It’s all about who you are

When I created Zane, a character who could alter his appearance at will, I realized that I needed to make him someone who would not be obsessed with using his special gift to merely look more attractive. He needed to be smart enough to not complicate his life by running petty scams. He needed to be shy enough not to want to draw attention to himself by showing up at parties appearing to be a celebrity.

Think Real 1How many ways could you make your life easier, or even just more interesting, if you could look like anyone? I spent a good bit of time trying to devise the possibilities that might occur to a real life shape shifter.

Then I considered the many ways that using such a talent could leave you embarrassed, without friends, or in even trouble with the law. In order to contain my story, I had to figure out reasons that Zane would chose to use his gift sparingly. I decided that, in essence, he needed to be a twenty something who was wise well beyond his years.

But does age equal wisdom? I’ve known too many people in their sixties, seventies and eighties who are obsessed with petty concerns. They may be more focused on their own back problems than they are with partying, but the focus is still on self and their grasp of the consequences of poor choices is weak. I’ve also been privileged to know a few far younger who appear to carry wisdom as part of their very nature.

One would think that more experiences, and more mistakes, would give a human more chances to learn the important lessons in life. But it doesn’t always happen that way, which makes me think that just because you are given a lot of opportunities to learn something, it doesn’t mean that you will.

Then I realized that perhaps my character Zane had an advantage in the early gaining of wisdom department. If you could look like anyone at all, wouldn’t you figure out pretty quickly that a human is not defined by what they look like, but by what they are like inside? I think you would.

(Please visit the Facebook page of Think it Real and drop off of like for the image shown here.)

Who says the end of the world can’t be fun?

good sign 4Arggghhh … this happens every time I finish a book. I forget to pay bills. I forget people’s birthdays. I forget to post on my blogs and I love writing on my blogs. (I’m okay with birthdays and not terribly fond of the bill paying). And I’ve had so many great ideas to post about here, too, over the last few weeks … but never got them down on paper.

What I did manage was to get the newer, sleeker, better version of x0 out on Kindle, repubbed as a 2nd edition in paperback, and — finally late last night — resubmitted to Smashwords where it is now part of a site-wide promotion and available for exactly no dollars and no cents. Check it out!

What I also managed to to was do get my latest and greatest love — d4 — to the point where it is only three writing days away from being done and ready to share with the first of my beta readers. I’m lost in this story. It is unlike any of the previous ones, and yet carries a connection to the novel y1 and to the organization y1 as well. Zane and his shape shifting talents make a second and crucial appearance and Toby comes out of the shadows as well to help save the world with his philosophy of economic fairness.The encouragement to be the person you were meant to be continues, but the melody is perhaps sung an octave higher or lower, with a few new interesting minor chords as well.

I promise, it will be the most enjoyable pre-apocalyptic novel you will ever read. Who says the end of the world can’t be fun?

(Please drop by Facebook and give the clever folks at This s a Good Sign a like for the great visual above.)

State pride

texas-bluebonnetsI’m struggling right now with news that members of the Texas GOP want to take a stance against the gay community. The moderates seem to want to recommend therapy for those seeking to escape from their homosexual lifestyle while the hardliners would prefer a statement that homosexuality tears at the fabric of society. Seriously?

These freedom loving folks — who so clearly do not want the government telling them how to live their lives — seem hell bent on telling about 10% of the population how to live. Is there no sense of irony in the GOP?

Today as I was looking for a post to move to this new umbrella blog, I stumbled on a video from awhile back. It reminds me that Texans of all kinds value courtesy, freedom of choice and just plain old letting others be themselves.

The Texans in this video make me proud of my home state.  I wish that more of them were helping to write the GOP platform.

Jump for Joy

Click to visit Jump for Joy

Click to visit Jump for Joy

When I started blogging to promote my books, I had no idea the extent to which entering the world of bloggers would be its own reward. There is a joy to keeping a journal, and a feeling of accomplishment in working to make it interesting, well-written and attractive to others. Better than that, though, is that when random people like a post of yours, you look at their blog. And so many times you discover something wonderful.

I’ve been using the phrase “dance for joy” as a tag line for my novel y1. One of the main characters is a fire dancer from Kiribati and the story itself centers around the human need to seek joy in one’s own life. But jumping for joy is close, so when I came across a blog called Jump for Joy I had to check it out. Wow. It is a photo project “Showcasing the beauty of the human spirit — in mid-air — around the world”.

If looking through these beautiful photos of all kinds of people everywhere leaping into the air doesn’t make you smile all the way down to your bones, I don’t what will. Visit them and enjoy!

 

Still caring about those reviews

Hope 1y1 has been out for a while now, and it has several dozen reviews under its belt, here and there. None-the-less it makes my day when I find a new one, especially when the reader enjoyed the book. Let’s face it. I’ve poured my heart and soul into this story, and yes I do crave feedback. Sales only provide me with a cold, dry number.

