually very intelligent—perhaps not with book knowledge, but with the ability to think outside the box and create solutions. She only has to realize that, just because she’s quiet, doesn’t mean she’s not brave enough to stand up to the evil that threatens her family.

What research did you do to write this book?
This is why I write soft sci-fi—so I don’t have to research! While most of the tech in the book is fictional, I did do some research on Mars and space travel. Of course the space travel in the book is extremely advanced, but I still wanted to make sure I wasn’t forcing my characters to travel faster than the speed of light!

What was the hardest part of writing this book?
Since this was my debut novel, I made it easy on myself—I kept it short and didn’t allow myself to edit for too long. The hardest part has actually been coming back to write new material for the series. Trying to work with your old writing is difficult. You want to improve on your writing, but you need to preserve series integrity and don’t want to ruin everything your readers loved about the original story. But it’s worth it!

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
I’ve always had a special place in my heart for writing Ephesus and Standyard, so all of their scenes were fun. I’m thrilled that all my readers adore Ephesus as much as I do. (They don’t love Standyard yet... but they will... in a few more books.)

What question do you wish that someone would ask about your book, but nobody has? Share it and your answer.
I feel like I’m “incepting” myself by answering this, but here goes. I wish someone would ask me what I’d do differently if I were to rewrite Red Rain today, now that I’m older and stupider. I can see, looking back, some of the juvenile and misguided theology that worked itself into the book. The United is also single-sided in its evilness. But then, when you’re a teenager, evil is still fairly black and white in your mind. So perhaps that isn’t such a bad thing after all.

How do you find or make time to write?
I do that?

What advice would you give to someone starting out in your genre?
You don’t have to be technologically-minded to write science fiction. Not all sci-fi focuses on the tech, and even if there’s tech in your book, your character doesn’t have to dissect how it works. It’s perfectly acceptable to write “softer” sci-fi and just revel in the fanciful settings and beautiful imagery that’s possible in the fictional future!



 About Red Rain

17-year-old Philadelphia has been imprisoned most of her life because of her Christian beliefs. When her father is sent to Mars against his will to work on a mysterious science project and a benevolent official allows her to accompany him, Philadelphia knows she must keep her head down or be sent back to prison on Earth. But when she stumbles into the wrong hallway and accidentally learns too much, Philadelphia is faced with a question she doesn’t want to answer: the choice between returning to Earth—or destroying it.

About the Author



Aubrey Hansen is a pink-haired, caffeine-fueled twenty-something. She's a writer (obviously), barista, dog trainer, and the co-founder of Penoaks Publishing. She shares her house in Kansas City with three cats, a pit bull, a snake, a ferret, and a husband.




Free Offer



Aubrey is such a generous gal. She's not only offering Red Rain for free this week, but if you sign up for her newsletter, you can also get the prequel short story for free! What are you waiting for?

What Reviewers are Saying

I was hooked from the first few sentences. In fact, I stayed up late when I got home (even though I had to get up early the next morning) to finish the book.”-Amazon Reviewer

With solid craft and poignant world building, Aubrey Hansen has outlined a future both horrifying and realistic. I appreciated Hansen's character building skills.”-Amazon Reviewer

I loved this book! I didn't realize it was a short novella, and I wished it would have been longer.”-Goodreads Reviewer

“The story was fascinating. I wasn't really sure what to expect, but everything came together in the end and it made sense.”-Goodreads Reviewer

Giveaway

Aubrey is offering three paperback copies of her book, Red Rain. This book will have the new cover on it. And the grand prize offering will also have the paperback of Faith Blum's book, Heaven's Jubilee, a Christian futuristic collection of short stories. To enter the giveaway, please fill out this Google form (you do not need a Google account to enter). The only required entries are your name and email address, but the more you do, the more chances you have to win.

