Originally published at Sherry D. Ramsey. You can comment here or there.

The return of the Friday Desk Report! And look at that fabulously almost-symmetrical date.

So, there hasn’t been a Friday Desk Report for a while, mainly because for the past couple of months they all would have read something like, “Tried to work on the novel edits this week in between bouts of feeling utterly depressed with the world. Drowned my sorrows in Guild Wars 2. Also, winter.” I mean, how many times would you want to read that?

But here’s the good news: there’s actually news. I turned in the novel manuscript! I turned in the short story! I edited and submitted another story! So things have really picked up again around the old desk. With luck, it will continue. I have a few new projects pestering me for some attention, and some older ones lined up in the “go back to” queue. Time to open up my year-out project planning spreadsheet and fill in some things for the next few months.

I’ve also been asked to give a WFNS workshop this spring, which is exciting. We’re calling it “Exploring Speculative Fiction,” and I’m looking forward to spending a day talking genre with folks writing and hoping to write specfic stories. So over the next few weeks some of my desk time will be spent putting the workshop together.

I’ve also been busy Saving The World Through Knitting. Well, okay, not *quite* saving the world. But making a small difference. So far I’ve knit ten hats from my yarn stash, which will be sent to an organization that distributes such items to refugees in need. I’m finding it a very useful strategy in coping with stress, distress, and the darkness demons of the winter months. (In the course of this project I’ve also become addicted attached to Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. I expect I’ll be writing some new mysteries this year…)

Originally published at Sherry D. Ramsey. You can comment here or there.

My NaNoWriMo Retrospective continues with a look back at 2003. I came, I wrote, I bought the t-shirt. And I wrote “THE END.”

nanoretro2003This was my second year of NaNoWriMo, and the year I wrote the first draft of One’s Aspect to the Sun. I learned a lot about novel-writing that year, including the fact that sometimes characters you intend to kill off in the second chapter just keep hanging around until you realize they’re not ready to die after all. I also found out how fulfilling it is to reach some semblance of an ending and type those two wonderful words.

I wasn’t certain if this was the year I became a Municipal Liaison, but I’ve just gone and checked my email (yes, I’m an email hoarder, I confess), and this was the year I started. So I’m glad to have that figured out, because I’m never sure when filling out the ML form each year. It didn’t occur to me before this to just go and check those old emails, for which I really have no excuse. As I recall, we were a pretty small group that year, and far-flung across the Island, as we still are, although there are definitely more of us participating now. I remember mailing out pins and possibly stickers to a few participants.

Anyway, this is a big year in the retrospective, because the draft I wrote this year became my first published novel (from Tyche Books) in…wait for it…2013. In November, even! Yes, ten whole years after I wrote that first draft. Now, I wasn’t working on it constantly during those ten years (I wrote a lot of other stuff in there, too), but I did write several drafts. I submitted it to the Atlantic Writing Competition (now Nova Writes) and took second place (which one of the organizers assured me meant that the novel was “publishable”), and rewrote it using the feedback I received from the judges. After a couple more rewrites and submissions, it found its home at Tyche. The beautiful cover art is by the talented Ashley Walters. The book was named “Speculative Fiction Book of the Year” by the Book Publishers of Alberta.

Here’s the blurb, which remained pretty much the same from the time I first wrote it in 2003 until the book came out:

When Luta Paixon, captain of the merchant trader Tane Ikai, looked in the mirror, she saw a woman in her thirties–even though she was actually eighty-two. Luta’s only explanation might lie with the mother who had disappeared over sixty years ago. But even if her mother were still alive, it would be no small task to track her down in the vast, wormhole-ridden expanse of Nearspace. With the ruthless PrimeCorp bent on obtaining Luta’s DNA at any cost, her ninety-year-old husband asking for one last favor, and her estranged daughter locking horns with her at every turn, Luta’s search for answers will take her to the farthest reaches of space–and deep inside her own heart.

Looking back at my spreadsheet from this year, I see that I finished November with a word count of 50,715. On the second day, my note says, “A little worried that I don’t know where I’m going,” but by the end of the first week I seem to have settled into a groove and flown straight on till morning. I actually finished on the 27th, averaging 1878 words per day.

Which year will we visit next? Stay tuned!

Originally published at Sherry D. Ramsey. You can comment here or there.

Cerevare crop

This is Cerevare, but you knew that, right?

