Sunday, April 5, 2020

counting blessings



Good things about the pandemic and some things you can do to make the most of it:
  1. Most of the world gets an extended staycation!
  2. Time with family really is a blessing but requires some creativity with kids:
    • play board games, card games, hide and seek, video games, etc.
    • dance
    • sing
    • tell jokes or watch comedy... just LAUGH. Laugh as much as you can.
  3. Time to learn to juggle--I mean literally juggle. Juggling balls are cheap and you can find any number of how-to videos online.
  4. Write that book you always wanted to write.
  5. Along the lines of the above, READ. Catch up on your to-be-read (TBR) pile. Ebooks are great--instant downloads and no chance of contagion, unless you download from torrent or pirate sites. Stick to legitimate, respected retailers.
  6. Connect remotely with family and friends you always intended to contact or didn't contact enough.
  7. Get to know your neighbors (from a distance). How many of us really visit with those in our closest vicinity?
  8. Pray or at least read the Bible. If you have any inkling that God exists, this will uplift you. If you are not a believer, then you'll get some history lessons; the Bible is based on actual history, although whether you believe in the divinity of Jesus or not is up to you. If nothing else, the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John have some great lessons, which is why the apostles called Jesus "teacher".
  9. Learn to slow down and enjoy every moment of life instead of rushing through. Take this time to "smell the roses".
  10. Eat right--cut out the sugar and inflammatory foods. This will help your immune system and overall health, and it may also help you keep off the weight.

We will get through this. Find something that helps you stay positive and remember that, no matter what you think, you are not alone in any suffering but only you can decide whether you're going to let it get the best of you or whether you are going to rise up and overcome it. I've been there; I know. I've prevailed over those demons many times, which is why I'm still here to tell you that YOU CAN DO IT!

Saturday, April 4, 2020

we've all become housecats

One thing I love to do at times when the cats are being cute is take pictures. So, for a Saturday in our third week of staying home, I am sharing pictures of two of our cats, the two boys enjoying the sun near the deck doors. Nobody exemplifies the stay-at-home rules like housecats. We have all become housecats:









Sunday, March 29, 2020

cover reveal - REMNANTS

I've reached 31K words on REMNANTS, or around 3/4 done with the first draft. I've been writing at a good pace for the last week, between 500-1000 words/day. At this rate, I should be done within two weeks (hopefully sooner). I've selected the cover image for it and made a slight modification to the original, as I did with the #3 (Vault of the Celestials) cover image:



Look for Book 7 of this series to be out sometime in the fall. I would like to release it between the end of September and mid-October, but that all depends on writing the next books to stay ahead of the publishing schedule.

For now, be sure to pre-order #6, DISPOSITION OF DREAMS, and catch up on the first 5 books of the Starfire Angels: Forgotten Worlds series:


AVAILABLE NOW:








COMING JULY 9, 2020:


All these and more can be found with purchase links at melanienilles.com.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

social distancing recreation

Most of what I do doesn't demand me to be around people, except to get household necessities like groceries. I write, which is solitary. I work in a small office where most of what I do is online, except for a few tasks that require me to make short visits to the office for an hour or two each week and do the rest at home. (Thank goodness this stuff came after our conference in February!)

And my favorite form of recreation is solitary:





It was a beautiful spring day. Although the snow is mostly gone, the ground is still saturated with water. The surface is drying out, but there is plenty of slippery or muddy footing. Nevertheless, I had a pretty nice day with Buddy out in the middle of nowhere. The closest neighbor is a mile away out here. I love it. He needed the exercise, and I needed the outdoors and horse time.

I ended the day covered in horse hair--full on shedding season now--after trimming hooves or at least the front hooves. Hind hooves can wait; my back can only take so much. One pair of hooves was enough for today. I was also tired after a long ride on Buddy with his little ass friend Jewel running alongside us.

As you can see, I prefer my dressage tack, even when checking cows. Every western saddle, even my special order saddle, is just plain uncomfortable for me. I am henceforth taking the title of Dressage Cowgirl. I can cowgirl in a dressage saddle. Buddy and I managed to help get a cow back into her pen that decided an open gate was an invitation to explore. And it's full-on calving season. So many cute little baby calves--three newborns when we were out riding today, and we didn't even ride through the whole herd.

