Archive for October 2019

Open Book Blog Hop – 28th October   1 comment

Stevie Turner

This week the topic is:

 We’ve talked about writer’s block.  Have you ever had reader’s block?

I used to love reading as a child.  In school holidays Mum and Dad would go off to work, and I’d curl up on the sofa with a book and would often still be there at 2pm when Mum came home.  I read for the pleasure of it, and always had a stack of books to get through.  Books have always been a source of comfort to me.

However, when I began writing novels in 2013, all this changed.  First of all I preferred to write and not read, even though I knew that I should be reading much more than I was.  Secondly, when I read anything I began to find faults as I went along (it had never occurred to me to do this beforehand) and somehow the pleasure of reading was…

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Posted October 28, 2019 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

Blog Hopping, a different kind of block.   Leave a comment

Posted October 28, 2019 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop

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When Pleasure Becomes Difficult   6 comments

We’ve talked about writer’s block. Have you ever gotten reader’s block?

Rules:

1. Link your blog to this hop.

2. Notify your following that you are participating in this blog hop.

3. Promise to visit/leave a comment on all participants’ blogs.

4. Tweet/or share each person’s blog post. Use #OpenBook when tweeting.

5. Put a banner on your blog that you are participating.

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Defining Terms

Image result for image of reader's block

I’d never heard of “reader’s block” before the question was asked, so, definitions are in order:

  • Readers Block is a phenomenon where a person cannot proceed with a book. They are frequently distracted from the book or after flipping a page realize that they have been reading individual words mechanically without processing and understanding the meaning of the text in their mind. It has been named in sync with Writer’s Block, where a writer suddenly loses interest in writing.
  • Reader’s Block
  • This can happen because:
  • a) You have no interest in the book.
  • b) The book is itself bad and not written to generate interest.
  • c) You are too tired and exhausted to read pretty much anything.

What is Common To Humankind

The answer is – yes. Pretty much everything other human beings have suffered, I have suffered also. I’ve said I don’t believe in writer’s block, but that’s because I’ve never allowed myself to be mugged by it. That doesn’t mean I’ve never experienced the processes behind it, but that I’ve taken control of them and used them to my advantage.

Reader’s block, however ….

I don’t know when I first experienced it, but I do know when I became aware of it for the first time.

In high school, a friend gave me a copy of The Hobbit. For a fantasy and science fiction geek reader, it was right up my alley and I eagerly sat down to read it. I read the first page. I set it down. I didn’t pick it up again until college when someone was raving about The Hobbit and I felt like I couldn’t claim to be a fantasy geek if I didn’t read it. I picked it up and I read maybe a page and a half. I set it down. I didn’t pick it up again until my daughter was a new reader and she begged me to read the story to her.

I read 10 pages to her that night and then she had to go to bed and I finished the book before morning, then read it aloud to her over several nights following.

The Hobbit starts with an info-dump and I struggled to get past it to the meat the story. It kept boring me and that boredom “blocked” me from the story. I didn’t have a teacher (how I got through the info-dump that starts The Tale of Two Cities) or my dad (who expected me to read all the classics) pushing me to keep reading and so, I didn’t — until a seven-year-old pushed me to do it and then I got past the hard part and found a lovely story.

Too Rich for My Blood

But I’ve also blocked on Conceived in Liberty by Murray Rothbard because it just is so historically dense. It’s hard to read big chunks of it because it’s so rich. Reading is an intellectual exercise, and not always an easy one. I’ve never encountered a book that demanded more than my intellect could handle, but I’ve definitely been humbled by an occasional struggle with how smart a writer might be. I am still reading Conceived. It’s just that I’ve learned to take it in small bites.

Life Happens While You’re Reading a Book

When my son was a baby and my daughter was an elementary schooler, time for reading became the constraint. Yeah, there were the frequent “Mommy, will you read this book for me?” moments, but the times to sit down and read a book for pleasure just wasn’t happening. There was about five years there when reading for pleasure was a forlorn hope and writing was squeezed into minutes between life events. I totally don’t regret not having much time to read during those years.

