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Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Do you really need to go there?

Many fiction writers set their books and stories in interesting or exotic locales, making the reading as well as the writing process entertaining, and often providing a much-needed escape from reality for both author and reader.  They talk to their accountants about the tax write-offs of traveling to Paris or Italy to research their next book.  But do you really need to actually visit the particular setting you are writing about?  

Many writers make up fictional worlds of their own - places they could not possibly visit.  Or could they?  Even the most fantastical setting could be based on an actual place a writer has visited.  Or maybe they place their characters in a generic fictional town in the certain part of a particular state, but they likely have a place or places in mind when they craft their stories.  Although it may not be exotic, it’s familiar to them.   

The locations in which I have set my stories are usually ones with which I am quite familiar.  Examples are San Francisco, where I lived for six years, and New Orleans, where my husband lived and I visited quite often for many years.  To me, these places have an intriguing mystique and make the stories more interesting because of where they are set. The feel and flavor of a place soaks into your psyche and seeps into the writing, making the fiction realistic enough to draw in the reader.  It’s more of a feeling that you get from a place that influences the writing, rather than coordinates on a map.

Like the sights, smells, and sounds of a Mardi Gras crowd.  

Or the serene and magical gardens of San Francisco. 

I have to admit that, with the help of Google Maps Street View, I have lounged on my couch and taken myself on a tour through the streets of North Beach in San Francisco.  I then decided that I should visit the physical spots, just to make sure I wasn’t missing anything.  After this small experiment, I discovered that I didn’t learn anything new upon making a personal visit.  Of course, I had been to the area before and just wanted to verify that my memory was correct.         

So, do you really need to go there?  I vote in the affirmative.  It makes the story more real, and if it’s more real in the writer’s mind, it’s more real on the page.  You might be able to get away with a quick scene in a foreign locale that you haven’t visited, or even an entire book.  But you would miss the small nuances - all the nooks and crannies you would never see unless you had been there.  For instance, you might miss the fellow walking down the sidewalk leading his Shetland pony by a leash.  Or the flock of red and green parrots flying overhead on Telegraph Hill.  

Now, I better get started on that story set in Maui.

What do you think?  Do you really need to go there?

Angela Crider Neary is an attorney by day and writer by night. She is an avid mystery reader and especially enjoys reading novels set in interesting locales. She was inspired to write her first mystery novella, Li'l Tom and the Pussyfoot Detective Bureau: The Case of the Parrots Desaparecidos, by one of her favorite areas in San Francisco, Telegraph Hill.  Stay tuned for her second book in the series, Li'l Tom and the Case of the New Year Dragon. To learn more, visit her on Facebook and Amazon.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

New Release -- SAVED BY THE BELLE by Isabella Norse

Dot Habersham spent the first half of her life traveling the world, meeting new people, and trying to make a difference in the lives of others. Now middle-aged, she has settled in Kudzu Korners, a small town filled with Southern charm and good friends.

But the arrival of Russell Phillips, widower, father, and the spitting image of Dot’s favorite actor, stirs emotions that she hasn’t felt in many years. Could love come knocking at this point in her life—and his?

Just when their friendship begins to blossom into “more”, Russell says something that might be impossible to fix. Will the memories of those they have lost keep each of them tied to their pasts, or can their budding relationship be SAVED BY THE BELLE


“Dot, drop everything! We have a hair emergency.” The bell hanging from the handle of the door jangled as Amber pushed her way into Polka Dots hair salon.
Dot, salon owner, paused in her sweeping and looked up, eyebrows raised. “How big of a problem can it be, hon? I just cut your hair last week.”
“Oh, no. It’s not me, it’s my dad.” Amber propped the door open with her heel, leaned out, and tugged a reluctant gentleman in by the arm.
“Well, hello there, handsome.” Dot studied the newcomer with a skilled eye. “Amber, I don’t know what you’re talking about. Your dad looks fine. Better than fine, actually.” She gave the man a wink.
“Thank you,” he began, only to be interrupted.
“Fine? You call this fine?” Amber grabbed her dad by the shoulders and turned him around, gesturing toward his head. “My father has a… I can barely say it.” She took a deep breath and tried again. “My father has a ponytail.”

Monday, August 7, 2017

The Suspension of Disbelief. By Michael Gonzales

Okay—this might at first seem a bit rambling, but hang in there.

In science fiction and fantasy there is an expectation of the suspension of disbelief.

After all, believing a vast advanced culture resides beneath the sands of Mars, or that dragons can be harnessed and flow about…well, really. Everyone knows, you can’t saddle a dragon, please!

