Monday, 30 September 2013

Catching up with Frances di Plino

A warm welcome to fellow Crooked Cat writer, Frances di Plino (Lorraine Mace), author of the D.I. Paolo Storey series, among many other titles.

She's taken time from her hectic schedule to share some fascinating insights into her writing, her family's past and her future plans:

Frances di Plino is a striking name – very powerful. It looks just right on the cover of a psychological crime thriller. How did it come about? Do you have an Italian connection?

Friday, 27 September 2013

Talking to Tina

This week, meet fellow Crooked Cat writer Tina Burton, author of the delightful Chapters of Life.

Hi, Tina. Welcome to the blog.

I'm guessing you're still celebrating the launch of your book, Chapters of Life. How did it come about?
I'd been in a bookshop, and thought how nice it would be if they had a cafe so people could sit with a coffee whilst reading, and suddenly had this vision of a bookshop with a cafe on the first floor. Then everything else came to me, the characters and setting etc.

Are the quirky characters in Chapters of Life drawn from actual people, or are they, perhaps, composites – or complete fiction?
Well, there's bits of me in Jo who manages the bookshop, and Graham has some of my husband's traits, but all the rest are complete fiction.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Great little city

Bath. A great place. Read in my latest blog visit about how it inspired a macabre mystery, Tomorrow's Anecdote.

I was there in the late 1980s and based all the locations on real places. Even the house the female protagonist lives in was based on our modest Victorian terraced house in Eastville.

Take a look - what a wonderful place.

Thanks to Michela for inviting me - and for coming up with such a great theme.

By Pamela Kelt

Monday, 23 September 2013

Attack of the graphics

How many people have tried their hand at fantasy novels with a ‘quest’ theme? The answer is, I suspect, just about anyone who’s enjoyed Lord of the Rings. That’s a lot of folk.

Some years ago, I began to develop a story set in the icy wastes of the north. It was based on a trip to northern Norway. The story only took off on the third edit, when I tried a different approach. I decided to ditch the traditional fantasy scenario and go for the flavour of a graphic novel.

Not everyone likes graphic novels. Our favourite country pub is owned by a chap, a former graphic artist, who’s lined the walls of the establishment with original front covers of graphic novels from the 1970s. Catwoman, the Incredible Hulk, Superman, The Shadow. Others were more obscure, but the powerful images are filled with exciting promise.

In my view, the figures and backdrops are striking and brilliantly drawn – with obvious good and evil connotations. This made them the perfect inspiration for an adventure story for teens and tweens.

Some say it doesn’t matter what you read, as long as you read something. This sentiment was often quoted to assist teachers hoping to encourage youngsters, especially boys, to read. So, I thought I’d try and create a graphic novel – without pictures.

So, what are the key ingredients to a graphic novel? After some poking around the web, I came up with some ground rules.

Graphic novels require super-human heroes and heroines. I wasn’t about to create new wonder-beings, so I didn’t worry overly about this aspect, although I made sure the characters were strong, with my young heroes achieving staggering feats of endurance against unpleasant villains.
Action is paramount, and descriptions are relegated to a few brief words of scene-setting. This seemed to make sense. The characters jump in, enabling the reader to be there in their imagination. This is just another way of saying ‘show not tell’, I suppose.

Memorable scenes, those staggering set pieces where the imaginary camera takes in the action, are a must for the so-called ‘visual novel’. Instead of describing the lousy weather, I tried to create an image of my stalwart heroes stranded in a snowstorm as a villainous army of mutant creatures moving in. No escape! Duh-duh-duh.

In graphic novels, captions and word balloons are critical. When it came to language, I went for a direct, simple style, as contemporary as possible without being too ‘street’. In every plot twist, someone restates the predicament so less experienced readers know what’s going on.

Obviously, word balloons weren’t feasible (it’s not illustrated), but I tried different routes to express thoughts, such as different punctuation, style, typefaces – although too many exclamation marks weren’t deemed such a great idea by my editor. I have to agree. They looked out of place.

In a sidebar, I once had the oddest translating job. It was to convert the speech in the bubbles of a graphic novel from American English (‘Jeez, bud. You’re so dumb you drive me nuts.’) to British English (Hey, mate. Stop being such a plonker.’) The difficult thing was, we had no access to the graphic artist, so I literally had to make the words fit the space.

