Finding Inspiration

Experiment Z by Daywish

Books are not just a collection of words on a page. It takes time to birth a story. When I write, I do a lot of research. In addition to reading, annotating, and creating bibliographies on the science in my science fiction novels, I also collect images. For years, I had folders and folders of mood boards for each of my stories. I took photographs of the actual locations mentioned in my books. I made scrapbooks… I love my books illustrated, so I’ve even illustrated some of my books. But for those of you interested in seeing some of my photo research or just simply inspirational images from various artist that matched closely to what I saw in my head as I wrote the stories, I’ve created book boards on Pinterest. I’m not going to give summaries of each story I wrote here, but instead, I will say something of why the images you will see if you follow the links below speak to me and my stories. Enjoy! Suddenly, Paris Suddenly, Paris was my first science fiction book. It was first published in 2009 and then again (after a serious re-edit) in 2015. It deals with several locations that…

Of Food, Fun, Family, and Fiction

Becoming Animals Cards

I’ve stopped eating three times in my life… well, there might have been many other times — food intake is the easiest thing to control when life feels in turmoil — but those three times had very well defined triggers and so are easy to examine, evaluate, judge even. The first, let’s just call it the first for ease of telling, was when I was about ten. There were several schools in Leningrad that served its talented children and required admission process to get in. I’ve gone to a few of those: The Conservatory of Music — I’ve attended that one as a four or five year old, studying piano mostly; The Hermitage School of the Arts — I’ve started that at the same time as the Conservatory of Music; Leningrad School of Music — did time there as well until I rebelled by the end of third grade, if I remember correctly (piano, musical composition, chorus); A small art school not too far from the Hermitage on Fantanka street — for four years, I’ve spent three nights a week there studying drawing, art history, ceramics, watercolors; and it was my favorite even if very far away from home; And…

Searching for the story…

Stain Glass Window

I’m in the middle of two books now — one finished and ready for the fifth round of editing; and one that requires me to finally write an ending. Endings are hard… even when you know how things are going to end. But here’s a few insights from the book I’m finishing right now: God of Small Affairs. (No it’s not the first title I came up with… not even the tenth. Names are hard.) The Beginning I’ve started this particular story thinking it was just a short story, 5000 words max. By the time I got to about 17,000, I knew it was a book. But that was a surprise. This is not a first time a book surprised me into making me write it. The FATOFF Conspiracy was originally a short story too… and Twin Time. Short stories are very different from novel-length works. From the structure point of view, there are fewer characters, no subplots, and a lot less description of the setting and the characters populating the story. A short story simply doesn’t have room for world building… obviously. You grab the story with the first few words and don’t let go or digress for a…

Fall into eBooks

spilling stories

Let me start with a bit of my own personal good news. “Becoming Animals” just won the bronze medal from the Readers Favorite! It’s my third book that won something. So I guess I can now write “award-winning author” next to my name… Woo-hoo? To get this award, I will have to go to Florida and to one of the largest international book fairs. I’ve never been to a book fair before (I’ve been asked several times to go to the Frankfurt Fair, but always turned them down), so I guess this is as good time as any. If any of you are from around there, please come find me! I will need all the support I can get! 2018 Miami Book Fair November 16-18 — these are the dates I will be there! (Making a plunge here…) …and one more thing… look for my short story, “The Soil of my Ancestors,” in the Kyanite Press, a Journal of Speculative Fiction: Winter Digest 2018 – Fables and Fairy Tales, available on December 1st, 2018. This too is my little good news for the day. Thank you everyone! These last few years — the 2016 presidential election season and the Trump’s presidency — have been torturous when…

LEGION: Women of Sci-Fi

Legion Women Authors of SciFi

This month on Instafreebie, a group of women writers organized an ebook giveaway. There are amazing stories in this collection (and even two of mine). I hope you take a look and download a bunch… …and as you do, consider the design of a science fiction book cover! One of the interesting side benefits of these giveaways is the ability to view a bunch of covers all together. What do you see? Which books jump out at you? Can you spot problems with book design? I can — a lot of the typography doesn’t work in this size — too small or too convoluted in font selection, making either the name of the book or the name of the author unreadable. Another problem is color — some covers are too muted and lack contrast to stand out in a group. Others have too much detail and are hard to take in at a glance. First impressions matter — readers (as all humans) take in visual information quickly and make judgments based on emotion first (and then come up with reasoned justifications for those feelings). The job of a book cover designer is to make a good first impression, to allow…

What’s in a Cover?

Coding Peter Suddenly Paris 2 Covers

The design of the cover can make the book… or so I was told. Certainly, bad covers don’t contribute to sales. But good covers are difficult. And the thought on cover design has changed over the years… just like fashion. Since I tend to design my own covers (and I’m an artist and a designer), I wanted to put together some ideas, if not rules, to follow and some background of how to think about book cover design. Because if you don’t do your own, you still need to communicate what you want with the person that does. Book Covers Through Time To appreciate a cover, it helps to understand its roots. I won’t go back far, since my genre is science fiction, just a hundred years or so. Consider the cover evolution of Jules Verne’s “Journey to the Center of the Earth”: There is a movement from frills to realism to a strong graphic look of the more modern editions. While for the 1800’s editions, we might find it difficult to identify the genre of this story, by the time we hit 1960s, there is no doubt that this is a science fiction or fantasy novel. The cover alerts…

Word Magic, narrated by Mariah Avix of 600 Second Saga

cool word

Word Magic is a short story prequel to a larger piece of fiction I’m working on about language and its power to shape the world. I love Mariah’s work — she brings magic to my stories and to those of other writers. Please visit her site and subscribe to her work. In the meantime, enjoy this story and follow along with the text below. Word Magic “But I hate that name!” The boy tried to squirrel away from his teacher. “I didn’t ask for your opinion before assigning it to you, Acolyte Will. Names are bestowed based on a quality of need, not emotional preference.” “But you said the best words fire up emotion–” “Your name will do so… in time. Now, you have to get back to work. How many words have you discovered today, Acolyte Will?” The boy stopped squirming and settled down. He looked excited to share his lexical discoveries; it must have been a productive morning. Seeing the boy’s enthusiasm, the teacher settled down next to him. The boy had real word magic talent. It was true that he was lazy and unpredictable with it yet, but he was only a few years old still. In…