Beam me up, Scotty

As I write this, it is the fiftieth anniversary of Star Trek being on television.   So why is it that I still cannot beam myself to … wherever, maybe to visit one of my kids or grandkids?enterprise

In that epic series, Gene Roddenberry gave us everything we needed to accomplish the task. James T. Kirk and the rest of the crew of the USS Enterprise (NCC-1701) demonstrated the process each week – often more than once in a show.

This production gave us the chamber sometimes used, and even the command to make it work: “Beam me up, Scotty.” (In today’s spirit of full disclosure, Captain Kirk never said those exact words in the original series. But the spirit was there. He actually said, “Beam me up,” and “Scotty, beam us up.” And who can forget Captain Kirk giving the command, “Beam them out of there, Scotty.”)

But all of that aside, Roddenberry gave us the blueprint – and more – to develop a transporter, a beam machine, if you wish, that could move people from one place to another, more or less instantaneously. Having worked in research for many years, I can tell you that the most valuable part of the process is the idea. Those are golden.

In the case of Star Trek, we – that is, the scientific community – have been given not only the idea, but plans. Well, at least part of them. And most researchers will tell you that they don’t want to be given every last detail. If that were the case, what would they have to research? If all the work has been done and given to them, what are they supposed to do – just write up the experiment?

Fifty years. And the scientific community has not been able to reproduce, or create, the beam machine clearly outlined in 1966. And these episodes are still available. If today’s scientist needs to be refreshed, pull up as many episodes as needed to get the facts down. Of course, the members of today’s science community are too young to remember those wonder years when the Enterprise ruled the universe. Or at least that portion which could be filmed.

So, what’s the story? Are we spending too much time inventing child-proof caps for bottles? Or Velcro? (Actually, Velcro was invented well before Star Trek.) Probably the new generation of scientists will have to discover the idea for themselves. They will take credit and even give it a different name, maybe something like teleporting. Of course, Edward Mitchell, an American author, wrote about matter transmission in 1877. That was before my time, barely. But I remember The Fly, a 1957 story, and 1958 movie, which had a transporter, although it did not always reassemble things perfectly. But it moved them from one place to another. Fast.

spock-handScientists, get busy. Authors have pointed the way. All you have to do is build it. Simple engineering. As the security lines at the airports get longer and longer, there will certainly be a market for a teleporter. We’re ready to say, “Beam me home, Scotty.”

James R. Callan

A Silver Medallion, A Crystal Moore Suspense, Book #2Cover - A Silver Medallion

 

Cowboys Saved Her Career

Today’s guest is Shannon Taylor Vannatter, a stay-at-home momvannatter and a pastor’s wife.  She also happens to be a traditionally published,  award-winning author with series books in more than one genre.  She says it took her nine years to get traditionally published, but once she was, she has been prolific.  Shannon is in the middle of a blog tour for her latest book and at the end of this blog you’ll find the details on  her TEN book giveaway.  Be sure to leave a comment.

How I Ended up Writing Cowboy Romance

If any readers have read my Arkansas books, they probably wonder about them since they’re different from what I write now. I initially wrote the first book set in a fictional Arkansas small town. After several rejections, I set it aside and wrote three unrelated books all set in Arkansas.

During that time, we took our son to the Arkansas State Fair. Strolling along with my family gorging on greasy, yummy fair food, I noticed a couple. He dripped cowboy—Stetson, pearl buttoned shirt, Wranglers, and Justins. She wore a pin-striped business suit with suede high heel boots. They were holding hands, laughing, and talking. And I wondered how they met, what they had in common.

Of course it became a short story about an ad-exec who’s afraid of bulls watching the cowboy she loves ride one in the rodeo. It won a few local awards. But the rejections kept coming. None of the writers groups I’d joined knew anything about Christian Romance. I searched online and discovered American Christian Fiction Writers. In 2005, I attended my first national conference.

