Thursday, November 30, 2017

Green Sky: Three Books from my Youth

So, often I'm asked "who are your influences", and a name I immediately go to is Zlipha Keatly Snyder.  And that's largely because of the three books of her Green-Sky trilogy: Below the RootAnd All Between, and Until the Celebration.  

This trilogy was significant to me for so many reasons.  For one, it was very much the fantasy series that I consider my entry into the genre.  Nothing had previously captured my attention as a fantasy world like Green Sky did.  It was a glorious, ardent world of a city in the treetops, where the people could fly and glide from branch to branch.  And it was a world with a dark secret.

The first book focuses on Raamo, a young man who begins his training as part of the elite priest caste, the Ol-zhaan.  He's been sought out to join because he's especially gifted in the Spirit powers, which the Ol-zhaan are supposed to be masters of, but it turns out most of them have little-to-no ability in them.  With two of his plucky youthful companions, he starts looking deeper into the dark secrets of the forbidden ground, which is supposedly populated by monsters.  But when Raamo and his friends discover a girl on the ground, they learn it's not monsters at all, but people, trapped underground.

The second book shifts perspectives to Teera, the young girl, starting with her inadvertent escape from the underground prison her people live in.  They're held in by the magically powerful Roots that are impossible to burn or cut.  The Root was created by the Spirit powers, because those people had been banished by the Ol-zhaan to protect the true secret of Green Sky.  You see, the people of Green Sky came from Earth, which had been destroyed in horrible wars.  (See, it's sci-fi embedded in a fantasy.)  Two factions formed, one who wanted to tell the people the truth of their origins, and the other who wanted to keep it a secret forever, hoping that ignorance of their violent past would help them stay peaceful forever. The tell-the-truth faction lost, and they were banished.  But now the truth is out and public, and there's no hiding it... especially since the reuniting of these two peoples has reawakened the Spirit powers.

The third book does something unexpected. It's all about the messy fall-out of trying to unite these people, and how it does bring about the very violence that had been unknown all this time.  It then goes on to, well, kind of a downer ending, mostly about how saviors and messiahs aren't always going to be able to patch everything up and lead the people into a golden age.

But this series taught be about how fantasy can be anything.  Which is such an important lesson.  If you can find them (which is apparently challenging to do), go check them out.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Cover Reveal: The Burned Spy

Guys, guys, guys, I'm so happy to show off the cover for the first book in my Immortal Spy Urban Fantasy series, The Burned Spy. 


Summoned back from exile to find who assaulted the Norse pantheon's ambassador, disavowed Dark Ops agent Bix will have to tangle with the spy agency that burned her, the angels who prosecuted her, and ex-lovers who could have taken jealousy way too far.

The eBook is available at online retailers for pre-order. It'll be released January 30, 2018, in print and eBook. If you want to be notified the day it drops, sign up for my newsletter at

Pre-Order the eBook Today: Amazon Kindle   | B&N Nook  |  iBooks   |  Kobo

Now, as for this week's blog topic: 3 Fondly Remembered Books from My Childhood

1. Uncle Wiggly's Story Book
A series of short stories that were cute and none too frightening. Nurse Jane Fuzzy Wuzzy is still a favorite that my family retells around the dinner table during the holidays.

2. Tikki Tikki Tembo by Arlene Mosel
Do you know how rare it is to find a book where the younger sibling gets to save the elder? Okay, when I was a kid, it was rare. Chang was my hero. Yes, as an adult, I understand the controversies and why the content is considered offensive.

3. Gnomes by Rein Poortvliet
The illustrations got me first. I would flip through this book for hours before I learned to read; once I figured out phonetics, I would memorize the passages and recite them to myself while watering the weeds my neighbor had ripped out of his garden. What? I was trying to help the gnomes!

Monday, November 27, 2017

My biggest influences were comic books.

I believe the notion is to share the most influential books from my youth and I can do that, but my answer might not be what you expected.

