The Shrink’s Office (Interview with Daniel Grant part 3)

And now, the final part that you’ve all been waiting for:

part 1 can be read here:

part 2 can be read here:

(Please pardon the links not being hyper. I tried a dozen times and wordpress won’t let me right now for some reason)

Dr. Sterling didn’t take quite so long to return this time as she had before. She started on the questions right away too.
“Who do you think is responsible for your parents’ disappearance? What exactly would you have done to them?”
“I thought we weren’t supposed to speculate in the pursuit of justice?”
“Just answer the question Daniel.”
“Well, I’d guess Storm had an inside man go after the erubies, which would’ve given him power beyond what you can imagine. If he actually killed my parents, then he should die. But if he just caused them to go into hiding or locked them up, then he should spend the rest of his puny existence locked up in a dark hole somewhere.”
Sterling raised an eyebrow as she wrote. Finally she asked the next question. “Would you rather take a beating or watch one?”
“It depends on who is getting it and whether it is just or not. If it is unjust, then I’d rather take one. But I wouldn’t like to watch a beating whether it was just or not. And depending on who it was, I might take it for them.”
“Here’s a challenging one. If you had to choose between your sister’s life and the rest of your team’s, what would you do?”
Daniel stared. That was one of his worst nightmares. And if he didn’t figure it out, they’d probably both die to his indecision. “I’d probably say my sister’s. Our relationship would never be the same, she’d probably never speak to me again after that, but at least I’d know she’s safe. It’s not that I don’t like my team, they’re like family to me too. I grew up with two of them. First I’d give my own life if possible. But if not…they’d understand.”
“You really think so?”
She didn’t believe him, but he had to believe it was true. “Yes.”
“Ok, I think we should go to a little lighter topic for now. Would you rather have a timber rattlesnake bite on your arm, or a Brazillian wandering spider bite on your foot?”
“Uh, how bad are they?”
Dr. Sterling wrinkled her nose slightly. “Google it.”
Daniel pulled out his Data Communications and Computer tablet once again and Googled the snake first. “It says here that there’s a high possibility there wasn’t any venom in the first bite, that it was only a warning bite. I say we’ll go with a bite on my left arm. ISF doctor could patch it up quickly, I’d think.”
“You’re not going to look at the spider?”
Daniel shook his head. “No need.”
“Mm-hmm. How do you like your eggs?”
“Real. I tried ship rations before once…ugh.”
“And you want to be an ISF officer?”
“You asked how I liked them. Real eggs or processed imitation won’t make me a good or bad officer.”
“Would you describe yourself as having a silver tongue? Or would you rather someone else do all the talking?”
Daniel nearly laughed out loud. “Ha! After all this you ask if I think I had a silver tongue? Not to my knowledge. At least not normally. Someone else can do the talking.”
“Considering all the questions I’ve given you and the time that it’s taken so far, and we’re not even done yet, what would you do to us questioners if you had us alone and helpless in a dark room, right now?”
Daniel thought about that. That was a hard one. So many things to choose from. He’d pick the first safe one that wouldn’t get him into too much trouble. “An image of the sprinkler system comes to mind.”
“Would you like us to go jump off a cliff right now?”
Daniel rolled his eyes. “If I’d save you from shark infested waters, you think I’d want you to go jump off a cliff? Unless you actually do some of these bad questions to me, I don’t care anymore. Let’s just get this finished.”
“Whatever you say. How important is it to you that your parents might still be alive?”
“I’d say it’s really important to me. I just can’t come to terms with them being dead. They said they’d be back.”
“Some of the people back there are curious about the ISF Academy, considering how nothing definite is really listed anywhere on the –nets. Is it a special school for privileged people or does it accept anyone/everyone?”
“It’s only for special people. IQ scores must be high, as do normal school test scores, and the admittance test has minimal room for error. Also, you must have military connections.”
“How can you afford to go there?”
“Commandant Chalmers is a rich and generous man. As you know, he started the ISF officer orphanage and is a major donor. He’s the main reason we got into the Academy in the first place, but the orphanage does support its members into the Academy, including the entry fee. They allow us to room there even when we should’ve left if we’re still in the Academy and doing well. It is also an investment of the ISF, as everyone who graduates goes to the ISF, and not many drop out. So I’m really not paying much at all.”
“I have another relationship question. Do you try to include Kelly in everything you do, or do you think that the closer she is to you, the closer she is to danger?”
Daniel leaned back. The assumptions people made. “Unless it’s a guy-only get together, Kelly’s always welcome. I tend to prefer she doesn’t hang around me at the school much because of Karl Royce and his cronies, but I’m not too worried about her. She’s had training too. It’s part of why she’s on the team. And besides, it’s easier to protect her when she’s closer to me than when she’s somewhere I can’t see.” And she was fun to hang out with. As if she’d let him push her away because of safety. The corners of Daniel’s mouth twitched and he held back a smile.
If Dr. Sterling saw the expression she didn’t comment on it. “Let’s say the world was thrown back to ancient days before most technology came into existence. What would be the one thing you’d want to bring if you had a choice?”