Excerpt

 


June 2
Bookish Orchestrations-Tour Introduction and Excerpt
Laurel’s Leaves-Author Interview

June 3
Gabriellyn-Excerpt and Author Interview
Joyful Peacock-Author Interview

June 4
Another OtherWorld-Character Interview with Philadelphia

June 5
Mary’s Writing World-Book Spotlight
Rachel Rossano’s Words-Excerpt and Author Interview

June 6
Tale Weaver-Author Interview

June 7
BookishOrchestrations-Tour Wrap-up and Giveaway Announcement


What genres are you afraid to try? Any questions for Aubrey?

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Just in time for your long holiday weekend, my new novel Almost There is now available on all channels! It's a gripping summer read about sacrifice, forgiveness, and the surprising ways God meets our deepest needs.

Here's a snippet from the first page:

In Paris, art seeps into your feet and drips from your fingertips. Dark-eyed buskers in berets squeeze out sweet accordion songs, and the birds trill along. The air tastes like crème brûlée; the light is melted butter. Or so I’ve heard. In two weeks, I’ll find out for myself.

I can see it all now: In the golden mornings, Mum and I will set up matching easels on the banks of the Seine and paint side-by-side. She’ll be too excited to sleep till noon, too inspired to stare blankly at the wall. Her sadness will fall away like a too-heavy coat, and she’ll once again fill canvas after canvas with works of aching beauty. 



Short description:
Paris, the City of Lights. To seventeen-year-old Dani Deane, it’s the Promised Land. There, her widowed mother’s depression will vanish and she will no longer fear losing her only parent, her arty New York life, or her devoted boyfriend.

But shortly before their Paris getaway, Dani’s tyrannical grandfather falls ill, pulling them to rural Pennsylvania to deal with his hoarder horror of a house. Among the piles, Dani finds disturbing truths that could make Mum completely unravel. Desperate to protect her from pain and escape to Paris, Dani hatches a plan with the flirtatious neighbor boy that only threatens the relationships she most wants to save.

Add it on Goodreads
Read the first four chapters for FREE on Wattpad

Purchase the ebook on Amazon (US) / Barnes and Noble / Smashwords / KoboApple iTunes
Purchase the paperback from Createspace / Amazon (US) / Barnes and Noble

Giveaway

To celebrate the release, I'm running a fun giveaway of an Almost There themed gift basket. Enter by June 9 for a chance to win.


The gift contains:
Paris-themed lined journal
Be Still: a Psalms adult coloring book
Trouvaille vanilla candle 
Parisian market-style wire basket with linen liner

Here's a peek inside the coloring book:


Not only does this verse nicely sum up some
of Dani's goals and struggles in Almost There, but also
a dressmaker dummy makes an appearance in the novel.
Intrigued?

Enter to win using the Rafflecopter form below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Thursday, May 26, 2016 Laurel Garver
Just in time for your long holiday weekend, my new novel Almost There is now available on all channels! It's a gripping summer read about sacrifice, forgiveness, and the surprising ways God meets our deepest needs.

Here's a snippet from the first page:

In Paris, art seeps into your feet and drips from your fingertips. Dark-eyed buskers in berets squeeze out sweet accordion songs, and the birds trill along. The air tastes like crème brûlée; the light is melted butter. Or so I’ve heard. In two weeks, I’ll find out for myself.

I can see it all now: In the golden mornings, Mum and I will set up matching easels on the banks of the Seine and paint side-by-side. She’ll be too excited to sleep till noon, too inspired to stare blankly at the wall. Her sadness will fall away like a too-heavy coat, and she’ll once again fill canvas after canvas with works of aching beauty. 



Short description:
Paris, the City of Lights. To seventeen-year-old Dani Deane, it’s the Promised Land. There, her widowed mother’s depression will vanish and she will no longer fear losing her only parent, her arty New York life, or her devoted boyfriend.

But shortly before their Paris getaway, Dani’s tyrannical grandfather falls ill, pulling them to rural Pennsylvania to deal with his hoarder horror of a house. Among the piles, Dani finds disturbing truths that could make Mum completely unravel. Desperate to protect her from pain and escape to Paris, Dani hatches a plan with the flirtatious neighbor boy that only threatens the relationships she most wants to save.