If you’ve read Dark Beneath the Moon, you might have noticed references to solanto cookies made by the Lobor historian, Cerevare Brindlepaw, when she’s on the Tane Ikai. They’re described as “…crunchy…brown-sugar-sweet…filled with roga-nut spice from Renata and drizzled with a sweet glaze.”

Sound delectable? Yes, I thought so, too, when I dreamed them up.

(Funny story as an aside: I was invited to attend a book club meeting one time, when they discussed the first Nearspace book, One’s Aspect to the Sun. The only real complaint they had with the book was that there wasn’t enough food in it, because their custom is to make food from whatever book they’re discussing and bring it to that meeting. Ever since, I make sure there’s food in my books. You have to listen to your readers.)

IMG_5025

So back to the cookies. The idea of figuring out the recipe has been simmering (pun intended) in the back of my mind for a while, but recently I felt ready to try it out. Now, unfortunately, I don’t have access to roga-nut spice from the planet Renata, and I suspect you don’t, either. However, the recipe below uses a reasonable facsimile, and these are just about how I imagined Cerevare’s cookies.

(They also appear in the draft of the newest Nearspace book, still under construction. Apparently Cerevare taught Rei how to make them, when I wasn’t looking.)

If you’re feeling like a literary treat today, give them a try! The recipe makes about 18 cookies and should double up just fine if you want a bigger batch.

Cerevare’s Solanto Cookies

Ingredients:
1/2 c. margarine (I like an olive oil type, but any will do.)
1 c. brown sugar, lightly packed
1 large egg
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
pinch of salt
1/4 c. chopped pecans (you could also use walnuts, or leave out the nuts altogether)
Optional glaze: A few tbsp. icing sugar and a bit of milk

IMG_5019

Method:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream margarine and brown sugar until smooth. Mix in the egg and vanilla–don’t over-beat, just combine it all. In a smaller bowl, stir the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt together. Add the dry ingredients to sugar mixture all at once and mix just until everything is incorporated. Dough will be on the soft, wet side. Stir in the nuts.

Shape into balls and place on a cookie sheet. I used a 1-1/2 tbsp. ejecting scoop for this and it made them the perfect size. The cookies will spread out and flatten as they bake so leave lots of room between them on the cookie sheet.

These actually turned out to be a little close. If you don't want them to spread together, space them more than this!

These actually turned out to be a little close. If you don’t want them to spread together, space them more than this!

Bake for 8-10 minutes, until edges have started to look a bit crisp and wrinkly, but center is still soft. They should be a nice golden brown with darker edges. Take them out of the oven and leave them on the cookie sheet for a minute or so, then remove carefully (they’ll still be somewhat soft) to a cooling rack.

They’re delicious with or without the glaze, but Cerevare does glaze them in the book. So if you’re inclined, mix up your icing sugar and milk (a slightly thicker glaze stays on the cookies better) and drizzle it on once the cookies have cooled a bit. (See above picture).

Serve them up with your favorite caff, chai, tea, or other hot drink, whether it be earthly or interstellar.

IMG_5022Let me know if you try them, and how they turn out!

Originally published at Sherry D. Ramsey. You can comment here or there.

stack-of-books-images-k4233733Another week when I was not at my desk very much–it was school book fair week here, so I spent a fair bit of time organizing and manning that. We had a good week and will be putting a lot of new books into the library as a result. The other payoff is seeing the students get so excited about books. Not to mention dropping a certain amount of my own money there…but we won’t talk about that.

When I was at my desk, I was getting files ready for a bundle that will drop next month–it includes a new story from what I like to think of as “the Nearspace files.” That is, it’s set in the Nearspace universe, but prior to the novels. So it gives a little glimpse into the history of Nearspace, while telling a story that stands in its own. You might already have found the other Nearspace stories I have here on the site, but this novella is something new. I’ll post all the details here when the bundle is ready to go, but I’ll just say that my story will be in some exciting company! Oh, all right–I’ll give you a sneak peek at the cover, as well:

RamseyWaitingToFlyCover

…do you like it? Probably in next Friday’s report (or sooner!) I’ll tell you what the story’s about.

So between editing the story, tweaking the cover, setting up the ebook formats, and miscellaneous other related tasks…that was the week. Add in meetings on three of the five weeknights, and it’s no wonder this isn’t a long report!

I do have one other piece of news, though, and it’s that One’s Aspect to the Sun will be part of a new Space Opera box set, also coming in March. Again, I’ll post all details and links as I have them. This is going to be a great deal, so you won’t want to miss out on it!