Even in “hard” scifi there are two (currently) impossible pieces of “science” that are forgiven: Faster Than Light speeds (FTL), and Time Travel.

In recent years another impossibility has been gaining in acceptance, the “Star Gate.” Even faster than FTL travel, you just step through the gate and…poof; you’re in another galaxy.

The concept is certainly not new, and even predates the 1994 movie staring Curt Russell and James Spader, and the follow-on TV series. These two entertainments made the words “Star Gate” nearly a household term.

Those two words used together today, evoke the visual of a vertical toilet flushing you an off-world adventure.

What the Star Gate is supposed to be is a black hole brought into being by intelligent design, alien intelligent design, of course. For as we all know only aliens from an advanced civilization, eons older than our own, possess such technology.

Two twentieth century scientists, Albert Einstein and Nathan Rosen proposed a solution to the Einstein Field Equations.  In short, and I mean very short, the solution is what has come to be know as an Einstein-Rosen bridge, or…a black hole.

The Einstein-Rosen Bridge is the geometrical property of a black hole; on the other end of the black hole one would find another set of dimensions at a location…well, somewhere else.

Einstein himself said that the creation of such a tunnel was theoretically possible, but it would require the energy of several suns.

Now I ask you, who but aliens have control of that kind of power?

These aliens would be at least a level III on the Kardashev Scale.

The what…scale?

The scale was originally designed in 1964 by the Russian astrophysicist Nikolai Kardashev. He was actually looking for signs of extraterrestrial life within cosmic signals.

His scale for determining just how advanced a civilization is started with 3 basic classes, each measured by the amount of energy a given civilization can harness: Types I through III.

Since then other astronomers have extended the scale to include Types IV and V.
A Type V civilization would be able to capture all the energy available in not just our universe, but in all universes and in all time-lines.

At this point I think it an interesting fact to note, that Earth does not even measure on this scale.

To surmise, a Type I civilization would have control over all the energy existent on a planet, a type II would harness the power of a star, which would resulted in them harboring enough “disposable” energy to essentially make that civilization immune to extinction.

But the Type III would be a species that had become galactic traversers with knowledge of everything having to do with energy, resulting in them becoming a master race.

Dr. Steven Hawkins warned of making contact with a spacefaring civilization, the renowned astrophysicist said it was, "perfectly rational to assume intelligent life exists elsewhere.”

But he warned that aliens might simply raid Earth for its resources, then move on.

"If aliens visit us,” he said. “The outcome would be much as when Columbus landed in America, which didn't turn out well for the Native Americans.” 

After considering the Kardashev Scale, perhaps one might think that Dr. Hawkins’ warning should be taken to heart.

But…after reading my next novel, Beyond a Sea of Stars, you might worry that; it’s already too late.

Visit my page, Michael Gonzales, fictionist:

Friday, August 4, 2017

Fire Star Press: Write a Review! Please!

Fire Star Press: Write a Review! Please!: It’s wonderful if you buy my book and tell me how good it is. It’s even better if you tell everyone at your book club that they just have t...

Write a Review! Please!

It’s wonderful if you buy my book and tell me how good it is. It’s even better if you tell everyone at your book club that they just have to read my book and everyone runs out to buy a copy. If you stopped people in the street to tell them how much you loved my book, I’d be strutting like a peacock.

While all that is super, I would be eternally grateful and volunteer to bring in your groceries if you would write me a review. 

It generally takes popping back online through whatever distributor you bought said book (Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBooks, Nook, Kobo, smashwords, etc), clicking on the Write a Review option and sitting back to compose your thoughts. Four or five sentences is all it takes.
What did you like about the story?
Were the characters believable?
Was the ending satisfying?
Would you recommend it to your friends? If so, why?

Why are writers so crazy about reviews? It’s not that we love to peruse reviews to have praise heaped on us, although I must admit it makes my heart go pitty-pat to read a nice review. Not all reviews are good and developing a thick skin is not always easy. When you’ve spent months of hard work and due diligence to produce your baby, a bad review is similar to a punch in the gut. Even so, I’ve learned more from a review with good constructive criticism than a gusher about how fabulous a writer I am.

No, it’s all about the Amazon algorithm, the set of automated rules that determine how a retailer merchandizes and displays titles. It determines that “also bought” section on the book’s display. If a book has no or few reviews, neither Amazon nor Facebook will market your book in ad slots. A local bookseller once told me since I only had five online reviews for one of my books, it wasn’t worth her while to put it on the shelves. And more visibility can mean more sales.

Before you ask, let me volunteer that I don’t write my books just for the money. I’m a storyteller and after twenty-five western romances and mysteries, I still have lots of plots percolating in my fevered brain. A writer is who I am and writing is what I do.

