We were Future Retro…

future retro woman

Warning: Blatantly sentimental blog ahead!

During a gigantic stall in revision I’ve been looking inspiration. Every time I think I’ve found a new source, I’m disappointed. My bad-boy muse is vacationing on stellar shores far from here, so I can’t count on him. Sometimes though, inspiration is right under your nose or, in my case, right under the stairway.

When my husband suggested we clean out the boxes from under the stairs, I was excited. We don’t collect much stuff and we didn’t bring a great deal of junk from our former lives, but what we do have has lurked under the carpeted treads… for the last twenty years. Filled with enthusiasm, he lugged the crumbling containers out, piling them in the middle of our walkout basement.Nikon

“OK, tell  Harry Potter his room is ready now,” he called, grinning at me as I stared down at the huge mountain of cardboard artifacts. Suddenly, I was Indian Jones unearthing relics from an ancient life – my own.  How will I feel when I open the photo albums, I wondered. Inside there might be dragons…or so I thought.

Instead I found inspiration.

As I looked into the faces of dear friends and an ex-husband, a lost lover and a sweet child named for me, my wonderful co-workers still living or long dead, I was amazed.  How could people who sucked the air from the room then appear so human and normal now? Apparently my eyes were dazzled by what was in front of them at the time, leaving my mind to expand moments of the past into infinite size.

The second those photos were snapped we all became Future Retro; we just didn’t know it yet.baby photo

So, after dashing away a tear, I decided to wrangle all that sentiment into something useful – Word fodder. Opening the door to the past sometimes tests our nerves but, even if we laugh or blush, nothing more can happen to those Future Retro days. Now they are strictly under our control, highly charged emotional clay we can mold into fiction.

Imagination is, after all,  the sum total of our memory and experience. Our fears and hopes, humor and chaos invade our writing resulting in characters who are fearless or weak, compassionate or wrathful. These people  are bold, they accomplish what we were unable to accomplish…maybe.  They succeed where we failed…or the other way around:)

Do memories inspire you? Have you tapped the aquifer of memory in your own mind?

 

Future Retro is a fantastic 80’s compilation remix released in 2006 by Rhino Records. Check it out on Wikipedia and, while you’re there, contribute to keep Wikipedia commercial free.

Photos: Foter

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Great Galactic Couples

11954241201556281584tomas_arad_heart.svg.thumbAs I approach the most important scene in revision, the moment my two lovers meet for the first time, I’ve been thinking about my favorite SFR novels. They span decades, their styles are different, their characters unique, but they all have one thing in common. L.O.V.E. At first sight. Pretty much.

In preparation for this scene, I read through my male character sketch and I found the following:

“Who can explain the nature of attraction? The philosophers promise it is a gift of mystery, the devotees preach it is the will of the gods, the cynics sneer it is an accident of timing. Until Naomi appeared in my life, I never thought about these questions. Now I cannot stop asking them.”

So, here are a couple of early SFRs that explore the nature of attraction. If you haven’t read them, you’ll find they stand the test of time.

The Forever War by Joe Haldeman51JF1gGjMgL._AA160_

Written in the early 1970s , The Forever War is an evolution of Starship Troopers, without Heinlein’s not-so-thinly veiled sexism. Haldeman’s love story is military science fiction set in a grim universe, but his draftee characters, William Mandella and Marygay Potter manage to triumph over the ruthless barriers of time and space. Haldeman’s irony and humor make this a true classic.

 

Shards of Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold

51eiH-Rv2oL._AA160_On a routine survey mission astrocartographer Captain Cordelia Naismith is taken prisoner by Lord Aral Vorkosigan, leader of a merciless expeditionary force. In spite of  their strongly opposing politics  and profound culture clash, Aral  is immediately intrigued with his serene and wise captive. And the feeling is mutual.Cordelia’s compassion and intelligence tempers Aral’s hunger for power and tormented nature seamlessly.  Bujold frames their unlikely romance with her truly remarkable world-building.

So, you tell me. What inspires attraction? Who are your favorite galactic couples?

 

Check out TaylorGraceauthor.wordpress.com for the 5 Books I re-read over and over.   Thanks for the inspiration for this blog, Taylor.

Also, J. C. Conway.com has a wonderful post about what happens when we fall in love – Love Science. Amazing stuff!

Book images: Amazon

 

Armed star-gazer in Elkland

2014-10-12 07.54.36Last Friday was a big birthday so we took a couple of days off and visited Estes Park, Colorado…just up the hill from our town. When you make your home in a tourist destination state it’s easy to let everyday life distract you, so it was fun being part of a tourist weekend. People were everywhere, visiting Rocky Mountain National Park and watching the last of the aspen leaves swirl from the trees. From a polite distance, crowds observed the yearly mating dance of the elk who reclaim their grazing rights among the buildings, parks, and golf courses of Estes Park. It’s a wonderful live-and-let-love tradition in town. I’ve enclosed a few photos.  To the left is the royal male himself, munching on grass in the Safeway parking lot.