And I think that’s the report.

 

Originally published at Sherry D. Ramsey. You can comment here or there.

old deskWhat? How can it be Friday again already?

Well, let’s see what I have for the desk report this week. I cooked and ate a lot of food over the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend, and hung out with my family.

I did quite a bit more work on my Nearspace bible in preparation to begin the new novel, and I wrote almost two thousand words of new story notes. While doing some research reading I had a HUGE epiphany about how a lot of things fall into place in this novel, and honestly, when that happens, that’s enough of an accomplishment to make you feel good about the whole week! My brain is now telling me I’m ready to start writing, but I know that’s not true yet. It’s just that my brain gets overexcited about these things sometimes. Calm down. Not long now.

I got a short story rejection and sent out a new submission for that story the same day. Which reminded me of one of my favorite essays from back in the day when Speculations was still a print publication. It was “How Many Times Do You Have To Be Told No?” by James Van Pelt and it made a big impression on me as a new-ish writer (I still have a copy of that issue, so I went and re-read it for fun. It’s just as relevant today as it ever was). The tagline for the article was The sun sets on no rejected manuscript in my house and I have tried hard over the years to make that my creed for submitting stories.

I tweaked my NaNoWriMo guest blog post for Liana Brooks and saw it go live here on Thursday. And I read the page proofs for my story in the upcoming 2016 Young Explorer’s Adventure Guide from Dreaming Robot Press. I’m really excited to read all of the stories in this anthology.

And I discovered two new very nice reviews for One’s Aspect to the Sun over on amazon.

Today I’m talking to some elementary school kids about “being a writer” for a career day project, so I did some prep work for that as well. I’m hoping they’ll have some questions to ask me, too!

Some things I looked up on the Internet this week (not necessarily to do with writing):

I’d call that a good week.

Originally published at Sherry D. Ramsey. You can comment here or there.

my-tools-1239864-639x426So I had this idea to write a sort of weekly roundup/review post, and call it the Friday Desk Report. I envision it as sort of a brief review of the week’s projects, word metrics, links, and anything else notable that happened during the week. As much for myself as for anyone else, I suppose, but it could turn out to be interesting.

Will I be able to keep it up? Only the future will tell. Traditionally, I’m not so good with consistency, but it’s possible I’m improving with age. Come on, it’s possible.

So, what do I have to report? This week I did the most sustained new writing I’ve done since my mom passed away at the end of August. Still not a lot of new words, but it felt good to work like that again. I worked on a short story I’m writing about giant monsters who have laid waste to much of the continent and now threaten my protagonist’s small Nova Scotia farm.

I also worked on a book trailer for The Seventh Crow, and I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. I’m waiting on a couple of images I need to replace some placeholders, and then I’ll be uploading it to share. Should be available sometime next week.

I wrote a book review I’d promised, and drafted a guest blog post I have to turn in by the 15th, so I’m well ahead on that. I also put together a new outline template for Scrivener and began using it to work on The Chaos Assassin, and this morning I sent out a short story submission.

I read far too much on Facebook about the upcoming federal election and decided I need to stop worrying about it and being disappointed in people. It’s far too negative. All I can do now is cast my own vote and encourage others to do so, and hope, hope, hope for better things to come.

NearspaceBibleToday I’m working on my Nearspace series bible, in preparation for NaNoWriMo and the novel I’m planning to work on in November. I already had such a thing but it was NOT well-organized or complete. I found this video from Kami Garcia to be quite inspiring in this regard and look how well it’s coming along!

In other Nearspace news, I also put up another free Nearspace story on this site today, which you can find here. It’s a peek into Nearspace and the first contact story between humans and Lobors, before wormhole travel was possible.

Some cool things from the internet this week:

Okay, I’m impressed. That’s a pretty good report! So back to today’s project…

 

Originally published at Sherry D. Ramsey. You can comment here or there.

I’m thrilled today to reveal the cover for Dark Beneath the Moon, coming in September from Tyche Books. This book is a sequel to One’s Aspect to the Sun, and you’ll find many of the same characters returning to the story. The art is once again by Ashley Walters, who did an amazing job again this time around.