However, and this is a biggie, it’s hard in our society not to equate success with dollars, pounds, yen or euros. Don’t get me wrong; I love to make money with my books, but what I love more is when you sit down at your computer and tell me what you liked or didn’t like about my story. Believe it or not, I’ll take that over a bottle of Chardonnay any time.

Well, maybe…

PS. Today is my birthday!

                                          TOUCH OF MAGIC available 8/31/17

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Faith. Laughter. Happily-Ever-After.

My husband and I are in the middle of moving this month so, for the first time, I'm re-running a post from my personal blog ( I'll be back next month with an original post.


I have a confession. I'm terrible at tag lines. I love coming up with titles for my books and even writing blurbs for them. But tag lines? I seem to be incapable of describing myself or my books in a single, memorable line.

In 2014, I decided to have custom website designed but still didn't have a tagline. So, I stuck with the basics: "Isabella Norse, Romance Author." I requested that the designer (the amazing Ida Jansson of Amygdala Design) use light colors to reflect the fact that my stories tend to be on the humorous side and that she include cats in some fashion since they have a way of appearing in all of my stories. She created the image below that I have used for the past three years:

Original FB Header

It hit all the points I asked for and even met with my love of symmetry - a love that Ida didn't even know about. Even though I was happy with the design, I still couldn't help but long for something even more... me. So, the search for a tag line continued.

I will admit to more than one why-didn't-I-think-of-that moment as I came across amazing tag lines created by other authors. I also came up with - and discarded - more than a few potential tag lines for myself. One example? Love, Laughter, Happily Ever After. But, that one seemed to be everywhere. However, everywhere or not, I kept circling back to it. Finally, I realized that all I had to do was change one word to make it work for me. The result? Faith. Laughter. Happily-Ever-After. Perfect.

Faith: I'm a woman of faith and my faith, like my love for cats, works its way into each story.

Laughter: My stories tend to be humorous. Even on those rare occasions when they get dark, there is still humor.

Happily-Ever-After: I write romance, so this one is a given.

Once I settled on a new tag line, it was time to contact Ida to give my website an update. The new design is below:


I love it - it is so me! The new header keeps the same colors as the old one while including the new tag line and a more subtle reference to my feline fascination. The rustic image is also exactly my style. Of course, I picked it out, so it should be, LOL!

So, here's to the end for the search for a tag line, a new look, and everything that lies ahead. *raises chai latte in toast*

What do you think of the new look?

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

New Release -- IRISH INHERITANCE and IRISH INTRIGUE by Paula Martin

 Mist Na Mara Series Book 1

The last thing English actress Jenna Sutton expected is to inherit money—and half of a house in Ireland! When she discovers the handsome American artist she’s met at the airport is the recipient of the other half of the house, Jenna wonders what kind of trick Fate is playing—for she certainly doesn’t need a man complicating her life now that she’s on the verge of stardom!

Guy Sinclair has fallen on hard times and just sworn off actresses after being burned by his “ex”, Suzie. Selling the house he’s inherited—or his half of it—could be the new start he’s needed to get back to painting what really matters—art, not signage. But it doesn’t take more than five minutes in the presence of Miss Jenna Sutton to make Guy realize that there’s much more than a house at stake here—his heart could be forfeit, as well.

Curious about their unknown benefactress and why they are considered ‘family’, they discover surprising links to the original owners of the house.

As they begin to unravel an intriguing tale of a 19th century love affair, they have no choice but to give in to their own attraction for one another. 

Unavoidable events pull Jenna and Guy back to their separate lives in London and the United States, and tension builds over their impending decision about the house—to sell or not to sell? And once that decision is final, what will become of them?

Will their IRISH INHERITANCE bring them together—or drive them apart forever?

 Mist Na Mara Series Book 2

Ireland holds sad memories for English actress Charley Hunter, who is forced to return there to complete the filming of a TV drama series. Since she lost her husband two years earlier, the very last thing she expects is the jolt of attraction that draws her to a handsome Irish veterinary surgeon! 

Luke Sullivan has sworn off women with the break-up of his marriage, but how can he resist Charley? The timing is all wrong, with a series of unexplained crises at his animal clinic—and having to prepare himself for an ugly custody battle for his two children.

Just when Charley and Luke trust that there may be a chance for their love to grow, a freak series of events has Luke believing Charley has endangered his children’s lives—and his chance at gaining permanent custody of them. Can Charley explain what happened and regain the trust she lost in that fateful moment?

Will IRISH INTRIGUE allow them a second chance at love?