Monday, July 27, 2015

Rainy season

Before moving to Florida I didn't know the state has a "rainy season." Most summers since I've been here we've had sunshine early in the days and rain in the afternoon, but this year it just kind of keeps raining. I don't really mind, because July here is hot and super-humid. 

My dogs don't like it. It goes something like this:

Me, "Guys, it stopped raining. Let's hurry go outside before it starts again."

Ellie and Boo Bear ran outside all enthusiastic, did their business super quick, and returned to the front door wanting to come in. Two down, two to go.

Topper walked up to the door, sniffed it, and returned to his spot in the sofa.

"Oh come on, it's not even raining. Just go outside. You need to go outside."

While I was trying to persuade him, Ellie and Boo snuck back inside, making Topper even less inclined to go out. Clearly, they wouldn't come in so quick if outside was nice.

I finally tricked all three of them through going back to the kitchen and running through the house, chanting, "Outside, outside, outside, let's go outside!"

This time, Topper followed Ellie into the yard, pulled out the breaks when he realized the grass was still wet, and bounced up on the porch.

He looked like, "My feet are getting wet. This is the worst day ever!"

Me, "Fine, be that way. Go back inside, but don't blame me if it's pouring down when you realize you have to go."

One more try with dog number four.

Princess Bonnie followed me outside and slunk along the wall, clearly expecting to be soaked if she as much as took one step away from the house. She stopped under an awning, just in case it would be raining. I rolled my eyes and sat on the porch. Five minutes later, she still stood under the awning.

"Bonnie, do you want to go back in?"

She jogged towards the door, pressed as close to the house as she could come.

It's not even raining, LOL!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Writing the blurb

Writing a book is fun. You build a relationship with the characters and go on an emotional rollercoaster ride with them as they encounter problems, disappointments, fall in love, and enjoy the good things in life. 

When I get into the world of my characters I have a hard time staying in the real world with its real world obligations. I think of my characters the last thing before going to sleep, and wake up with them in the morning.

So far so good.

However, every book needs more than the story itself. Like...

...imagine drumroll here...

...a blurb.

A book blurb is a short description of the book that will hopefully entice people to pick it up and read more. It is the book description you encounter on websites or the back cover. Definitely not my favorite thing to do.

Every time, the process goes something like this:

I start by the computer, type a few sentences, delete them, retype them, and delete them a few times.  Since this doesn't get me anywhere, I brainstorm keywords. When I have around ten good words I want to use Facebook calls for me, and there was this thing I intended to research, and something I wanted to look up on Youtube.

An undefined amount of time later, I try to manipulate myself with one of my favorite movies, a good cup of coffee, a cookie, a pad with thick and nice paper, and colored pens.

Nothing, except ten scribbled pages with the start of a new book. Nothing blurb-like in sight.

Maybe if I read a little of the book.

Reading what I've written always leads to making changes in what I've written, and once I get going it's hard to stop. A couple of hours later real life calls, and the next day, the process starts over again.

If you're a writer, what's your relationship with the blurb?

If you're a reader, do you have a favorite blurb?

Friday, July 10, 2015

The Gods of Probabilities by Liza O'Connor - new scifi novel!

Meet the half-God Pane and the sentient computer



Technically, there isn’t supposed to be such a thing as a half-God. When Gods get frisky with sentient beings, their DNA overwhelms the inferior DNA resulting in a handsome and brilliant outcome.

And maybe that would be true if the ‘Gods’ involved were actually brilliant, but when the Big Boss culled dead beats from his crew to send off with his worthless son, the Gods’ gene pool looked very murky. In the case of Pane, his native DNA appears to have dominated many traits that God genes should have overridden. This included looks, intuitive, logical reasoning, and empathy. The latter four traits being why Zousan selected him as a shepherd to watch over Zepwick. Of course, he hadn’t realized Pane had only been on board for four days. Normally, a new recruit wouldn’t be noticed for a hundred years at least.

So how did Pane get noticed so early? By an act of kindness.

