Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Question of the Week – Go Back in Time

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If you could live in another time period, when would you pick?

Me? You need to ask? The Middle Ages, shortly before the Renaissance.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Weekly Progress Report - Nano done!

Before November started, all I had was a title - Crystal's Magic.

On November 28th, I finished the entire rough draft - all 79,919 words of it.

I'm fairly happy with the story. I know it needs work and editing and smoothing things out, but this is by far the fastest I've completed an entire novel. Hopefully when I read it over again in January (I'm not going to touch it in December), it would be all crap.

Some teasers (a whole bunch since I didn't post an update last week):
           
            The icy tendril of fear wrapped itself around her rapidly beating heart. “Who are you?” she repeated.

            Crystal opened her bedroom window and inhaled a deep breath of the cool, refreshing air. Thousands of stars littered the nighttime sky, and the moon shone like a lighthouse’s beacon. 
           
            “A limo? What do I look like, a million bucks?”
            “No, definitely not.” Crystal covered her mouth to conceal her grin.
            Vince looked down at his T-shirt and jeans. “Next you’ll be wanting me to take dancing lessons.”
           
             She glanced up at the sky, expecting to see clouds but none were there. Only then did she realize that she was crying.
            
             The sudden piercing ring of her phone made Crystal jump. She practically ripped her jean pocket as she scrambled to free her phone. The hope in her heart died when she saw the caller.
          
             "His eyes. I’ll never forget his eyes. They were green, a deep, dark green, and he never looked away from Dad. I never saw the face of fear until that day."
          
             She could almost see the twisted blackness of revenge already living in his heart. To have the added vengeance of the countless witches as well as their power—he would become even more consumed by revenge, the world would become the focal point of his wrath. No matter what, she couldn't allow that to happen.
          
             His eyes were closed, and he looked peaceful, as if he were sleeping.
             If only that was the case.
          
             The Vince she heard in her mind, he sounded broken, lost. As if everything important had been stripped of him, and all he had left were hurts and regrets.
          
             If letting him sleep longer saved him from fear, she was more than willing to wait to be reunited with him.
          
            Doubt and confusion swam in the creature’s eyes. The dark orbs changed into human eyes before becoming animalistic again. The rhino lowered its head again and then brought it up swiftly, gorging Crystal.

            She was losing herself, her emotions, her control, her feelings. She no longer knew who she was, what she was becoming.
            And yet the power within her… she knew that if she gave herself over to it completely, nothing, no one, would be able to stop her.
            Not even herself.

            A sentinel, magical storm… no one would be able to stop it.
            Have I unknowingly doomed the world?

            Tears streamed down her face. Not because of the pain or the growing coldness. She didn’t fear death.

---

How's your Nano story coming along? If you aren't doing Nano, what have you been up to this month?



Check out some other great progress report this week:

http://www.writersally.blogspot.com/
http://jc-martin.com/fighterwriter/
http://waibelworld.blogspot.com
http://susanfieldswriter.blogspot.com
http://skmayhew.blogspot.com/p/tuesday-wip-status.html
http://margoberendsen.blogspot.com
http://www.sherryauger.blogspot.com
http://www.susanoloier.blogspot.com--in/
http://carrieannebrownian.wordpress.com/
http://lynneawest.blogspot.com

Monday, November 28, 2011

Creature of the Week – Questing Beast


Credit for picture
The Questing Beast is one of the mythical creatures mentioned in King Arthur legends.
Credit for picture
The Questing Beast is a hybrid – with the head and neck of a serpent, the body of a leopard, the hind of a lion, and the feet of a stag. It name comes from its bark because it sounds like the barking of twenty hounds on the quest.
Credit for picture
In Sir Thomas Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur, the Questing Beast appears to Arthur after he unknowingly slept with his half-sister, Morgause. Their son, Mordred, eventually kills Arthur. Merlin says that the Questing Beast is the offspring of an incestuous union between a royal brother and sister, like Mordred.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Did you do any work in college? Guest blog from Laurel Gans

College is wasted on college kids. While I was away at school, I had no idea how great I had it. For four years I lived in a tiny bubble where weekends started on Thursdays and the idea of getting up before ten was literally laughed at.  Nobody was over the age of twenty-two and the swipe of a card brought unlimited food. It was awesome.  

