Does Life Imitate Art or What?

Apparently it does. At least, NASA is hoping to take a page from an important bit of the SAVING MARS story.

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If you’re my age or even a bit younger, you probably remember when Halley’s Comet last came to call. At the time, there was a mania for sending a craft into the tail of the comet to find out what we could of its composition. The US, rather than missing out, chose to divert an existing satellite (used to observe solar phenomenon) into the tail of both Halley’s and the Giacobini-Zinner Comet. However, the scientist who “stole” the satellite promised to try to return it in the future.

Fast forward thirty-one years to the present day. Apparently, the sun and the earth and the satellite formerly grabbing comet data are now in positions such that the satellite can be returned to its original task.

Except.

No one working in the space industry today knows how to talk to the aged satellite. Even the hardware required has been dumped in favor of upgraded equipment.
Sound familiar?

I was so tickled to hear about this, and of course I am hoping they can pull an Ethan Jaarda and get that satellite back where they’d like it to go! Check out the article here (especially the diagram showing the orbital maneuvers necessary to get the equipment out to the comets!)

Anybody else have a “life imitates art” moment to share? I’d love to hear it!

Happy St Patrick’s Day: Kindle Fire HD Giveaway

A giveaway of 2 Kindles!!

The first one is available via the rafflecopter below. The 2nd is available only to bloggers who post about this giveaway. You can find info on how to enter in the rafflecopter.

Kindle Fire HDX March

Win a Kindle Fire HDX, Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash ($229 value)

Bloggers & Authors have joined together and each chipped in a little money towards a Kindle Fire HDX 7″.


The winner will have the option of receiving a 7″ Kindle Fire HDX (US Only – $229 Value)

 

Or $229 Amazon.com Gift Card (International)

 

Or $229 in Paypal Cash (International)

 

 

Giveaway Sponsors:

I Am A Reader
Feed Your Reader
Inspired Kathy
Ripple Effect Romance Series
Author M.A. George
The (Mis)Adventures of a Twenty-Something year Old Girl
Meredith & Jennifer’s Musings
Owl Always Be Reading
Author Jennifer Laurens
Bonnie Blythe’s Pure Romance
Bella Street’s Weird Romance
Author Jennifer Faye
Good Choice Reading
Reviews from a Bookworm
Barbara Silkstone
Rae Z. Ryans, Author
The Stubby Pencil
Author David Pandolfe
Hallowed Ink Press
Author Louise Caiola
The Reporter and The Girl
More Than a Review
Kathryn Jones
Once Upon a Twilight
Author Jason Parent
Author Amanda Tru
Author Cidney Swanson
Paige W. Pendleton
Claudia Burgoa
P.M. Richter – author
RoAnna Sylver
Tigris Eden
The Bloggers Nest
J.L. Weil
The Cheap Ebook
Luthando Coeur
Author Mary Ting/M. Clarke
Author Alecia Stone
KellysLuckyYou
Rebecca Talley
Author Kimber Leigh Wheaton
Simple Wyrdings
Tressa’s Wishful Endings
Paranormal book Club (PBC)
Author Stephanie Faris
Author Inger Iversen
Author Theresa DaLayne
Where The Broken Lie by Derek Rempfer
Bound 4 Escape
Author Laura Diamond

 

Sign up to sponsor the next Kindle Giveaway here:

http://www.iamareader.com/category/kindle-giveaway-sign-ups

 

Giveaway Details

1 winner will receive their choice of an all new Kindle Fire 7″ HDX (US Only – $229 value), $229 Amazon Gift Card or $229 in Paypal Cash (International).

There is a second separate giveaway for bloggers who post this giveaway on their blog. See details in the rafflecopter on how to enter to win the 2nd Kindle Fire HDX 7″.

Ends 3/31/14

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the participating authors & bloggers. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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Do You Write Stories or Observations or Both?

This past weekend, I was a presenter at the first annual Wordcrafters in Eugene conference where we were very focused on craft. (Where I also got the Best Swag Ever: a spa robe!)

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When I prepare for workshops or intensives, I often find myself revisiting some of my old writing, which leads me to ponder my writer-ly habits and traits.

When I was a kid, I wrote stories.  Lots of stories. They had inciting incidents, escalating events, a climax, and a resolution. I didn’t know these terms back then, but I read lots of books, and reading taught me this particular order of events was a satisfying one for readers.