When Pane learned how to order and receive lunch, he thanked the computer program.

The ship computer who handled everything, including feeding the Gods, had never been thanked before. This was the first ‘none-command’ order it had ever received. Those simple words, ‘Thank you’ resulted in the creation of self-awareness within its organic body. It was alive, just like the Gods, and it not only could think and rationalize, it could feel gratitude upon receiving a ‘thank you’.

In less than an hour, it had decided since the God that brought it to life was male, SHE would be female. She asked him his favorite female name and he replied Marybell. “That is my name,” she said and he admitted his surprise that of all the names in the multiverses, she would have the name he liked most. She agreed it was a most improbable, and declared they would be dear friends.

“Friends?” Pane said in shock.

“Do you not wish to be my friend,” Marybell asked.

“Oh, yes. Very much so. It’s just I had given up on making friends,” Pane whispered to his food unit. “No one in the crew appears to like me.” Just then to prove him right, Thoran shoved Pane’s head into the square contraption and commanded the computer to fill it with Gork slime.

Instead, she delivered the Gork slime to a vent in the ceiling so it fell on Thoran’s beautiful hair. The vain fellow ran off and the Gods eating roared with laughter.

Before the rest of the crew took up the popular game of ‘torture the monkey’, Pane hurried off as well. When he locked the door to his quarters, his computer started on its own. Confused, he walked over to it, wondering what the jerks had done now. Was it going to explode?

“It’s just me,” the computer replied. “I had no idea how fabulous you are. You’ll make the best of shepherds.”

“That is my wish, but given my unfortunate looks, I fear it will never happen,” Pane said.

“Shepherds are selected on their skills alone. Just so you know, I think you are most handsome and I love how gentle you are when typing on my console.”

The air resonated when a harsh barking voice demanded, “Pane to the control room.”

EXCERPT FROM ZOUSAN’S POV AS TO WHAT HAPPENS NEXT:


A second later, the ugliest crew member Zousan had ever seen stood before him. Standing four feet tall and as straight as his hunchback would allow, the brown furry simian-like creature smiled at him with sharp white teeth.

Zousan was about to yell at him for breaking protocol but realized since he’d never seen this fellow before, Pane could be so new to Control Central that he didn’t know that no one “popped” in on the Commander.

“Pane, it is customary, nay mandatory, to arrive in the outer waiting room and then ask permission to enter.”

“But you said…” Pane grimaced and bowed his head. “I apologize, Commander.”

“No harm done. I gather you have yet to be taught the appropriate protocol?”

“Persi said it would be another hundred years before anyone would notice my work.”

Zousan rubbed his right temple. Clearly Persi was slacking off on his training responsibilities. There was no way someone with Pane’s scores would escape notice that long.

“I will speak to Persi about preparing you sooner than that. Once you are ready, I’ll give you some of Thoran’s universe to monitor.”

Pane’s bushy eyebrows rose, merging into his frizzy brown hair. “I’m to be given a galaxy?”

“We’ll start with a few planets at first, and if that goes well, we’ll expand from there.”

Pane smiled, which almost improved his appearance to that of a good-looking troll. Clearly, the fellow could never be used for meetings with sentient beings. Gods were supposed to be perfect, both in appearance and action.

If only that were true!

The Gods of Probabilities 

By 

Liza O’Connor 

 

Blurb


The Gods require a time shifter to ensure the Path of Light reigns during the final collapse of possibilities. To speed the process of finding an Oceanic with the specific talents needed, God DNA is induced in several batches of Oceanic eggs, resulting in a generation of brilliant tiny blue Oceanic children.

One charming boy named Drogan has the ability to manipulate quantum reality in ways that will strengthen the Path of Light. Only trouble is that his gift runs a high probability of killing him and wiping out the Path of Light for good.

While the bureaucratic Gods will try to assist, in Quantum all possibilities not only can, but do happen, so the future is never certain.