“Well, if I brought something with electricity when there was none that’d be rather pointless now, wouldn’t it? However, considering my Comet can charge itself by flying near the sun if it needs charging, I’d probably bring it. Then I wouldn’t have to worry about protection and I could always check the other worlds for advanced tech if I decided I needed to move.”
“What do you do for fun?”
“Well, there’s the physics papers I read and inventing.”
“Besides that.”
“Um…I like strategy games. Oh, and racing! Especially obstacle course tracks.”
“LC or cycle or spacecraft?”
“Well before it used to be an LC, although a cycle would be fun. Never could afford one of those though. Now that I’ve tried space races in the Comet though, I think they may be more fun.”
“I see.”
“All legal, of course.”
“I think we should go back to the relationship questions.”
Daniel felt his face drop. Great, just what he needed.
“Do you zealously guard Kelly’s time, or do you share her with her other friends?”
“I value her time, but she has every right to enjoy her friends without me around. We do keep track of each other and set general time limits, but if I guarded her time like a jailer, our relationship would be very strained. We make time for each other to talk and encourage and stuff.”
“So what would happen if a fellow started showing interest in your sister romantically? Like now or sometime later when she’s a bit more grown?”
“I’d stick very close to them at first and try to get to know him. Probably have the guys perform a background check on him too. And see what her best friend has to say about it. Girls seem to have so much more insight into these things when they’re not caught in the midst of it.”
“That’s an interesting viewpoint.” She looked down at her DCC. “We only have a few more questions. If you were to have a choice between having Valentine or Theloq handcuffed to you, which would you choose? The handcuffs would be impossible to get out of. And you can’t gnaw your hand off or anything to escape.”
“Remind me who they are again?”
“Valentine is a finder who talks way too much, Theloq is a silent, pushy warrior type who’s a recluse.”
“Um, probably Theloq. He sounds safer.”
“I wouldn’t know about that…here’s a tough question. Would you rather lose your best friend who isn’t a family member or a family member?”
“That is a horrible question! Who came up with that? It’s almost identical to the other one!”
“I’m not at liberty to say. Just answer the question.”
“Fine, but this better be the last of its kind. I’m getting tired of these nightmarish questions. I have two best friends, David and Seth. It would be hard to lose either. We almost lost David in the contest. But Kelly’s the only family member I know that I have left and I don’t know if my parents are alive. I guess I’d have to say best friend. There’s a possibility of finding a new best friend. You can’t get a new family member. But I wouldn’t want to lose either and I value all of them.” Daniel crossed his arms. They were trying to break him down and it was starting to work.
“Don’t worry, I only have four more questions. I’ll give you the easy question first. Do you like kittens?”
Daniel stared. “Kittens.”
“Yes. Is there a problem?”
“No, no problem.” Except that her method of asking vastly different questions right after another was absolutely confusing at times. “They’re ok. Some are cute. Their claws hurt.”
“I see. Every starfighter has a weakness. What are the Comet’s weaknesses?”
“How is this a question for a psychiatrist or psychologist or whatever you are?”
“I gauge your reactions and responses, and in addition, the weaknesses of a ship can tell about the builder.”
Daniel sat up straight. “Well it wasn’t intentional I can tell you that much. Currently the only major weakness we know of is our shields can be overpowered with a lot of concentrated fire. This is usual for starfighters because they don’t have as many emitters for their shields as larger ships which makes overlapping a damaged emitter difficult. We make up for this though with our enhancer mirrors installed in the solar panels. They’re a back layer so if a laser hits the panel, it will be directed back off at an increased rate of strength. This is assuming it doesn’t hit only a power cell, but we believe we’ve spread them out in the most efficient manner so as to lessen that possibility. Also, our Star has a very limited positive beam before it needs to recharge, usually via the negative beam.’
“You seem quite confident in your ship’s abilities,” Dr. Sterling commented.
“I am. We designed her well, and had six people to look over potential mistakes and problems we could run into.”
“That is nice. What would you do without tech? Say if you somehow got stuck in a backwoods planet with no electricity or even flint or metal. Just sticks and stones.”
Daniel’s mouth felt frozen as his brain scrambled to find a response. “Uh, try to survive I guess. I’m not really sure. I’ve never really had any training in that area. Possibly try to find locals to help.”
Dr. Sterling leaned forwards. “Alright, this is my last question: Do you prefer sunrise or sunset?”
“I would have to say sunset. It’s when the moon and stars are starting to come out, and the colors are usually brilliant. Reminds me of some of the nebula pictures I’ve seen.”
Dr. Sterling stood and held out her hand with a smile. “Thank you for you time Daniel.”
Daniel shook it. “You’re welcome. I hope you got everything you needed.”
“We’ll see. Don’t worry, I’ll call you back if I need to ask more questions. Good day.”
She turned and strode into the back room. Daniel stared after her. More questions? Don’t worry? He had to get out before she thought of something soon. He checked his pockets then strode out of the main entrance. Hopefully the rest of the SSDF hadn’t gotten out early and been waiting for him too long. They still needed to look over their equipment before they could go home.