A writer wants to know what total strangers, ones who like the kinds of books she writes, think about her book. So yes, reviews matter to a writer, whether they should or not.  I imagine they must mean as much to an actor, or a musician or anyone who puts themselves out there to entertain and amuse the world, and there is no way around that. Once a books has hundreds of reviews, I suppose that individual ones matter less. I hope some day to find out.

Imagine my joy the other day when I was doing a search for something else and found the wonderful blog The Printed Word which features reviews by Melissa. There it was, a review of y1 posted January 10,  2014. Her review begins with “I give this book a 5 out of 5. Once again, Sherrie Cronin shows off her amazing research skills! Like the first novel in the series, x0, she weaves real facts and controversial, sensitive topics in with the fictional Zeitman family. This time we follow Lola’s son, Zane, as he learns at a young age that he can adjust his appearance to better blend in, much like a chameleon.”

What a wonderful surprise. I’m going to kick up my heels and dance for joy.

(Thanks to Zen2Zany on Facebook for the image that appears above.)

Living vicariously through your characters

Authors note: My third novel z2 is currently on blog tour through the fine folks at Reading Addiction Virtual Book Tours. The post below is part of that tour and it appeared a a couple of weeks ago on a blog called My Devotional Thoughts. It was inspired by a post I wrote here back in 2012, three whole books ago. A lot has changed for me since then, but apparently other things haven’t changed much at all.

Should you write about what know already, or about things that you wish you could do? Conventional wisdom says that your books should be about things you know. However, writing a novel takes a tremendous amount of research, planning and day dreaming. I’ve decided to use that energy to enter worlds I barely know but have always wanted to visit.

sailboatWith my first novel, x0, I adhered to normal perhaps a little too well. The hero of x0 spends her days largely doing what I do, interpreting seismic data for an oil company. She loves her husband and three children, plants flowers and loves to travel.  Okay, she also spends a little time reading minds, but other than that she and I both have similar lives.

By the time I started y1, the second novel in this collection, I was getting restless. I have always wanted to learn to sail, and to visit the South Pacific. My husband has no interest in the first and little in the second. That’s when I discovered one of the reasons that I write.

Guess whose second book takes place on a sailboat in the Pacific? y1 let me not only learn to sail, it let me hear the sounds of the gulls and feel the plunk of the waves hitting my boat. I woke many mornings to the smell of salt air as I studied navigation charts and planned my routes. It was a wonderful year at sea, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Maya 2Of course, my second book took a lot more research than my first and it took longer to write. It got me over being shy as I sought out beta readers who really had sailed, traveled though and even lived in the areas I wrote about. Now they are part of my life, having enriched it with their details of places I may never see.

I once considered being an archeologist, visiting exotic ancient tombs and solving mysteries from times long past. I don’t do that, but as I wrote z2, I swatted mosquitoes in Belize with the best of them as I uncovered artifacts and learned to read numbers in Mayan while I was at it.

Did I mention that I once wanted to climb Mount Everest? I know now that it’s a dangerous and expensive undertaking, but my latest novel c3 boasts a young woman attempting to summit the world’s third highest peak. I climbed every step with her, and I never had to leave my front porch.

It is true that my research slows my writing down, but I consider myself blessed to have the chance to create stories that enable me and others to enjoy alternate existences that would come at too high a price in our real lives.  To me, that is what a book does best.

Creating the future

fractal 3I’m deep into writing d4 now, and am finding that it has an underlying connection with my second novel y1. This doesn’t surprise me, I always saw the second three novels in the collection 46.Ascending as being an “octave up”, if you will, from the first three books. Sort of a one-three-five set of chords played once, and then played again. The simplest of songs, because of course I’m not a song writer, but just a word writer. By our very nature we write simple music.

In y1, my character Toby has no objection to people earning wealth, but he takes offense at those who hold onto the wealth earned by others. I was surprised recently to learn that CNN news anchor Anderson Cooper is the son of blue jean designer and heiress Gloria Vanderbilt, who for philosophical reasons does not intend to pass any of her wealth along to her son. Interesting.

d4 is back to asking questions about wealth and why we are so driven to accumulate it and whether the rules we have in place concerning it are fair. In my research I stumbled on this article from an investment manager who breaks the “top one percent” into smaller increments and describes them. Those in the lower 90 percent of the “top one percent” tend to be doctors, lawyers, middle managers and successful small business owners who have generally Psychedelic 1trained hard and work hard for their money and although they enjoy more, they still struggle with economic concerns. The author contrasts them with the 0.01 percent who claim a considerably larger share of wealth than all the others combined and who benefit specifically from laws and policies that slant the odds ever more in their favor. It is worth reading and thinking about.

I’ve become a big fan of Daily Science Fiction and the story today impressed me more than most, perhaps because it played right into my mood after just finishing the article above. Called “Life on Mars” by Kelly Jennings it tells of the discovery of extraterrestrial life from the point of view of a woman too overworked and tired to really care. It is well worth reading also.

Unlike y1, d4 is a book about the future, and how we create the future every day by the choices that we make. One has to look at the policies we have in place now and wonder about the kind of world we are in the process of making.