Thursday, January 30, 2014

Tortuga Blog on Hiatus

Tortuga Thursday
In 2012, on the plains of Northern Arizona, two families joined forces and began the trials and tribulations of building a small family farm with nothing in the bank but love.

Not much going on down on the farm in January and February. I'm not even sure how much will take place in March. Some seeds might get started inside under lights. Therefore, I'm going to suspend Tortuga Thursday until we ramp up again. If something breaks, something interesting happens, I'll make sure to post it. In the meantime, be sure to check in for Muse Monday and Fearless Friday.

Until then I'll leave you with some sunrise and sunset pictures. Love the skies on the prairie.



Monday, January 27, 2014

Those Snarly Moments of Drama

A few days ago, I sent off the final round of edits for The Art of Love and Murder. Two days ago, I sent off the next book in the Love and Murder series, Southwest of Love and Murder. And now I'm tackling the third book, A Legacy of Love and Murder. This is one of my two moments of drama when writing a book.

The first moment of drama hits around chapter two. Which is where I'm at with A Legacy. The first chapter is the springboard and if the reader isn't launched into the book, they just might quit turning the pages. So I fret. Half of the time, chapter one is destined for the trashcan. Until I get to chapter three or four, I won't know for sure.

The second moment of drama is near the end of a novel. I know how it ends, I look back on what I've written and my inner insecure demon rises up and laughs at me. What? Not good enough? Too short? Too long? What? The moment sometimes lasts days. It isn't writer's block - I keep writing, but the bumpy road is difficult. It does smooth out; or at least it always has.

This is my first series. There are different types of series. Some, like many detective novels, have a main character who is in every book with a new crime or mystery. Other books are a continuing story that keeps you going on to the next book to find out how the story ends. Still other books are linked by a setting like a small town in the midwest where you learn about the inhabitants in each book. My Love and Murder books are linked by characters. Although book three will pick up a thread of plot from book one, each book can stand on its own. What I love most about writing is character building, hence the type of series I'm writing.

As more characters appear in subsequent books, more books are waiting to be written. For instance, there is a hotel clerk in book one who was supposed to be a minor character. Lacy, my heroine, dubbed this clerk The Black Fairy because of the way she dresses. I've not been able to get her out of my mind. She's screaming for her own story. But she has to wait. In book two, there's mention of a daughter of a secondary character. Only a mention! A story is bubbling. It will have to bubble quite a while as there are several in front of her.

I didn't know I'd enjoy series writing so much. And what it has lead me to think about is more promotion. Groan... but I have to spread the word. Now I'm thinking of Street Teams. How to find readers who would like to sign on? Certainly a topic to come.

Now, back to moment of drama for A Legacy of Love and Murder.

Friday, January 24, 2014

A Leap of Faith by SS Hampton

Please welcome my guest Stan Hampton back to Fearless Friday for another life altering segment of his life.