That’s the end of the interview with Daniel…at least for now. 😉 I hope you enjoyed it!

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The Shrink’s Office (Interview with Daniel part 1)

Daniel entered the small room and sat down on the couch. He examined the sparse furnishings, obviously meant to relax without distracting. The waterfall wallvid was pretty cool. All-in-all, the standard shrink’s office. Well, if he was to be an ISF officer, he had to go through this, so he would do it.
A lady wearing a cheery blouse and knee-length skirt walked in with her Data Communications and Computer tablet ready. “Good day Daniel.”
Her voice was too happy. It was almost like falsified optimism.
“I’m Dr. Sterling. Commandant Chalmers has given me full clearance so that you can answer every question while maintaining integrity and secrecy.”
“He told me.”
Sterling paused then looked back to the notes on her DCC. “Well good! The other psychiatrists, scientists and strategists that have been cleared have compiled a list of questions that you should find interesting. The questioners will remain anonymous to protect the innocent. Are you ready to begin?”
Daniel glanced at his watch. “You mean we haven’t started?” he restarted his stopwatch and looked up. “Just kidding. Yeah, I’m ready.”
“Good. Do you have a motto Daniel?”
“For Him. Really it’s the SSDF’s motto, but as part of the SSDF it’s my motto as well. It means everything we do should be for God’s glory.”
“I see.” She scribbled something down using her e-pen then met Daniel’s eyes and smiled. “Are you a master of disguise?”
Daniel blinked. “Um, I wouldn’t call myself a master, no.”
“Could you be if the situation arose?”
“Well I haven’t forgotten my blending in class in the ISF Academy if that’s what you’re getting at. And before you ask, I got an A minus.”
“Do you want revenge and justice for what has happened to your family?”
Daniel paused. They were trying to trip him up. The key here would be to think before answering. “I want justice, yes. Who doesn’t? Revenge isn’t the way of the ISF though. That’s the way of the vigilante. The law will get them.”
“Are you more of the sneak-attack type or jump-in with guns blazing type?”
“I guess that would depend on the situation. I will say I’m rather fond of guerilla tactics, you know, where a small team strikes then quickly fades back only to repeat. Drives the enemy mad.”
Dr. Sterling stopped writing and stared at Daniel. He stared back calmly. “Alright then,” she cleared her throat. “Would you lay down your life for your team if it meant their safety?”
“That was quick.”
“They’re like family. We look out for each other.”
“Do you drink coffee?”
Daniel frowned. “What’s that?”
“A drink that was popular in the twenty-first century. You can find it in some specialty shops around still. They used to use it for energy.”
“Oh. No, I don’t. If I need energy fast, that’s what ISF ration e-speed pills are for. Or I could get sleep.”
“I understand. Those are nice. What are your thoughts on elves?”
“Are they a snack from the twenty-first century?”
The psychiatrist grimaced. “Perhaps you should Google it.”
Daniel pulled out his DCC and entered the word then scrolled through the pages. “They’re a fantasy creature that was a huge element in writing several hundred years ago.”
“Very well, I’ll leave it at that. Tell me Daniel, do you have a romantic interest? Did you? Is there anyone who could interest you romantically?”
“No I don’t, and no I didn’t. I never had time.” Crazy psychiatrists and their questions. Even if he did have a relationship it wouldn’t impede his duties. “And how should I know? The galaxy is a huge place.”
“No one enters your mind right now?”
“I’ve given you my answer,” Daniel replied. An image had flashed across his mind, but it was nothing really. A bit of admiration, nothing more. And besides, he’d only met her recently, and he didn’t need the hassle of any relationship. No, there was no one. [author’s note: I do have that someone in mind for when he gets older for an interesting relationship. Of course, a lot can happen in several books so I don’t know if anything will really happen between them.]
“What is your favorite ice-cream flavor?”
Daniel’s mouth watered. “Homemade ice cream with real ingredients.” Great, now they were going to weaken him with food.
“What do people think of your driving skills?”
“How would I know?”
“Are you a good driver?”
“I’m a safe driver.”
“What makes everyone look up to you as leader?”
“Everyone? What everyone? No one looks up to me as leader. The only reason I lead the SSDF is because I organized it and the others were content with letting me take the responsibility.”
“Are you saying you’re a bad leader?”
“How should I know? I look after my team the best way I see fit. Call it whatever you want.”
“What kind of music do you like? You do like music, right?”
“My parents got me into the classical pieces by the masters and I don’t suppose I’ve ever lost that.”
“What’ve you been trained in?”
“Is this some sort of test to see how I’ve been doing in class over the past years? How detailed of a list do you want?”
The doctor shrugged. “Whatever you feel we need to know.”
“Ok. Well, I’ve been trained in the following, but it doesn’t mean I’m good at everything. Combat flight, starflight, hand-to-hand combat, basic survival, various weaponry but mostly laser weapons, mechanics and engineering, reconnaissance, interplanetary politics, interstellar trading laws and other basic interstellar laws, military strategy, basic computer programming, along with your standard school subjects.” Maybe he shouldn’t have put the interplanetary politics class in. He hoped they didn’t pull his records on that one. Politics was not his thing.
“That’s a nice spectrum.”
Daniel shrugged and leaned back. “It’s what everyone in the Academy gets.”
Dr. Sterling sipped some water then asked, “What would you do if something ever happened to Kelly?”
