Fall Festivities

Hello again, everyone. The hot weather and most of the smoke in the air have both dissipated here in the Pacific Northwest, so I changed my banner photo back to its previous version. We have had some days of cooler temperatures and rain, which are both most welcome. In our little corner of the world, fall has fallen with a resounding thud. I’m not sorry to see summer go this year.

My heart grieves for the suffering in other parts of the country, the continent, and beyond. Earthquakes and hurricanes have taken heavy tolls, and the woes of the world are more real to us than they were to our parents and grandparents, because we know more about what’s going on all over the planet than any generation before us.

We have also been able to witness — either in person or via the news media and the internet — the total eclipse of the sun. Thanks to NASA, pictures of Cassini as it plummeted toward Saturn’s surface are still popping up every time I open my web browser. Thus we have expanded our sphere of knowledge and experience outward to include our little corner of the universe.

What does this all mean? Each of us must find our own raison d’être, our purpose in life. If I had to choose only one, it would be to demonstrate unconditional love. Will you share yours in the Leave a Reply box below?

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Helter Swelter

Hello, everyone. This time I’ve changed the banner photo to reflect the relentless heat in the Pacific Northwest. Eastern Washington has set records of scorching high temperatures and days without precipitation. August, which is usually our summer’s hottest month, is only a few days old. We will get through the extra-hot summer. And don’t forget: winter, in all its icy glory, will be upon us before we know it.

The next Emily Trace mystery has been slow in development, but I believe it will be worth it. The title is Send in the Drones, and Emily and her intrepid crew will have to work especially hard to figure out the mystery of the disappearing drone.

In anticipation of its release, I’d like to let you in on a little secret from Send in the Drones. Don’t worry. I don’t believe it will in any way spoil the surprises in store for you. So here it is, folks:

Everything you ever wanted to know about Drone Wars
(well, almost everything)

“A small town airport is scheduled to play host to a new event during their annual town celebration. Drone Wars will be held for the first time Saturday afternoon on the tarmac,” the local weekly newspaper announced. Emily Trace planned to attend, and several of her staff signed up to participate.

I came up with the concept of Drone Wars as I crafted the latest Emily Trace adventure. I was inspired by the dogfights of the World War I flying aces and their battles with the Red Baron, plus the interstellar battles in Star Wars and The Last Starfighter. I thought it would be cool to have the miniature planes duke it out with lasers, totally under the control of their remote pilots.

After research on the concept, I discovered that laser weapons, which are not even used in laser tag and similar games,  posed hazards to humans which were unacceptable. I decided to have the little planes fire infrared lights instead. Much safer. Plus special effects could be added to really put on a show. Those concepts were inspired by the Lazer Tag people.

In Emily’s world, drones are equipped for competition with stick-on patches sensitive to infrared light on the frequency of special weapons, which are also installed on the little mini-planes for the competition. Whenever a drone takes a hit, five points are awarded to its opponent electronically. The dogfight continues until one drone scores 250 points, or until the main target patch suffers a fatal hit.

The main target is a small patch  located in a strategic, difficult to hit position on the drone. Once the opponent hits the tiny target, connected sensors will emit smoke and simulate sparks. They will also disable the connection with the remote control,  and the drone will automatically land and lose the match.

To find out more on Drone Wars, the first recorded Drone War in Emily Trace history, and the results of the match, stay tuned here, on Twitter (@sueeller), or on my Facebook page (follow the link on this page) for the release of Send in the Drones – an Emily Trace Mystery.

Until the next time, stay cool wherever you are, and practice flying.

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How to make really good gluten free banana bread

Hello, everyone. This time I have a special treat. (Pun intended this time, too.) A friend of mine took a video of me making gluten free banana bread in my kitchen (on location, as they say). He added a few extras and voila! an educational video, which is now live on YouTube. Here’s the link:

I hope you enjoy the video, as well as the yummy banana bread you can make using these instructions. I used a recipe my mom and grandma both used, and tweaked it to make it gluten free. It’s in my cookbook “The Gluten Free Gourmand,” along with other recipes I’ve  adapted. Also included in the cookbook are recipes which are naturally without gluten, like salads and vegetables.

The Gluten Free Gourmand is available at Auntie’s Bookstore in Spokane, Washington, and online at Amazon, Kindle, and Smashwords.

A huge thank you to Curt Rein, freelance videographer extraordinaire. His favorite venue is local live music. Check out his YouTube page using the link below::

Curt Rein

Until the next time, live long and prosper.

 

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Finally!

Hello everyone. It’s been a long winter (as the song says), but we persevered. My NaNoWriMo project got interrupted midway through the month by the worst windstorm Spokane has seen in many long years. We were without power for a while, and part of our fence blew over. We were among the more fortunate. People throughout the area experienced trees falling on their fences, their houses,  their cars, and nearby power lines. Spokane public schools were closed, and many businesses as well. In the true Spokane spirit, neighbors and friends helped and looked out for each other.