A few years later, I learned two publishers wanted romances set in real small towns with local flavor. I opened the atlas, scanned towns, and found Romance. Thirty miles from my home, people go there to get married and the post office participates in the re-mailing program. Year round, manila envelopes full of wedding invitations arrive and around February fourteenth, Valentine’s cards come in droves to be re-mailed from Romance.

I couldn’t resist the perfect place to set a series of Christian Romance novels. I reworked my long ago book and set it in Romance. That year, I went to ACFW and ended up getting a contract for three books. But with each book, the sales numbers dropped.

I never started writing for the money—though I’ll admit—I did think there would be more than there is. I write because I love it. I love making characters do what I want them to. It’s like playing Barbies on paper. And I really love making my characters turn or return to Jesus. But I knew to stay published, I needed sales.

I happened upon an article that claimed if Texas is in the title or there’s a cowboy on the cover, romances sell better. I didn’t know much about cowboys, but I knew a little about the rodeo since my dad used to announce at our small town arena. I really didn’t set out to write a cowboy book, didn’t think much else about it. But fresh out of ideas, with my editor expecting another series, I dusted off that old short story and expanded it to book length.

Another three book contract later, I realized the cowboy on the cover and Texas setting didn’t help. Heartsong Presents seemed to be dying and by the time I turned in book 2, I got an e-mail that the imprint would end. Months later, Harlequin bought Heartsong, fulfilled the remaining contracts, and I ended up getting a new contract for three more rodeo titles. When I finished that set, I had three dangling characters and got another contract for six more books. The first three were rodeo, but the others were negotiable.

Meanwhile, my Arkansas readers wanted more Natural State settings. After six rodeo books, it was second nature for me to write drawling Texas cowboys. I wanted to satisfy my home state and came up with three more Arkansas books. But history repeated itself and Harlequin closed the line.

Days later, my wonderful agent talked with a Love Inspired editor familiar with me. My cowboys got me in the door. All I needed to do was deliver four proposals geared toward Love Inspired. I mentioned setting them in Arkansas, but my agent felt I’d created a niche with cowboys and said Love Inspired readers love them. I Texas-cowboyed up my proposals and was blessed with the opportunity to finish my contract with LI.

In the end, that long ago article and the trip to the state fair panned out. Cowboys saved my career. I hate to disappoint my Arkansas readers, but I think I’ll keep ’em.

The Cowboy Next Door vannatter-cowboy-cover

A charming cowboy moving in next door shouldn’t be bad news. But veterinarian Ally Curtis knows Cody Warren—she’d never forget the boy who left her when she needed him most. Cody is doing everything he can to show his beautiful neighbor he’s not the wild bull rider he once was, from helping her find homes for her beloved strays, to protecting her when her business is threatened. But Cody has a secret that keeps him from fully reaching out. Yet as they continue to work together to promote her shelter, he can’t keep himself from hoping that Ally might have a home for him…in her heart.

Shannon will draw names from those who comment on the tour and give away 10 copies of Reuniting with the Cowboy   plus a Noah’s Ark themed memory board personally crafted by the author.  So, please leave a comment, even a very brief one.  Thanks.

 

Shannon’s website is:  http://shannonvannatter.com

Here blog is at:  http://shannonvannatter.com/blog

And you can find her books on  Amazon

 

 

 

The Joy of Historical Fiction

Today’s guest is Tamera Lynn Kraft.  She writes historical fiction Kraftset in the United States because, she says, there are so many stories in American history.  She has received a second place in the NOCW contest and a third place in the TARA Writer’s contest. She is a finalist in the Frasier Writing Contest. Here’s what she has to say about research for historicas.

Researching Historicals

Researching historicals is a lot of fun for those of us fortunate enough to write them, but they can also be challenging. The key is to make the history around the event a major part of the story without making the reader feel like she’s getting a history lesson. One of the greatest things writers can do is to immerse themselves in the time period they’re writing about.