Daniel’s jaw clenched and his fists pressed into the couch. “What do you mean?”
The psychiatrist studied him with that annoying patronizing look they all seemed to have. “Something bad. Say she was blinded. Or got in a wreck and died.”
“If she was blinded, I’d request family emergency leave and help her through it. I’d make sure she had the best training possible for the blind while continuing to work with the ISF to pay for it, after she’s passed through the trauma of course. If someone caused it, I’d make sure he was brought to justice. If she got in a wreck and died…” Daniel tried to shove the thought from his mind. “I’d probably seek justice first. After that, I don’t know. She keeps my hope alive. I guess I’d try to continue looking after the others.”
“Why was your home attacked?”
Daniel took a few slow, steady breaths to get himself back on track. No need to disqualify himself after all this. “I was never told, but I’ve thought about it frequently. The facts seem to point to one thing. Sir Storm or one of his people attacked looking for my dad’s stash of erubies and they didn’t want any witnesses. Somehow my parents got us past them in escape pods.”
“Do you get along with the rest of the SSDF?”
Did she not pay attention? “Yes, we’re like family.”
“Even Rebecca Royce?”
“Her being a Royce doesn’t affect anything. She’s Kelly’s best friend, so she’s a friend of ours. It’s not her fault her brother is Karl Royce.”
“I see. What do you like to read? You do like to read, right?”
“Sure, I guess. Physics articles are usually interesting, along with other papers on scientific theories.”
Dr. Sterling blinked and gave him a weird look. Daniel stared right back. People and their assumptions…he got this reaction every time. “Let’s say you got stuck on a deserted island with Melgred, Judas, Eristor, Marhwil, and Valentine. What would be the outcome?”
“I’m not sure I understand the question. I assume we’d get off the island. Who are they?”
“They’re characters from twenty-first century literature. You know, the classics? Say they were real.”
“I was never really into fiction. Too much of a time waster. I have better things to do.” He paused, waiting for the next question. Dr. Sterling continued to wait for the rest of his answer. He sighed. “Who are they?”
“Melgred is an evil prince who believes fear is the best way to earn respect. Judas is a man with a split identity, one being soft and poetic, the other being a crazed killer. Eristor is an arrogant prince. Marwhil is a gryphon knight with a silver tongue who rose through the ranks quickly and had to run from his brother, who seized power. Valentine is a Finder who likes to talk a lot. He’s also a banished prince.”
“Well, assuming we stayed in our own corners of the islands, we’d find a way to survive I guess. If we worked together, we could probably create a craft to get us off the island.”
“You think you could work together?”
“Sure. They’d all see the value of survival and put it ahead of everything I’m sure. And Marwhil with his silver tongue could keep them all together.”
“Really. Here’s a similar question. If you were trapped on a deserted island with Valentine, Melgred, Judas, and Cayrn, what do you believe would happen? Who would be the first to die? Who would be the last standing?”
“Who’s Cayrn?”
“Cayrn is a Keeper who remembers everything she sees and reads.”
“I see. So why do we have to fight?”
“You have a crazed killer and an evil prince who doesn’t mind killing.”
“So it’s an arena?”
“If you want it to be.”
If you want it to be? What kind of an answer was that? “Well, I guess we’d meet up with each other and the more reasonable among us would try to explain the situation to the others. Considering I have a laser weapon, I’m pretty sure I could get us working together temporarily, at least long enough to get off the island and go our separate ways. They didn’t have lasers back then, did they?”
“Valentine may have had access to them but he prefers the bow.”
“I see. Well, assuming it was an arena, or we couldn’t get off, I’d probably try to team up with Cayrn and Valentine for survival’s sake. The lone killers would probably die first because they’d have no one to watch their back if wild animals came in the night. As to the last one standing, it would have to be one of us three, if it wasn’t all of us three. We’d have to trust each other with our lives and be willing to die for the rest to survive.” That would’ve made his strategist professor proud.
“What would you say is your best attribute?”
“My desire for justice, or maybe my care for those I’m responsible for, or maybe my inventiveness.” Daniel smirked. That ought to throw her for a loop.
“What’s your middle name?”
“Vero.” [Author’s note, I hadn’t thought about this before. I was quite tempted to give him an O name, like Orion. His initials would then be DOG. As it is, I’m not sure his middle name is set in stone. I’ll know in the third book.]
“What is your favorite color?”
“The color of the ocean and the color of the desert next to each other.”
“What brings you the most enjoyment?”
How was he supposed to answer that question? He’d have to think about it for it to be any accurate, but there was no way he was going to sit here mulling over it for an hour and prolong this any longer. “I’d say having success in an invention and sharing it with my sister and friends.”
Dr. Sterling gave him a serious look and asked, “Even with all these questions, if the author of them was shoved into shark infested waters by Melgred, would you save her?”
“Of course I’d try.” They must have a really low opinion of him to ask that question. Just because someone may be irritating or do something irritating gave him no right to stand by and watch them die.
The psychiatrist looked at her cup. “It seems I’m out of water. Wait here and I’ll be right back.” She got up, walked to the door then turned. “Would you like anything?”
“A bottle of water would be nice,” Daniel said.
The psychiatrist nodded and left.