The ironic thing is I remember thinking that I was working really hard during college. In my head, I was always in class or a science lab. At home, I was constantly studying physics or writing a Spanish essay.

Somehow, my mind seemed to filter out the two hour dinners I had with my friends every single night and the afternoons we spent sliding down snow-covered stairs in laundry baskets (don’t worry, we wore helmets). Now that I think about it, I didn’t even go to class half the time.

Some days I have to ask myself---Did I do any work in college???

Lucky for me I got to go back to college every day while writing my new novel, Waitlisted. My main character, Kacey Barlow, is a cocky college senior who is having a little bit too much fun as an undergrad.  She’s been kicked out of the grad school her family has been attending for generations. She’s mortified to tell her parents and can’t stand the thought of her friends learning her little secret. She’s forced to jump through every hoop the admissions process has to offer. As if applying once wasn’t bad enough…

Here is a scene in which Kacey attempts to master organic chemistry lab. I wish I could say it’s purely fictional but I have to admit, I wasn’t so honest in my lab reports either. 
 I wash and dry my pathetic, minuscule product. Just as I thought, it turns out to be a fine white powder. Luckily, I’m able to scrape just enough into a tiny tube to take a melting point. I place my little tube in the heating machine and wait for the moment my crystals become a liquid.
The book says these crystals should melt at around thirty degrees Celsius if made right. Well, I made mine pretty much right. It should melt at thirty degrees.
I wait as the temperature continues to rise. Thirty-five…forty…forty-three degrees. What the heck? Are my crystals immune to heat? Why aren’t they melting?
Forty-five…forty-eight…fifty-two. This is ridiculous. My product couldn’t be that messed up! The machine must be wrong.
I yank out my tube and place it in the neighboring machine.
Once again, I stare in amazement as the temperature rises and my product stays a solid. What did I make???
Finally the product melts at an impressive sixty-two degrees. That’s not so off. Is it?
“How’s it going, Kacey?” I hear a deep voice say from behind me.
I turn around and my heart jumps. Oh no! It’s Mean Teaching Assistant #1. And he’s got the clip board! He’ll never check off that I got my product. He’s going to make me start over again and I’ll be stuck here all afternoon.
“Great!” I say.
“Did you get your product?” he says.
He stares at me with serious eyes. It’s like this guy has nothing better to do than harass little undergrads.
“Yup! Perfect white crystals,” I say.
“Did you get your melting point?” he says.
“Yup! Thirty-seven degrees!”
I couldn’t say thirty degrees. That would make it way too obvious that I’m lying. And I, of course, couldn’t say sixty-two degrees. That would make it way too obvious that I’m a moron.
He seems disappointed. “Thirty-seven? Why do you think your melting point is so off?”
Off? He thinks thirty-seven degrees is off? Try sixty-two!
“There are lots of reasons it could be off!” I say.
“Like?”
“Maybe the flask wasn’t clean from the last experiment?”
“It was your flask. You didn’t clean it?” he says.
“No!”
“No, you didn’t?”
“No, I did!”
Gosh, this guy confuses me.
“Then your flask was clean,” he says.
If he says so!
“Well, there are other reasons for an impure product.” I say. “Maybe I measured wrong or the thermometer was off.”
He rolls his eyes. “Those are possibilities.” He doesn’t seem to think those are really possibilities.
“Or maybe…the solutions we used weren’t pure to begin with,” I say.
I seem to have struck a nerve. A little wrinkle forms between his eyes.
“I made those myself. The solutions were fine.”
“Are you sure? Were the flasks you used clean?” I ask. I probably shouldn’t have said that but it was so tempting.
“Of course. I know what I’m doing,” he says.
“I’m sure you do,” I say.
“There’s nothing wrong with the solutions.”
“Well.” I pause. “Then there should be nothing wrong with my product.”
He glares at me for a moment, and I stare back. Finally, he looks down. He takes out a pen from his pocket and makes a check mark next to Barlow, Kacey on the attendance sheet.
“Just try harder next time. People die from impure products.” He turns around and stomps off.
Did he really check me off? That’s amazing! I’m done!
He probably thinks I’m a little crazy now but that’s OK. It works to my advantage! I’m out of here!