First. let me explain that I come from a family of readers. I inherited a vast collection of comic books from my brothers as I grew up and I read them al, voraciously. If it involved people in four color costumes with spangles and contraptions, the odds were I'd read it. If those stories involved some variation on the monster theme, I was there even faster.

Listen, my father figure growing up were my two older brothrs and damned near every person who got into a costume to fight the bad guys. Spider-man, Superman, Batman, Daredevil, the Fantastic Four, the Avengers, the hulk. T^hey were all there teaching me lessons on right and wrong, and when the writers used a word I was unfamiliar with, I was right there learning a new word with the use of the family dictionary.

there was a time when the principal of the local school came by the house, I believe to get his suit altered by my mother (She was a tailor and made extra money for raising the kids with a lot of   for restaurants, etc.). She lamented that the only thing she could get her kids to read was comic books and the man laughed and said. "At least they are reading." Never met the man myself but I'd have loved to shake his hand.

Comic books. Monster comic books. The Man-Thing. The Swamp Thing. Morbius the living vampire, Werewolf By Night, Tomb of Dracula, the Monster of Frankenstein The House of Secrets, Journey into Mystery, The Ghost Rider,  Tales of the Zombie, The Demon, Any variation on that theme and I was ecstatic. Daimon Hellstorm, the Son of Satan and his sister, Satana. Lilith Dracula's Daughter. Tigra the Were-Woman.  All of them helped shape me. The Spectre dealt out harsh punishments to the bad guys. They often had a screwed up moral code, but they paid the price for it when they were wrong. They were among the voices that taught me right from wrong and how to behave myself in society.

There were more of them, but I suspect you get the idea.

One of the most amazing moments in my early years? Batman takes on the Swamp Thing and loses.

Seriously. Think about that.

Batman, who has saved Gotham City countless times, who has managed to thwart the Joker and Two Face and h, so many more, fought the swap Thing and got his butt handed to him. That was utterly mind blowing to me.

But as unsettling as it seems to most, there were morality plays at work here. Even the darkest of the heroes had enemies who were even darker.

Pick three, you say?




The Swamp Thing. Pull any of those titles from the early to late seventies, and I was there. reading and studying the artwork of legends like Jack Kirby, Gene Colan, Bernie Wrightson and Pablo Marcos. Doug Ploog was there. And there were so many more. And the writers!  Denny O'Neil, Marv Wolfman (Yes, that's his real name),  Stan Lee, Roy Thomas, the list is too damned long to even seriously contemplate.

They were my first three, top of the line influences.

I never once said I was normal.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Three Books I'm Buying My Grandkids

Our topic at the SFF Seven this week is three books from our childhood that we still remember fondly and why. This is funny, because I recently brought up the above book - THE ABANDONED by Paul Gallico - as a book I've never forgotten, and that I think I might be the only kid on the planet who read it. (Although the Goodreads listing argues otherwise!)

Then I went and bought it to give my granddaughter for Christmas. (Don't worry - she's too young to follow my blog. I'm pretty sure...) This is the perfect book for her because she's cat crazy. And this is about a little boy who becomes a cat. It contains the mantra for the ages: When in doubt, wash. It's a haunting story about being other and about finding self.

I might have to give it a reread before I wrap it up.

Because this is a blog of fantasy and science fiction writers, I feel I must mention my gateway drug to both: DRAGONSONG by Anne McCaffrey. I feel that I should mention that this book has more than 40K ratings on Goodreads, as opposed to ~1,100 for THE ABANDONED. So, relatively speaking, I am about the only person who read the latter, compared to the former. DRAGONSONG is well loved and rightly so. It's the story of a young girl on the planet Pern, and how she tames fire lizards and finds her place in the world as a musician. This book lit me up to the possibilities of fantasy and I really never looked back.

There are many books to choose from, of course, but in the SFF realm, it's sad for me how few have held up over time. I loved Susan Cooper's Dark Is Rising books, but the worldbuilding underpinnings don't work for me. And not just now - I went back and reread to fill in some pieces and they simply aren't there. Other books I loved turned out to have religious agendas, alas.