I can't not take care of my horse. He gets food and water with my sister's horses, but he does need me to take care of other needs, like those hooves. Next up are spring shots.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

the perils of working from home... no different than writing

My thoughts and prayers go out to everyone affected by Covid-19. Whether we are sick or not, we are all in this together, doing our part to slow the spread of the virus. I have parents who are in high risk categories and also a husband who is at risk.

My husband and I are both working from home for our day jobs. I could go into the office, since it's pretty quiet in the building right now, but it's just as easy to save on the driving. Unfortunately, my furry helpers with my writing don't know the difference between me being on the clock for someone else and just being home. Dargo just knows that there's a warm throne for his royal catness. For once, he isn't getting in my way and my hands are free to work.

Except that I paused in my work to take a picture of him hogging my lap.




Thursday, March 19, 2020

update on Forgotten Worlds #7

I am happy to say that the writing is finally going somewhere. This past winter was hard for me. I struggled to write but kept going. It turns out that I needed digestive enzymes. Not having a gallbladder anymore changes things, although not by much, since I was having digestive problems for years before it got so bad that the little sack of... bile (what did you expect me to say?) -- until that finally was removed. I've felt better since, but about nine months after having it removed, something changed and it took a few more months to find that enzymes were the answer. Since then, I have been back to being creative again. The story, and the series is moving forward at a good pace.

Of course, anything can disrupt that. However, coronavirus is not one of those. No, I don't have it. I pray to God it passes over this household. But with work slowing down at my day job, I will be working from home more. Mostly, that means being available to answer emails and any phone calls. The coronavirus has delayed some of my tasks for now. That can mean more time to write. Make the most of it, right?

I've also put one boxed set on sale for 90% off. You can scoop up THE LURIEL CYCLE: THE COMPLETE TRILOGY for only $0.99 now through April 4th, but only on Amazon.

With that done, I've been really inspired to work on Forgotten Worlds and am excited to announce a title:

REMNANTS
(Starfire Angels: Forgotten Worlds Book 7)

That's all I have for now. I will figure out a cover when I'm done writing, unless inspiration hits before then. With luck, I could finish by April 4th. At last! With all the trouble I had starting this one, it will be a huge relief to reach the end. I think this will be a good adventure transitioning from the events of DISPOSITION OF DREAMS and leading into RACING THE ORAST BELT, but rewrites will tell. Yes, I already have the title of #8. I have been eager to write that one since introducing it in THE RULE OF YONDER (book 2).

I hope I can get back on track with the writing schedule I had going. I'm about a month off at this point, but I also have the start of #8 already written, so that gives me a jumpstart for that. Also, situations are getting a little tricker to write as I get into the series, because now I have to keep track of facts and events from more and more adventures. I'm keeping a wiki file on much of the details for reference, but there are things about each book that require me actually going into the book to review on occasion.

As long as coronavirus doesn't get me, I should be able to finish this long series in a few years with a very satisfying conclusion.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

avoid infections and wash your hands, but be sure you do it right!

I'm just passing on some useful information I've found for keeping healthy in general:

1. Don't touch your face.
2. Cough into your elbow, covering your mouth and nose as completely as possible.
3. Every time you shake hands, touch something in public, sneezed, coughed, etc., wash your hands for 20 seconds and be sure to scrub fingertips and knuckles, as well as palms. Using plain soap and water is sufficient, and this twitter thread explains why:
https://twitter.com/PalliThordarson/status/1236549305189597189

CDC tips for hand-washing: https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/when-how-handwashing.html

When scrubbing your hands, there are some right ways to do it. Here's a helpful video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=seA1wbXUQTs



4. Last of all, if you can't wash your hands, scrub with a squirt of hand sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol. Or make your own. There are many home recipes on the internet.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Quarantine Sale!


EBOOK SALE!


Quarantined by Covid-19 and don't know what to do?

Read a book!

For a limited time and only on Amazon, THE LURIEL CYCLE: THE COMPLETE TRILOGY boxed set ebook will be on sale for 90% off the normal price. It is available now for the special price of $0.99 but this price will last only through 4/4/20, when it will return to $9.95.

This boxed set includes all three novels-- AWAKENING, ENLIGHTENMENT, and ETERNAL in one large volume of almost 1000 pages of good versus evil.

If you finish and are still stuck looking for more reading to occupy your time, be sure to check out my other books listed at melanienilles.com. All ebooks (except boxed sets/complete series/combined sets) are priced at $4.99 or less with several FREE and discounted first-in-series books.