Oh,  you actually want to SEE it? Here you go:

DarkBeneat_front

Ohmigosh, isn’t it amazing? If you’ve read One’s Aspect to the Sun or the free Nearspace story on this site, you’ve heard mention of a wolf-like alien race called “Lobors.” Yes, that’s one of them on the cover with Luta, and she’s pretty important in this story.

What’s the book about? Here’s a glimpse:

Luta Paixon has plenty of trouble on the Tane Ikai, with relationships in flux and the sticky problem of two captains on one ship. But when an alien artifact, the remnant of a long-ago war, shows up on the other side of a newly-discovered wormhole, the crew also find themselves pressed into the service of the Nearspace Protectorate. The Tane Ikai‘s task: covertly deliver an alien historian to the site to decipher its meaning–and possible threat.

 

Jahelia Sord is a woman with a grudge against the world, and against Luta Paixon and her family in particular. She has her own secrets to guard, and an alliance with the notorious PrimeCorp–one she’ll keep only as long as it suits her own hunt for vengeance.

 

When a mysterious attack leaves them stranded in an uncharted new system, Luta, her crew, and Jahelia must try to put their differences aside and decide who to trust, while they uncover a shocking truth about the Chron war and what their old enemies are so afraid of…

 

Dark Beneath the Moon is set to launch this September at CaperCon. I know I’m excited! :)

Originally published at Sherry D. Ramsey. You can comment here or there.

Looks like we’re on track to reveal the cover art for Dark Beneath the Moon…tomorrow! I’m super excited to show you this cover because I simply adore the amazing art by Ashley Walters.

What’s that? You want a sneak peek? Well, okay, just a little one…

DBTMteaseOoh, wow. Who is that? What’s that behind her?

Nope. Can’t tell. Come see tomorrow. :)

Originally published at Sherry D. Ramsey. You can comment here or there.

wbd-web-467x300-enApril 23rd each year marks UNESCO’s World Book and Copyright day. As it’s described on their website, “This is a day to celebrate books as the embodiment of human creativity and the desire to share ideas and knowledge, to inspire understanding and tolerance…our goal is clear – to encourage authors and artists and to ensure that more women and men benefit from literacy and accessible formats, because books are our most powerful forces of poverty eradication and peace building.” So, in the spirit of the day, I thought I’d run a little contest here on the blog.

What you can win: One ebook copy each of One’s Aspect to the Sun and To Unimagined Shores.

How to enter: There are several ways to enter the contest, and you can have multiple entries in my Lucky Basket. Here it is:

luckybasket

Doesn’t it look lucky?

Here’s how to get your entries added:

> Leave a comment below. Just say hi! = 1 entry

> Leave a comment below; say hi and tell me your favorite speculative fiction book or author = 2 entries

> Tweet or retweet about the contest = 1 entry. I’ll even write the tweet for you. Just copy and paste:

Enter @sdramsey ‘s #BookDay contest  by April 23rd for a chance to win free SF/F ebooks (http://tinyurl.com/qgp9hfm) #books #reading #scifi

> Share the contest in any other way; post it to your blog, mention it on Facebook, +1 it on Google, write it on your forearm with magic marker. The comments and tweets I’ll see, but you’ll have to email or message me to tell me about anything else you do. Each share = 1 entry

Rules: You may enter from anywhere in the world. Entries will be hand-written by me on actual pieces of paper and dropped in the Lucky Basket. One winner will be drawn from the entries received by midnight AST on April 23, 2014. Ebooks will be available in the following formats: .epub, .mobi (for Kindle), and .pdf. Winner will have to provide me with a working email address for delivery of their ebooks. Winner agrees to let me post their name or screen/online name so everyone knows that someone actually did win. The decision of the contest administrator (me) is final. I will do my best to record all eligible entries, but will not be responsible for missed, missing, or misplaced entries.

Ready to enter? Go!
 

OATTS cover-sm TUS-front-cover-sm

Originally published at Sherry D. Ramsey. You can comment here or there.

wbd-web-467x300-enApril 23rd each year marks UNESCO’s World Book and Copyright day. As it’s described on their website, “This is a day to celebrate books as the embodiment of human creativity and the desire to share ideas and knowledge, to inspire understanding and tolerance…our goal is clear – to encourage authors and artists and to ensure that more women and men benefit from literacy and accessible formats, because books are our most powerful forces of poverty eradication and peace building.” So, in the spirit of the day, I thought I’d run a little contest here on the blog.

What you can win: One ebook copy each of One’s Aspect to the Sun and To Unimagined Shores.