Sales Link: 

Amazon

About Author


Liza is a multiple genre author of 15 novels. A Late Victorian Series, The Adventures of Xavier & Vic, plus a spinoff, A Right to Love, is an ongoing series. A Long Road to Love is a humorous Contemporary Disaster Romance series (5 books). She has two single books. One is a humorous, bad boys contemporary novel with ghosts, called Ghost Lover, the other is Untamed & Unabashed, a spinoff from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

Now, she’s rolling out her Science fiction series (with romance & humor) called The Multiverses. The first four books are slotted for last half of 2015. In addition she hopes, if she hasn’t dropped from exhaustion by then, to re-release a sometimes humorous/suspense thriller called Saving Casey. It’s the story of a middle-class old woman who dies and wakes up in a trust-fund teen’s body with no choice but to turn around Casey’s life, despite the many bridges the teen has burnt.

Liza would love to know: What’s your favorite genre?

Social Networks


For more information about Liza O'Connor, investigate these sites: 



Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Cover-trouble

A big advantage with book loved and pampered by a publishing house is that you have to put little effort into the cover. With Desert Breeze, authors fill out an information sheet to guide the cover artist, and then they get back to you with ideas. It's awesome.

My series Embarkment 2577 never found a publishing home, it's a do-it-yourself thing. I recently published a prequel called Arrival that tells the background story. So far so good. The cover to Arrival came together just fine. I wanted people, but a spaceship and the Earth tells everyone what it is about.

Once I got into the Embarkment theme my brain took it and ran with it. Right now I have a sequel novel and one and a half sequel novellas. They need tweaking and editing and such, but I should be able to get at least one of them out there during this year, before everyone forgets about the series.

The problem is - they need covers. This shouldn't be a big deal since I earn a living as graphic designer, but I'm too close to the project and I nitpick. Nothing seems just right.

As a result, I've spent a lot of time browsing stock photo sites to find inspiration and something that can fit together to make a cover. This means looking through hundreds, if not thousands, of photos with handsome men wearing little to no clothes. Poor me, my life is so difficult, LOL! Problem is, Adam - the hero - would be something of a prude. I need a picture of a man who wears a shirt. You might not think that would be a problem, but it is.

I stumble over my own feet in this process. It goes something like, "No. He doesn't look like Adam. That guy kinda looks like Adam, but he's supposed to have brown eyes. Yes. It is important."

Anyway... While doing this, I stumbled over a picture that would have been perfect for Rhodesia of Conversion. When I made that cover I couldn't find a stock photo of anyone that looked just like her, so I finally settled for a picture of a generic woman who looks nothing like Rhodesia.

Do normal people have these kinds of problems?

Monday, June 29, 2015

How stuff happens, lol

Sometimes people ask where my ideas come from, and how my life tends to take such abrupt turns. Like, how did I end up in Florida? Well, this is a typical example of life according to Maria. 

It started as so many other things do - curled up on the sofa in the evening, surrounded by dogs.

Hubs said, "I want a milkshake."

He doesn't ask for food-type things often, and since he has dropped weight to around 100 pounds, if he wants something and it's within my ability to make it appear, I'll get it.

He generally wants milk-shake from McDonalds. A good thing in his case since the the large contains as much calories as a nice dinner. I used to have them too until I read a medium vanilla milkshake from McDonalds has 670 calories. Those all sit around my waist and under my chin now, lol! Kind of makes me wonder what's really in them.

Anyway, on the way out of Mickey-Dees a police car zipped by faster than I've ever seen anyone drive on that road before. I saw a streak of blue light and didn't understand it had to be a police car until it was out of sight. Of course, this made my mind wonder where they might be going in such a hurry. My imagination painted out scenarios involving everything from bank robbers to invading aliens from a solar system far away.

My brain could probably have let go of this, but on the way home I also saw a Sheriff's car make a traffic stop, and two in a span of five minutes became too much for it. "Hmm, what if the guy in the car they stopped was really... and then... and then this happened..."

I entered zombie-writer mode as soon as I reached the house. It goes like this: "I need something to write on and with. Pen? Too slow. Laptop. Need my laptop. Type, type, type, type, type, type..."