Back to Ice Trekker. When I read the stunning The Edge Chronicles, I could hear the forest, the strange animals, the evil armies moving in the undergrowth. I’m not saying I wrote ‘thunk’ every time someone fell off a rock, but a good bit of onomatopoeia works wonders.

Good graphic novels have terrific back-stories, some as powerful as myths. This seemed like fun, so I created a few myths to explain my mythical planet and the creatures upon it. (I put the full version on the blog for anyone who’d care to read it – Such mythology reinforces the moral tone, and I feel younger readers enjoy learning from myths and fables about good and evil, and how the world should work.

Good graphic novels have a tight script, often laced with dark humour. Humour is how people often deal with tension, so I allowed myself a dry comment here and there. Unleavened seriousness can be a bit much. For example, our intrepid heroes are under attack and have to defend themselves, but they don’t have much. The cook pitches in: “I’ve got a few kitchen knives,” said Big Ben, who popped his head up. “And there’s a fair bit of damage you can do with a milk frother if you set your mind to it.”

A vital aspect of the graphic novel is the impact of cinema. I was brought up on books by John Buchan, with pages of worthy descriptions of the lay of the land. Today’s generation sees things from the cameraman’s point of view. Every time I created a new scene, I tried to think of interesting angles, extreme close-ups, panning, long shots, wide or panoramic shots, scenes over the shoulder, a bird's eye view. They’re all worth exploring.

A part of this is the use of landscapes. In graphic novels, landscapes set the mood for the whole novel. It’s time to have some fun – but the characters should interact with it. The aim must be for the reader to ‘see’ the story and its themes rather than realising they’re reading about them. 

Well, now you can decide for yourself. Here’s a short extract of Ice Trekker, due out on MuseItUp in September.

Extract from Ice Trekker

“Hide!” hissed the old sailor, eyes white with fear. He slithered across the icy decking and burrowed into a tangle of fishing nets lying on the dock.

Midge turned his face upward. The navy night sky turned green, laced with purple and orange like oil in water.

“What is it?” he asked, ducking into the doorway of a battered wooden boathouse. A rippling movement swept over his head in a giant tidal wave of light. He held his breath as though he were being sucked under water.

“Skythons!” came the terrified reply. “You gets them in Krønagar. But never seen ’em so big before. Horrible things. Horrible!”

Midge stared upward to watch a shimmering snake-like pattern weave and twist across the sky. The effect of long, rippling muscles struck him as so strange and beautiful that he forgot to feel afraid as he gazed at the shifting colours.

“They mean bad luck,” howled the sailor, arm over his eyes.

Up in the cold sky, colours still shimmered. “Surely it’s just superstitious nonsense?” Midge said, still staring. “They can’t be real. Just a trick of the light.” He couldn’t drag his eyes away from the sight as the shape swooped toward the dark line of mountains, arched up, over, and back toward where he stood on the little jetty. He jolted as he thought he saw a giant violet eye, bloodshot and terrible, staring right at him. It was so close he could see it gleam.

Looking round quickly, he found an old fish head. He scooped it up and flung it as far as he could into the harbour waters where it landed with a loud splash. The purple eye swivelled, following the movement of the bait, and the Skython swerved, changing direction with the ease of a supple salmon, skimming the dark waters. Then it snatched at the water, and zoomed upward, the fish head in its claws, before cresting the distant hills.

Ice Trekker is the companion blog. Orchidmania is for orchid fans.

By Pamela Kelt

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Seeking votes for Dark Interlude

If you've a moment, my video for romantic thriller Dark Interlude is on Yougottareads this month. I'm canvassing for votes among my fellow Muses!

Just go to this link -

Then scroll down below the red and blue voting button until you come to the numbered list. Click on #5 if you'd like to vote for Dark Interlude. You can see the video here -

It's a romantic adventure set after Armistice Day, 1918, when dark forces are at work ... and revolution is in the air.

'A strange death ... a deadly mission ... a city on the brink.
Who says the war is over?'

Voting is open from today, 21 September (my 28th wedding anniversary, by the way) until 27 September.