Thanks so much for having me as your guest today! You can find more information about Waitlisted at the following links!

You can follow me at http://twitter.com/#!/laurelgans
 ---
Thanks for the great post and excerpt, Laurel! Did you do any work in college? I did, and yet I probably should have done a lot more. Laurel's so right - college is wasted on college kids.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

I'm thankful first and foremost for my family. I love my husband. I would not be the person I am today without him. And I love our two boys. They're both so precious. Son #1 is starting to learn how to write the letters of the alphabet and he's also starting potty training. Son #2 just loves to run and laugh and play.

I'm thankful that all of my pregnancies, including this one, have been relatively easy and that son #3 is healthy.

I'm thankful that although son #2 has severe allergies to milk, eggs, and peanuts, he hasn't had an anaphylactic reaction to any of them (and God willing wont' ever!)

I'm thankful that I'm able to stay home all day with the boys and to be able to get my writing and editing done.

I'm thankful that we have a roof over our heads, clothes on our backs, and food to eat.

I'm thankful to just be alive!

What about you? What are you thankful for? Enjoy lots of turkey and gravy and stuffing!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Question of the Week – TV Shows

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What’s your favorite current TV show? Your favorite show of all times? What other shows do you watch?

Me? I love The Vampire Diaries and it just might be my favorite show of all time although I did really love Lost too. And Once Upon a Time has been awesome so far.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Creature of the Week - Ant-Lion


The ant-lion is a creature that has been in bestiaries for a long time although the creature has evolved over the years.
Credit for picture
At first, the ant-lion was believed to be the offspring of a  male lion and a female ant. The ant-lion had the head of a lion and the body of an ant. Because the ant-lion’s father is a meat-eater and its mother is a vegetarian, the ant-lion perishes soon after birth because no food satisfies both sides of its nature.
Credit for picture
Preposterous, huh? That’s why beliefs about the ant-lion changed. The ‘new’ ant-lion hides in the sand and preys on the other ants like a lion. It is the king of the ants.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Question of the Week - Fantasy Lands

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If you could create a fantasy land, what would it look like? The sky? The land? What would the weather be like? What would your land be called?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Weekly Progress Report - Nanowrimo and some teasers

This month is all about writing. I'm trying to write the complete rough draft of Crystal's Magic this month, which will be around 80K.

As of right now, I'm at 44,115 for the month. As long as the draft doesn't run much over 80K, I should definitely be able to finish it before December.

Some teasers from this past week:

This time, she puckered her lips and kissed back. It was sweet and tender and everything a first kiss should be, even if it really was their second.
Crystal’s heart did somersaults. Had she been the one to save Mrs. Fuller? Or had God?
Did it really matter?

They stood and awkwardly hugged each other. Some of the closeness they’d had last night seemed to have disappeared.

Medicine couldn’t save him.
Because magic had been at work?
Crystal was beginning to think so.
All the more reason not to trust witches.

Her life was her own, and she wasn’t about to let anyone dictate what she would do. And not fear of dying either.

In her heart, she found her feelings toward Vince. She cared for him deeply and knew that one day, she could grow to love him.
Crystal panicked and, without thinking, brought the fire back into her hand. Like a baseball pitcher, she wound up and threw the fire at the door as if it were a ball

---

Also, Deirdra interviewed me on her blog. I would love for you to stop by and check it out!

And for a chance to win a PDF of Champion of Valor, leave a comment here.

---

Are you doing Nano? How's your progress? What have you been up to this past week?



