Posted in For Readers, For Writers

If Wishes Were Spaceships Released Today!

If Wishes Were Spaceships Cover art: Donna Harriman Murillo.
If Wishes Were Spaceships
Cover art: Donna Harriman Murillo.

Today! If Wishes Were Spaceships is released today! If you pre-ordered the ebook, then it’s already in your pocket. If you didn’t pre-order, grab your copy today! I’ve been doing little posts on my author site about various aspects of the book, but today I have a guest post on author Mary Robinette Kowal’s blog, part of her My Favorite Bit series spotlighting new releases in the science fiction and fantasy field.

For the other posts about If Wishes Were Spaceships on my website, see these posts:

  1. Microcosms
  2. Carnivorous Plants
  3. The Tech Between the Lines


Posted in For Readers, For Writers

Cover Art: If Wishes Were Spaceships

Squeeeee! Cover art for my upcoming book If Wishes Were Spaceships! Release date will be set soon. We’re looking at an early spring release. Donna Murillo did an excellent job with the design based upon my input; she was both thoughtful and intuitive. She really captured Jazlyn’s face!

If Wishes Were Spaceships Cover Art: Donna Harriman Murillo
If Wishes Were Spaceships
Cover Art: Donna Harriman Murillo

I had blogged here about problems using stock photography in cover art. This design is digital artwork, and is a combination of reused elements and original elements, used in an original design. It seems like a good compromise to me. I got to work with the artist and it was a very pleasant creative process. The artwork vividly conveys the setup of the book and general situation, which is what good cover art should do. But what’s just as important to me is that I got a character on the cover who looks like Jazlyn, the main character of the book. A lot of my joy in this cover comes simply from the artist doing that character so well.

When Jazlyn is forced to make an emergency landing on a quarantine planet, the worst she expects to find are a bunch of irate scientists complaining because she messed up the pristine conditions of some experiment. But the buildings look like works of art and the inhabitants are a wealthy scion of a galactic dynasty and an anxious techie. While the compound has all the comforts of home, it has none of the basic hospitality she expects. Cut off from all communication, surrounded by a thicket of dangerous carnivorous plants, Jazlyn must find a way to repair her ship — if possible — or hope that her friends find her distress beacon before Sterneworth, the planet’s resident tyrant, does something drastic. Can she trust Blaine, the techie who is completely under Sterneworth’s thumb, and who desperately wants off the planet by any means? Jazlyn has never been one to knuckle under or buckle under pressure. Nor is finesse is one of her skills. She will tackle the problems — the ship repair, the bizarre plants, and the duplicitous inhabitants of the planet — head on. Has the sassy spacer who’s used to getting her way met her match in the power and might of the Sterneworth dynasty? Everyone on the planet has a secret agenda. She has a ship to repair…

The book will be released in the spring, probably early spring. I’m hoping to line up a blog tour for the release, so if you think this little sci-fi adventure novel would be a good fit for your blog, let me know!


Posted in For Writers

NaNoWriMo Prep: Naming Characters

I’m currently brainstorming an idea for a short NaNoWriMo novel and, of course, part of any daydreaming about plot and characters includes figuring out what to call everyone. Which is not as trivial as it sounds. As John Gardner famously said:

“As in the universe every atom has an effect, however minuscule, on every other atom, so that to pinch the fabric of Time and Space at any point is to shake the whole length and breadth of it, so in fiction every element has effect on every other, so that to change a character’s name from Jane to Cynthia is to make the fictional ground shudder under her feet.”
― John Gardner, The Art of Fiction

My favorite Random Name Generator is Behind the Name. It has options for first, middle, and last names, with a wide selection of countries and ethnicity, including fantasy options. They also have an option for an assortment of mythologies or names associated with science, literature and other subjects, for that extra layer of meaning you may want. 😉 You can, of course, search for the traditional meaning of names. And if you browse around there are some options for selecting modern names and old names. You can search for popular names from a large list of countries on the homepage.

Besides the last names which can be generated by the random name generator, they also have a separate site for searching for surnames by country, which has the history and etymology of the last names. Surnames: Behind the Name

The other name generator I play around with is Think Baby Names. Besides a random name generator and search by meaning, it also has lists of the 1000 most popular names by year and country, so if you’re writing something set in a particular year and your characters are a certain age, you can make excellent choices for names which were either popular or unpopular at the time they were born. Name lists go back to the 1800s! (The lists are only for Canada, England, Wales, Ireland, Scotland, Sweden, and Australia, however.)

They also have another very handy search term for authors in that they allow you to search for words which end with certain letters or that begin with certain letters. I don’t just mean names that being with “B”, I mean names that begin with, say, “Mar” or names that end with “ette”, or you can even search for words that contain certain letter combinations within them. These options are very handy for authors who often look for names with a certain sound to them. Links to all that (including the Random name generator) are on the home page.

Both sites are good and have their own unique options. Have fun populating your next novel or story! But, I should warn you, these sites are seductive timesinks! Set aside some time to play with them, make a list of possible names for various characters as you go, and after you get a decent selection for each character, stop. Save the list. Narrow it down. Think about it and then go back to the sites if you don’t think any of your first choices work. Otherwise you may end up with a hundred names for each character…and no work done on the plot at all! 😉 LOL

Posted in For Writers

Why We Love Imaginary People

I’m trying to catch up on podcasts, but one I never fall behind on is Writing Excuses. It’s fun and helpful. The most recent podcast is one that may be of interest to readers and bookworms as well as writers. It’s an interesting discussion about why we get so attached to books and more specifically, characters. The Writing Excuses authors are joined by Cory Doctorow for the discussion. Writing Excuses: Neurobolics of Characters

As I continue to play catch up on podcasts, I may post a few more podcasts. Some good stuff in my podcatcher. 🙂

Posted in For Writers

NaNoWriMo Prep: A Nifty Way to Get To Know Your Characters

This was posted over on the NaNo forum and it’s both fun and helpful: Know Thyself. It’s a questionnaire you answer about your characters. The idea is to answer quickly, but the script that runs it goes pretty fast, so use the Pause button for any answers that are more than one word. It seems almost too simple to be useful, but I’ve done it for two of my three main characters so far and both times I discovered tiny but crucial things about them that will definitely influence certain parts of the book. It’s also a good, albeit subtle, way to test out your characters to see if their personalities and traits are consistent or inadvertently contradictory (like when they only do certain things because you, the author, poked them with a sharp stick and made them behave that way for the sake of your wobbly plot.) LOL! I don’t know how many questions there are because I usually run through about 100 before I bail out and click “Finish”. (At which point you can use Ctl-A then Ctl-C to select and copy your results, to paste into your notes.)