In spite of all the chaos, I did manage over 30,000 words for the month. Now I am editing and finishing up the story to get ready for publication. Send in the Drones, the next Emily Trace Mystery, will be released sometime this year. I’m hoping for sooner than later. I’ll keep you posted.

I have also starred in a video promoting my little cookbook, The Gluten Free Gourmand. It was fun to do, and I’m pleased with the result. You can find it on YouTube. Click on the link and check it out. Many thanks to Curt Rein for filming and editing. I will have to pay in banana bread every week for the next twelve years.

My friend and fellow author Kate Poitevin and I will be doing two book signings in the next two weeks. Check out the Events page on this site for details.

Hope your valentine was especially sweet to you, and that you have a rousing St. Patrick’s Day. May the luck of the Irish be with you.

 

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November Events

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I just finished the first week of National Novel Writing Month, wherein writers are challenged to write 50,000 words in the month of November. This is the first year I’ve participated, and I must say it has been a learning experience.

First of all, I learned that I can write more than I realized. It doesn’t take an 8-hour day to write 1,667 words. That’s the word count necessary to do every day in order to reach the 50,000 word goal of NaNoWriMo. In fact, I’ve done most days in a couple of hours. I’m a little bit behind the recommended amount, but I’m close enough that I can boost the average if needed. As of the end of the day on November 7th, I had logged 10,045 words.

Second, I learned that writing every day around a busy schedule is not as impossible as I thought it would be. Granted, I’ve done quite a bit of research, but not enough to warrant taking 10 months to write 15,000 words, which I did this year.

Third, I learned that I don’t need to neglect my family, my friends, my other life obligations and activities, my personal hygiene, or my need for sustenance (other than caffeine).

Finally, the experience of participating in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) has been liberating. It has taught me that yes, I am now a real author and I like the lifestyle.

I’ll post again at least at the end of November, so I can let you know how I did at the finish line. 50K or not 50K – that is the question. In the meantime, I would like to invite all of you who live in the Spokane area to my book signing Saturday, November 21 from 1-3 p.m. at Auntie’s Bookstore, 402 W. Main Ave., Spokane, Washington. Hope to see you there.

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

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A fitting tribute to a great man…Leonard Nimoy memorial, WorldCon 2015

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Leigh Ann Hildebrand, Ginger Buchanan, and David Gerrold share their memories of Leonard Nimoy with attendees at WorldCon 2015 Sunday, August 23 in Spokane, Washington.

A fitting tribute was given by these three to Leonard Nimoy, a man who impacted countless lives in the last half of the 20th century and on into the 21st.

David Gerrold, who knew Nimoy the longest  and enjoyed a lasting friendship with him, talked about the man behind Spock. He shared stories with us of a compassionate, caring person and how he put his own personality into his most famous role. There were times when I wondered if Gerrold would be able to continue, times when the memories of his friend nearly brought him to tears. It was an honor to listen to the stories he shared about his long-time friend.

Ginger Buchanan talked about the impact on her life of the Star Trek series and especially of Nimoy as Spock. Although she didn’t know him personally, she shared examples of how her life was different – and so much better – because of his famous character.

Leigh Ann Hildebrand showed us all the spiritual side of Leonard Nimoy. He was active in the synagogue and touched hearts and lives as a result. To end the memorial, Leigh Ann offered up a responsive reading and we had a time of silence to honor the man who will always be remembered as Spock.

In the words of James T. Kirk at Spock’s memorial in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, “Of my friend, I can only say this: of all the souls I have encountered in my travels, his was the most… human.”

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Meadowlark Madness available on Smashwords

Meadowlark cover imageMeadowlark Madness, the first adventure of bumbling detective Emily Trace, went live on Smashwords today.

Preparing the manuscript for the more strict specifications took a couple of days and some frustration and tearing of hair.

However, the effort was well worth it. In the first four hours the book was live, it had 40 visits to its page, six downloads of the preview, and one purchase. Another plus: once I muddled through the process, I was able to prepare Taming of the T-Bird in just a few hours.

I plan to wait a few days before I upload the T-Bird manuscript. Smashwords will sell your ebook on their site, but if you want it available to places like Barnes & Noble and Apple, your book must meet more stringent requirements. If there are a few fixes to make on the Meadowlark book, I want to find out about them before I put more books up on the site.

While I was on the Smashwords site, I set up a Q&A interview and uploaded my author photo and bio. I’m still exploring the benefits and help they offer to authors (and agents and publishers, too). Check out my author page at Smashwords under authorsueeller.

I’ll share with you from time to time my experiences with this and other author-friendly sites. Until then, enjoy your today.

 

 

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Creating believable characters

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What makes a story great? Is it the plot? The research? The philosophy imparted to the reader? It is all these things, but the most important of all – the thing that makes a story stick in the mind – is the characters. It is through the characters that the story is told, the philosophy imparted, and the research revealed. It is the characters who make the story unforgettable. Let’s look at some examples.