But one that has withstood the test of time - and has arguably grown richer for it - is A WRINKLE IN TIME by Madeleine L'Engle. And with the movie version finally coming out (after, lo, these 40+ years), this is the time to reread, and get your younger peeps to read, before the movie comes out, as we all know the book is inevitably better.

That said, the movie comes out on March 9, which is my mom's birthday. I'm thinking we should maybe go see it together, to celebrate our history with this book, this author, and all things mother/daughter. Take a look at that incredible trailer! FANTASTIC, in all the best senses of the word.

Books make great gifts! Just saying :D

In other news, I'm participating in Patrick Rothfuss's Worldbuilders fundraiser. You can bid to win a critique from me or a Tuckerization in my new series! But there's only 9 hours left in the auctions as of this posting, so hasten thee over!

Saturday, November 25, 2017

My Three Favorite Charities

I love our topic at SFF7 this week! I firmly believe in giving back and paying good things forward.

I tend to focus on three areas of charitable giving or support: veterans, children and animals, based on my own life and what's most important to me.

The specific charities I support may change from year to year but here are a few to which I've given support currently or in the past:

Hero Dogs, Inc. - Service dogs for veterans. With my friend Pauline B. Jones, I've co-organized the USA Today Best Selling Pets In Space scifi romance limited edition anthology for the past two years, and we make a donation to Hero Dogs from the first month's royalties earned by this USA Today Best Selling anthology.

The Pasadena Humane Society and SPCA -  my two rescue cats Jake and Keanu came from here (and my daughters' cats Carrot and Orly before that) and I admire the work they do.

Rainbow Acres Ranch -  From their webpage: "For over 40 years, we've been empowering people with developmental disabilities to live to their fullest potential with dignity and purpose." For many years, one of my dearest friends and her husband went annually to volunteer their time and talents there, so I chose to support them as well.

GLAZA - the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens. When my girls were young, we went there all the time and I tried to support them as much as I could.

LZ Grace Warriors Retreat -  From their webpage: "Landing Zone Grace (LZ-Grace) provides a place of respite for combat weary warriors and their families. The goal of this family farm is to provide a sanctuary of rest, renewal and hope to Special Operations Forces (from all branches of the military) transitioning from combat to life at home."

There are so many worthy organizations out there, so many needs crying out to be addressed. I always wish I could do more but we can each only do what's possible for our own situation and try to help those who are less fortunate than we may be today.

At various times, I’ve also supported the American Cancer Society, the Red Cross, St. Jude’s Hospital, Susan G. Komen For the Cure, UNICEF, the Salvation Army, Goodwill, and various organizations fighting the AIDS epidemic, as well as smaller, localized charities whose names would not be familiar. When I had the day job, I always also donated to United Way from my paycheck.

As you can probably tell, my choice of which charities to support varies with what’s going on in my own life, or with my family and friends. That leaves out so many wonderful causes like bomb removal in war torn areas, world famine, malaria prevention, lack of clean water in impoverished parts of the world, Doctors Without Borders...but for me, the focus is more localized.

Best wishes to you and yours for a very warm, happy and safe holiday season.

Friday, November 24, 2017


It's a warm Thanksgiving on Florida's west coast - a day of clouds looming and threats of thunder storms that never materialized. I have never in my life gotten to have Thanksgiving dinner while comfortably wearing shorts and sandals. So there's that to be grateful for. Not to mention that finally, my family is together again after we'd been strewn across the continent. And while we're still in monetary recovery after the vast awful that was Autolycus's final illness followed rapidly by Hatshepsut's near brush with the grim feline reaper, we ARE recovering. For that we are entirely grateful.