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The world of Ahlias has a history of warfare between supernatural beings—daemons and luriel—which have nearly destroyed it at times. But ever since the Scientific Reformation, humans abandoned their beliefs in religious traditions, except for those who continue in secret to avoid persecution by daemon-controlled authorities. The luriel search for the power to end the war, while daemons hunt them down. Legends state that for either side to win, both must be destroyed. For millennia, the humans of Ahlias have been caught in the middle, and now, a mythical power has awakened in one of them. Daemons are relentless, but they have their weaknesses…

Sunday, March 8, 2020

first day back in the saddle

Spring is here. It means I can get back in the saddle. It feels like forever since I sat on my horse, and it has been about six months, half a year, so it's pretty darn close to forever in horseperson years.

I had a nice day with Buddy yesterday. Although the ground was squishy and slippery, I was able to ride at a walk. As is typical for Buddy, he doesn't miss a beat. Six months is the same as six days for him. We were right back where we left off.

He's still a shaggy yeti and the grass isn't growing green yet, but we enjoyed our time together. You can't see the wet ground or hear the squish from every step, but it's there. At least it isn't snow covered anymore.




The Destruction of Walls... ready to go!

After more than I expected for the final round of edits on THE DESTRUCTION OF WALLS, it's finally done. So much better! I had a super clear head with this round and was coming up with new ideas on the spot to tweak the story with clearer directions for some of the characters.

I had been dealing with some mild depression since about the middle of last summer that would come and go with fuzzy headedness and finally found the right supplements to fix some of that. I hate anti-depressants because they just make it harder for me to think, which just makes me more depressed and kills my creativity; they don't actually fix the underlying problem but just mask it. I found the underlying issues and treated those with what I know and am doing much better than I would with any SSRI out there.

Anyway, it's allowed me to think more clearly, sleep more soundly, and write with more ideas, or at least edit... since I figured this all out while editing TDOW. I feel almost like my old self, if only I'd avoid the occasional treat. Sugar and caffeine are not my friends, as much as I'd like them to be :(

But, that's just a warning to others out there. Every situation is different; I've had to spend the last five
years figuring out what supplements helps me in what way, but I can say that for sleep, B6 and NAC (N-Acetyl-Cysteine) at night are the best sleep meds ever... at least for me. And--wow!--does refreshing sleep ever make a difference!

I've come up with better ideas for tweaking the series and made notes for the upcoming books I've planned. I'm a quarter done with the writing stage, which means I have a lot left to write, but it's so much fun. I hope readers enjoy reading it as much as I like writing it. (I've said it before but will say it again, because I'm really excited about it right now.)

So, I just finished final edits on TDOW and have uploaded it. You'll soon have the opportunity to read a sample. This was one exciting story with lots of intrigue and action and revelations. I love figuring out how stuff works, so I also included some technical details. The characters all shine in this at their best. They really came together as a coherent team, at last.

Once I've finished writing the first draft of Starfire Angels: Forgotten Worlds Book 7, I'll list the pre-order for Book 6, Disposition of Dreams. And then I should also have a title for #7 and a cover.

Stay tuned for updates!

Monday, March 2, 2020

almost ready

It's almost there!

I'm finishing up the final edits of The Destruction of Walls so it's available on time.

After getting halfway through writing #7 of this series, I realized how close I was getting to the release date I had set for #5. I had to put the WIP aside to get back to this, but I'm glad I did. I think it will help me to find my footing for #7 a little better.

This series evolves. Through the events that happen to them, the characters evolve. The hard part is knowing what's coming and not getting caught up in that while I'm writing in the present. It's a bit of a struggle at times (as it is writing #7) to stay in the mindset of the present characters. It's also a bit of a struggle to switch the focus to the other characters and let them stand out more rather than focus on the main character. #7 will let the others get out more. I want to give them each the spotlight.

Back to TDoW, you can pre-order now or wait. It will be available March 26, 2020.

Although sworn to protect Nya, L'Ni despises her. However, she won't let his hatred of the An'shel or his lethal skills stop her from confronting him. She'll find a way to break that wall, even if she has to volunteer as his punching bag. She has little else to do while her wings recover from the damage inflicted on Kurtuz.

