Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Music Notes: Writing to Music by Amy Riddle-DeClerck

Creative people need inspiration, too. I consider myself a rather creative individual, and I have ideas for stories that might make a list a mile long. What I don't have, most of the time, is the forward momentum to put those ideas on paper. This is where the music comes in. I pop my headphones on, crank up my YouTube play list, and put my fingers to the keyboard. The beat of the music, the melody, and the visual video effects can push me to think, and then I write. With the music on in the background the outside world fades away and I become entrenched in the world my characters live in. Later, when the songs have ended and my hands are tired, I look up at the clock and marvel at exactly how long I managed to concentrate.

When writing my science fiction romance novel, Forged in Fire, I listened to I Will Not Bow by Breaking Benjamin over and over. This became the theme song for my hero, Gin Draven. Driven by honor and duty he faced his fears in an effort to save his galaxy from a terrible threat. Every time I hear this song, even today, Gin's face comes to my mind. It rounded him out and helped me build his persona into a three-dimensional character with emotions and motivations beyond what I had originally planned for him.

It is a proven fact that music can alter brain waves and make it easier for the left and right brains to communicate, increasing creativity.

I got the list below from the book The Mozart Effect: Tapping the Power of Music to Heal the Body, Strengthen the Mind, and Unlock the Creative Spirit by Don Campbell.

Classical music (Hayden, Mozart) has clarity, elegance, and transparency. It can improve concentration, memory, and special perception.

Impressionist music (Debussy, Faure, Ravel) is based on free-flowing musical moods and impressions, and evokes dreamlike images. A quarter hour of musical daydreaming followed by a few minutes of stretching can unlock your creative impulses and put you in touch with your unconscious.

Rock music by such artists as U2, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Rolling Stones, etc., can stir the passions, stimulate active movement, release tension, reduce effects of unpleasant sounds in the environment. It can also create tension, dissonance, stress, and pain in the body when we are not in the mood to be energetically entertained.

Slower Baroque music (Bach, Handel, Vivaldi, Corelli) imparts a sense of stability, order, predictability, and safety and creates a mentally stimulating environment for study or work.

Romantic music (Schubert, Schumann, Tchaikovsky, Chopin, Liszt) emphasizes expression and feeling, often invoking themes of individualism, nationalism, or mysticism. It is best used to enhance sympathy, compassion, and love.

So, the next time you find yourself in the dreaded neighborhood of Writer's Block...just remember to turn on your I-pod, put on your headphones and close your eyes. Choose a sound that will personify the scene you're trying to write and wait. Chances are, you won't wait long for inspiration to strike!

About the Author:


Amy Riddle-DeClerck writes as AR DeClerck. She grew up in Western NC and currently resides in the Quad Cities, IL with her husband and two daughters. She loves romance and adventure, and prefers redeemable heroes and strong heroines. Her debut novel, Between: A Keyholder Novel, will be released 8-1-14 from Nevermore Press. Her sci-fi romance novel, Forged in Fire, will be released in December 2014. Look for her on facebook at https://facebook.com/authoramydeclerck or find her on Twitter https://twitter.com/ARDeClerck.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Meet the #Author Monday - Deborah A. Bailey

Please tell us a bit about yourself:

I worked in corporate for several years as a copywriter then as an IT developer. So writing gives me a chance to merge my writing with my love of technology. These days I freelance as a tech writer, editor and trainer. 

Tell us about Hathor Legacy: Burn:

It's book two of my Hathor Legacy series based on the planet Hathor in the 23rd century. Nadira is one of the Guardians, a group who are descendents of settlers from Earth. The Guardians have PSI abilities and serve as a security force for the planet and are in service to Novacorp, the company that runs the planet.

Her relationship with Jonathan Keel started in book one, and is developing in this book. In this book, Nadira is called to investigate a series of fires that are burning down Service Houses. These houses are the equivalent of company-run brothels. During the investigation, secrets about the Guardians and the company are revealed, and those revelations put Nadira's and Jonathan's lives in danger.

What inspired you to write this particular story?:

I wanted to expand on the history of the Guardians and also fill readers in on how the planet was settled. Also, I wanted to show that though the Guardians see themselves as being above reproach, that's not really the case. In their own way, they're not much different than the people who run the corporation.

Please share a favourite snippet from your book:

Nadira tried to sit up, but her arms ached so much they couldn't support her. Instead they wobbled and she was forced to drop back down against the pillows.

"Relax. You're not going anywhere." Jonathan propped himself up on his elbow and pulled the covers back over her.

She looked up into his grey eyes. What she saw there wasn't what she was expecting. But it wasn't just concern for her that had etched the dark circles under them, there was something else.

"You look tired," she said, as she ran the tip of her finger along his face, following the line of his squared jaw. Stubble pricked and tickled her skin, encouraging her to continue her exploration. After reading Varyn and being attacked in the warehouse, she'd shut down her awareness, just so she could block out her emotions. If she allowed herself to feel something now, she'd have to feel it all, and she wasn't sure she was ready for that.