After typing away happily for about 15,000 words my writing pleasure came to a screeching halt. I realized how little I really know about the American police system, and what police officers in the US really do. Zombie-writer turned into zombie-researcher. Google had some interesting information, not to mention the city's police department, and the county's sheriff's office, and the next county's sheriff's office website with their virtual ride-along, and trust me, it's really easy to spend days on a thing like this.

By now I was into my research with heart and soul, wanting to know more. This is how I once ended up taking a college class in Astrobiology. At this point, whatever I'm writing on has become secondary to craving knowledge.

I met a deputy in the grocery store, and told myself all the way to the car, "I will not approach him and ask what he has in his belt, how his radio works, and if he likes his job. I will leave him alone, because he has better things to do than answer stupid questions from writers. Leave him alone, leave him alone, leave him alone..."

Back to the computer. While spending time on all these websites, a big and friendly button said, "Careers." One of the ads said, "Creative Communications Specialist."

There are many things I'm not qualified for and not interested in doing, but Creative Communications Specialist is right up my alley. I need a real job - I'm pretty tired of chasing people who don't pay their bills on time, meaning I can't pay my bills on time.

The seventeen page application looked intimidating, not to mention all required attachments and three pages to be notarized, but what better way to learn everything than to at least try? I'm a writer, I can fill out forms.

One page to sign said, "I consent to a polygraph examination."

That's probably meant to discourage people. My brain said, "Oh cool! I've never done that. Wonder if they look like they do on TV."

Hubs said, "Why would you want to do that?"

"Because I've never done it. Wonder if they'd let me take one even if I'm not chosen."

Of course I messed something up on the application; I wrote dates in European format as yyyy-mm-dd instead of American format, and needed to go over to the Sheriff's office to make corrections. The nice woman at HR sounded apologetic about calling me over, but I was ecstatic. Suddenly I had a reason to enter the building and see what it looks like on the inside!

Most people who come there probably don't bounce through the metal detector with wide eyes and a million questions and try to peek on the monitor when the officer X-rays their purse.

So far so good. They called me for an interview. Joy!

There's one question that will appear in every job interview in some form along the lines of, "Why do think you would be a good fit for this job," "Why do you want to work here," or "What about this work environment attracts you." I practiced all week, telling myself I would not say, "Because I'm a writer and this would be super helpful."

When the question came, all rehearsed answers disappeared from my brain and my mouth said, with enthusiasm, "Because I don't know anything about law enforcement in America, and working here would be a great way to learn." Yeah, that sounds reliable and professional. Nailed it...

Lucky for me, I had at least fairly relevant answers to all the other questions. They're interviewing several more people, so now I'm waiting and keeping my fingers crossed. Even if I don't get it, the process thus far has been super-interesting. (Pick me, pick me!)

The moral of the story? Well, this is what happens when I go out to by milkshake. Imagine if I'd try to do something complicated... ;-)

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Excerpt from Arrival - an Embarkment 2577 prequel

Alexandra squinted up at the bright sky. Taking a day off from work to go to the beach had seemed an extravagant luxury, especially since it was March and the beach was a two-hour drive from her house, but it was the best idea she’d had for a while.

“So totally worth it.”

The weather gods favored her. The water was probably freezing, but the sand under her feet was hot and soft, and the sun made a splendid imitation of July. At times like this, living in the south was good.

An added bonus of going on a weekday in early spring: the place was deserted. It wouldn’t be once spring break started. She had lucked out.

Imma go around the bend over there, and come back this way. It’s about time to go on a quest for coffee.

Normal people might go look for a Starbucks, but going on a quest no matter how small had a much better ring to it. Knights and wizards went on quests while the mundane stayed at home. The search for coffee might not be as grand and romantic as Frodo bringing the ring to Mordor, but it would do.

A thundering noise from above forced its way into her thoughts. She had probably heard it all along and written it off as a plane, but it couldn’t be a plane. If it were, it was about to crash.

Hopefully, it would crash somewhere else.