Or at least she thinks she doesn’t. While the Iludrin has been floating in empty, interstellar space, Shen has been experimenting on the new ship. Those experiments have left them vulnerable, which they discover when two groups of boarders appear on the Iludrin, each with their own nefarious purpose. However, what they discover could offer an opportunity to impede the plans of the Issan, if everyone can work together, especially L'Ni and Nya.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

More ideas for Forgotten Worlds than I can shake a stick at

I finally know now what's been hindering my creativity and will be testing the theory. (Hint: middle age sucks, but balance can be achieved.)

A major burst of creativity today after a small test of my theory (food-based) had me writing a great chapter on #7 and planning a possible second series of Forgotten Worlds, if I want to continue beyond the initial 20-30 books. I had considered it but not nearly as fully as it came today. it would be a season two with its own big climax, even bigger than the first "season".

Or I could just be done after the first, depending on the exact ending I ultimately choose. The climax of this initial series will be exciting and final. However, I can continue if I want. All it requires is  leaving one key question unanswered.

We'll see how this first season goes. #7 was a bugger to get going, but I've added a lot in the last couple of days. I seem to have found my footing with it now. I still can't wait to write #8, but now I know what this transition between #6 and #8 is.

By the time I'm done with all of the Forgotten Worlds, the series will be something extraordinary. If I feel like extending it, I do have that option to make it even bigger than I originally intended. And I thought this first one was exciting enough!

Friday, February 14, 2020

latest progress

It's been a while since I posted, but I'm still here and still working... on many things. I had too many irons in the fire, as the saying goes, or too many balls in the air. Pick your analogy--an old ranching analogy or a juggling analogy. I can relate to both. (Yes, I can juggle, although not that well.)

This is the time of year when I deal with our conference for work. It's a stressful affair for me to get everything ready, although if anyone needs help planning a conference, I can provide it. I do this pretty much all myself, aside from what I coordinate with the venue. I think I've mentioned it before, so I won't go into depth. In any case, it was a factor in my mind not being in focus. Now, the conference is done and I can relax a little before starting over with the planning for next year.


Another issue for me is dairy and too much vitamin D (I don't tolerate supplements, probably because I am out in the sun for long periods in the summer, often sans sunscreen (don't tell my dermatologist!) and probably store up plenty from that). Supplemental D makes me depressed (the opposite of what it's supposed to do!). I love dairy, but when I have it (or supplemental D), I get brain fog for some time after. I'm not giving up cheese or my tea lattes, though. There is no way... unless I get too sensitive :( My tea latte is my only regular indulgence.


And then there's just plain middle age. As a woman in that age, certain changes take place that make it hard to focus at times. It's oh, so lovely (not!).


Time to finish this up and get back to my delicious tea (with half and half and raw, unfiltered local honey--yum!).



For some reason, Forgotten Worlds #7 is just plain being a b***h to write. I know what needs to happen to transition to #8 but the details are not so easy. I am working on it, but the delays will set back my schedule. I will still release The Destruction of Walls on its release date, but the next book in the series, Disposition of Dreams, will be delayed, since I want to stay two books ahead in writing vs. publishing. I had hoped to release #6 in June, but it's looking like it will likely be pushed back into July or possibly August.

On the other hand, if for some reason the writing picks up and zips through parts of the current work in progress and/or the next, I will move up DoD's (not the Department of Defense) release date sooner. I would rather set it later and end up moving it up than the opposite, which would get me into trouble with Amazon and other retailers.


Now that I'm done being snarky throughout this post. I'm going to enjoy my tea latte. You can purchase the same delicious Grandma's Garden loose leaf green tea and many others online from my favorite shop at https://steepme.com/. (I'm not paid to say that, but I love their teas and want to support them.) edit: this time of year, I also recommend the Kick Ur Kold. It works!

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

about the Forgotten Worlds series length

I can see that pre-orders have slowed for book 5 of the Starfire Angels: Forgotten Worlds series. I can only guess as to why, since I feel that IN DARKNESS, LIGHT is a very strong story and a key part of the series.

One of those guesses is that people are worried that the series will go on indefinitely.

Rest assured, that is most definitely NOT the case. I have a whole arc planned for the series with room to spare. I just ask that you have patience and stick with it.

I am planning on four books per year for the next several years, for an expected total of around 24 books, give or take a few. Yes, that's a lot of books, but they are short novels. Each has its own plot that wraps up in each book but that also contributes to the overall arc of the series in at least some small way.