Try a New Genre

Sometimes there’s no explanation but that you’re tired of reading. Frankly, I’d been in a reading slump for a while this summer. I had several books to read and I wasn’t reading any of them. I felt badly about not cracking the spine on Brandon Sanderson’s Oathbringer after I’d longed to read it for over a year. Then a friend suggested something totally outside of my usual interest – a romance. I do occasionally enjoy mysteries or thrillers that have romantic elements, but pure romance where the focus is man meets woman and they fall in love, usually after disliking each other for a while — naw, not my style. I am a skeptic of Happily Ever After, especially for people who have nothing in common but sexual desire. But my friend suggested I read Ghosted because it involves a second-chance romance between a recovering alcoholic and his baby mama who is deeply angry at him. I could feel myself yawning even as I opened the Kindle file, but I truly enjoyed the story — probably because it was more true-to-life than most romances — and that got me back reading other books (almost entirely non-romances — still haven’t changed my opinion on the genre). I realized something from my foray into this genre. Several of the reviews for Ghosted mentioned it was long. For me 450 pages is nothing. I’m a fat fantasy reader. I guess that’s pretty long for a romance (which might be why I keep thinking “nobody falls in love that quickly”). But — wait, maybe that was why I was in a reading slump. Fat fantasies are a commitment. You start it and it will consumer your evenings for a while – days, sometimes weeks. And maybe that’s why I couldn’t start it. I felt overwhelmed by the enormity of the task. After I finished Ghosted, I still wasn’t ready to read Oathbringer.

Revisit an Old Favorite

Rereading an old favorite is one of the best ways to cure the book blahs. When you revisit an old favorite, you remember why you love to read, how a fictional character could resonate so deeply with you, what ingenious word-play exists in the world, and what diabolical drama a writer is capable of concocting. You can reignite your love of reading. After Ghosted got me reading again, I went through several old favorites that have been sitting on my shelves for years and thoroughly enjoyed myself. I then cracked open Oathbringer and finished it in about 10 days.

Downside

The downside of igniting your love of reading when you’re a writer is that you may be inspired to write your next novel. Or is that an upside? Hmmm?

Dead Man Walking Forever Free   Leave a comment

“Forgiven” by Crowder

I’m the one who held the nail
It was cold between my fingertips
I’ve hidden in the garden
I’ve denied You with my very lipsGod, I fall down to my knees
With a hammer in my hand
You look at me, arms openForgiven, forgiven
Child there is freedom from all of it
Say goodbye to every sin
You are forgivenI’ve done things I wish I hadn’t done
I’ve seen things I wish I hadn’t seen
Just the thought of Your amazing grace
And I cry, “Jesus, forgive me!”God, I fall down to my knees
With a hammer in my hand
You look at me, arms openForgiven, forgiven
Child there is freedom from all of it
Say goodbye to every sin
You are forgivenI could’ve been six feet under
I could’ve been lost forever
Yeah I should be in that fire
But now there’s fire inside of me
Here I am a dead man walking
No grave gonna hold God’s people
All the weight of all our evil
Lifted away forever free
Who could believe, who could believe?Forgiven, forgiven
You love me even when I don’t deserve it
Forgiven, I’m Forgiven
Jesus Your blood makes me innocent
So I will say goodbye to every sin
I am forgivenI am forgivenSource: LyricFindSongwriters: Ed Cash / David CrowderForgiven lyrics © Music Services, Inc

Posted October 27, 2019 by aurorawatcherak in Christianity

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#NewRelease   Leave a comment

The world as you knew it is gone. Who is your neighbor?

Isolated amid a crippled country, the people of Emmaus strive to survive through Midwestern grit and ingenuity as winter looms and desperate people threaten the town’s borders. Distant opportunities beckon, food and medicine dwindle, and disease flares. With starvation just around the corner, a time of gathering in begins. Not everyone’s going to live to spring.