Check out some other great progress report this week:

http://www.writersally.blogspot.com/
http://jc-martin.com/fighterwriter/
http://waibelworld.blogspot.com
http://susanfieldswriter.blogspot.com
http://skmayhew.blogspot.com/p/tuesday-wip-status.html
http://margoberendsen.blogspot.com
http://www.sherryauger.blogspot.com
http://www.susanoloier.blogspot.com--in/
http://carrieannebrownian.wordpress.com/
http://lynneawest.blogspot.com

Monday, November 14, 2011

Creature of the Week - Huldra


Credit for picture
The Huldra is a creature from Scandinavian folklore. She is a wood nymph who guards the forests and the flocks.
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She looks like a beautiful young woman with long hair, from the front. But behind, the huldra is hollow, like a trunk of a tree. She also has a cow or fox tail.
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There have been marriages between huldras and human men. One tale tells of a man who failed to keep their engagement secret after he promised to do so. The huldra beat him with her cow’s tail until he lost his hearing and wits. In another, the huldra’s husband is treating her poorly so she straightens a burning hot horseshoe with her bare hands to remind him of her magical powers.
In “Beauty is Only Fin Deep”, my short story in Mertales, I introduce a creature that is part huldra.

Friday, November 11, 2011

String Bridge Amazon Chart Rush

Today is THE day to help Jessica Bell's debut, STRING BRIDGE, hit
the bestseller list on Amazon, and receive the all-original soundtrack
Melody Hill: On the Other Sidewritten and performed by the author herself, for free!

All you have to do is
purchase the
book today (paperback, or eBook), November 11th, and
then email the receipt to:


jessica.carmen.bell(at)gmail(dot)com

She will then email you a link to download the album at no extra cost!


To purchase the paperback:

To purchase the eBook:

To listen to samples of the soundtrack, visit iTunes.

Rave Reviews for String Bridge:

Jessica Bell’s STRING BRIDGE strummed the fret of my
veins, thrummed my blood into a mad rush, played me taut until the final page, yet with echoes still reverberating. A rhythmic debut with metrical tones of heavied dark, fleeting prisms of light, and finally, a burst of joy—just as with any good song, my hopeful heartbeat kept tempo with Bell’s narrative.
~ Kathryn Magendie, author of Sweetie and Publishing Editor of Rose & Thorn Journal

“Poet and musician Jessica Bell's debut novel String Bridge is a rich exploration of desire, guilt, and the difficult balancing act of the modern woman. The writing is lyrical throughout, seamlessly integrating setting, character and plot in a musical structure that allows the reader to identify with Melody's growing insecurity as her world begins to unravel … String Bridge is a powerful debut from a promising writer, full of music, metaphor, and just a hint of magic.” ~ Magdalena Ball, author of Repulsion Thrust and Sleep Before Evening

Jessica Bell is a brilliant writer of great skill and depth. She doesn't pull back from the difficult scenes, from conflict, pain, intensity. She puts it all out there, no holds barred, no holding back. She knows how to craft a scene, how to develop character, how to create suspense. This is an absolutely brilliant debut novel.
I look forward to reading her next novel, and next and next.” ~ Karen Jones Gowen, author of Farm Girl, Uncut Diamonds and House of Diamonds

Please TWEET and/or FACEBOOK this post using #StringBridge!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Question of the Week – Fantasy Race

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Similar to last week’s question, if you could create an entire new race, what would it be? Would they have magic? What would they look like?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Weekly Progress Report - Nano and crazy goals and picture books

I'm sure most of you know that November is National Novel Writing Month and that www.Nanowrimo.org is a website that links together the crazy writers that try to write a 50K novel in the 30 days of November. I'm one of those crazy writers. If you want to link up as writing buddies, I'm there as Scarlett9284

This is my seventh Nano attempt. I won all of the previous six times I tried. I skipped one year, the November after I gave birth to son #1. I wasn't about to try with a one month old.

Anyhow, despite the craziness with the end of October weather and the power being out, I wasn't going to let anything hold me back. I was doing Nano this year.

This started out well, on pace for 50K for the month. Then day 4 happened and I had a really good writing day.

And I decided that my goal is to not write 50K of a novel in November. I want to write the entire first draft of Crystal's Magic this month. It's a paranormal YA so my aim is to write 80K. The story might end up being a little short (hopefully not longer than that though).

Right now, my word count is 20,730, just about right on pace for reaching 80K on the 30th.