My plan is to allow room for some meandering and lighter stories early in the series while continuing on the main story. Throughout the series, the characters will have room to develop in ways I can't even predict. The closer I get to the end, the tighter and more focused the stories will become in the main plot of the series. I have it outlined so that I know what points I need to hit for it to all come together in a nice wrap up at the end.

So, if this is your reason for not continuing, please be assured that this isn't going to be an always meandering, never-ending quest. I have a plan. It will come to a satisfying conclusion.

Stick with it. The best is yet to come!



Sunday, January 19, 2020

the trials and victories of series writing

So, I've been struggling with writing Starfire Angels: Forgotten Worlds for the last month. I've been writing scenes and scrapping them. Something has been off, partly me (unfocused and foggy) and partly because of that unconscious mind trying to say something is wrong with the plan. The infamous infection of writer's block has been a scourge on me, a blight that I haven't been able to lift.

And then, when I thought I had the story moving forward, albeit at a snail's pace, I realized what I was actually writing was the end of #7 and the beginning of #8. It just occurred to me today while walking on the treadmill and watching an episode of Stargate: Atlantis. Something in that episode of Dr. Weir having to fight nanites who have been trying to make her believe she never went to Atlantis clicked for me.

Disposition of Dreams is very similar in a way, and that's the only hint anyone is getting of the plot at this point, except for the blurb on the front of the cover that is online.


If you look closely, it says "Nya's survival will depend on choosing the right reality." It was an interesting story to write and very appropriate for the series progress. You'll see why this summer.

The problem has been following that up. I am so anxious to skip right to #8, Racing the Orast Belt (or something like that for the title), that I think a part of my mind was trying to skip ahead and write that when I know I should be writing the transition between the two books. What I want to write and what I know I should be writing have been conflicting, like trying to drive a car with one foot on the gas and one on the brake.

Now, while rewatching Stargate: Atlantis, I finally became aware of the conflict that was causing this horrendous case of writer's block. With that knowledge, I think I can go forward on FW7, because it occurred to me what I needed was something else entirely than what I expected. Nya suffered greatly in 6, and 7 needs to reflect that and move her forward in healing. And I was thinking while walking that I wanted to do more with Vel's character development. That with the plot in the Atlantis episode made me realize what the series needed in a way that finally satisfied the unconscious writing mind.

I've moved what I had started for FW7 to be the opening for FW8, so I'm back to a blank page for 7; in other words, starting over (again), but I know now what I need to do. Also, I didn't know how I was going to start 8, and what I was creating under the guise of 7 works brilliantly; the general scenes will remain to get the characters to the races, figuratively and literally. However, it will require some rewriting with whatever I fill in between. I had also written a scene that I felt was more of a closing/transition scene (which are usually characters outside the main cast) and will use that at the end of 7. This will set me back, but it will move the series forward in a better way. I just needed to get that out of my head so I could clear it away for what I really needed to do.

Whew! Writing can be a mess sometimes. I took on this challenge of such a series because I had a vision to write something grand in scale and scope. I knew it would be a challenge, but I thought I had it under control. My muse loves to torment me sometimes.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

bully victims, fight back, but don't become the bully

Bullying is defined as "abuse and mistreatment of someone vulnerable by someone stronger, more powerful, etc. : the actions and behavior of a bully." (Merriam-Webster). Verbally, they use manipulation, lies, put-downs, cold-shoulders, talking behind the victim's back, whining/complaints, belittling, stealing attention, using higher or perceived higher status to get their way, etc. Physically, they shove, punch, steal, take over space, etc. The worst is when they do it with simple body language and don't have to say/write a word. Women tend to use the language methods and men the physical, although both span all forms.

When I was young, I was often the target of bullies, usually boys. I was small, meek, wore glasses (still do), and was a brainy girl who preferred being a tomboy. I had two younger brothers close to my age, so the latter isn't much of a surprise.

I didn't fit into any mold but was who I was. I was always awkward socially, which made me an easy target. On the bus, in school, you name it. Bullies surrounded me from my earliest school days to my last. My parents always told me to ignore them and they would eventually give up interest. The problem was that they never did.