Part of being grateful is sharing the good fortune. The first place I like to send my support is a (now) local charity that will surprise exactly no one who knows me:

Big Cat Rescue

They are one of the largest accredited big cat sanctuaries in the world. They take in big cats from all over the US and, in some cases, the world. They advocate for the shift in legislation throughout the US to end the trade of big cats - either as 'pets', performers, or for fur harvest. They take amazing care of their animals and many of their cats live to unheard of ages because of it. You can also take tours - no - no petting or contact with the cats. They are a sanctuary and that means preserving the cats in as wild a state as possible within the confines of not being able to return them to the wild. When they rescue injured bobcats or panthers, they DO return the animals to the wild after they've been rehabilitated. Still. I can recommend the tour. There's nothing like hearing a cougar purr at you. Or Joseph lion roaring.

Because politics. This group is a grassroots movement aimed at using small, public contributions to elect citizens to office. Term limits are a big ticket item for this group. They're working at city and state levels in order to build momentum for bigger races. Defeating a super PAC in a national election is the goal. It's also possible I'm channeling some $$ to specific candidates whose goals align with mine. I cannot legally take a flamethrower to the current Pennywise the Clown and minions inhabiting the halls of government, so this is the next best thing that won't end with me in prison.

Nature Conservancy

Because it's all about habitat. We know that wildlife requires land that humans haven't paved over. We get that if we want to go on breathing we need trees. And algae. And plankton. But who wants to dedicate a vast tract of their farm land to preserving a weird three spotted lizard? Or a rare venomous spider? The Nature Conservancy takes a realistic view of preserving land for wildlife. They buy it. Or trade tracts of critical habitat for other land that can then be used by humans. Their success stories are pretty good.

Bonus: Check out

I think that especially when life is difficult - in the midst of loss - it's vital to take a moment daily to practice gratitude and to say thank you. So thank you. I am grateful you're here.

Thursday, November 23, 2017


This will be quick, because I have plenty on my plate but:
  • If you've ever bought one or all of my books...
  • If you've read and loved the stories of Maradaine...
  • If you've been looking forward to the books to come...
  • If you've told a friend to try out my books...
  • If you've left a review on Amazon or Goodreads...
  • If you consider yourself a fan...
Then, thank you, thank you, thank you.  From the bottom of my heart, it means the world to me. 
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving. 

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

I wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving amid the people who love you most!

Because it is the season of thankfulness as well as the kick-off of the traditionally recognized annual big-gift-giving event, it's time to think about others, and this week here on the blog we're sharing our favorite charities. Here are mine, and why: 

1.)  Veterans of Foreign Wars
I used to be a barmaid at my local VFW. I'm also a lifetime member. Many nights, I've kept the beers flowing while these men who served our country regale the crowd with their tales. Fewer nights, I've served a glass of something harder while someone stared into their glass trying to force some awful image that seemed stuck in their mind's eye. I've seen a vet of the Iraq War who turned to heroine. I've seen men who served and came home safe seemingly unscathed...then lost their whole family to random stateside tragedies, yet they have found a way to carry on despite an ache that will never abate. I've helped vets get their ties and medals just right before a parade, and I've seen a Korean War vet (1950-3) sing karaoke.

Also, the VFW has a variety of community outreach programs and scholarships. Supporting the VFW is supporting good people in your own community.

2.)  Any Animal Rescue / No Kill Shelter
A friend of mine who passed away years ago had a cat shelter. She actively trapped feral cats, got them spayed or neutered and re-released them if they were not tamable. She also took other housecats and worked to find them good homes. I had one such cat come into my life for a while. He was a gray tabby with six toes, a mitten-paw. He'd been a feral cat trapped and tamed and I loved him enough to deal with my cat allergy.  Also, my dog Bela came from a no-kill shelter. For eleven years now, she's been a wonderful addition to our family (i.e. being the floor pillow when the boys watched cartoons, protecting our yard from evil squirrels, keeping us warm on cold winter nights, and the source of much laughter).

I say all that because I know the hard work that goes into a rescue, and the benefits to the animal and the family that adopts.

3.)  The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
From the internet: For nearly 100 years, the ACLU has been our nation’s guardian of liberty, working in courts, legislatures, and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties that the Constitution and the laws of the United States guarantee everyone in this country.