Add it on Goodreads
Read the first four chapters for FREE on Wattpad

Purchase the ebook on Amazon (US) / Barnes and Noble / Smashwords / KoboApple iTunes
Purchase the paperback from Createspace / Amazon (US) / Barnes and Noble

Giveaway

To celebrate the release, I'm running a fun giveaway of an Almost There themed gift basket. Enter by June 9 for a chance to win.


The gift contains:
Paris-themed lined journal
Be Still: a Psalms adult coloring book
Trouvaille vanilla candle 
Parisian market-style wire basket with linen liner

Here's a peek inside the coloring book:


Not only does this verse nicely sum up some
of Dani's goals and struggles in Almost There, but also
a dressmaker dummy makes an appearance in the novel.
Intrigued?

Enter to win using the Rafflecopter form below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, May 20, 2016

Book series are all the rage in publishing, Readers enjoy spending more time with familiar characters and/or worlds, and series promise a kind of brand consistency that the risk-averse reader appreciates. They know that if they like your style and content, they're more likely to continue liking your other similar works.

That doesn't automatically mean one should only write series. If you are a young writer, it might be wiser to experiment in numerous genres until you hit your stride and wait to invest time in creating series once you've found the sweet spot --stories that you like to write and readers like to read.

Some genres lend themselves to particular types of series more than others. Romances rarely if ever span several books with the same characters. Romance arcs are usually constrained by reader expectations of a happy ending, not a cliffhanger. Romance series tend to be joined by locale or by theme, spanning numerous discrete pairings whose stories might or might not overlap.

Mystery series tend to follow the same sleuth, but move from case to case, again, eschewing the cliffhanger model. Readers expect a mystery to be resolved by book's end--to be a stand-alone product. The sleuth might develop over the series, or he or she might be a more steady force and the appeal is the new intellectual puzzle rather than character development.

It's in adventure, science fiction, and fantasy (and their subgenres, like dystopian) where cliffhanger endings and incomplete arcs are more the norm. But look at series like Harry Potter, and you'll find that each book has a complete, contained arc, while each book also contributes to and moves forward a larger, whole-series arc. Whether you could create such a series by building on a stand-alone is debatable, however. Rowling's work clearly was heavily planned and structured to give equal weight to each volume's arc as well as the series arc. So I'd think twice about attempting to take your stand-alone fantasy and expect to have a series arc pop out without having been planned it, with seeds planted that have yet to come to fruition.

With those genre-trope caveats out of the way, I'd like to suggest some ways to build series when you've written stand-alone books.

Same world

Some of McCaffrey's Pern series (via Amazon.com)

Frank Herbert's Dune series follows several different characters through a universe he creates in which space travel is made possible through an altered-mind state caused by a rare drug, Spice, found on the desert planet Arrakis. Whoever controls the Spice controls the universe.

Anne McCaffrey's Pern series take place on the planet Pern, where human colonists genetically modified lizards into dragons in order to fight a sky-borne menace called Thread. Books cover everything from the first colonization to generations of dragonriders over centuries, and include other professions in the planet's guild system during its "middle ages," such as healers (Nerilka's Story) and bards (Dragonsinger, Dragonsong, Dragondrums).

If you've spent considerable time and effort building a unique setting, consider how you might use the setting for other stories, focused on other characters and/or other segments of society. It doesn't necessarily need to be a fantastical or otherworld setting either. A New Adult author might work with a particular invented college campus with unique majors or unique campus features. A cozy mystery writer  might set all of the stories in the same region with different amateur sleuths. A literary fiction writer might follow several generations who live in the same oddball town.

Imagine how the unique setting might change over time because of the events in your stand-alone. Consider picking up with your main character's children or grandchildren, or with a secondary or even tertiary character you wished you could have developed more in your first book.