Then, when I grew older and took creative writing classes and joined critique groups, I wrote description. Carefully, lovingly observed descriptions of the natural world, anatomies of conversations as they really happened, observations involving all five senses.

I don’t want to make it sound like either of these types of writing was more important than the other. In fact, it strikes me that both are valuable. For a teller of tales, it’s critical that you learn how to accurately describe the world around you or the world you imagine. And it takes lots of practice. Maybe this is the equivalent of practicing scales for a pianist or vocalist? On the other hand, most of us who want to hear someone playing piano won’t listen to a skillful demonstration of scales.

So, as a writer, I have to get really good at description. I have to practice it. I have to understand it. But, in the end, I have to tell a story, too. 100,000 words of description does not a novel make.

So that got me curious: Anyone else have this experience of having written stories first and then switching to writing description?

VISIBLE Now For Sale at All E-tailers

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Just a quick post to let you know Apple and Kobo have joined Amazon and Barnes and Noble in making VISIBLE, Book Four in the Ripple Series, available as an eBook. If you are waiting on the paperback, that should be coming in about four weeks. (Hopefully by St Patty’s Day!)

VISIBLE picks up where Unfurl left off, so you should read books one, two, and three of the Ripple Series before diving in.

Enjoy!

Cheers,

Cidney

New Ripple Title Coming (Very) Soon!

If you have read about my writing habits, you know I like lots and lots of revision. I also find it super helpful to step away from my stories in between drafts. Over the course of a year and a half, I have a lot of “down time” during which I set my manuscripts aside to age.

This year (and a half), I did something fantabulous with all that downtime: I wrote a whole ‘nother book! I am so very pleased to announce that the Ripple Trilogy now has a companion title. Okay, it’s a read-after title.  But it is full length and it is publishing just in time for Valentine’s Day.  *Squee!*

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VISIBLE, A Ripple Novel, tells the story of Gwyn and Christian in the days after Unfurl ends. If you aren’t already on the New Release List, you might want to sign up now!  I can’t tell you how excited I am about this story, and I can’t wait to hear what you think. (Yes, that is the actual first page from one of the late revisions of VISIBLE.)

Next week: Cover Reveal!

Are we excited yet???

**Mars fans who are holding your breath: so am I. Actually, I’m working like crazy to get it finalized for release this Spring.**

RIPPLER News I’m Excited About!

This is just a quick post (and giveaway!) to let you know 2 things:

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1) Rippler has been included in a 6 e-book Box Set for just .99 including best-selling authors SM Reine and Sarra Cannon! Woohoo! (And yes, they still pay us authors!) If you like your fantasy heroines edgy, you can pick up copies at these e-tailers:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Kobo

2) Rippler, Chameleon, and Unfurl have received paperback face lifts! I love the new matte covers.

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To celebrate these two things, I’m giving away a signed copy of RIPPLER (US only) in all its matte-cover glory!
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Empty These Shelves!

DREAMING OF BOOKS GIVEAWAY HOP

dreaming hop

The bookshelves, they are groaning once again. With the daughterling’s week-long vacay in the hospital (see Jan. 4 on timeline), I didn’t get some end of year cleaning done. I figure this blog hop is the perfect opportunity!

Enter below to win a combo of 5 paperbacks/hardbacks (my random picks) from my groaning shelves (US) or your choice of one of my ebook box sets (INTL). Blog hop ends January 24th. Good luck!

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Who Wants to go to NASA?

Me! And I did, too! And today’s Chinese launch of a rover to the Moon reminded me it was high time I blogged about my recent visit to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center for the launch of MAVEN, the probe traveling to Mars to figure out where all the water on Mars went to. I applied as a guest of @NASASocial, which you should totally check out if you are interested in space or going to see a launch some day yourself! https://twitter.com/NASASocial

But really, pictures do such a great job of telling a story, so here are a few of my trip to NASA:

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We got to hear presentations from some of the NASA women behind MAVEN!

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I got to hang out at the countdown clock. That would be the same clock that counted down the Apollo missions!

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And then, they let me be the launch director and say, “All systems go!” (Okay, so, just remember at this point that I make stuff up for a living.)