Some teasers from Crystal's Magic:

     Lightning flashed, casting eerie shadows across her path. Thunder roared like an angry lioness. Sleet slashed across her cheeks, mixing with the tears that streamed down her face.

     A woman with long chocolate brown hair and soft brown eyes stared at her, a wide smile on her face. The tall man beside her wore the same smile, his dark hair streaked with a little white on the side.
     Her mom didn’t know Crystal had this picture--a picture of her real mom and dad.


     "But you, you I want to live for today. Promise me that you’ll always live for today, no matter what tomorrow may bring."

     Yes, biologically, Regina was her aunt, but Regina had raised her nearly her whole life. Surely that made her her mom.

     The front door opened.
     Crystal headed toward it. “Hi,” she said, but no one stood in the doorway.


     Years ago, cemeteries had terrified her. Now all she felt was peace, a completeness, as if the cycle of life to death was the natural order, and that whether or not there was life after death didn’t matter.
     Although, of course, she did believe in Heaven.

     The visions of her future—her hair had been longer. Could a simple haircut be a way to ensure the future was changed?

     Why not try it and find out? She certainly didn’t want to die any time soon.

---

In addition to doing Nano, I'm also taking part in PiBoIdMo - picture book idea month where you try to come with with 30 ideas for picture books in the month of November.

I've already come up with 30 ideas. My next step is to outline them and maybe start some, while trying to come up with more ideas.

Are you doing Nano? How's your progress? What have you been up to this past week?


Check out some other great progress report this week:

http://www.writersally.blogspot.com/
http://jc-martin.com/fighterwriter/
http://waibelworld.blogspot.com
http://susanfieldswriter.blogspot.com
http://skmayhew.blogspot.com/p/tuesday-wip-status.html
http://margoberendsen.blogspot.com
http://www.sherryauger.blogspot.com
http://www.susanoloier.blogspot.com--in/
http://carrieannebrownian.wordpress.com/
http://lynneawest.blogspot.com

Monday, November 7, 2011

Creature of the Week - Vetala

Originally I was going to write this creature up for Halloween but the power going out ruined that. So that means that today's creature is the Vetala.

Credit for picture
The Vetala is the Hindu version of the vampire.  It is a vampire-like spirit that haunts cemeteries and inhabits corpse in order to move around. It has to animate the dead in order to attack the living. In that way, it is almost a zombie/vampire.

Vetalas supposed cause madness and miscarriages and have been known to kill children. They live in the realm between life and death and so are about to see the past, present, and the future. Because of this, magicians try to enslave them.

Ordinary people can ward off an attack by chanting prayers.
Credit for picture
According to legend, an ancient sorcerer asked King Vikramaditya to capture a vetala that lived in a tree near the kingdom’s cremation grounds. Why the sorcerer didn’t do it himself is beyond me. Anyhow, the king had to remain silent in order to capture the vetala. But whenever he succeeded, the vetala told the king a magical story that ended in a question. The king was always compelled to answer. When he spoke, the vetala was able to escape.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Thankful for... Anne



The awesome Beth Revis is having an awesome contest. Check out all the details here but just know that the grand prize is 19 awesome signed book!

To enter, you have to write a blog post about a book you're thankful for.

I'm thankful for Anne of Green Gables.
Anne of Green Gables was the first book I reread and reread and reread. I can't tell you how many times I've read that book over the years. It's the book that increased both my love of reading and my love of writing.

Anne is the best heroine a girl can have growing up. She gets into trouble but learns from her mistakes, she's smart and loyal and true. She would do anything for a friend.

What book are you thankful for?

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Question of the Week – Mythical Creatures and Winners!


Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos

This week's question concerns mythical creatures. A lot of the creatures within medieval bestuaries are combinations of other creatures – like the centaur (part man, part horse), the mermaid (part woman, part fish), and the hippocampus (part horse, part dolphin).

If you could create a mythical creature, what would it be? What would you call it? What would be special about it?

For my non-nano WIP, I created a new creature called the Bloody Black Hound. It’s a huge black dog with fiery eyes (if you look into its eyes, you’ll see the souls burning in Hell) that eats humans to capture their souls. Not a nice creature, by any means.