Jon captured her hand and pressed it to his lips. "I didn't know how to find you. A security officer told me about the warehouse fire. When I got there, they told me to check the medi-evac. I heard you calling me."

Had she? She couldn't remember now. In fact a lot of the attack was hazy, without clear definition, like waking up and trying to remember a dream. "I couldn't save them. I tried and I couldn't." Tears welled up in her eyes, blurring her vision and making her feel ashamed.

Emotions were to be controlled at all times. That's how Zina had trained her, and that's what she had always fallen back on. But now, it wasn't working.

"Let it go," Jonathan said. "It's all right."

"No." She shifted and turned her back to him. "Stop. Just go. Come back in the morning." She wasn't ready yet. If she let it out now, she'd never be able to stop.

Which comes first for you – a character's looks, personality or name?:

Personality comes to me first. Usually hear conversations between characters before I start writing. Then the looks come in and I start to see them. It's great when I have a name first, but when I don't I have to try out a few of them before I get one that feels right.

Any tips for aspiring authors?:

Keep writing and don't talk yourself out of finishing your work. Procrastination is a trap that's so easy to fall into. If you believe in it, do it. Get it done and start on the next piece. Years ago when I went into corporate, I stopped writing for years so that I could focus on my IT career. I talked myself out of writing because I thought it was "just" a hobby. It took a while to realize that it was part of my life and I had to write, no matter what.

Questions for fun:
If you had the power of time travel, is there anything you would go back and change?

Wow, that's a tough question. But I think the first thing I'd do would be to not let my cousin borrow my car.

Why/why not?:

It was my first car that I bought off a car mechanic for $300. It looked like a Mini Cooper and was fun to drive around. I lent it to her and she ran it into a pothole in NYC. That was the end of that. But since time travel has consequences, who knows? I might've ended up driving it into the pothole myself in an alternate timeline.

What super-power would you choose?:

Hmmm. I'd love to be able to fly. I think that would be fun.

If you could have three wishes, what would they be?:

1. For a nice quiet house by the seashore
2. The end of wars and disagreements across the globe
3. To always be surrounded by good friends and loving family

Coffee, tea or wine?:

I'd take coffee in the morning then wine after 5:00 pm.

What is your favourite book? (aside from one of your own!):

I have a few favorites! One that comes to mind is Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. It's such a powerful story that deals with the implications of cloning. It's also a very bittersweet love story, and I'm a big fan of those.

Favourite genre and why?:

SF of course! I love it because it's about possibilities. You can discuss world events, speculate on the future, tell a love story, detail the collapse of civilization. It's an exciting genre. But for me personally, I love that I can write worlds and characters beyond stereotypes. They can just be people or some other life form--without judgment and without having to attach some big message. It's refreshing to just be able to be who you are without baggage.
Favourite colour?:

Right now it's red. Dark red preferably. My favorite color changes with my mood.

Upcoming news and plans for the future?:

Right now I'm promoting my new release, Hathor Legacy: Burn, so that's taking up the most space in my brain. But I'm working on a couple of novellas, and have plans to do a third Hathor Legacy book sometime next year. I'm just going to keep writing and having fun with it.

Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us!

Twitter: @AuthorDeborahB

Announcement! Hathor Legacy: Burn will be free on Amazon from 7/27 - 7/31!


Book Two of the Hathor Legacy Series

On the planet, Hathor, an old threat re-emerges that may destroy the fragile alliance between the Guardians and Novacorp.  When Nadira is called to investigate a rash of fires throughout the city, she discovers the Deshtu, another group with PSI powers who have been purposely kept in the shadows.

Working to uncover the source of the fires, Nadira learns the brutal truth about the origin of the Guardians. The Guardian Elders have plans to make Nadira more powerful, and she may be forced to sever her psychic connection to Jonathan Keel.

When an unexpected ally gives Jonathan information about the Deshtu that connects them to the fires, he becomes a convenient scapegoat for the opposing factions. Nadira puts her life on the line to solve the crime, while the Elders make their move to remove Jonathan from her life forever.

As time runs out, the Guardians prepare for a clash with Novacorp that could plunge the planet into chaos, and a final betrayal forces Nadira to risk everything to save herself and Hathor.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

The SFR Brigade Presents - 7/26-7/31 #scifi #romance

On the look out for a new #scifi #romance book? Check out the snippets in this week's round of The SFR Brigade Presents!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Building Universes by J.A. Kenney

World building is one of the keystones of fiction.

However, in most genres world building starts with research into a real world setting, time, or myth that has inspired the fictional location and characters.

In these genres, the key is to stick close to that common store of knowledge and to define any variations in a way that the reader will accept.

In Science Fiction, there are additional complications.

First: Alien Worlds

Whether it is a far distant future earth or a true alien planet, an alien world is a pure product of the imagination. The geography, plant life, animal life, even the very atmosphere must reflect the fact that it is NOT present day Earth.

The heat of a vast sun beat down from above; the rocks, plants, even the sky had taken on a reddish tone as the expanding star scorched the planet’s surface. The super-giant monster covered a third of the sky, its surface heaving and spitting radiation and plasma into space. (Excerpt from Slivers of Silver )

Second: Alien Creatures

For more detail here see my earlier post for SFR Brigade "Writing Alien Species ".