Whether it’s achieving full equality for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people; establishing new privacy protections for our digital age of widespread government surveillance; ending mass incarceration; or preserving the right to vote or the right to have an abortion; the ACLU takes up the toughest civil liberties cases and issues to defend all people from government abuse and overreach.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Of Gratitude & Grace: 3 Charities to Consider

In this season of gratitude and grace, I'm happy to share the three categories of charities to whom I donate. The specific charities vary depending on personal factors. If any of these inspire you to contribute--particularly at a local level--remember donations typically fall into three groups: money, goods, or time-in-person. Much of which is tax-deductible (for now).

1. Local Dog Rescues
I donate to breed-specific rescues simply because I've adopted from breed rescues; though, shelters and local SPCAs are just as deserving. Remember: if you are adopting a new critter during the holidays, be extra patient. The noise, the amped emotions, and abnormal routines make it difficult for the critter and the new owner(s) to find their balance. Give your adoptee a safe, quiet place away from the commotion and personal-space-invaders where your new critter can claim sanctuary.  If possible, wait until after the chaos of the holidays to bring home a new-to-you pet. Not only are you more likely to be back into your day-to-day routine, but the shelters take in a lot of unwanted "presents" in the weeks following the holidays.

2. Women's Shelters
The quest for safety, independence, and dignity is not easy regardless of the circumstances that bring a woman to a shelter. If she's brave enough to seek help, then help should be there. However, I'm very particular about which shelters receive my assistance because I have very strong beliefs that don't commonly align with organizations that infiltrate shelter management to inflict their version of morality on emotionally vulnerable women. 

3. Literacy Groups
It may seem self-serving for an author to donate to a literacy group, but I'm a firm believer that once a person learns to read, they gain the most important tool they'll need to achieve their dreams. These groups serve more than children. If kids aren't your thing, there are a lot of adults who need the help and who have the drive to succeed.

Monday, November 20, 2017


Well, it's that time of year again. for a lot of people that means a time to be thankful. there are exceptions, of course.

I am always thankful this time of year. I have a roof over my head. I have loved ones, I have my health, mostly, and I have my career.

Charities? I have a few of those, too.

First, I like to give to my local library, I give books. I used to have a lot of them. My stack is much smaller these days.

Second I give to the local fire department and police department. Mostly I give when they are doing handouts for other charities. They do that, you know. In addition to the time they spend keeping us safe, they often find the extra time to help a family in need or a children's ward at the local hospital. I tend to give when they ask.

The Salvation Army. I don't always agree with their politics. Okay I almost never agree with their politics. But they actually do more with the donations than most, so I give to the Salvation Army when they are around during the holidays, and I give donations to their stores when I find that I have once again collected clothes I no longer wear, books I have read, kitchen supplies I thought I'd need but never really require.

What does it cost me? I seldom look at the possible profits.

I am grateful, you see, for all that I have.

I was raised by a mother who was doing her best with six children. She did an amazing amount with what little she had and we were never lacking when it came to the important stuff.

I have a roof over my head.
I have a career that I love.
I have friends, and family and loved ones.

I have contracts coming my way and ideas in my head. I am thankful.

May you have endless reasons to be thankful this year and next and beyond that, too.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

My Three Favorite Charities

Jackson likes to sit outside my office window and stare at me. I have no idea why. If I offer to let him in, he's not interested. I suspect attempts at kitty mind control.

Before I go much further - and though I don't often mention my contemporary romances here - I thought I should point out that my WITH A PRINCE takes place during U.S. Thanksgiving. Which is this week for us! So if you or someone near and dear who loves romance, are looking for a seasonal read. This is a fine choice. There's cooking, the actual feast - and dinner table drama complete with hashtags. It's very fun.

And because it's Thanksgiving, this week at the SFF Seven we're all talking about our three favorite charities, those ways we give back and share our bounty.

I'm not a big fan of broadcasting how and when I give to charity. I'm a big believer that the only true charity is anonymous, that you're only truly giving if no one knows you've done it. If people know, or if you make a big deal of yourself, then it can be more about ego than actual giving. This is one reason I rarely get involved in book-selling efforts that give a percentage to charity. To my mind, this is using giving as a marketing technique. I think it's fine to funnel proceeds to a worthy cause, but if the core reason for doing that is to increase sales, then I find that squicky.