And now for the winners of my Spooktucular giveaway!
The grand prize winner of the first four ebooks in my What You See is What You Get series (Seeing for the First Time, To See, Or Not To See, and A Sight for Sore Fangs) is...

Roxy Kade!

The second place winner who wins an ebook of Seeing For the First Time and To See is...

Lora1967!

And three runner up winners of an ebook of Seeing For the First Time are...

Ashlyn_Jai
Krysykat
and
~April~!

Congrats to all the winners! I'll be emailing you shortly.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Stupid Snow

I live in Pennsylvania. Normally we have four distinct seasons but for the past couple of years, fall has been really short. This year, it was nonexistent.

You may have heard about the major snow storm that wiped out the power for a lot of homes. Our power went out at 12:30pm on October 29th. We didn't get it back until late on Halloween night. Which of course meant that we weren't able to take the boys trick or treating even though we had found a place to take them when hubby could have gone with. :( We'll have to go next year.

It wasn't bad enough that the power went out and we lost all of our refrigerator contents and some of our freezer's. Saturday night, the boys and I stayed over at hubby's mom's house. She has a dog. Son #2 is very allergic to dogs and broke out with eczema and vomited. Not fun.

Hubby had left for an overnight trip with some friends to see a Lehigh game. He left extremely early on the 28th and came back around 2pm on the 30th, so I had to deal with Son #2 and trying to get him better by myself. Needless to say, he and I didn't sleep well, but at least Son #1 did.

Sunday we (hubby included) stayed at hubby's dad's house. Son #2 got a little better since he was away from the dog. Hubby's dad watched the boys so we could go to Philly for the Eagles-Cowboys game (Awesomest birthday present ever!). All four of us spent that night and Monday during the day at hubby's dad's. Hubby had taken off on Monday because of the game which was just as well because he probably would have called out if he hadn't already.

Since hubby had to work on Tuesday, he drove the boys and I out to my parent's house, where we would stay until the power came back on because PP&L's website was saying that we might not get power back until Friday morning. After hubby dropped us off, he went to the house to see if the power was back on since a lot of our street how power. Our house still didn't but it must have come back on about an hour after he checked, from the time on the stove.

After hubby's work day on Tuesday, he came and picked us up. Let me say that there's nothing like sleeping on your own bed! Both of the boys have been sleep deprived since they hardly ever nap away from home, and Son #2 had been dehydrated at one point. Both have bounced back and are happy to be home.

So that's why I haven't blogged this week. I was working on my blog posts for this week when the power went out. I had a spookier creature picked out for Halloween and everything.  Oh well, maybe I'll post it on the 7th.

Tomorrow, I'll post the Question of the Week and announce the winner of my Spooktacular contest!

I hope your Halloween was a lot better than mine!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Guest blog with Susan Kaye Quinn - Inventing the Future: Mindreading

Inventing the Future: Mindreading

by Susan Kaye Quinn, author of Open Minds (Book One of the Mindjack Trilogy)
picture credit
One of my favorite things about writing is research. Coming from the ex-NASA engineer/scientist, I suppose that’s not much of a shock. But I really like exploring all the features of the worlds I dream up in my novels.

My paranormal/SF novel Open Minds (Book One of the Mindjack Trilogy) takes place in a future world where everything is the same … except that now everyone reads minds. In the story world, it started out as a few kids who reached puberty and then suddenly could read minds. But it quickly spread until literally the entire world had changed into mindreaders.

One of the first things I constructed for this future world, was its past. I believe that the best worldbuilding is dynamic: it has a past, a present, and a future. The story may take place in the present, but it’s just a snapshot of the evolution of this world—one story of many that could take place in it. In fact, that DO take place in it, although off camera and in ways that only tangentially affect the novel.

Having those details is what makes the story come alive.