Thanks so much,

By Pamela Kelt

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Confessions of a fantasy fan

I’ve always loved tales of fantasy, whether in books, movies, comics or television. I'm especially proud of actually writing one myself. Ice Trekker is now out on MuseItYoung.

This is me, gaining inspiration from some Tromsø scenery

I used to share fantasy books with my daughter as she was growing up. I was always at my local library, pouncing on the latest Edge Chronicle or whatever, or rummaging through the boxes of books to be reviewed when I worked in magazines.

Some years ago, I turned my hand to writing myself. I began writing books for adults, but this changed overnight when I was lucky enough to accompany my husband on a work trip to Norway. Guess which part? Tromsø, 200 miles north of the Arctic Circle. What an adventure. It took three flights to get there. We felt like Polar explorers ourselves.

While Rob worked at the University, I went exploring. Tromsø is a beautiful city, laid out on the island of Tromsøya, surrounded by vast mountains. It has a beautiful Arctic cathedral, the most northerly botanic garden in the world – and a picturesque harbour lined with weatherboard buildings. This is where I started and stumbled the quaint Polar Museum (Polarmuseet).

It told of the wild, woolly adventures of Polar explorers and it was like stepping back into the 1920s, with its dusty glass cases, yellowed labels and sepia photographs. My favourites were the scenes with figures of fur-clad wilderness men sitting in a log cabin. And then there was a type of fairground booth. If you looked inside, there were models of biplanes, zeppelins and hot air balloons they used in desperation to rescue missing expeditions. I’m convinced that Philip Pullman visited the same place before he wrote Northern Lights (or The Golden Compass), the first of his Dark Materials trilogy.

My imagination started to tingle when I came across old sea charts, crammed with all manner of strange sea monsters. And then there models of sailing ships, skiffs and assorted coracles. Painted wooden chests, packed with supplies. Astrolabes, binoculars, sextants …

I began to ponder a story about a fantasy land, where a group of adventurers would race against time to save their country.

It all came together when I visited museum number two, Polaria, a totally different experience, with sleek modern displays all about how precious yet fragile the Polar regions are. The highlight was the aquarium, including the ugliest fish I’d ever laid eyes on – the wolf fish – and suddenly I had the two final elements to the story. An eco-challenge, which I thought had an urgent, modern feel … and monsters! Weird, deadly, scary and gigantic.

So that’s where it all started. Muse signed me up late last year. I’ve since written others YA books, mainly inspired by family holidays. Coming soon to Muse is The Cloud Pearl, the first book of a six-part series, Legends of Liria, is based on the stunning scenery of Montenegro. We plan to visit Mexico later this year. I wonder what ideas will spring from there? I can’t wait.

Here’s a short extract from Ice Trekker to whet your appetite. 

Midge, a young Grell from Hinderland, has just landed in Krønagar in search of a job on the king’s vessel, but he’s set upon by thieves …

A distant Aurgel squawked and Midge stirred as a sliver of light touched his eyelids. His head felt heavier than a sack of grain and his body was like a block of ice. He was used to the cosy rooms he shared with family above their shop. Hinderland weather wasn’t  warm, but compared to Krønagar, it was positively tropical. After a night in this frozen place, all his body warmth seemed to have bled into the ground. And he was still hungry. And something smelled really, really bad. He sniffed. His nose hairs quivered. His own body odour could fell an ox. He needed a hot bath.

Groaning, he heaved himself to his feet, but stumbled. The ground seemed to be moving. Those Abominaballs were downright nasty, he thought, feeling dizzy, wondering when the foul eel poison would wear off.

A bell clanged. What time was it? Oh, no! A memory clambered back into his brain. The king’s flagship was due to leave at dawn. He shook his head and looked all around him, before stopping short. There was no sign of his pack, the jetty, the harbour, or even the flagship. Just a lot of surging greyness. He rubbed his eyes and refocused. He was on the deck of a small ship. To judge by the movement, he was at sea.

Midge scanned the scene, his gaze still a little fuzzy. He stood aboard a small vessel with two grubby sails and a funny snub-nosed prow. A stack of crates lay on dark, damp timbers alongside the wheelhouse. A cargo boat, he guessed and groaned aloud as the horrible truth sunk in.

Instead of sailing off to adventure on a fine royal clipper, he had been robbed, and was now stuck on a grubby little tub, in the middle of a freezing cold ocean, heading goodness knew where.