I do, however, believe in financially supporting the organizations and causes I believe in. As much as possible, I prefer to pick and choose those myself.

This is a general bucket for my very specific choices. I like Go Fund Me because I can support individuals who need help. A lot of the time these are older authors who've fallen on hard times - many writers are self-insured, which means they might have crappy health insurance or none at all - and their incomes can be uneven. It's a great way to lend a helping hand and I feel the small amount I can afford goes a long way, with no corporate overhead to support.

I believe that core to women's ability to live and work as free human beings is access to birth control and abortion. Both of these are about control of one's own body and health. Also, I believe all children in a wealthy, technological society should be wanted, planned, and given every advantage, pre- and post-natal. Thus I support Planned Parenthood, which is also often the only source of health care, full stop, for many lower income women. I give often.

Political Campaigns

I was raised in a politically active family, and I donate to the campaigns of the candidates who espouse the values I believe in. With a House of Representatives chock-a-block full of GOP privileged rich kids that just passed a tax reform bill that will hammer the middle class while giving the wealthiest Americans tax breaks, you can believe I'm donating to Democratic candidates across the country. Until we legislate campaign finance reform, the only way to battle money is with money. And it's no longer enough to support only local candidates - if senators and representatives from other states can mess with my health insurance and ability to pay my bills, you bet I have an investment in whether or not they're re-elected.

Unexpectedly political for a Thanksgiving post! But so it goes in the land of plenty, where we've passed the one year mark since Trump was elected and the GOP given free reign to loot as much as they can until we clean house in the 2018 mid-term elections. 

Next Thanksgiving, I'm hoping to be a LOT more grateful!

In the meanwhile, enjoy your own celebrations of gratitude, whether it be with family, friends, or savoring your own quiet. Eat something delicious with joy, get some rest, do something only because it's fun, and give something to someone else anonymously. May it bring you happiness. 

Saturday, November 18, 2017


Purchased from DepositPhoto
I've got a real deja vu feeling - I swear I've written on this topic before, for this very blog...

OK, so for my science fiction, I don't go too deep into the science because that's constantly changing and what was true today is wrong tomorrow but take a time machine and it'll be correct yesterday. 

So I went with the "Alien" and "Aliens'' kind of future - lived in, people are pretty much the same fundamentally, but with cooler tech...and there are aliens (duh), both on our side and very much against us in my future civilization, known as the Sectors.If I need to add something nifty and complex for part of a plot, I go off and research whatever we have nowadays that will help me make my ship/feature/alien/weapon/civilization feel more grounded in reality for the readers. so I've researched cruise ships, aircraft carriers, sequioa trees, ancient ball games, anatomy of insects, Special Forces training, synthesia, surgical techniques for penetrating abdominal wounds, Legionnaires Disease.....and some aspects of my world building just spring full blown from my own brain.

For my ancient Egyptian novels, there's the entire history of the land along the Nile to look at and draw from. 

I'm not trying to be dismissive, but as I've mentioned here before, I'm not a deep thinker of craft...I'm a story teller who puts in enough background to support the story and my characters, and have it all feel right to my readers. The more books I write, the more my universe becomes fleshed out and the more connecting links there are between the stories. It feels like organic growth to seat-of-the-pants writer me, versus sitting down and developing a Tolkienesque world with maps and backstory going generations into the past. I applaud people who can do that and want to do that and need to do that for their books - it's just not me. (I will not be writing any epic fantasies anytime soon, can you tell? I read them with relish though - give me more Jeffe Kennedy books any day!)

Here's an excerpt from my latest scifi romance, The Fated Stars, where the characters give a bit of world building history I've alluded to in various books but never detailed before:

Larissa swallowed hard. “Another fact you should probably know—most humans can’t even look directly at Mawreg. There’s something about them that can drive a human insane.”