As any society evolves, they bring some of the traditions of the past with them, while creating new traditions to fit the changes. For a mindreading world, I imagined there would be a significant ceremony that marks the change (which usually happens around age 12, and denotes the entrée of a non-mindreading child into the adult world of mindreaders). Societies have long had a tradition of marking adolescence with some kind of ceremony, although that’s faded somewhat in recent times (at least in the U.S.). Perhaps getting your driver’s license is the “coming of age” ritual in America today, but in the future world of Open Minds, a child’s “Change Party” is the big milestone (one that Kira, the non-mindreading zero, will never have). Change Parties only get a passing mention in the final book, but in an earlier draft, the description went something like this:

Trina changed with that first wave in eighth grade. When her new mindreading ability stopped flipping on and off, I went to her change party and watched her run off with the other changelings for some secret rite that only mindreaders knew. I waited patiently for my turn to change, while one by one my friends moved on. But when Raf changed, I got desperate. An online site claimed guzzling gallons of water would trigger the change, but I only made myself sick trying.
Nearly everyone changed by the end of freshman year.

In the final version, almost all of that was cut. But I had already created it in my head, and it still informed much of the storytelling, especially Kira’s sense of desperation, and how all the characters had lived through this shift in their relationships.

There were many other aspects of this future world that I explored (with my mind!), some in the early drafts, some later. Some tidbits didn’t get added until the last draft or two. Here are some of my very early notes on building a mindreading world:

Religions spring up that concentrate on only thinking good thoughts.
Would people take drugs to block the sending out of thoughts?
Jury of your peers would be unnecessary - a judge can tell if a person is guilty or innocent.
Are there no stories? No fictions? Fictions are just lies, yes?
What does the school do to help changelings mold their skills?

Everything from architecture to politics to entertainment was touched in some way by mindreading. Other things remained the same, or evolved in a way that had nothing to do with mindreading, but simply because the story takes place nearly 100 years in the future. Things like transportation and financial systems.

Like I said, research is one of my favorite parts of writing, but the story is what really matters. By creating a dynamic, detailed background, Kira’s world became a colorful character in her story of isolation and struggling to fit in. The world pushes and pulls Kira, and she pushes and pulls back. One of my favorite lines in the book (which was there almost from the first draft) is this:

The world and I were at a standoff, waiting for me to change, but the world didn’t care. If I never changed, it would move on and leave me trying to catch up in a race I would never win. 

The worldbuilding isn’t the story. But I am glad I get to play around in Kira’s world some more in Book Two, Closed Hearts.
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See more guest posts about Open Minds at the Virtual Launch Party!

When everyone reads minds, a secret is a dangerous thing to keep.

Sixteen-year-old Kira Moore is a zero, someone who can’t read thoughts or be read by others. Zeros are outcasts who can’t be trusted, leaving her no chance with Raf, a regular mindreader and the best friend she secretly loves. When she accidentally controls Raf’s mind and nearly kills him, Kira tries to hide her frightening new ability from her family and an increasingly suspicious Raf. But lies tangle around her, and she’s dragged deep into a hidden world of mindjackers, where having to mind control everyone she loves is just the beginning of the deadly choices before her.

Open Minds (Book One of the Mindjack Trilogy) by Susan Kaye Quinn is available in e-book (Amazon US (also UK, France and Germany), Barnes & Noble, Smashwords) and print (Amazon, Createspace, also autographed copies available from the author).
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PRIZES! 

Susan Kaye Quinn is giving away an Open Books/Open Minds t-shirt, mug, and some fun wristbands to celebrate the Virtual Launch Party of Open Minds (Book One of the Mindjack Trilogy)! (Check out the prizes here.)

Three ways to enter (you can have multiple entries):
1)      Leave a comment here or at the Virtual Launch Party post
2)      Tweet (with tag #keepingOPENMINDS)

Example: When everyone reads minds, a secret is a dangerous thing to keep. #keepingOPENMINDS @susankayequinn #SF #YA avail NOW http://bit.ly/SKQOpenMinds

Example: Celebrate the launch of OPEN MINDS by @susankayequinn #keepingOPENMINDS #SciFi #paranormal #YA avail NOW http://bit.ly/SKQOpenMinds

3)     Facebook (tag @AuthorSusanKayeQuinn)

Example: Celebrate the launch of paranormal/SF novel OPEN MINDS by @AuthorSusanKayeQuinn for a chance to win Open Books/Open Minds prizes! http://bit.ly/SKQOpenMinds