In his mind’s eye, Midge pictured the stately Solvestia, its sails crisp as fresh sheets, slicing the waves as it headed north, its harebell blue flag tugging in the breeze. Beyond, the northern mountains stretched upward, their rounded tops dappled like reindeer with the first winter snow...

Midge dropped to the deck, head in his hands, sick with disappointment. Thanks to those Minax, he’d missed out on his once-in-a-lifetime chance. His ship really had sailed.

Krønagar should have a big unfriendly sign at the border reading “DANGER. ENTER AT OWN RISK.”
It probably did have one once, thought Midge darkly, but someone must have nicked it.


Find about more about Pamela and her books at or visit the Ice Trekker companion website.

By Pamela Kelt

Monday, 16 September 2013

Arctic inspiration

Read how a trip to the Arctic circle inspired teen fantasy Ice Trekker.

A big thanks to fellow Scot Rosemary Gemmell for the chance to appear on her lovely Flights of Imagination blog.

It's on MuseItUp, Amazon, Barnes & Nobles, Smashwords etc. Find the links on the companion blog.

By Pamela Kelt

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Monsters ...

Reader's Entertainment is running a piece on Ice  Trekker - and where all the monsters, myths and mayhem came from.

Take a look.

You might be visited to head north and visit Tromsø yourself.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Ice Trekker launch day!

Ice Trekker, the trusty (make that rusty) cargo ship is on the slipway, just waiting for us to crack the champagne to send her on her way north to Krønagar.

Yes, Ice  Trekker is released today, Friday 13 September, on MuseItUp Publishing. It's my first teen book and I'm thrilled.

A big thanks to my lovely editors Rosalie and Les. It was great fun working with you both.

Thank you, too, to Marion for the dazzling cover. The Northern Lights never looked so tantalising.

Here's the link to the book on the MuseItUp website. Just follow the instructions for whatever e-format you need. It's also on Smashwords.

If you'd care to say hi, join me at the online launch on Facebook here. You're bound to meet someone you know! There'll be chat, more photos and an epic Nordic quiz.

For more info, you can also drop by the companion blog here. Comments welcome!

By Pamela Kelt

Monday, 9 September 2013

Guest visit from top author Rosalie Skinner

Today I'm thrilled to have best-selling science fiction/fantasy author Rosalie Skinner on the blog. Her popular series, Chronicles of Caleath, is taking a new turn. I caught up with her recently ...

Tell us more about your new seafaring series. What inspired you to look to the oceans?
My love of the ocean began during my childhood when I spent weekends at the beach or watching the ocean.When each of my children turned sixteen they were able to take a ten day trip on the Australian training ship, the Young Endeavour. 

The experiences changed their lives, for the better and began my fascination with today’s tall ships.

Living in a harbour town I have had the chance to take a day trip on a tall ship, spend many days aboard sailing vessels whale watching and even explore the replica of the Barque Endeavour.

My son has taken whale watching trips for many years now and it is exhilarating and inspiring to meet these gentle giants ‘up close and personal’. 

The humpbacks migrate along our coast and when they choose to interact it is humbling and incredible.

He also dives with sharks and has shown me another dimension to these amazing creatures. They are not all man-eating savage beasts. The grey nurse shark poses no threat to divers. They accept the divers’ company and get on with their life. Mind you, it is not their feeding time, but they are not aggressive in any way.

Of course I grew up reading sea faring novels, so it seemed natural to try my hand at writing one.

Did you have to do much research? If so, how do you go about it – and does it take over at times?
I love research. As I said, exploring the Barque Endeavour was brilliant. When it stayed in our harbour the council asked for volunteers to be guides. So there was an opportunity to collect a vast amount of research material. 
Gathering information means listening to those who have ‘been there and done that’. I am lucky to have access to people who live and work on the ocean. It helps to have them double check my story for accuracy. 

Research is part of the fun of writing. Even though I write fantasy and science fiction, anything happening in the story needs to be believable and familiar enough for the reader to be comfortable. There is a need to understand and have access to concrete facts before building a fantasy/science fiction world.It is difficult not to want to include in the story everything you learn from research. Knowing how much to share is vital. Giving enough information without being side-tracked from the plot or getting bogged down in fact, is part of the juggling act an author needs to master.I hope I have the managed to keep things on an even keel.