“M-O-O-N. That spells Tom Cullen.” Tom just happens to be one of the most memorable characters in “The Stand.” Stephen King is a master at creating characters everyone remembers. And of course there is Mother Abigail, who is 106 years old and still bakes her own bread.

“I’ll think about it tomorrow,” was the mantra of Margaret Mitchell’s character in “Gone with the Wind,” Scarlett O’Hara, who would be just as resilient today as she was during and after the Civil War. And who could forget Rhett Butler, the scallawag (and also survivor) who fell in love with her and ended up “Frankly,” not giving a damn.

Captains Nemo and Ahab were relentless and obsessed, but for entirely different reasons. Sherlock Holmes and Miss Marple were both great mystery solvers, and yet two people couldn’t have been much less alike than they were.

Let’s look deeper into what makes a memorable character. First of all, they can’t be all good or all bad. In order to be believable, they have to have elements of both. They must also have some redeeming quality or value system, or some other reason for the reader to like and/or sympathize with them. Unless, of course, they are one of the bad guys. However, even bad guys have a good quality or two. A character quirk or two helps a lot, Finally, they must act in a way that is consistent with their basic personality type, which brings us to the main topic I want to share with you.

They have been called by many names over the years, but the idea of four basic personality types has been around for a very long time. For this discussion, I will use the terms “Driver,” “Analytical,” “Expressive,” and “Amiable,” as illustrated in the chart below. (I have added an example of each type as “Star Trek” characters.) Each personality type occupies its own quadrant, and each quadrant has two main characteristics. The Driver focuses on Facts rather than Feelings, and Tells rather than Asks for information. When you put the Driver under mild stress, he tends to slip into avoidance mode, which is a negative trait of an Analytical. Pile on more pressure and he attacks, which is a negative trait of an Expressive. Hint: if you put so much pressure on a Driver that he gives in and gives up – a negative trait of an Amiable – your Driver character probably needs to be committed to a mental institution before he hurts himself or others.

The progressive shift through the quadrant for the Driver takes the shape of a backward “Z.” Each personality type follows a similar pattern. The Expressive moves from Amiable (Submitter) to Driver (Dictator) to Analytical (Avoider). This movement is a forward “Z” drawn from the bottom up. The Analytical goes to Dictator to Submitter to Attacker and the Amiable moves from Attacker to Avoider to Dictator. These progressive shifts can be quite useful when putting your character in stressful situations.

A final caveat: no one is exclusively one personality type. We are all amalgams (I love that word) with bits and pieces of each type in varying percentages. Your characters should be the same way – hybrids – with one or two personality types as the dominant one(s).

 

Bibliography:

Your Personality Tree –  by Florence Littauer

Personality Plus – by Florence Littauer

Personality Styles and Effective Performance – by David W. Merrill and Roger H Reid

Florence Littauer is a well-known author and public speaker whose focus is on Christian values, the family, and helping people reach their best potential. She has developed the personality profile and taught applications of the knowledge for many years.

David W. Merrill has authored more than one book with Roger H. Reid, has written numerous articles on the subject of personality types, and is a well-know public speaker. His application of the personality profile leans toward business and management, and also sales and marketing.

There have been many books written on the subject of basic personality types, using a variety of names, but all with the common thread of the personality quadrant. For further research and information, type in the words “four basic personality types” in your favorite search engine.

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Stone Island Sea Stories by D. Andrew McChesney

 

 

 

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McChesney instantaneously transports the reader back in space and time to the deck of the Theodora in the year 1802. She is a British sailing ship about to do battle with the French, and hero Edward Pierce leads a boarding crew to victory. McChesney’s use of nautical terms soon creeps into your own vocabulary, and his descriptions can draw you into the belief that you can smell the salt air and feel the ship roll with the waves beneath your feet. Then the real story begins. After a short stint on land, newly commissioned Captain Pierce and his fine crew set off with a group of would-be colonists in search of the uncharted Stone Island. The quest takes them further from home than they could have imagined, and Pierce even more distant from Evangeline, the woman he loves. The first of a series, Beyond The Ocean’s Edge will sail you beyond the charted seas and into a fantastic adventure.

Dangerous WatersCaptain Pierce misses his beloved Evangeline, and tries everything in his power to get back to her. He leaves Stone Island to return home, but his plans and hopes are thwarted by an enemy who should have been a friend. Pierce struggles to understand an unfamiliar government dynamic, uses all his diplomatic skills to try to get his ship released, and makes some unexpected friends along the way. Sailing Dangerous Waters continues the Stone Island Sea Stories as McChesney captivates the reader and draws him in to another thrilling adventure.

Visit www.stoneislandseastories.com to learn more.

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Groundhog Day (and week) special

Return from Armageddon is available all week on Kindle for 99 cents! Click the title to check it out.

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