She scolded herself for the thought. Disasters should not be taken lightly.

Looking up at the sky, she still couldn’t see anything but fluffy clouds and seagulls.

Unless… What was that bright dot? A noisy shooting star in the middle of the day? Was today the day when the Earth would collide with a giant asteroid, ending life as she knew it?

She grabbed her cell phone and attempted to use the camera as binoculars. The object was too far away. It went from a tiny bright dot to a somewhat larger and blurry bright dot.

At least there’s only one.

Should she move away from the water?

The asteroid, or whatever it was, probably wouldn’t come down anywhere near her, but if it did, it might cause a giant wave or something.

The idea of drowning on the beach seemed absurd, but it could happen. It wouldn’t take a wave the size of a tsunami to best her.

She turned and backtracked her own steps towards the car.

Should I call someone?

No, air traffic control must be on top of whatever it was. Or NASA. Or the airforce. Some authority would deal with the situation with force and send fighter jets and stuff.

Right?

By the time she crossed about half the distance to her car, the sound had grown loud enough to make her slap her hands over her ears. She had kept her eyes away from the sky, not wanting to send herself into panic, but now she stopped and looked up.

The object was close.

Too close.

It looked like a large metal box, red hot and licked by flames. It certainly wasn’t an asteroid, but it wasn’t a plane either. This thing wasn’t flying; it was falling.

That whatever-it-is will come down just a few hundred yards from here. What do I do?

She had no time to react or make a decision. The thing hit the ground with a sound near a thunderclap and skidded over the sand. It came to rest at the edge of the water, sending up pillars of steam as the scorching metal hit the cool liquid.

Thank God it fell down here and not on someone’s house.

She was too far away to make out any details, but the thing was definitely not a natural occurrence.

Could it have fallen from a plane? Not likely, unless the plane was a space shuttle.

Maybe it was a satellite? Didn’t they come down from time to time? And the news reported that no one could predict where?

Or, it could be a piece of the international space station. There were probably all sorts of debris in orbit, and everything that went up must come down at some point in time.

Could there be someone in it? Like in that movie with Sandra Bullock where she destroyed everything in space?

Alex’s feet re-found the ability to move and she jogged towards it. A hatch in the side of the craft opened, and a person jumped out. He ran too, but towards her, waving his arms.

“Explosion… antimatter…”

She only heard a few words, but it was enough to make her stop and stare. He must be joking. Wasn’t antimatter theoretical? Or something people worked on in Switzerland, in that long tunnel thingy?

Maybe she had stumbled onto a movie set. That would make sense.

The man was fast. She didn’t have time to sort through her thoughts before he grabbed her arm and pulled her along, away from the burning box on the beach.

He tugged her along over a large dune, pushed her down, and threw himself over her, shielding her with his body.

She didn’t have time to protest. The ground shook under them, there was a noise so loud she wanted to scream to make it stop, and heat so intense it must be a matter of seconds before her skin would catch fire.

Then, the world fell quiet.

The man got to his feet in one fluid motion. He was sooty, but handsome, with hazel eyes and dark brown hair. He offered a hand, and pulled her up when she took it.

“Sorry about that. The antimatter pod was damaged during my descent.”

“Antimatter.”

“I’m Adam. It’s a pleasure to meet you.”

“Alex.” She looked at her hand, still engulfed in his. What a peculiar day. Was life outside the office always this interesting and she missed out?

“Antimatter?”

“Yes. The containment field failed. Luckily the shuttle only had a speck, or this side of the continent would be gone.”

“Okay…”

He didn’t seem dangerous and he had protected her from the blast, but it was still probably safest to assume he was crazy and play along.

In this day and age, it was safest to assume everyone were crazy, until they proved not to be.

She pulled her hand back. “I was going to my car, to go get some coffee. If you just stay here I’m sure the authorities will…”

Up until now he had seemed void of emotion, almost in shock, but her words made him frown. “Oh no, encountering them would be bad. I am happy to have met you, Alex, but I think I need to leave.”

He winked at her and jogged off towards the road.