How much planning do you do, especially given that you’re into writing series?
I am not much of a planner. For each story and the overall journey I know where my characters begin, their backgrounds, and what they need to learn and discover to achieve their ultimate goal. During the writing process it often happens that the characters’ reactions guide the story. There are times their responses send the plot on new and interesting twists. As long as they all push toward the growth of the characters and are vital to the plot I let them stay. At least for the first draft. During rewrites and the editing process I am more likely to plan things and cull anything unnecessary.

You generously support many other writers on your blog. Do you get a buzz out of this?
Yes, I get a buzz out of seeing other authors achieve their dreams, share their stories and build their online presence. Being able to help other authors is rewarding. In the world of publishing and ebooks today every writer needs a place to showcase their work, I am happy to offer my blog as a venue. Blogging is fun, but like most activities, it is more fun to do in company than alone. 

The covers for the Chronicles of Caleath are fantastic and very distinctive. How did they come about?
Long story. I have previously self published and was signed up with another publisher before Museitup. During this process I became aware of the need for good quality cover images. With a concept in mind and an idea of what I needed I visited a mediaeval faire. With the help of a fellow writing group member I met Matt. He agreed to be the model for my covers. Enlisting the aid of a photographer and an art director we spent a weekend doing several photo shoots. Matt and the art director had both read the first four books in the Chronicles and with their creative talent and ideas the photographer created a wonderful portfolio. I am forever grateful to Rachel Lewis Photography , Matt, and Lisa for the magic they worked that weekend. With suitable images the Museitup Cover artist continued the magic and created the eight covers.

I see you went to a writing festival recently – and vowed to read more. So, what’s your favourite genre to read?
It is easier to mention what genres I don’t read. I tend to shy away from romance, erotica, and horror. Otherwise I read pretty much anything if it is well written.  Crime, mystery, thrillers, fantasy and science fiction, (of course) historical novels, human interest, travel, biographies, you name it I am keen to read it.

What do you look for in a book?
Off the shelves? A good cover. After that a blurb needs to catch my attention. When reading I am becoming more particular about good writing. Strong characters and good progression through the plot arc are important.

What makes you abandon a book, if anything?
Lots of things will make me put a book down now. Once upon a time I would read from cover to cover and devour everything in my path. Now I am a picky reader. Poor editing, contrived plots, lazy writing and superfluous prose put me off.

What did you do when you got your first book deal? (I went bonkers, I must admit.)
The thrill of being signed up with a publisher does get the heart beating faster and the dreams tumbling over themselves. Bonkers sounds about right. It certainly makes for a good celebration. I remember being on a high for days.

In addition to writing, you edit. Is this rewarding – or something of a slog?
Good question. Rewarding. Without a doubt. One reward is helping polish a great story. With any job you are doing to the best of your ability, there are times when it becomes a slog. Often the grey matter is tested, when trying to fine-tune well-presented manuscripts. The authors I have had the privilege of working with, yourself included, make each manuscript an exciting challenge. I learn so much from working with talented writers while in the process of editing. There is always something new to learn or share.

Did you ever imagine you’d have so many books out and more to come? 
That’s easy. No. It has been an incredible experience to find a publisher who believed in the Chronicles as a complete series.

Any advice for wannabe writers?
Write for the love of writing. Join a critique group and never give up honing your skills as a writer. Do whatever it takes to keep your Muse alive and inspired. Even when not working on a ‘Work In Progress’ write when and wherever you can. It all helps to keep the creative juices flowing. Above all, enjoy what you are doing. 

Great questions, Pam. Thanks for having me on your lovely blog. I have had a wonderful time!

Thanks, Rosalie. It's been a pleasure. It doesn't seem that long ago we worked on Ice Trekker, does it? I really appreciated your tactful advice, especially the fact that you also found the time to highlight elements that you liked - and explained why! It was such a useful experience.

I can't wait to see the new books. I'm sure they'll be a rip-roaring success.

Find out more about Rosalie and her books on her website and blog. Look out Adrift: In Search of Memory and Adrift: The Fragile Sun.

Interview by Pamela Kelt

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Myths and mayhem

Ice Trekker was partly inspired by those great Nordic sagas.