Spin-off characters


L.M. Montgomery's Anne series contains seven books, five that focus on Anne Shirley, and two with her children, Rainbow Valley and Rilla of Ingleside. This series follows Anne from childhood, when she is adopted by the Cuthbert siblings, into her teen years, college, early career, marriage and motherhood, moving to several locales in Canada. Once Anne is fairly settled and no longer having madcap adventures, her kids carry on.

Perhaps the sidekick character in your first book would like his or her own story. Or perhaps you'd like to carry forward what happens next from the love interest's point of view, as Gayle Foreman did with both If I Stay / Where She Went and Just One Day / Just One Year.  Perhaps you'd like to experiment with changing genres without switching brands, so spin off a younger or older character and write his or her story in your existing world, but write it as middle grade, or young adult or adult.

Thematic series


If you feel like no characters are begging to have their own story, and you want to try a new setting, consider building a thematic series of stand-alones. The books might have the same kind of content--all coming-of-age, all awkward romances, all entrepreneurs struggling with start up businesses. Or they might have complementary themes, like Melody Carlson does with her True Colors series, each a faith-based story about a teen struggling with a particular social problem, like peer pressure, substance abuse, jealousy, heartbreak, abuse, depression.

Unfinished business


Even if your stand-alone book tied up several loose ends, there might be some that you chose to leave to the reader's imagination, merely hint at, or simply chose to not address for fear the denouement would feel unrealistically tidy. That's the case with my second book, Almost There. It picks up a year and a half after my first book, which deals with my main character losing her dad. But while I gesture toward Dani and her mother heading toward a better relationship, I leave somewhat open ended what that might look like in the future. And her mother's family, Dani learns, have a history of dysfunction that's only briefly examined in Never Gone.

Think about the  How to Train Your Dragon films. While Hiccup and his father have largely reconciled at the end of the first film, it remains to be seen how their relationship will change as Hiccup matures from teenager to man. Plus, the first film hints at the hole left by the loss of Hiccup's mother--a loss shrouded in mystery. That mystery comes to the fore in the sequel.

Unfinished business stories work only if you love your character enough to stick with them into their future. What parts of your initial novel weren't tidily tied up? Conversely, which tidily tied up things might, in time, fall apart? What minor characters lurking in the background want to come forward and interact with your protagonist? What aspects of your protagonist's flaws do you believe will loom large and cause conflict in the future? Build on your previous story, considering where natural consequences would lead over time.

If time has passed since your initial release, it's wise to work to make the sequel understandable as a stand-alone itself.

What are some of your favorite books series and why?
Friday, May 20, 2016 Laurel Garver
Book series are all the rage in publishing, Readers enjoy spending more time with familiar characters and/or worlds, and series promise a kind of brand consistency that the risk-averse reader appreciates. They know that if they like your style and content, they're more likely to continue liking your other similar works.

That doesn't automatically mean one should only write series. If you are a young writer, it might be wiser to experiment in numerous genres until you hit your stride and wait to invest time in creating series once you've found the sweet spot --stories that you like to write and readers like to read.

Some genres lend themselves to particular types of series more than others. Romances rarely if ever span several books with the same characters. Romance arcs are usually constrained by reader expectations of a happy ending, not a cliffhanger. Romance series tend to be joined by locale or by theme, spanning numerous discrete pairings whose stories might or might not overlap.

Mystery series tend to follow the same sleuth, but move from case to case, again, eschewing the cliffhanger model. Readers expect a mystery to be resolved by book's end--to be a stand-alone product. The sleuth might develop over the series, or he or she might be a more steady force and the appeal is the new intellectual puzzle rather than character development.

It's in adventure, science fiction, and fantasy (and their subgenres, like dystopian) where cliffhanger endings and incomplete arcs are more the norm. But look at series like Harry Potter, and you'll find that each book has a complete, contained arc, while each book also contributes to and moves forward a larger, whole-series arc. Whether you could create such a series by building on a stand-alone is debatable, however. Rowling's work clearly was heavily planned and structured to give equal weight to each volume's arc as well as the series arc. So I'd think twice about attempting to take your stand-alone fantasy and expect to have a series arc pop out without having been planned it, with seeds planted that have yet to come to fruition.