Third: Alien Technology

Whether, based in an alien or future human society the technology that fills the fictional science fiction universe is all but a character in and of its self.

Current science theorizes a universe where faster than light travel cannot exist, and long distance travel in space is all but impossible.

So, science fiction writers have long chosen to overlook or even break the rules of modern physics in order to create a universe where these things would be possible.

The key to doing so is to create a satisfying technological construct that while it might break the laws of physics does it consistently and in a believable way. 

              "Number three reactor status critical. Catastrophic failure imminent."

...A reactor explosion would destroy engineering and several decks worth of equipment and personnel, while shutting the reactor and connected engine down for maintenance would weaken the already strained energy shielding and flood the ship with deadly radiation. (Excerpt from Dark Silver , Coming December 2014)

Fourth: The Known Universe

While some scientific facts are regularly ignored or altered by science fiction authors, there is one area where I and many other authors try to stay as close to reality as possible. This is the action structure, nature, and appearance of the universe.

Some stretches of current theory are necessary to craft interesting worlds, but such things should be used in moderation and only when necessary.

            The vista visible from the ballroom extended across the horizon, streaks of burning matter flashed past where I stood to join a golden whirlpool decorated by random flashes of light. Trailing streams of superheated gases spiraled in from the nearby star and into a far distant pinhead of black nothingness. (Excerpt from Dark Silver , Coming December 2014)

Building a science fiction universe has unique challenges, but a well-crafted story is its own reward!

Keep Writing! 

J.A. Kenney

An expanded discussion on this subject is available at: http://jakenney.com/2014/07/universe-buildingexpanded-sfr-brigade-post/

Silver Strife is Available Now!


Life . . . Death . . . Rebirth

Quicksilver is an ancient immortal warrior. One of a group of alien beings that were once pure energy, living in the void between galaxies, and who have taken mortal form to influence history.

The Purists, compelled by a zealot prophet, are immortal extremists who will use any means at their disposal to wipe out all mortal life. Qui and her Conservationist brethren have spent millions of years fighting for their survival.

In Silver Strife, Quicksilver has been reincarnated on an Earth devastated by centuries of planet-wide civil war. She awakens in the body of a human Elite named Lini: one of a race of superhumans, bred and trained by a Purist-led government to massacre the remnants of humanity. Quicksilver joins the rebel forces, despite their reluctance to trust a hated Elite, determined to take down the brutal dictatorship that has decimated the human race.

From their first meeting, she is drawn to Captain David Mitchell, the rebel officer who aided her escape from the Elite's gilded cage. Even after swearing to never love again when her last mortal lover was killed saving her life, she finds herself falling for the honorable and driven soldier.

When Quicksilver crosses the path of an immortal ally on a top-secret mission behind enemy lines, a decision is forced upon her. She must choose between the fate of the human rebels, her mortal lover, and fulfilling her Conservationist oath to protect all mortal life.


J.A. Kenney lives in Aurora, Colorado, with a breathtaking view of the Rocky Mountains. In the winter, when the sky is clear, and if she stands on her tiptoes in exactly the right spot.

Three cats, a Chihuahua mix who thinks she is a Mastiff, and her beloved husband share her humble abode.

She has been writing since she found out that playing alien witches was more fun than tag. Her stories are a blend of science fiction, fantasy, and romance with strong female protagonists.

When she is not writing she reads voraciously, sings, skis, rides her Harley, and grudgingly assists with home improvement projects.

Social Links:

Saturday, July 19, 2014

The SFR Brigade Presents - 7/19-7/24

Looking for a new #scifi #romance read? Why not check out this week's round of snippets for The SFR Brigade Presents.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

SFRB Recommends #18: Starheart by Greta van der Rol #scifi #romance #spaceopera

Starheart by Greta van der Rol

Book Description

Freighter Captain Jess Sondijk thought she had her life under control until Admiral Hudson's Confederacy battle cruiser stops her ship to search for contraband. His questions reopen matters she had thought resolved. What if her husband's death during an official boarding wasn't accidental?

Hudson has his own questions. Who in the Confederacy is trading with the Ptorix? And what price is high enough to pay for starhearts, the prized jewels the aliens call the windows of the soul?

Jess and Hudson's interests collide in more ways than one as they follow a shadowy trail of deceit and corruption in search of the truth. But while Jess is more than willing to put her life on the line to protect what's hers, Hudson must balance the risk of inter-species war at worst and the end of his career at best, in a deadly game of political intrigue, murder and greed.


It took me a while to get around to reading this book after I bought it on Amazon. Let me tell you one thing: don't do it. You buy it, you read it. It's that good.

A real page-turner, I really struggled to put this book down. The world-building is excellent, with just a snippet here or there that reveals more of the setting as one gets deeper into the book. The characters are vivid and well-rounded, and there's plenty in here to keep you guessing about... well, a lot.

Overall, an excellent read, and highly recommended.

Find it on Goodreads HERE.
Find it on Amazon US HERE.

SFR Brigade Bases of Operation