Picture drawn by Mirriam Neal. Daniel Grant is third to the right from the left.

Part two is here:

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Staying On Target

I recently joined a summer challenge in order to increase my wordcount as I really need to get this rewrite finished. I posted the wordcount of my current WIP (work in progress), Rise of the Comets. (that’s 21k words, by the way)
I also posted the word count of my other novel which I’m trying to to work on.

A fellow writer saw this and in surprise, asked me how I could stay focused. She writes when inspired. The funny thing is, so do I. I have a ridiculously hard time trying to write when uninspired. So how do I stay on one project? I usually like to switch projects.

I find ways to inspire myself to write in RotC. So I was asked how and promised this blog post.

I have said before in NAF that many small things are inspiring, but those are random inspirations. To get directed inspiration, I have a few things I do.

1, I find a spot in my book that I really like. This is a spot that, if I were a reader, I’d be like, I MUST HAVE MORE! For me, a good spot is my prologue. It’s got good tension between commander and subordinate, bad tension between two old friends, a peak at a major nemesis, emotion, family love, sacrifice, and it leads up to an attack in which the MC of that section is presumed dead.

There are a few other spots in which I find the characters interesting and it makes me want to read and learn more. And if I want to read more, I have to write more. Also, the more I read and learn about them, the more I realize what’s going to happen. Things change in a rewrite, and the plot gets deeper.

2, Find a soundtrack or song I haven’t listened to in a while. As I listen to it, picture a scene. Add my characters. Let the inspiration flow.

3, Find a good book, preferably in the same genre, and read a few chapters of it. Chances are I’ll be so pumped up about the writing that my thoughts will fly to my own characters and their situations and what I can do to enhance it.

When I do think of characters, I have to make sure I concentrate on the characters I want to write on. It’s no good if I think about the other characters. haha

Anyway, that’s all I got…or at least that’s all I can remember. I hope you find this interesting and hope it helps-you know who you are. 😉
To all you other readers, thanks for sticking with me even though I haven’t kept this up well. I hope this can be of assistance to any of you writers out there who have too many characters assaulting you.

For Him!

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Ack! I’m Alive!

yes, I realize I haven’t been posting much, and I apologize for that. Life has been pretty busy lately with school, my job, writing, and various other projects. However, I want to announce something rather exciting! New Authors Fellowship ( has picked me up as a contributor.
This means I’ll be posting a, erm, post once every other week there. So while I do still intend to post here (I’m going to try for once, maybe twice a month), you can also find me over there. 🙂 As an added incentive, I have some interesting pictures of me in my blogs there, so if nothing else, you could check that out. I’ve already made one post there and have another scheduled for sometime in the next three days.
Oh, and yes, I really am alive…at least I think I am. O.o as to my writing, I’m currently rewriting my first novel. for now. 😉

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Interview with Kathy Tyers!!! :D