Shane Delaney prides himself on his ability to stay cool in troubled times, but he can’t save everyone and now it becomes clear he may not even be able to save himself. 

When the world as you knew it goes off the rails, who would you bring home?

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“Gathering In” Excerpt #6   Leave a comment

The medical center held the priority for fuel, so had lights, kept low to save electricity. The patients all slept. Shane went into the room where Mike slumbered under a heavy dose of sedatives. His temperature still ran high. Shane looked at the blood-tinged pus in the bag hanging beside the bed. The yellow-green color didn’t bode well for his friend’s survival.

God, we could use your help here.

Where did that come from? Driving through a mortar barrage, he found a rudimentary belief in the god he’d so long denied. Shane found it convenient to blame the eternal crap bag for all the evil in the world, but he didn’t expect him to be a cosmic sugar daddy. That kind of delusion belonged to people who thought the meddlesome old man in the long white beard loved them. He knew if his parents’ god was real, he’d lose no love on a monster like Shane. God’s love of monsters stood in the way of Shane even believing in him. Men like King David, with hundreds of deaths on their hands, didn’t deserve heaven.

I deserve death.

Did Mike? Probably a card-carrying member of the asshole in arms did, yeah. Did Alicia deserve to be alone, pregnant and unprotected in a world now spun out of control? All of morality pivoted there for Shane. He knew he deserved death by painful torture, but he also knew that would hurt his parents deeply and the knowledge kept his 9mm in its back holster and not in his mouth. He had to do his best to not hurt himself while they still needed his skills.

#Openbookbloghop – Money or fame, that is the question   Leave a comment

IMG_3124Do you try to be more original, or to deliver to readers what they want?

I have only been writing for three years, so I cannot claim vast experience in the writing and publishing business. I have, however, been a huge reader all my life.

When I looked at this blog hop question, in my mind it immediately boiled down to a basic money question. Publishing is a business that aims to make money. Making money means you have to provide the products that people want. So, what is it that people want?

I think most readers are looking for mental relaxation and entertainment. Modern people are always short of time and overly rushed and busy. They want instant entertainment gratification. They do not necessarily want to dwell on the ills of the world or read three pages describing a river during a storm [think Charles Dickens] or anguish over…

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Posted October 23, 2019 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

“Gathering In” Excerpt #5   Leave a comment

Julian headed off in the direction he’d indicated, carrying two gas cans, the wrecking bar he used for self-defense trailing out the back of his coat like a metal tail, his feet crunching dried leaves.

The empty street of clapboard houses and neat hedges on narrow sidewalks gave Perry the creeps. It felt like one of those horror movies where you find a deserted town and then the zombies climb out of the cellars. He popped the hood and methodically worked his way through the fluids – oil, transmission, brake, steering, and radiator. The truck’s age made windshield wiper fluid unnecessary. They needed to find a gas station with a working air hose. That back left tire looked a little squishy. They needed to get more trade goods. Perry had always been an honest man and it didn’t come naturally to think about stealing, but there might be stuff in these houses they could exchange for what they needed. Joseph had enormous resources that he couldn’t access in the current circumstances, but surely Ren Sullivan’s fortune didn’t go poof when the electrical grid fried. He’d have to talk to Joseph when he and Katharine came back.

He heard a scrape of a sole on pavement a split second before he felt the barrel of a gun in his right kidney.

“Don’t move! Hand over your keys.”

Posted October 23, 2019 by aurorawatcherak in book promotion

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“Gathering In” Excerpt #2   Leave a comment

The night of the pulse, Geo Tully and Wes Marcus were in the basement of Wes’ aunt’s home that had become their safehouse.

Wes, a wiry com tech barely old enough to shave regularly, held up a photo album that showed a man standing in front of the post-World War 2 bungalow with a shovel. The front door stood behind him, but not the view of the house that Geo recognized. The articulated arm of a backhoe could be seen on the edge of the frame.

“The porch is an addition,” Geo acknowledged.