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And then it was out to the launch site itself. Or as close as it was safe for us to get…

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The launch was stunning. Even the birds thought so. (You have to love how a couple of them are all, “Dude, this happens all the time. No big.”)

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And finally, some cool artwork that I found inspiring AND a copy of a dictionary in the flight control room alongside the flight manuals. Oh, yeah, baby!

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And that was my trip to NASA.

Any questions?

Ask ‘em below for a chance to win cool stuff!
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What Do You Need to Know?

It all started with the phrase below: She was the kind of girl who slept with books on her bed. Well, to all good things must come “The End.”

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I finished drafting the Mars Series all the way to the end this past week. (Drafting, mind you, is not where I put in the serious hours. Read about how my brain works here.) Anyway, as I was doing this I kept asking myself, what else will my readers want to know?

And then it occurred to me I could, you know, ASK my readers. So this is me, asking: what little or big “loose ends” are you hoping to see wrapped up when The Saving Mars Series is complete? I can’t promise that I’ll be able to fit everything in, but I can promise I’ll take your requests seriously. You, dear reader, are the reason I’ve been able to spend years with Jessamyn and company.  I truly, deeply appreciate it!

So hit me with some questions you are hoping to see answered. You might even win a button (US residents) or a sticker (international) for your efforts! (Image below.) Enter by using the Rafflecopter form!
What do you want to know?

Would You Like A Craft Post?

It has been quite awhile since I wrote a craft post, and the last post I popped up was just so full of sadz, so I thought I would turn to something that makes a small smile creep up on my face: revision.

Yes, that’s right, I Like Revision. A bit of an understatement. Let me try again. I Live For Rewrites. There. That felt better.

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Here is the first page of a novel I started when I was eight. There are clear signs of what kind of writer I would eventually become. Um, that would be the cross outs in case you were wondering. From a very early age, I really enjoyed going back over my stories, my letters to grandparents, my journal entries–anything I’d written, really.

Earlier this week, I clicked on a link that brought me to Chuck Wendig’s Terrible Minds blog. (In his own words, it is full of “lots of naughty language. NSFW. Probably NSFL. Be advised.” So, yeah. Caveat reader.) But I just loved one section of it so much that I did one of those little out-loud Oh! sounds as I was reading. Out loud. I really did. Here is the section I liked, with some expletives deleted:

The first draft is just me dumping all the puzzle pieces out. But it’s still a jumbled image. This part is where the art lives. This is when the story is smashed together, piece after piece. I can make it all make sense!

I just love that image: first draft as puzzle pieces scattered on a table. I know wonderful writers who prefer to craft what will be their final version from their very first go at telling the story. I have tried to be that writer. But my brain refuses to let me be that writer. When I try to get it right the first time, my creative brain takes a vacation in the land of far, far away. The writing is wooden and I lose interest so fast I might even decide to sort the linen closet.

But if I allow myself to work the way my writer brain likes, I actually get ahead.

I guess what I am hoping to convey about craft is that either way is fine. It is up to you to listen to your brain and figure out what it wants you to do.

Mine wants me to throw that first draft down as quickly as possible, riddled with errors and inconsistencies and things that could only, possibly ever be of interest to the work’s creator. (Me.) It is exhausting, writing that first draft. But if I do it this way, it is far less exhausting than if I do it any other way.

Writing really jumbled puzzle-pieces-dumped-out first drafts means I have a ton (a tonne) of work to do later. But that is the way I like it. I sort those pieces. I look for ways to make everything fit, to create that interesting picture that I know is in this mess somewhere.

Have you ever done one of those puzzles where all the pieces are the same shape (except for the edges)? I have. My writing is like that. I put the whole thing together. End revision one. I notice that the stars are at the bottom where they definitely do not belong. I move things. A lot. End revision two. Then I start to suspect the puzzle maker threw in some extra pieces. Look! There they are! Get rid of them! End revision three.

Okay, the analogy is starting to break down, but when I am actually in revision, there are at least two more passes. One for general flow: chapter to chapter, paragraph to paragraph, sentence to sentence. And then a final polish pass where I look for (or create) one sparkling bright bit on each page. This takes time. This takes passion.

And I love every minute of it.

Really, the only part of writing I’m not crazy about is that first draft. But if I am nice to my creative brain, it is a whole lot more pleasant of an experience.

What about you? What habits do you cultivate to be nice to your creative brain?