Krønagar is a rugged land with a past steeped in myth, none greater than ...

The Legend of Mount Vulkanen

IN THE LAND of Drasillig lived the Mennir – tall beings, with pale faces, long limbs and a strange language. They were clever and thoughtful, and built great cities all along the coastlines, where they traded and got rich.

But they became lazy and didn’t want to do the hard jobs themselves, so they began to buy slaves, Grells and Minax, from far away. The sturdy Grells toiled in the fields and the slender Minax worked in the grand houses and palaces. They were treated well, but they had no freedom.

The Mennir were fond of them, in their own way. One day, all the Grells and the Minax began to sense something was wrong. The air seemed to quiver, and the ground vibrate. They warned their masters, time and again, but the Mennir just smiled and laughed and carried on eating and drinking wine. They didn’t sense anything at all.

Then, with an almighty roar that shook the stars, Mount Vulkanen exploded. The hot magma from underneath finally broke through and blew off the top. Huge chunks of rock, as big as islands, blew up into the air and down into the sea. The skies darkened, dust fell and the ground heaved. Waves flowed high as mighty towers and washed over the land, destroying all the buildings.

Chaos followed ...

Some say the fires were put out by a great warrior, Tir Thobal, who hitched a lift on a mighty sky lizard, took his bow and arrow and shot down a passing shooting star. A vast boulder of ice landed in the heart of crater, and froze the magma in its tracks. 


Find out more about Ice Trekker and the inspiration behind the story on the companion website.

It's available for pre-order on Smashwords.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Sneak peek at Ice Trekker - out on 13 September

What was the inspiration behind Ice Trekker? I'm guest blogger chez Lady Rosalie, top-selling author of the popular Chronicles of Caleath series.

She was my first editor at MuseItUp, for Ice Trekker as well, and so it's a particular treat to be there. Click here to read the full article.

Meanwhile, to whet your appetite further, here are the opening paragraphs of Ice Trekker. Young Midge has just arrived in Siegfried Harbour, looking for a job ...

Chapter One: Welcome to Krønagar

“Hide!” hissed the old sailor, eyes white with fear. He slithered across the icy decking and burrowed into a tangle of fishing nets lying on the dock.

Midge turned his face upward. The navy night sky turned green, laced with purple and orange like oil in water. “What is it?” he asked, ducking into the doorway of a battered wooden boathouse. A rippling movement swept over his head in a giant tidal wave of light. He held his breath as though he were being sucked under water.

“Skythons!” came the terrified reply. “You gets them in Krønagar. But never seen ’em so big before. Horrible things. Horrible!”

Midge stared upward to watch a shimmering snake-like pattern weave and twist across the sky. The effect of long, rippling muscles struck him as so strange and beautiful that he forgot to feel afraid as he gazed at the shifting colours.

“They mean bad luck,” howled the sailor, arm over his eyes.

Up in the cold sky, colours still shimmered. “Surely it’s just superstitious nonsense?” Midge said, still staring. “They can’t be real. Just a trick of the light.” He couldn’t drag his eyes away from the sight as the shape swooped toward the dark line of mountains, arched up, over, and back toward where he stood on the little jetty. He jolted as he thought he saw a giant violet eye, bloodshot and terrible, staring right at him. 

It was so close he could see it gleam.


Find out more about icy  Krønagar, its myths and monsters, on the companion website here.

Monday, 2 September 2013

Good to meet you… author Margaret Fieland

Welcome to the blog!

To set the ball rolling, can you tell us a little something about yourself?
I'm a computer software engineer by day and a writer and poet by night. I'm a long-time Boston area resident but was born and raised in Manhattan. I moved here just after the blizzard of 1978, thus missing the opportunity to abandon my car in a snow bank and walk home. I live outside of Boston with my spouse and a large number of dogs. Our kids are grown.

I see you’re an avid fan of science fiction. Was there a particular book that got you hooked?
I've been a fan so long, I can't remember. I do recall picking out Robert A. Heinlein's Farmer in the Sky for my tenth birthday. I was already a Heinlein fan at the time.

I'm about to turn 67, so that's a lot of years of reading the genre. I used to haunt the Donnell Library on 55th street as a teen, and read through all of RAH that I could get my hands on as well as Anne McCaffery, Isaac Asimov, Andre Norton, and others.