A Navy Seal from Kansas, Geo towered over his Seattle-raised compatriot. They’d thrown in together when Bunnell & Wilson’s Knights Industry division seized control of the city by murdering military personnel. Wes’ uncle Fred had been an urban survivalist before he died a few years ago and his aunt Connie had died in Portland’s bomb attack. Their house had been a safe haven for two fugitives, so far.

“And look at how deep the hole is behind him.”

Geo turned to the front wall of the basement. The shelves had kept him from investigating here. They appeared to be attached to the wall, but when he ran his hand along the back edge of the shelving unit, he found a throw-bolt. He pulled it down and tugged on the shelves, swinging them out away from the wall. Hinged on the far side, they glided on hidden casters. Behind the shelves an open space stretched the length of the porch. Geo tried the light on the ceiling, but it didn’t turn on. He used the flashlight on his phone to illuminate the small room. A ham radio sat at one end, covered with plastic, while storage boxes filled the other end.

“I knew that tower had to still have a use.” Wes squatted down to look under the table the radio sat on. As an Army communication tech, he knew radios. “He left it disconnected. It’ll take me a moment.”

The light bulb in the main basement flared and popped off. Wes smacked his head on the underside of the table. Geo’s phone light went out.

“What’s that smell?” Wes stood, sniffing.

“My phone just fried, I think.”

They fumbled around in the dark to find the stairs and make their way to the kitchen. Duke, the Labrador retriever, stood in the living room, staring at the window and whining.

Geo peeked out the curtains as the neighbors came out on their porch, staring around.

“You smell that?” Wes asked. “I’m going to go check for fire.”

“Do you hear that?”

Duke whined louder. Raucous voices filtered in through the glass. Geo watched as the neighbors ran off their porch. Wes swept the front door open.

“What the hell?” Geo growled.

“They need help.” Wes ran into the street.

“Stay, Duke,” Geo ordered and followed his stupid partner into the street, where the neighbors could get a full view of their high-and-tights. They’d agreed they wouldn’t do that, but Wes had forced them all in. A municipal bus sat at the corner, smoke pouring out of its windows as the people inside tried to get out, screaming, kicking, punching at the glass, but when one window shattered, it just fed the fire that doomed them.

Wes ran to the rear passenger door and tried to pull it open, convulsing and chewing his tongue, smoke rising from his body.

Can You Imagine?   1 comment

Image result for image anchorage quake 2018

Today is the launch of Gathering In (Book 5 of Transformation Project series).

I’ve put my characters through a lot (terrorist attacks, radioactive rain, an air-handling system failure, a corn-field fire, confiscation of crops by the USDA) and they’re going to lose big in this latest book. Such is life for characters in an apocalyptic novel series.

Have you ever thought about how food gets to your local grocery store? How would it get there if the major transportation hubs were destroyed and rendered no-go zones?

Have you ever thought about where antibiotics come from and whether those avenues would be available in an apocalyptic situation? What about heart medications? Antidepressants? You name it. It’s unlikely it was made within a few miles of your home. So what do you do if the apocalypse happens? What can you do?

I live in Alaska, where everything comes through the Port of Anchorage. In fact, Anchorage International Airport is the second-busiest cargo airport in the United States. Last year Anchorage was hit by a 7.1 quake (which is NOTHING compared to the Anchorage Quake of 1964 – 9.2 or the Denali Quake of 2002 – 7.9) and roadways collapsed all over town. The airport was closed for a few hours. The railroad was offline for about 24 hours. The main road between Anchorage and Fairbanks was fine, but there are three “structurally deficient” bridges between here and there, so maybe it might not have been. So imagine what happens here if the Port or the airport are rendered unusable? Starvation, people without meds, no heating fuel which is a disaster if it’s winter.

I have to imagine that because I live at the end of a tenuous supply chain in a place where certain kinds of natural disasters are expected. We build for those disasters, but even then … roads collapsed all over Anchorage.

You should imagine it for wherever you live because the time for these thoughts is not after the damage has been done. It’s too late to do anything about it then.

Posted October 22, 2019 by aurorawatcherak in book promotion

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