How to enter: There are several ways to enter the contest, and you can have multiple entries in my Lucky Basket. Here it is:

luckybasket

Doesn’t it look lucky?

Here’s how to get your entries added:

> Leave a comment below. Just say hi! = 1 entry

> Leave a comment below; say hi and tell me your favorite speculative fiction book or author = 2 entries

> Tweet or retweet about the contest = 1 entry. I’ll even write the tweet for you. Just copy and paste:

Enter @sdramsey ‘s #BookDay contest  by April 23rd for a chance to win free SF/F ebooks (http://tinyurl.com/qgp9hfm) #books #reading #scifi

> Share the contest in any other way; post it to your blog, mention it on Facebook, write it on your forearm with magic marker. The comments and tweets I’ll see, but you’ll have to email or message me to tell me about anything else you do. Each share = 1 entry

Rules: You may enter from anywhere in the world. Entries will be hand-written by me on actual pieces of paper and dropped in the Lucky Basket. One winner will be drawn from the entries received by midnight AST on April 23, 2014. Ebooks will be available in the following formats: .epub, .mobi (for Kindle), and .pdf. Winner will have to provide me with a working email address for delivery of their ebooks. Winner agrees to let me post their name or screen/online name so everyone knows that someone actually did win. The decision of the contest administrator (me) is final. I will do my best to record all eligible entries, but will not be responsible for missed, missing, or misplaced entries.

Ready to enter? Go!

 

OATTS cover-sm TUS-front-cover-sm

 

 

 

Originally published at Sherry D. Ramsey. You can comment here or there.

wbd-web-467x300-enApril 23rd each year marks UNESCO’s World Book and Copyright day. As it’s described on their website, “This is a day to celebrate books as the embodiment of human creativity and the desire to share ideas and knowledge, to inspire understanding and tolerance…our goal is clear – to encourage authors and artists and to ensure that more women and men benefit from literacy and accessible formats, because books are our most powerful forces of poverty eradication and peace building.”

So, in the spirit of the day, I thought I’d run a little contest here on the blog.

What you can win: One ebook copy each of One’s Aspect to the Sun and To Unimagined Shores.

How to enter: There are several ways to enter the contest, and you can have multiple entries in my Lucky Basket. Here it is:

luckybasket

Doesn’t it look lucky?

Here’s how to get your entries added:

> Leave a comment below. Just say hi! = 1 entry

> Leave a comment below; say hi and tell me your favorite speculative fiction book or author = 2 entries

> Tweet or retweet about the contest = 1 entry. I’ll even write the tweet for you. Just copy and paste:

Enter @sdramsey ‘s #BookDay contest  by April 23rd for a chance to win free SF/F ebooks (http://tinyurl.com/qgp9hfm) #books #reading #scifi

> Share the contest in any other way; post it to your blog, mention it on Facebook, write it on your forearm with magic marker. The comments and tweets I’ll see, but you’ll have to email or message me to tell me about anything else you do. Each share = 1 entry

Rules: You may enter from anywhere in the world. Entries will be hand-written by me on actual pieces of paper and dropped in the Lucky Basket. One winner will be drawn from the entries received by midnight AST on April 23, 2014. Ebooks will be available in the following formats: .epub, .mobi (for Kindle), and .pdf. Winner will have to provide me with a working email address for delivery of their ebooks. Winner agrees to let me post their name or screen/online name so everyone knows that someone actually did win. The decision of the contest administrator (me) is final. I will do my best to record all eligible entries, but will not be responsible for missed, missing, or misplaced entries.

Ready to enter? Go!

OATTS cover-sm

TUS-front-cover-sm

 

Originally published at Sherry D. Ramsey. You can comment here or there.

the-road-to-your-destiny-by-stealth37-nice-wallpaper-1600x1200In other words, looking back and looking ahead. :)


2013 was a great writing year for me. I started the year by completing revisions on One’s Aspect to the Sun, which then came out from Tyche Books in November. So far it’s been getting wonderful reviews and readers really seem to be enjoying it, which makes me very happy. That was my big news and my big accomplishment, but there were other writing accomplishments, too.


My story, “ePrayer,” came out in Third Person Press’ newest anthology, Grey Area, which also added another notch to my editorial belt. Grey Area was partially funded through our Indiegogo campaign, which was quite an experience in itself–time consuming and sometimes frustrating, but ultimately satisfying. Also with Third Person Press, we read submissions and made final decisions for our next anthology, Flashpoint, so we’ll be moving on to line edits for those stories soon.