Culture: Every era in history has a culture that is unique for that time Kraft - 1920 Fashionperiod. For instance, a novella I wrote called Resurrection of Hope is set in rural America in 1919-1920. During that time period, modern conveniences were starting to make their way into the average household, but many rural farms still didn’t have running water or electricity. Silent movies and roller skating rinks were where most people went for entertainment. Fashion was all over the place. Older women wore dresses to their ankle and their long hair in buns. Young city women called flappers wore their skirts almost to their knees, cut their hair, and sometimes even wore make-up. Many of the women in that time were somewhere in between. It was a time of transition into a new modern era, but it wasn’t quite there.

Historical Events: The events that were going on during the time period you are writing about need to influence the characters in your story just as they did in that day. For instance, a story written during the post-World War 1 era would not be as effective and believable if it didn’t have at least a mention of the great influenza pandemic of 1918-1919. Over 24 million people, some say as high as 50 million, died from the flu during that two-year period. It killed more people than the Great War, and every family was affected.

If you’re writing a story set in the late 1860s or 1870s, you’ll need to include the Civil War in your story. Remember that even though the war was over, every family was affected by it in some way. It was still fresh in their memories and needs to be addressed. Whatever era you are writing in, brainstorm about the historical events that affected everyday life.

Mindsets: Too many writers make the mistake of giving their characters a twenty-first century mindset. This is one of the easiest ways to make your characters unbelievable and to take the reader out of the era your story is about. That doesn’t mean you can’t have a career woman in the 1800s or a pacifist during World War 2, but if you have characters who defy the normal mores of that day, they need to have a reason for doing so.

I once wrote a novel set during the Civil War that had a female journalist who believed in women’s rights. I could get away with this because my main character was raised by a suffragette and graduated Oberlin College, the only coed college in the US before the Civil War that allowed both blacks and women to get college degrees and champion civil rights for both. Most of my other characters in this novel were surprised or hostile about her choice to be a career woman. It worked because even with my main character’s strong opinions, she still behaved, dressed, and had the morals of a nineteenth century woman.

One way to get into the mindsets of the people in the era you are writing about is to read journals, newspaper articles, and magazine of the time. That will help you understand their frame of reference. What we consider outdated and antiquated thinking was what was to them reasonable and sensible for that day. Don’t explain away their modes of thinking and behavior. Write the characters as they were in that era, and let the reader take away what she will from it.

Kraft - ResurrectionOfHopeCoverArt72dpiHere is the book blurb for her novel Resurrection of Hope.

She thought he was her knight in shining armor, but will a marriage of convenience prove her wrong?

After Vivian’s fiancé dies in the Great War, she thinks her life is over. But Henry, her fiancé’s best friend, comes to the rescue offering a marriage of convenience. He claims he promised his friend he would take care of her. She grows to love him, but she knows it will never work because he never shows any love for her.

Henry adores Vivian and has pledged to take care of her, but he won’t risk their friendship by letting her know. She’s still in love with the man who died in the Great War. He won’t risk heartache by revealing his true emotions.

You can find her books on Amazon as well as Barnes and Noble, Desert Breeze Publishing, and All Romance eBooks.

You can contact Tamera on her website at http://tameralynnkraft.net  or

Facebook: http://facebook.com/tameralynnkraft

Twitter: http://twitter.com/tamerakraft

 

Beauty in the Eyes of the Beholder

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We pleased to have Kelly Irvin blogging for us today. Kelly has been a non-fiction writer for thirty years. But, she also has three Amish series. The first book in the Amish of Bee County series (Zondervan/HarperCollins ), The Beekeeper’s … Continue reading

Are You in the Wrong Place, or Time?

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Today’s guest blogger is Jeanne Ann Macejko, a mystery writer as well as an illustrator of children’s books. She’s been a marketing/public relations professional, an English teacher, a university instructor of illustration and graphic design, and a medical illustrator/photographer. She … Continue reading

Are You an Introvert?

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Today’s guest is Jo Huddleston, an Amazon Bestselling author of books, articles, and short stories. Novels in her West Virginia Mountains series and her Caney Creek series are sweet Southern historical romances. Jo is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and … Continue reading

Slaves in the U.S. – Today

The story behind the story – A Silver Medallion 

Cover - A Silver Medallion

(See the Special Offer below.)