Nathan: Thanks for taking the time for an interview. 🙂 I’m pretty excited. (Your Firebird trilogy has always been one of my fav books and my fav sci-fi book.)
Kathy: Thank you! I’m excited about this release too, and I’m always honored when someone says that about the Firebird books.
N: How did you go about with your world-building and the history of your worlds? Did you make it up as you needed it, or did you plan it all beforehand? (We don’t hear of the Shuhr until book 2 in Firebird. Did you make up the worship rituals as you went?)
K: I do a bit of both—some of the background was brainstormed before I started writing, but there was plenty that I made up as I went along. You picked a good example: I didn’t think of the Shuhr until I was writing Fusion Fire, but at that point Firebird hadn’t been published, so I was able to retro-write a mention of Shuhr into Firebird before it went to print (in Damalcon Dardy’s first conversation with Ellet). I use a layered approach to writing, and I concentrate on establishing the main characters’ interactions in the first draft. Specific cultural details often come in the second or third or … well, much later drafts.
N: When did the idea for Firebird first come to you?
K: Even though I assume you mean Firebird, the novel, I think you left me some leeway by not italicizing “Firebird”—so let me tell you about my first glimpse of Firebird, the character! I was eight or nine years old when I actually dreamed about her. She was my age, and she could fly (Peter Pan was my first hero. What can I say?). When I rediscovered her as an adult, she still could fly. But it was a little different.
N: What was it like to write another author’s characters in your SW novels?
K: It was oddly like real life. I had to deal with these people as they already were defined. I studied them, trying to understand what made them tick. Then, watching them move through events that I invented meant that sometimes my outlines had to change—because the characters didn’t always cooperate! That’s what my original characters do, too.
N: When you finished Firebird, were you originally planning on writing additional books or not? (and the question in every fan’s head) If you were, why did you wait so long? (yeah, I’m impatient)
K: (Laughing). You bet I wanted to write additional books! The publishing industry is like any other industry, though: it’s profit-driven. Bantam Books didn’t feel that the original two books’ sales were impressive enough to warrant a longer series. Maybe the timing just wasn’t right. The traditional New York publishers are being bought up by international conglomerates, and so if you want to see more books published in any series that you love (or by an author you enjoy), buy those books. Encourage your friends to buy them. Give them as gifts. We’re all stretching our dollars, I understand. And writers are always glad to pick up a new reader via a used bookstore or a borrowed copy … but to the publisher, that’s a “no sale.”
This is an aspect of the business where e-publishing, or niche publishers like Marcher Lord Press, really do stand to help free “writing as an art” from “writing as part of a profit-driven business.”
N: Your universe in Firebird is very believable, not too much description, not too little. How long did it take you to write Firebird?
K: Thank you again! I’ve been told that 90% of the worldbuilding in a writer’s supplementary files won’t show up in the story, but it needs to be invented anyway so the tale will have a sense of reality—so the writer will feel at home in the secondary world. How long? Well, it’s complicated. I started brainstorming Firebird in 1983. I did numerous revisions while marketing it, and it was first published by Bantam Books in 1987. Before Bethany House Publishers brought it out again in 1999, I spent more time rewriting and revising. The annotations for Marcher Lord Press took a few more weeks. Pick an answer!
N: How do you pick the names for your characters?
K: Short answer: I brainstorm. Long answer: It often takes a page or more of ideas before I hit on one that feels right. I prefer a name that’s pronounceable by English-speaking readers. I want it to suit the character (either directly or in an ironic sense). I like it to feel slightly exotic (e.g. “Carradee”), since its unfamiliarity will remind the reader that she lives in a different universe. If I invent a people group, I want their names to be reasonably consistent with each other. I also keep an alphabetical list of character and place names for each book I write, and I try not to re-use the same initial letter too many times. Readers often keep characters straight just by remembering the first letter (did anyone else have trouble keeping “Sauron” and “Saruman” straight on their first time through LOTR?).
N: When you write a book, how do you outline and why?
K: I start with the “big picture” flow of the book and gradually break it down into plot-driving scenes, usually three scenes per chapter. When I travel, I’m a map lover who likes to know where she’s going—but I also appreciate the freedom to go off the map when something else looks interesting. Often, after I’ve written a first draft I realize that a particular stretch of the plot doesn’t feel right. If simply tweaking it doesn’t do the job, I need to chuck it and have something else happen.
N: When writing with other people’s major characters, how did you keep them so similar to the originals? (your SW novels)
K: Again, I dig as deeply as possible into each character’s persona and try to identify his or her essence. For example – my one-word characterization of Luke Skywalker was earnest. He gives himself completely to whatever situation he’s in. Of course, that’s an oversimplification … but it helped me stay on track. In fact, one of my most delightful professional moments came at a planning meeting at Skywalker Ranch: I’d been brought into the outlining process for the New Jedi Order series quite late in the game, and we were discussing the fates of the various characters – the editor, several writers including myself, and Mr. Lucas’s personal assistant, Lucy Autrey Wilson. When someone suggested writing Luke out of the story for a while, I interjected, “No! Luke Skywalker is Star Wars.” Ms. Wilson turned to me and said quietly, “You get it.” Compliments don’t come much sweeter.
N: Of all your books (including the upcoming ones) which character would you most like to set loose in our world?
K: Oh my. Well … a character you haven’t met yet would be my #1 choice, but of course I would also like to meet Brennen face to face. (c:
N: What thing in your worlds would you most like to have in our world?
K: A sanctuary like Hesed House … pastoral, natural, spiritual, rich in history and community.
N: What do you use to stimulate your writing and creativity?
K: Reading within my genre; reading beyond my genre; the discipline of considering my work as work that requires a certain number of hours each day (and Sabbath time off, whatever day it falls on); music. No music when I’m editing—at that point, I need to know it’s the writing that carries the emotional impact—but when I’m writing a rough draft, often a movie soundtrack or some romantic-era classical music (or Celtic folk music) can help me stay on track. It has to be instrumental, so I don’t get distracted by lyrics. I made several notes in The Annotated Firebird about the music that accompanied me when I was writing that trilogy.
N: (You are talking to dozens of writers:) How do you feel one’s faith should be handled when writing?
K: Our faith, as the foundation for our world view, identity, routines, likes and dislikes, sense of responsibility for whatever gifts we posses, etc. has to influence everything we do – the characters we create, the plot lines we show, the language we put on the page, our feelings toward the audience we address … so we need to be mindful all these things and more.
N: What ‘tricks’ do you use to keep your characters different from each other and you? (to get inside their heads, so to speak)
K: In each novel’s supplemental notebook, I create a chart for each character that includes continuity details such as hair and eye color, education, family history, etc. but also plot-driving details such as “what does she want” “what stands in her way” and “how is it going to get worse?” Also, when editing I sometimes read all the way through a work-in-progress while keeping my eye on just one character, trying to make him or her as consistent as possible but changing in ways that drive the story. It’s one of the most complicated tasks in fiction writing.
N: What was your very first concept of Firebird? (first thought or sentence?)
K: That girl who could fly! Later, when I started writing the novel, the first image in my mind was inside her head as a door clanged shut and locked behind her, making her a Federate prisoner.
N: How long did it take you to get published?
K: I started drafting Firebird in 1983. It was published by Bantam Spectra in 1987.
N: Which character in all of the things you have written is most like you, and why?
K: They’re all like me. A character often gets a cluster of “traits that I understand together.” Some of them get clusters that I see in myself and dislike – and by exaggerating those traits and carrying them to their logical extremes, I try to make those people into believable villains. Other characters get clusters of traits that I either like in myself or would like to strengthen in myself. Other characters get mixtures of my traits and other people’s. I don’t think there’s any single character in any of my work that really is me.
N: What are your favorite books/authors and why?
K: Lifetime favorite: Lord of the Rings, for its detailed and convincing worldbuilding and spiritual depth, its Englishness and its rich cast of entertaining characters … and because after all these readings it’s a part of me. More recently, I discovered Lois McMaster Bujold’s Miles Vorkosigan series and followed it breathlessly – for her excellent writing craft, her sense of humor, and her ongoing cast of likeable characters. For the same reasons that I enjoy LMB, I devoured (I just re-read them) the Harry Potter books. Less well known: my favorite apocalyptic novel is Father Elijah by Michael O’Brien.
N: When did you first know you were a writer?
K: When I deleted the first four chapters of the first draft of Firebird. At that moment, I realized I could separate myself from my precious words and reshape the book into something more readable and hopefully more publishable. One disadvantage of the current situation is that it’s easier to get published too soon, before a person’s understanding of the writing craft matures. A good story is vital, but so is learning to write well enough to not distract the reader from that story (distractions can include bad grammar, poor use of viewpoint and other writing skills, etc.). A solid grasp of the craft sucks the readers into that good story and keeps them turning pages. I love it when readers tell me they stayed up all night with one of my books.
N: What’s your favorite instrument in real life?
K: The hammered dulcimer.
N: The most important tip you were ever given as a writer?
K: Use third-person limited point of view. One character’s viewpoint per scene is more like real life than the omniscient viewpoint. That makes it easier to write well than any other point of view. Still not easy, but easier.
N: Christian writers are writing sci-fi and have been for a few years now, but originally it was dominated by the secular market for a very long time. Why do you think that is?
K: Like secular SF, Christian SF needed to mature. Christian themes have been there all along, but during the modernist period, secular SF was dominated by the “consensus future” worldview of Isaac Asimov et al. The idea that people would outgrow our need for God was part of that view—an unrealistic, grandiose hyper-optimism that has been humbled by an increasingly frightening understanding that people are not getting “better and better” but actually are just as greedy and self-centered and violent as ever. The spiritual memoir genre is growing in popularity for this reason, I think: people want to read about how other people have come to grips with the world as they actually find it. They want good stories that have the ring of truth. This—plus the rise of publishers willing to major on speculative fiction from a Christian worldview—has created an opportunity for marketing overtly Christian SF and fantasy.
N: Thank you SO MUCH for taking the time for this! 😀
K: Thank YOU for the opportunity. And here’s a short commercial: There are longer answers to some of these questions in The Annotated Firebird. Also, watch for the next Firebird-universe novel, Wind and Shadow, to be published by Marcher Lord Press later this year.
N: It was my pleasure. Your replies were amazing and very helpful. I will most definitely be watching out for your next book and can’t wait to read The Annotated Firebird. To everyone who is reading this, if you somehow do not know who Miss Kathy Tyers is, or her work, you should check it out right away. 🙂