I finished a short story for submission to another anthology, and that story became the jumping-off point for my NaNoWriMo effort. NNWM was a win, and although that story is far from finished, I’m pleased with it and will continue to work on it.


I also put two other novels into submission, in March. I’m still waiting to hear on those, and, to tell the truth, I’m getting impatient. Having been through the experience of waiting a long time for a publisher and eventually pulling the manuscript, I’ve vowed not to do that again. That’s a blog post all by itself, though, so I’ll talk more about that another day.


I worked on yet another novel manuscript, which is very close to being finished. I had planned a “novel swap” with a writer friend, but it didn’t come to be. I just couldn’t seem to finish the last few chapters in a way that satisfied me. With luck, he’ll still be willing and we’ll get to that this year, once I wrangle those chapters into shape.


I did preliminary revision work on two other unfinished novel manuscripts, and did some background work on Nearspace, the setting for One’s Aspect to the Sun. Yes, there are more stories to be told in that universe. No, I don’t have any details to share with you yet.


All of which is wonderful but…I could do more.


Once upon a time, I used to start more stories than I finished. Over time, I learned that this was, at least in part, due to starting to write too soon. I’d get an idea and start writing before I had let it “simmer” long enough in my brain. I don’t get along well with outlines, but I’ve learned that I do need to be able to see the structure of the story in my head before I start writing that first scene. That scene usually comes to me full-blown, so it’s very, very tempting to just “get it down” quickly. But as I said, I learned not to give in to that temptation, and finished more stories.


However, I find myself in the position of having a lot of unfinished manuscripts on my hard drive again. I’m not sure what the problem is now; partly trying to juggle too many projects, partly spending too much time on “writerly” things that are not actually writing, partly my propensity to procrastinate. (There, I’ve admitted it!) This time they are mostly novels, as opposed to short stories, thanks to NaNoWriMo, but still…they need to be finished. I came close to finishing that one I mentioned earlier, but didn’t quite make it.


Last year I set just one goal for myself for 2013; I would publish a novel. I’ve decided to make 2014 the Year of Finishing. I’m not saying I won’t start anything new this year, of course, but I really like many of these stories that are languishing only partially complete. I want to go back to them, finish writing them, and make them shine.


I also hope to blog more consistently this year. Last night at our New Year’s celebrations I threw two hopes into the resolution box: more consistency and less procrastinating in my writing life overall. With some luck and determination, they should combine to produce more finished manuscripts in the months to come. Stay tuned and we’ll see what happens from here.


Photo credit: Stealth37

Originally published at Sherry D. Ramsey. You can comment here or there.

Asteroid_Parade_by_wordsmith101.pngSometimes I feel sorry for writers who don’t write science fiction and fantasy. I mean, sure, they often get more respect than we do…but they don’t get to build worlds.

They get to create settings, it’s true. But I’m talking about creating worlds…landscapes, starscapes, races, creatures, plants, languages, natural (and unnatural) laws–the whole thing. And then, once we’re through creating the worlds, we get to play in them. Even better!

There are, admittedly, dangers and traps for the unwary in world-building. Sometimes we get too immersed in that side of the process and build far more than we need for the purposes of the story. The worlds we create require a lot of internal consistency if they’re going to stand up to the scrutiny of editors and readers. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when world-building:

1. Find the balance between simplicity and complexity. Your world needs to have enough complexity to feel realistic and believable, but not so much that you get bogged down in details that don’t matter to the story. If you find yourself trying to decide what species of grass might grow on a hillside that your characters never visit, it might be time to pull back.

2. Do your research. We have access to tons of data on the planets in our solar system and some exo-planets, as well as on stars, nebulae, weather systems, geological patterns and all the other things you might have to consider for your world. Do your homework so you don’t make egregious scientific errors–they’ll call your entire story into question even if you do everything else right. If you want or need to do something extraordinary, make sure there’s some reasonable explanation (that is, reasonable within the context of the story) for why things are the way they are.

3. Be consistent. Yes, these worlds are imaginary, but they still require internal consistency if you want your readers to buy into the tale you’re spinning. If your world has magic, it needs rules, and these rules should be the same at the end of the book as they were at the beginning. If your world has science, make sure it works or that you make it at least plausible. Don’t play fast and loose with your readers’ expectations; give them a world that feels solid beneath their feet.