            So here we are again, Fearless Friday.
            As I said before, people like a safe and known routine; most are not likely to do anything that requires a leap of faith to plunge into an unknown even though the rewards may be great.
            Believe it or not, my decision to join the Army National Guard at the ripe old age of 52 was something I had to think long and hard about. I served in the Army from 1974-1985, attaining the rank of Staff Sergeant. Then I served in the Army Reserve from 1985-1995, attaining the rank of Sergeant First Class, as well as being mobilized for the Persian Gulf War (I never left the country; I spent the brief war stateside writing photojournalism articles). In 1995 I left the Army Reserve.
            The idea of military service did not come up as a real possibility until the fall of 2004.
            By then I had left Colorado Springs for Las Vegas, lived briefly in Arizona a couple of times, reconciled with my ex-wife (meaning that I decided not to hate her or the world and everyone in it anymore—I had spent most of my life consumed by anger) and saw an engagement fall apart. And there was 9/11. Just like the beginning of the Persian Gulf War, my Army was going to war without me.
            In the fall of 2004 I was researching the Army National Guard as background for a story I was writing, and it came to my attention that I was eligible to enlist in the Guard. Before I knew it, I was speaking with a recruiter.
            So, at age 52, unemployed, and living in a Las Vegas weekly (cross between a motel and an apartment), the idea of returning to military service dangled before me. I could come back as a Staff Sergeant, but upon retirement (if I stayed in the Guard), I would retire at my previous rank of Sergeant First Class. I would also retrain as a Human Resources NCO. My commitment would be one weekend a month, and two weeks during the summer.
            As “dead end” as my current life appeared to be, it was still a known routine, perhaps even one I was, unfortunately, comfortable with. Yet, after visiting with a friend who I considered to be smart and to have a good head on her shoulders, I decided to enlist. I had always missed the military, and especially the camaraderie; it is a camaraderie that one may only find among the police and firemen.
            While working for a temporary employment agency in support of a convention in Las Vegas, I enlisted in October 2004; the owner of the agency and my immediate supervisor were present to watch my swearing in.
            Three weeks later I received orders mobilizing me for active duty with my Guard Cavalry squadron at Fort Irwin, California (they were mobilized for active duty in August 2004). Yes, I was nervous, and I had second thoughts. As I packed, I wondered why I enlisted.
            On Thanksgiving Day I was doing morning Physical Training (PT) with my unit—the first time I did PT since 1985, and it was painful. Before PT ended, the Troop Commander had us gather in a circle, and the Squadron Chaplain spoke to us. That cold morning as the sun peeked over the horizon, the Chaplain reminded us that we were out there in uniform, on Thanksgiving morning, doing our job, serving our country, so that the rest of our fellow citizens could enjoy the holiday with their families.
            Rhetorically, I wondered how many men my age were in uniform doing PT on Thanksgiving morning instead of being at home with their families. I felt a burst of pride in serving with my fellow Soldiers.
            At that moment my remaining doubts disappeared.


BLURB: An engineer dedicated to saving Venice from the rising seas, fails in his task. As a severe storm and high tides threaten to burst through the flood walls, he resolves to remain in Venice with a ghostly lover who claimed his heart years before. A woman from his staff who loves him, does not evacuate, but remains to battle his ghostly lover before he dies in a sinking Venice…
EXCERPT: The dull booms, like the measured beats of a primeval heart, echoed through the gray drizzling afternoon. Each boom was a countdown to a finely predicted cataclysm that man, through his mistaken notion that he could control nature, had finally admitted that he was powerless to hold back.
            Dr. Gregorio Romano, tall, with dark brown hair and watchful hazel eyes, stood before the open tall narrow window of his corner office in the ornate, gilded Ducal Palace of the once La Serenissima Repubblica di Venezia, the Most Serene Republic of Venice, and peered into the gray drizzle toward the unseen barrier islands. The almost submerged islands of Lido and Pellestrina, with their channels opening onto the Adriatic Sea, formed the southeastern perimeter of the timeless Venetian lagoon. He listened to the echoing booms of the rising, stormy Adriatic, and thought of a mythical, prehistoric mother who gave birth to an imaginative species that dreamed of the impossible and often made it happen. And now the mother was ready to take back one of the greatest dreams of her children, ready to clasp it deep within her bosom.
            “Yes,” he replied as he gazed at the gray choppy waters of the lagoon.
            “Have you reconsidered? Are you ready to evacuate?”
            “Not yet.” Gregorio tilted his head slightly as a sleek dark gondola glided effortlessly across frothy, white-capped waters and halted before the flooded wharf, the Riva degli Schiavoni, in front of the Palace.
            Patrizia Celentano, the first and last female gondolier of Venice, looked up at him and gave a friendly wave. He raised a hand in return. Her gondola was a traditionally built and shaped boat, but rather than the traditional black as required by law, she painted it a dark wine color. Though she offered to erect a shelter to protect Gregorio from the elements, he always preferred to ride in the open.
            “We can evacuate you by force if necessary.”
            “You won’t,” Gregorio smiled as he turned to face his computer on the polished wooden desk. The broad, bearded face of his boss, Dr. Niccolo Ricci, nodded in agreement. “There’s no need, and a helicopter is scheduled to pick me up from the roof of my home tomorrow morning at 0600 hours.”
            “The calculations might be incorrect. The gates could break tonight...” 