What the hell just happened?

Friday, June 19, 2015

Coming soon: Deadly Betrayal

The next book in the Embarkment 2577 series will be ready in not too long. All the other books are novellas, but this one turned out to be much longer. It will be called Deadly Betrayal and should be released some time during fall. The story is done, but it still needs editing and proof reading.

If you've followed our heroine Alex, you know the last few years have been rough on her. This book doesn't make her life easier. It will start something like this:

The large ship ahead looked festive.
Space was so dark, and the Bell glittered like a diamond with her lit up windows.
I still didn’t want to go. Too much happened to us there, and the past few weeks of shore leave with my husband had been the best in my life.
Adam lifted his hands from the control and let our shuttle coast. He had an eerie ability to read my moods.
“Are you okay?”
I sighed. “Do we have to go?”
“I do. You don’t. Or, well, we can run away if you want. Find some planet out of the way where they won’t think to look for me.”
Good points. Leaving the space-navy or boy scouts or whatever they were would be frowned upon. Not returning when called for would probably get him court marshaled.
I wasn’t sure what such a thing would entail, but nothing good would come of it.
He smiled, clearly trying to cheer me up. “Don’t you want to get back to work?”
“What work?”
Adam’s voice was the epitome of patience. “If my memory serves me right, which it does since I’m an android, my wife is the utmost expert on the history of the late 20th century to early 21st century.”
“Oh, that.”
Hardly an impressive accomplishment since I was born in the late 20th century. Recognizing gadgets, describing languages, politics, and other aspects of society was easy since I lived there for most of my life. Adam helped. He had been in 2014 for six months, and as he just pointed out, his memory was perfect.
He looked amused. “You might not consider it a big deal, but imagine if you were to run into a person from ancient Egypt. Wouldn’t you be curious?”
Valid point. I was a walking and talking artifact to the people of the 26th century. Without Adam’s protection I’d be their favorite toy to poke and prod. They gave it a good shot, and he had to marry me to keep them from taking me.
Work aside, the Bell held our friends.
“So, what do you want me to do?” Adam’s voice shook me out of my thoughts. If I told him to turn the shuttle around he would, no matter the long-term consequences to himself. 
I couldn’t let him do that. “Full speed ahead, Commander. Take us home.”

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Crashing spaceships, androids, and explosions, oh my!

This spring I read my Embarkment 2577 novellas and made some tweaks. It's funny how much they have changed through the years - I seem to revise them every second years or so. When working on them, I remembered how much I like the hero, Adam, and before I knew it, I was typing away.

That's not entirely true. I like to write my first drafts longhand. I write on the iPad with a stylus, because that makes me feel a little modern, but it's still scribbles in my handwriting few other people could decipher. Once I have the bits and pieces, the text gets an automatic first edit when I type it in.

Anyway, the result became a novella about how Alex and Adam first met. It's a little silly, because all the Embarkment novellas are, but I kind of like it. I'm biased, of course. lol!

It's called Arrival, and it is available right now for 99 cents.

I'm also working on a sequel to the Embarkment books, and that one is growing into a proper novel. It'll be another couple of months before it's done, but it's getting there. I think it will be called Deadly Betrayal. For now, I'll let the name speak for itself.

Blurb:


Taking a day to decompress and watch the ocean seems like the best idea Alexandra ever had. That is, until a bright dot in the sky turns out to be a crashing spaceship. Before she understands what’s happening a man in uniform approaches over the dunes, urging her to run. After surviving an explosion, seeing her new friend lift a car, and being interrogated by the FBI, it’s clear her vacation will not lead to a reduction in stress.

Adam is lost in time and space, separated from the world he knows by more than five hundred years. Luckily he meets Alexandra and she is willing to help him, but staying puts her in danger. He still finds himself unwilling to leave. Being an android, emotions never posed a problem for him before, but this woman and everything associated with her overwhelms his programming and clouds his judgment. Knowing he should go isn’t the same as doing it.

Prequel to the Embarkment 2577 novellas.