4. Keep records or notes. You’ve heard of the idea of tv and movie series having a “bible” that contains all the relevant data for the world of the series. It’s wise to do something similar with your own worldbuilding, so that you can easily maintain that necessary consistency. A document like this allows you to check details, note changes or exceptions, and use it as a quick reference when writing or editing. It can also evolve into a place for notes on future stories, conflicts, and the past and future history of your world.

5. Have fun. World-building can be a lot of work, but it’s also a lot of fun. It’s creating a playground that you will populate with characters and conflicts, and that you may keep coming back to as stories emerge from the cloth of this background you’ve woven. Take time to enjoy it. The more fun you have creating it, the more fun your readers will have visiting it…and they’ll want to return.

I spent quite a long time developing the Nearspace universe…although it’s grounded in our own solar system and star systems we know about, there was lots of room for creating and envisioning new planets, races, science, and language. And I do have a Nearspace “bible,” so with a little diligence, it’s easy to keep it consistent as well. I’m sure there are more stories to tell…

Originally published at Sherry D. Ramsey. You can comment here or there.

By now you might already have seen the wonderful cover art for my upcoming novel, One’s Aspect to the Sun. If not, just look to the right of this post. :) Oh, you want to see it even bigger? Click here.

The artist is the talented Ashley Walters, whose lovely portfolio you can find at her site, www.ashleywalters.net. I think she did a fabulous job!

What I really wanted to talk about, though, was the very enjoyable experience I had being involved in the creation of this cover. At the outset, Tyche sent me a very detailed questionnaire to complete, so that I could offer input on my vision of what the cover could/should look like. Of course, there were no guarantees that my vision would guide the creation of the cover. No publisher in his or her right mind would offer that–what if I wanted something totally crazy and inappropriate? But they asked, and it was nice to have the opportunity to think about it and share my thoughts. I knew I wanted a spacescape of some sort–most of the book takes place in deep space, so it only made sense to me to have that represented. Glance right–you can see why I’m pleased. :) And the ship emerging from the wormhole? That’s based on my deckplans for the actual ship in the novel!

In fact though, I’m glad now that not all of my suggestions were followed: I was very apprehensive about having any characters on the cover at all. I’ve seen too many covers with badly-executed characters (drawn, painted, or rendered) that immediately turn me off from reading the book. I voiced those concerns. However, I also provided the requested details about what the characters looked like, so that if the decision was made to put the main character on the cover, she could look as much as possible like I had envisioned her.

Then I sat back and chewed my nails.

I needn’t have worried. Tyche, and the artist, knew what they were doing. As soon as I had my first look at the cover concept I knew that everything was going to be all right. The character–that’s her. That’s Luta, pretty much exactly as I had envisioned her. And I still had numerous opportunities along the way to lend my voice to the project–did I like the concept? The colors? Luta’s face? Her makeup?

The typeface came last, and again I was asked for input. Did I like it? (I loved it.) What about the colour outlining the letters? (We did some experimenting to see what looked best.)

All in all, I felt very involved in the process, and made to feel that my input was valuable. That I had a stake, and a say, in what my novel was going to look like. Which, I know, is definitely not always the way it goes for the author, but is surely the proper way to go about things.

Originally published at Sherry D. Ramsey. You can comment here or there.

Nearspace_hdr3

 

“What’s Nearspace?” I hear you asking.

Nearspace is the future…a future where a dozen solar systems are linked by navigable wormholes, where nanotechnology has extended human lifespans, and where corporations vie for control of planets, star systems, and technology.

It’s the future of my novel One’s Aspect to the Sun, due out from Tyche Books in November, 2013.

Captain Luta Paixon of the far trader Tane Ikai needs to know why she looks like a woman in her thirties–even though she’s actually eighty-four. She isn’t the only one desperate for that information.

The explanation might lie with her geneticist mother, who disappeared over sixty years ago, but even if her mother is still alive, it’s proving to be no small task to track her down in the vast, wormhole-ridden expanse of Nearspace. With the ruthless PrimeCorp bent on obtaining Luta’s DNA at any cost, her ninety-year-old husband asking for one last favor, and her estranged daughter locking horns with her at every turn, Luta’s search for answers will take her to the furthest reaches of space–and deep inside her own heart.

Watch this space for news about the book, background on the world and characters, and short stories that take place in and around Nearspace. It’s going to be fun!

June 2017

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