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Instant Pudding, Instant Oatmeal, Instant Writing?

Hey all, this is something that’s been burdening me for quite a while. Here in America, everything is instant or close to it, and if it isn’t, well then we’re pretty stinking unhappy. For example, you’re driving down the road, minding your own business, when the light ahead of you turns yellow. Maybe you try to rush it, maybe you sigh and slow down, but either way you hit the red light. Now you’re stuck sitting there at a red light, doing nothing. The other way gets a green, and all the cars go through…but they still have a green. Fifteen seconds later, they still have a green for crying out loud! Finally they get a red, and the left turn next to you gets a green, even though there’s no one there. Don’t these lights realize you’re on a mission of great importance?? Where’s the green light?! Now you get a green light, and roar off to the next light. Kinda extreme?
What about speeding? What’s the difference of 5mph over the speed limit anyway? The officers usually won’t tag you for it, so why not go…just a little bit faster? After all, you’re a little behind, and speeding will get you there 30 seconds faster, and those 30 seconds make a huge difference. (The average cruising speed on the Interstate tends to be 5mph over the limit in the middle lane [at least where I’m at or so I’ve noticed]; you don’t want to know about the left lane. The right lane varies too much.)
Ok, what about food? I mean, c’mon, that’s half my title and who doesn’t love food? 😉 We’ve got the examples above, instant pudding, instant oatmeal, really, there isn’t much you can’t find instant or close to it. We tend to get things in mixes, frozen, refrigerated, or those heart-attack favorites of ours that come in paper bags and boxes from the drive thru and those pizza places. ;D Most pizza delivery places have compensation in the way of free food if their delivery time is over 20 minutes since the time of ordering. That’s really not much time. If you sit in the drive thru for more than three minutes, you gotta wonder if someone accidentally dropped all the fries and got rid of the cheese.
Those 5-minute devotions seem highly popular, and most people would choke at thinking of praying for 30 minutes. That’s truly messed up.
We as a nation are highly impatient. We’ve lost the art of true patience I believe. (And I’m not talking as a third party observer here, I’m guilty as much as the rest and probably more.) This leads for some false expectations in every area, I think. There’s the spiritual area, the relationship area, and as this is a writing blog, I’m going to talk about the false expectations in the writing business.

(Sorry about the long introduction. Ok, not really, but hey, I had to test your patience somehow! 😛 😉
Here I’m talking to all of you new and pre-published authors out there. It seems that many of us have this false expectation that the writing process will be pretty easy, and definitely not extremely time consuming, especially not 2 years or so.
Ok, you’ve got a new manuscript, [that’s what the book industry calls those 350-pages of your amazing novel] you’ve just finished writing it and are quite pleased with yourself. And why shouldn’t you be? You just wrote 100,000 pages! For me as a beginning author, I had thought the hard part was over. A good phrase here would be from a new song by the (supposedly Christian) rock band 12 Stones, from their new single “We Are One”… “The only easy day was yesterday.” When I was first writing, I had no idea of all the work involved. Really, this should encourage you. After all, if the only easy day was yesterday, and yesterday was pretty hard, you should have built up the stamina for the next day so that you can grow some more. 😀 Because that’s really what the writing process is. It’s a place to grow, or not, a proving ground.
You see, after you write those hundreds of pages, you have a good amount of work ahead of you. The worst thing you can do here is run off looking for a publisher. (I did that light heartedly and wasted a good year where I could have been improving.) Instead, you should edit your novel. Now that the entire thing is down on paper, write out a plot for it (if you haven’t already) and figure out the important characters and how the other characters affect them. Then, you need to go back and edit. Knock out all those unneeded scenes, and try to make sure everything is tied together quite well. Of course, as a new author, it’s going to be hard to do that effectively.
The truth is, when you first start out writing, you may be sure that you know a good chunk about the art and skill of writing, but in reality, you can always learn. Truthfully, all the stuff you know is probably only a ¼ of what you need to know.
So now what you’ll need to do is find a critique group to critique parts (or maybe, rarely, the whole thing) and point out aspects you need to work on in your writing.
Then, after you edit according to their suggestions, you can worry about starting to find a publisher. There is actually more than one way to get published, believe it or not, and it involves a lot of rejection letters normally.
After you find a publisher, you have to sign the contract and work with them, and let’s not forget promoting your book!

What’s the point? The writing process is a very long process that involves a whole lot of learning. (Thought you left all that back at school? Too bad, boy! That’s one of the biggest scams life has! Life is full of learning and relationships.) That’s not where I’ll end though, cause that’s rather discouraging, which is the total opposite effect of what I want. No, here is where I encourage you! 🙂 You may feel like you’re stuck in the process, or it’s eating you as a midnight snack, but have patience. Publishing a novel can take years. So take heart. Arm yourself better by learning the tools of the trade, critiquing others’ work, working on your own, and of course, reading and writing! 😀

[quick disclaimer: before you refuse to waste another moment and correct me this very second, I do not believe that all people are impatient, just that it seems most of us struggle with that. :P]

This is SciF1Author, signing off. God bless. For Him!

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Ok yall, while this blog is technically about writing, mainly my journey through it, writing excerpts, and lessons learned; I would be messed up if I didn’t include book giveaways, especially by authors I like. SO! Go to the following site and check out how you can get Nightmare’s Edge, the third installment to Bryan Davis’ series, Echoes From the Edge: 🙂

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