To the right the former King of Elkland reclines in the sun by the soccer nets.2014-10-11 15.51.53 The cows grazed around aimlessly but, occasionally, I swear I saw one of the gals wink enticingly at the young King.

In any case, we had a good time, ate too much and went  off the grid.

During the day we also scouted out places to star gaze  in RMNP.  I wanted to see the Milky Way in its glory, but even though the weather didn’t co-operate, my husband was ready. At the beginning of our trip, as I searched through the center console of his pickup  for my camera, the unmistakable glint of a twenty-two winked up at me.

He grinned and shrugged. “Can’t go up in the hills at night without protection. Just think of me as your armed star-gazer.”

I whipped out my spiral notebook. “Do you mind if  I use that for the title of my next novel?”

He just smiled.

Where do the titles of your stories, blogs, or novels come from?

My Word Men

I love my men – my written men.

Folks who know me but haven’t read my novel would be surprised at the amazing the guys who inhabit my word worlds.

So, where do these fictional men come from?

stars-thAs a romantic teenager scribbling furiously on notebook paper, a #2 pencil clutched in my fist, my written men, like the devil, assumed pleasing forms. The Disney princes come to mind. Broad shouldered and iron jawed, they appeared in scrawls of graphite, ready to save my narrow ass from the living hell of teenage metamorphosis. My first alien darling was a classic Disney derivative. He stayed in perfect stasis for decades, preserved in my imagination like Snow White, until I resurrected him with a key stroke six years ago.disney_cartoon_characters_series_snow_white_2_3330

I found my unearthly fantasy all grown up, a struggling and battered man, who, in spite of slavery and torment, prevailed and flourished in my first novel. Of course, he had not lost his glamour but he had gained intelligence and developed something critically important in a man – a sense of irony and humor.

In the same novel he was joined by a human, a driven man of questionable morals. Filled with ambition and recklessness, this character was selfish and unpredictable. He broke hearts without a thought and threw his trusting protégée in harm’s way to save his own skin. But, somehow I made it impossible for the reader to hold that against him for long.

Only a writer can manipulate life this way!

And now, my written men have changed again. They aren’t always gorgeous loving men or even sassy bad boys. gentaSome of them are scary, glowering killers. Their behavior isn’t always decent or conventional. They vacillate from assassin to philosopher, from murderer to rescuer. But, it works.

Over the years, I’ve learned that, testosterone or estrogen aside, the brains of men and women are surprisingly similar. I can describe the world from a man’s point of view because, as humans (or humanoids :)) we have the same needs and desires. We have the same willingness to test the deep water and the same fear of getting wet.

But, that being said, I still have a lot to learn. I’m sure my husband would agree.

 

Who are your written men and women? How did they evolve in your storytelling?

Warrior: Foter

Snow White and her prince: Freepix

 

 

Closer to the Edge

Happy first Wednesday, everyone…

After a lengthy absence, I’m back to IWSG, Insecure Writer’s Support Group. Thanks to Alex J. Cavanaugh for his wonderful forum and outlet for writers from the timid to the confident. You’ve provided us a safe place to vent, to question and to celebrate. Click on the badge to the right to join us.

Be forewarned, this blog is not about a happy subject. danger

If you write mystery, romance, or adventure you may have reached the point where a specific scene is hard to write because of its unpleasant nature. As a no-gratuitous-violence writer, I avoid scenes like the one looming ahead of me but, the simple fact is, this is a pivotal scene. The POV’s feelings of guilt and self-doubt flood from this terrible mistake. Her actions at this moment change everything, providing tension and conflict. Without it she is two-dimensional. Through the novel she searches for redemption and when she finally finds it she’s faced with more questions than answers.

But, unfortunately, her creator was not brave:) Bumping up against the fictional rough stuff made me uneasy. It felt personal. As writers we sometimes set limits for ourselves, lines we hesitate to cross. Other writers are fearless and over the top, but I found myself dancing around this scene as if it was a cornered rat in my kitchen.

However, that said, I’ve had time to think about this since first draft. Now, in revision, I’ve decided to forge on ahead, fine-tuning the action and honoring its importance in the story.

Are you willing to get closer to the edge? If so, any advice for me?

 

The Meet My Character Blog Hop-Juan Reyes

The recent murder of a captive photojournalist in the middle east  made me hesitate to use my fictional videographer as the subject of this post.