I often cried and I did have suicidal thoughts. Life was hard. But I had my faith and that kept me going. I knew that, even when I went through the stage of puberty when parents are always wrong and don't understand (or at least as teens, we think we know better--life and experience teaches us how wrong we are), that Jesus didn't want me to give up. I will say that that was the only way I kept going.

Not until I started fighting back/standing up against the bullies did I ever see any relief. I had to fight against them time and again, and I gained some confidence as I did, although I was always told that to do so was wrong and I feared getting into trouble. But I'd had enough and was determined not to let the bullies win. Yielding felt like losing to me. Yes, I got into trouble a couple of times. And it seems that kids today who fight back still do--some things never change. However, it doesn't take much for bullies in school to give up and find a new victim to harass once you start standing up against them. They fear losing their power and want an easy target, a victim not a fighter.

You know what? That fighting back made me more confident, if only a little at a time. I didn't give them the power over me that they wanted. Maybe the toughness was started from dealing with two younger brothers who constantly pestered me when we were young, but that was only a start--good ol' sibling rivalry. (Things changed as my brothers matured, but hindsight is 20/20.) And I changed. I had the mental scars, but I also gained resilience for the greater challenges in life that were to come. As for those bullies, once I was out of school, they lost their power. Some might have gone into jobs that gave them power, but that doesn't last for them. The real world is quite an eye-opener.

The point of this is to say you can't see that at the time that things will work out, but if you hang in there, you will be stronger. It feels like the end of the world. Don't give in. Fight back, but beware going too far and becoming that which you despise. Too many people take it too far and become the totalitarians of tomorrow or want to bubble wrap everyone. Neither is the answer.

As a result, we have become a soft society--wanting someone else to fight our fights or to be cushioned from any hardship. I have news for you--LIFE ISN'T EASY. Each person must learn to cope in their own life. No one can live your life for you. Know your strengths and compensate for your weaknesses. Learn to take matters into your hands and stand up for yourself. If you don't start, you'll never develop the strength to get through life.

When we're young, every little thing feels like the end of the world, because we don't have the life experience to compare to what real struggle is. Just wait until you're out on your own, barely making ends meet, struggling with rent and transportation and budgeting for food, gas, clothes, and maybe entertainment while going to school. THAT is a real struggle. You won't know until you've lived through difficulties just how strong you can be. The key is living through it.

It does get better, especially when you learn the right coping skills through experience and training and gain confidence in yourself by confronting the difficulties. Bullies are encountered at every stage of life, and they learn to be more manipulative and subtle in adulthood. I've worked with them, but it was because of my resilience and the scars earned by dealing with them in my youth that I survived them in adulthood. After leaving those jobs, I have encountered them and realized how pathetic they are. There's one thing I've learned at every stage--they are bullies because they are insecure. Pity them and move on. Know that if you can't fight them on fair terms, their ways will eventually get them in trouble and you won't have to sully your reputation or conscience to have that satisfaction.

Being a survivor and overcoming the bullying is your revenge. Don't give in. Fight back when you can without becoming them. Be better and keep your chin up. Bullies are pathetic, insecure people. But BEWARE-- In this age of the internet, people can be shamed online and mobbed for perceived bad behavior, but that is never the answer and there is always more to the story than you may realize (both online and IRL). One who gets online revenge can also be the victim of such acts. And it only taints your conscience by becoming that which is despised. Two wrongs don't make a right, as my grandma always said.

Fight back against bullies, but don't become them. And when you see them later in life, thank them for teaching you to be strong. There's no better revenge than success!

Saturday, January 11, 2020

The science in science fiction, and other world-building considerations

I love science! I've always loved science. But I got my degree in business administration. (There's something you might not have known about me.) Maybe that's why I've always been more drawn to science fiction than fantasy, although I do enjoy that too.

I love logic. I love to know the why's and how's of everything. I get a little high when I figure out a connection that's always consistent. I had a tough time in geometry when I first started learning proofs, but once I got it, the whole world made more sense to me. There are always steps that lead from one thing to another, and that actually works in writing a story too.

There's a certain logic to how things are connected. In world-building, you have to be able to see the broader picture of how things develop and why they are. In my Starfire Angels universe, I had to create a world where beings would develop wings, but more than that, I had to figure out an ecosystem that would make it plausible and lead to the society they have. To make them seem like angels to humans, I had to give them the powers described of angels and a history; that led to the Starfire crystal. Then, I had to figure out why that gave them powers and how those powers worked in very specific ways and where that crystal came from. It was all interlocking. I developed that while writing the young adult beginning of the series, Dark Angel Chronicles.