SS Hampton, Sr. is a full-blood Choctaw of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, a divorced grandfather to 13 wonderful grandchildren, a published photographer and photojournalist, and a member of the Military Writers Society of America. He retired on 1 July 2013 from the Army National Guard with the rank of Sergeant First Class; he previously served in the active duty Army (1974-1985), the Army Individual Ready Reserve (1985-1995) (mobilized for the Persian Gulf War), and enlisted in the Army National Guard in October 2004, after which he was mobilized for Federal active duty for almost three years. Hampton is a veteran of Operations Noble Eagle (2004-2006) and Iraqi Freedom (2006-2007). His writings have appeared as stand-alone stories and in anthologies from Dark Opus Press, Edge Science Fiction & Fantasy, Melange Books, Musa Publishing, MuseItUp Publishing, Ravenous Romance, and as stand-alone stories in Horror Bound Magazine, The Harrow, and River Walk Journal, among others. Second-career goals include becoming a painter and studying for a degree in photography and anthropology—hopefully to someday work in and photograph underwater archaeology. After 12 years of brown desert in the Southwest and overseas, he misses the Rocky Mountains, yellow aspens in the fall, running rivers, and a warm fireplace during snowy winters. As of December 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada, Hampton officially became a homeless Iraq War veteran.

Melange Books

Musa Publishing

MuseItUp Publishing Author Page UK Author Page

Goodreads Author Page


Monday, January 20, 2014

Researching Time Periods by Ilona Fridl


Please welcome my guest today, Ilona Fridl. Ilona is having computer problems but please feel free to leave a comment and she'll check in as soon as possible

It seems like the further back in time, the harder it is to find facts about the time periods and you can use some fictional license, but you can't do something like having Attila the Hun overrunning Australia. Anything that stretches credibility doesn't belong in historic fiction. You could probably get away with it in fantasy or science fiction, but not if you want to be historically accurate.

Archeology books and information is a good way of getting stories of early time periods. Jean Auel in her “Earth Children” series is a good example. Where there is no written history, the archeologists know where the civilizations were centered, even in the Ice Age.

The Bible is a great source on the Middle East history. You can get an idea of where the centers of trade and government were located. That combined with archeology information can give an picture of what life was like. Couple that with the vast works of the Greek and Roman Empire, that age is rich with history.

After the collapse of the Roman Empire and into the Dark Ages, the information gets sketchy. Here's the time we have a mix of truth and legend. Truth like the Crusades and legends like King Arthur and Robin Hood. It's perfectly acceptable to use the mythic legends if you stay true to the time period. Otherwise, you're getting into fantasy.

From the Renaissance and on we have a wealth of knowledge. Much of the writings and art give us an accurate picture of what was going on, especially in Europe and Asia. With the world exploration, more was being found out by chroniclers and map makers that traveled with the explorers.

About the middle of the nineteenth century, photography came into play. Now you didn't have the stylized paintings of the past, but images that showed the gritty reality. That evolved into motion pictures in the late 1800's and recordings of music and speeches about the same time. Media such as newspapers, magazines, and books are a wealth of information taking us up to World War II.

Each country has their own particular time line. If your story is centered on one country in the past, there are many books and internet sites dealing with the history of one country or region.

For Prime Catch I did a lot of study for 1920's Juneau, Alaska. I enjoy finding out about different parts of the world in different time periods. I guess that's why I love historical fiction.

I want to thank Brenda for inviting me to guest today. I'll try to comment if you have any questions.

Blurb: Someone is killing executives in a string of Alaskan canneries. Is it natives because their food supply is being cut short? Or is there another reason, another culprit? With racial tension running high, Juneau 's Sheriff Amos Darcy, a man of few words, is going to find out who it is, come hell or high water.Deputy Sarah Lakat, a Tlingit woman, knows her job, but she wants to prove her people aren't responsible for these vicious crimes. Her family and childhood friends give her access to clues the white sheriff would never have discovered, though, and she has to realize justice must be served no matter who the murderers are.Amos is married to his work and Sarah was badly hurt by a man in her past, yet as they work together in the investigation they grow close, facing danger and discrimination together. Can they solve the case even as they fight their attraction to each other?

Ilona's Web site