When did you start writing, and what form did it take? Do you have old notes tucked away in a drawer, somewhere?
I started writing poetry, which I wrote onto those notebooks kids use for school. Most of them are somewhere in the attic, I believe, unless my wife has thrown them out. Any excuse for a poem -- birthdays, holidays, anything. I love to rhyme, and developed my own algorithm for generating them. I still use it, though I do look up words in a rhyming dictionary as well. I find generating them myself is slower, but I consider each word more carefully when I do. If I can't make the rhyme work the way I want it to, I look for another word in the thesaurus.

If I had to pick one I'd choose the thesaurus over the rhyming dictionary in a heartbeat.

Poetry is obviously a big part of your life. How did that come about?
While I wasn't one of those people who always knew they wanted to be a writer, I did write poetry from high school on. I also loved reading it, and memorized a fair amount. I can still recite the first couple of stanzas of Jabberwocky from memory. I could also, at one point, though this is not poetry, remember most of Peter Rabbit.

My father was a close friend of Sammy Silverman, the attorney who won Joe Papp the right to put on free Shakespeare in Central Park. The Silvermans, my parents, my aunt and uncle, were patrons. They contributed money and in return received guaranteed seats to one performance for each play put on. It was quite a perk, as the lines could get very long. I also enjoyed reading Skakespeare, George Bernard Shaw, Lewis Carroll, and many other poets as well. On and on.

Does the muse strike at different times, or can you switch happily from prose to verse?
I have only a certain amount of time to write, but I do write both prose and poetry all the time. I just finished a ten-page narrative poem about a warrior who goes down to Hell to avenge the death of his companions. I wrote it for an online class in mythic structure. I'm still working on revising it, however.

As a mother of three boys, do you find yourself writing for boys, rather than girls? Should there be a difference, in science fiction, or any other genre, for that matter?
I've written three juveniles, Relocated, which came out last year, Geek Games, which is due out in November, and a chapter book due out some time this year. They all feature male main characters. Broken Bonds does as well. So, yes, I am drawn to writing for boys. Most of the juveniles I read as a kid had male main characters, so perhaps that's a piece of it as well.

Take a look at GenderGenie, a piece of software based on research on the difference in word usage between men and women.

At some point, I run all the male POV bits from my book past it, to make sure they sound masculine.

Boys do, as a group, behave differently than girls. They are very physical, and the posturing and one-upsmanship they practice as teens is very up-front. Girls are more covert. Should the books be different? I can't answer that. Are they? Yes, they are.

I love this question! What did you do when you landed your first book deal?
Jumped up and down, then ran to tell my wife. She asked to see the contract {grin}.

Writing is such a solitary occupation. Do you find the exchange of ideas on online author communities a help – or a distraction?!
I always find the exchange of ideas helpful more than I find the whole thing distracting.

I can be easily distracted, but any distraction will do. Checking my email is a favorite obsession of mine.

What do you do for R&R?
Walk our dogs, go to yoga, pull weeds in our garden. Read.

I found the writing resources on your website jolly useful. Have you been collecting them for long?
Yes. I started it as a way to keep track of the sites I found helpful, because I'm not naturally well-organized, and this was a way to keep them all in one place, where I'd be able to find them.

And finally, what about your next project? Sneak peek?
Lots of poetry, plus I'm working on another science fiction novel, one that takes place right after the action of Broken Bonds. The main character is Colonel Rob Walker, the man who arrested Brad, the main character in Broken Bonds. It doesn't have a title yet. At the moment I'm calling it Rob's Book.

I also have a completed version of the poem whose first couple of stanzas appear at the end of Broken Bonds. I'm not done tinkering with it yet, but here are the first two stanzas. Accent is on the second syllable with both names, Barad and Garan.

Ballad of Barad and Garan

Barad strode out one two-moon night
upon dark desert sand.
He kissed Garan upon the lips,
then listened to his  demand:

"The time has come for us to part.
I'm going off to fight
Let us exchange a pledge of  love
before we part tonight."

Blogs:  http://www.margaetfielandcom/relocated/


Sand and mountains, Sunset and Wind-blown sand from Alien Visions (on Pinterest)

Interview by Pamela Kelt