By the time I started writing the latest stage of this series, Forgotten Worlds, my Inari angels were fully developed, but I have had a LOT of new species to consider. I jumped into the deep end of the species creation pool while writing THE RULE OF YONDER. However, there are even more to come, and don't forget the main species (different races of humans, the Inari, and the Issan). By IN DARKNESS, LIGHT, I reveal the face of the bad guys, the Issan. I knew they had to be particularly tough, but I had to figure out why they were so powerful, and not just for their war machines and purpose. Outside their armor, they are as much of a threat as within it.

In IDL, I introduce a new character that intrigues Nik, the xenobiologist in my group of characters. Because the planet they are on has a lighter gravity, L'Ni's abilities go even further than they might on other worlds with heavier gravities. Lighter gravity also works to Nya's advantage with flight, although she doesn't always make the wisest of decisions. (Nobody is perfect, especially under pressure.) Nik's only explanation is one of biological facts that he understands of humanoid species, yet even he is perplexed by the greater density of tissues of L'Ni's species. He does in the end realize what L'Ni is, but not how he evolved that way.

(I know the answer, but I can't reveal that yet. It will come in time as the characters figure it out. I can't reveal everything up front!)

Language is another area that I know develops with culture and from culture. It is as intertwined as the environment and physical development of species. In fact, all of these are so intertwined that they cannot be separated. I had to figure out a way for all of these species to communicate and considered the many science fiction reasons of other series--translators, babel fish, etc.--and looked at our world. In our real world, we have to learn to communicate through a shared language, usually English, or through translators, although also with computers. In fact, we have computer programs that can translate statements from one language to another, but they need to "learn" the languages. Science fiction allows a little more advancement on this idea, limited only by one's imagination.

In this series, I use both mechanical translators and individuals with language skills to translate. Many of the species who interact with other species learn two or more languages. However, by far, the easiest method is to use one common language for all interactions, so I decided that they had developed the galactic standard trading language, or Standard for short. There are still species (ie Oolans) who have a hard time speaking it or simply can't be understood by many, and not every being has learned it.

Another factor of language development is that there may not be one language for a whole species. I haven't yet had a reason to explore that, but it could come up, just as on Earth we don't have one language but dozens. Also, language changes over time, as Nya has realized with the jewelry piece given to her on Yonder (which will be explained in a future book). The Inari may have been space-faring for a very long time (see CRYSTAL TOMB (Dark Angel Chronicles #3)), but they went through periods of change.

There are nuances to language that also must be kept in mind. I try to create expressions appropriate to the beings of this universe, some shared by those who get around the galaxy and some unique to species or specific groups based on cultural norms. They may not make sense to our real world experiences, but they do to the characters in their setting.

As the story goes on, you'll see a variety of known science touched on, as well as plausible explanations that aren't known science but are a part of this world-building (Starfire crystal and all that it brings to the story, for one). Everything here has a logical, plausible explanation in the setting of this world-building, even if it wouldn't be possible based on what our science understands. It is science "fiction", after all!

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Good bye, old girl

After over fourteen years with our girl (she had just turned two when we adopted her), we had to make a tough decision. In declining health, no longer eating, and feeble in old age of over sixteen years, our old cat gave all the signs of being ready to go. It was quick--within seconds--and painless, except for the stress of the short trip to the vet, but she didn't even fret long about that and seemed to be ready.

Padme through the years:

Camouflage kitty (2005)


Padme and youngest child (2007)

Learning how to train horses

a surrogate mother to Dargo (winter 2010-2011)



Dargo still loves his "mom" (2014)
Suki, Dargo, Padme in the sun 

Padme, Jack, Dargo (left-right) (2017)


Dec 2018



In her final days, this was where she secluded herself while waiting to pass

Most of her life, she loved warm laps, lots of attention, anyone who came in the house, and her kitty housemates. She played surrogate mother to those who came in as kittens, or at least in her early years (not so much by the time we brought in Jack). She was a wild child in her younger days but in later years, just wanted a warm lap and attention. She would purr loudly and shove her nose into your hand for petting.

Her family misses her. The other kitties know something is missing, but they will go on, hopefully in good health for many years.