But, in spite of his imaginary existence, this character serves as a reminder that members of the press have been on the front lines of  war and human suffering for almost two hundred years – they are truly fearless men and women who document the information that matters to the world.

*

Hesitantly, I click the M key. Calling my muse, my deceased galactic videographer, is always a crapshoot. If he is within range and in a good mood, he contacts me. If not, my attempt to summon him falls on the vast deaf ears of the universe.

Mathew Brady 1861 American Civil War
Mathew Brady 1861
American Civil War Considered by historians as the father of photojournalism.

 **EAR PIERCING STATIC**

“Juan Reyes, here. Writer Girl, is that you?”

“Where in hell are you, Juan?” I shout. “I can barely hear you! ”

Deep laugh. “You’re lucky you can hear me at all. I’m orbiting Ranger Five, twenty-seven light years from Earth.”

“My readers want to know if you are fictional or historic.”

“Well, I was fictional, but since you redshirted me I guess I’m history.”

“So, will you tell them when and where the story takes place?” I ask.

I can almost see him scowl, and I hold my breath. He can be touchy and .

“I’m alright with the time, late twenty-first century,” he says, “but I really despised your choice of Washington, DC. Far too many arrogant politicians of all flavors. The coastal North Carolina location was beautiful. However, my favorite was Canyon, a planet two galaxies north of our Orion arm of the Milky Way.”

 

a-wwii-combat-photographer
A WWII combat photographer

**REVERBERATING SCREECH**

“My readers want to know about you.” I yell, covering my ears. “Can’t you squelch that racket?”

“Sorry about the noise. Let them know I’m a galactic heartbreak with copper skin, black dreads and a killer smile.” A pause. “I still dance on the edge of the combat zone, and I’m still searching for the perfect image.”

“Have you found it yet?” I ask, already knowing the answer.

His voice is tinged with sadness. “I found it twice, but as you wrote it, the second image cost me everything.”

“What is the main conflict? What messes up your life?” I shout.

“The main conflict is trying to get to the crossroads of history for the second time in my career. Filming first contact was the assignment of a life-time and it would have been enough for most videographers, but not me. Had to try for it again.  What messes up my life? My brief affair with a gorgeous alien and my ensuing obsession for her.” Silence, then: “How about bringing that lovely creature and me back together in a sequel?”

I sigh. “You know I can’t do that, Juan.”

“You writers can do anything you want.” Deep masculine chuckle. “Don’t forget that.”

**RIPPLING WAVES OF STATIC**

“What is your personal goal?”

“You’re… breaking… up…”  His voice fades and flares.

“Personal goal, Juan. Personal goal!”

“Always telling the story – no matter the danger.”  His voice is a whisper, but his smile is bright in my imagination.

Is there a working title for this novel and where can we read more about it?

Learning Levitation. You can read more about Juan and his role as my muse in Sharpies and Quill Pens and Muse Humor in this blog.

When can we expect the book to be published?

Learning Levitation was a labor of love (alliterations – I love ‘em). It was born in the fires of Holly Liesl’s How to Revise Your Novel. Perhaps after my second novel is published I’ll revisit LL.

After all, I have to see Juan again.

How about you writers out there? What does your character have to say for him or herself?

 

Thanks Kirsten of  http//ascenicroute.wordpress.com/ for  inviting me to join this blog hop. I enjoyed it:)

Mathew Brady photo/foter/public domain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Cure for Shopping

This is the first of a series of blogs that have nothing whatsoever to do with fiction writing.

I had a really weird moment in Bed, Bath and Beyond today. BBB

I remembered the cure for shopping.

The moment I stepped inside I had a flashback to Sembach AB (air base) in Germany. I spent a year there, working as a cocktail waitress in an NCO club. (Quite a story in itself!) We had a small commissary on base but that was it. If you wanted anything bigger you went to Ramstein  PX which specialized in solid gold watches and gigantic music delivery systems – stereos (I hear turntables are back in now) with speakers the size of Volkswagens. Finding necessities was a challenge and, eventually, I quit shopping altogether. We ate on base, and I  wore a club uniform. No need to buy anything. Talk about a cure for shopping.

Then we came back to the States. Wow. Stores, groceries, clothes! I spent all the money I saved in Germany in a few months.

Today, after nearly two years of being unable to make it through any store bigger than a Walgreens, I stood at the entrance of housewares heaven, suspended between then and now. I felt, for a moment, as if I’d just returned from a stint overseas. Everything looked so strange and alien, but so wonderful. I took the first steps in shopping recovery today, wandering down the aisles, gawking at the insane bounty of an American store.

Now I just have to remember the cure for shopping – don’t do it too often.

What is your cure for shopping?

Oh, yeah. Revision is still in progress. Plot holes and opportunities for literary greatness abound.