With those genre-trope caveats out of the way, I'd like to suggest some ways to build series when you've written stand-alone books.

Same world

Some of McCaffrey's Pern series (via Amazon.com)

Frank Herbert's Dune series follows several different characters through a universe he creates in which space travel is made possible through an altered-mind state caused by a rare drug, Spice, found on the desert planet Arrakis. Whoever controls the Spice controls the universe.

Anne McCaffrey's Pern series take place on the planet Pern, where human colonists genetically modified lizards into dragons in order to fight a sky-borne menace called Thread. Books cover everything from the first colonization to generations of dragonriders over centuries, and include other professions in the planet's guild system during its "middle ages," such as healers (Nerilka's Story) and bards (Dragonsinger, Dragonsong, Dragondrums).

If you've spent considerable time and effort building a unique setting, consider how you might use the setting for other stories, focused on other characters and/or other segments of society. It doesn't necessarily need to be a fantastical or otherworld setting either. A New Adult author might work with a particular invented college campus with unique majors or unique campus features. A cozy mystery writer  might set all of the stories in the same region with different amateur sleuths. A literary fiction writer might follow several generations who live in the same oddball town.

Imagine how the unique setting might change over time because of the events in your stand-alone. Consider picking up with your main character's children or grandchildren, or with a secondary or even tertiary character you wished you could have developed more in your first book.

Spin-off characters


L.M. Montgomery's Anne series contains seven books, five that focus on Anne Shirley, and two with her children, Rainbow Valley and Rilla of Ingleside. This series follows Anne from childhood, when she is adopted by the Cuthbert siblings, into her teen years, college, early career, marriage and motherhood, moving to several locales in Canada. Once Anne is fairly settled and no longer having madcap adventures, her kids carry on.

Perhaps the sidekick character in your first book would like his or her own story. Or perhaps you'd like to carry forward what happens next from the love interest's point of view, as Gayle Foreman did with both If I Stay / Where She Went and Just One Day / Just One Year.  Perhaps you'd like to experiment with changing genres without switching brands, so spin off a younger or older character and write his or her story in your existing world, but write it as middle grade, or young adult or adult.

Thematic series


If you feel like no characters are begging to have their own story, and you want to try a new setting, consider building a thematic series of stand-alones. The books might have the same kind of content--all coming-of-age, all awkward romances, all entrepreneurs struggling with start up businesses. Or they might have complementary themes, like Melody Carlson does with her True Colors series, each a faith-based story about a teen struggling with a particular social problem, like peer pressure, substance abuse, jealousy, heartbreak, abuse, depression.

Unfinished business


Even if your stand-alone book tied up several loose ends, there might be some that you chose to leave to the reader's imagination, merely hint at, or simply chose to not address for fear the denouement would feel unrealistically tidy. That's the case with my second book, Almost There. It picks up a year and a half after my first book, which deals with my main character losing her dad. But while I gesture toward Dani and her mother heading toward a better relationship, I leave somewhat open ended what that might look like in the future. And her mother's family, Dani learns, have a history of dysfunction that's only briefly examined in Never Gone.

Think about the  How to Train Your Dragon films. While Hiccup and his father have largely reconciled at the end of the first film, it remains to be seen how their relationship will change as Hiccup matures from teenager to man. Plus, the first film hints at the hole left by the loss of Hiccup's mother--a loss shrouded in mystery. That mystery comes to the fore in the sequel.

Unfinished business stories work only if you love your character enough to stick with them into their future. What parts of your initial novel weren't tidily tied up? Conversely, which tidily tied up things might, in time, fall apart? What minor characters lurking in the background want to come forward and interact with your protagonist? What aspects of your protagonist's flaws do you believe will loom large and cause conflict in the future? Build on your previous story, considering where natural consequences would lead over time.

If time has passed since your initial release, it's wise to work to make the sequel understandable as a stand-alone itself.

What are some of your favorite books series and why?