Several years ago, I read a short article in the L.A. Times about a woman who was held a virtual slave by threats to harm family members left behind in Viet Nam. I was amazed that such could happen here in the United States, so I did a little research.

What I found astounded me. One government report stated there were more slaves in the U.S. today than in 1860. Today’s slaves are held not by chains, but by threats to harm family members, usually left behind in a foreign country.

This information rattled around in my head for months. I knew I would write about it. But what? How? One writer friend said it needed to be a non-fiction book. Another suggested a story based on an actual instance, interviewing someone at ICE and perhaps even a victim.

Finally, I decided it would be a fictional account. The actual truth was too heavy. Either of the approaches above would haunt me and I suspected such a book would never be finished. So I created a completely fictional story, but one I believe, based on my research, was close to the truth.

Crystal Moore discovers a young Mexican woman , Rosa, who has been held a virtual slave because her husband in Mexico would be killed if she escaped. But many months later, Rosa learns from another woman smuggled into Texas, her husband has died. With that threat gone, Rosa manages to escape from her captor, Hunter Blackwood.

Crystal’s grandmother takes Rosa in and gives her a job.

When Crystal and her Nana are visiting with Rosa, they find out about Lucita who is also a virtual slave to Blackwood. Lucita had a husband and two small girls in Mexico. But when her husband died, she could not provide the bare necessities for her children. Jose Rodriquez offered her the opportunity to make “big Yankee Dollars.” Jose would arrange for a job in Texas and pay for her transportation. In addition, he would take care of the children until Lucita could save the $1,500 to pay for the girls travel to Texas. Surely, that could be done in a few months.

ETWG Contest Award -ASMBut once in Texas, Lucita is given a different story. She will work for Blackwood and should she leave or even tell anybody of her predicament, her children will be killed. She must stay at his massive house and is paid only a few dollars per month. She will never be able to accumulate the money to bring her girls to Texas. And other Mexican women tell her that Jose Rodriquez is indeed capable of carrying out the threat.

This revelation stuns Crystal. She is haunted by the plight of this young mother and her children. Crystal’s parents were killed in an auto accident when she was seven. Nothing could be done; they were dead. But Lucita is not dead.

Crystal manages to see Lucita and it becomes clear Lucita will do nothing that might cause harm to her young girls.

Crystal tries to put it out of her mind, to forget about it. But her conscience will not let her. Nightmares plague her. She often wakes, thinking she can hear Lucita’s two young girls crying. After considering various approaches, she comes to the realization that Lucita will never be free unless her girls are rescued from Jose first. Naive and driven, Crystal travels to Mexico in an attempt to rescue the two children.

If she succeeds, Lucita and her two girls will be free and reunited.

And Crystal will have two powerful and ruthless men, one in Texas and one in Mexico, who want her dead.

See the offer below.

Click on the cover of the book above to see it’s listing and reviews on Amazon.  Thanks.

“A Silver Medallion is a gripping, action-packed adventure from talented author James Callan.  Crystal Moore is a tough and savvy heroine …”

 New York Times Bestselling Author Bobbi Smith

If you’d like to read the first six chapters of A Silver Medallion, send an e-mail to:   asm6@callansite.com  and just put  “6 chapters” in the subject line and your name in the body of the e-mail. OR you can request the chapters in a comment. Just make sure you have registered with a good e-mail address so you will receive the chapters. Either way,  I’ll send you the chapters right away.

A Silver Medallion is the second in the Crystal Moore Suspense series, following A Ton of Gold.

Thanks for stopping by The Author’s Blog.

Plots, Character, & Other People’s Ideas

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Today’s Guest is Lynne Wells Walding.  Following in her father’s footsteps as a horologist, Lynne’s first writing endeavor was a self-published, instructional book on clock repair. She went on to write articles for several major slicks on antique clocks. But her … Continue reading