Samell stared at her, even as Pete and Donnie nodded. “When we go on sorties into their camps to rescue people or take the entire operation down, we have to wear helmets with special filter goggles and even then a few guys have lost their minds. Mawreg are bad ass, spooky.”

“And we haven’t got any of those helmets here,” Donnie added. “Not a piece of tech I can whip up from spare parts either.”

“Are you serious? I find this concept hard to grasp—how can merely gazing upon the alien can make a person lose their mind?” Samell’s voice was polite.

“First encounter between our kind and the Mawreg was a peaceful scientific expedition, all excited to have met another spacefaring race,” Larissa said.

“The Peronelle. Learned about it in school, in Sectors history class.” Pete confirmed the tale. “Hundreds of years ago. Luckily the humans already had a few interstellar allies and fairly soon after met the Mellureans for the first time. Now they are badass.”

“The Peronelle survivors the Mawreg spared to tell the tale described in gruesome detail how their comrades went insane when forced to watch their hosts. The ship’s AI had vids to corroborate. The vids also showed the Mawreg eating people alive, and conducting horrific experiments on others. Apparently the aliens thought it would frighten us into surrendering and accepting their rule, but all it did was make us determined to do battle every chance we got. No truce, no quarter given.” Larissa sighed. “And the war’s been raging ever since.”

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Friday, November 17, 2017

What World May Be

In no way can I tell you where I got the bug put into my author brain, but here it is. We can dissect it if you wish.

The bug has many legs. It's tiny and hard to see, but it likes to talk. It says that the way to build a believable world/universe/magic system is to limit your change to one major concept. In UF that's easy. Magic happens. The details of how/why/consequences are where the interesting stuff comes in. In SF(R) the major accepted thing is generally space flight. Then it's a matter of what happens when our heroes encounter aliens or aliens encounter them or what happens when the onboard computer says, "I'm sorry, Dave. I afraid I can't do that."

For the most part, the broad strokes don't need a lot of research in my experience. It's the details that do. Take the space flight thing. We're in a space ship! We're getting away from the bad guys! Until they blow out our engine (right before you take the shot that destroys them - thanks for that.) And now we're adrift. We're inside a solar system. So hey! Solar sail! No problem! Uh. Wait. So. Exactly WHAT can I use as a solar sail? Oh hey look. NASA has a position paper out about a theoretical new kind of sail called an e-sail. Hey. That looks cool! So. How fast could we go with that? How far?

Funny. That summary white paper can't answer those questions. And neither can I. So off to ask people with actual training. You do know there are Reddits and forums and message boards where actual rocket scientists hang out? There're even a bunch on Facebook. A few of them will point and laugh when I ask newbie questions, but 99% of the folks really want the rest of us to be science-literate and will offer encyclopedic answers to questions about what kind of acceleration can I expect a ship to put on with a sail blah, blah, red giant, post helium flash, blah. 

Jeffe saw that question go up in one forum and can attest to the awesome answers I got from a handful of really bright people. Made me wish the solar sail figured into more of the story, but alas. We have aliens to vanquish yet. 

Yes. Searching the interwebs for stuff first is the right thing to do - I do find that I can usually garner a broad base understanding of something like nano - technology, but when it comes to how someone would harness nanotech to weaponize it, I didn't have anyone to ask. I had to read and read and then make some guesses. Guesses that I might have gotten dead wrong (though no one has said anything about it yet if I did.) 

And there's the other thing the bug likes to whisper. Don't get so caught up in the research and in being RIGHT that you sacrifice story. Readers will forgive a lot if they're shown a good time inside a story. 

So sure. Research. But make sure you get out there after those villians at great cost to your heroes and heroines. 

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Worldbuilding: Research for Invented Cultures

I've had one challenge that comes up in my worldbuilding process:  How do you research for a culture that doesn't have a real-world parallel?  Or borrows elements from several different ones in a way that makes it its own thing?  And how do you make it work on the page?
Part of the challenge is that, no matter what you do, some readers will bring their own biases to it.  What does that mean?  It means that readers will seek the familiar, and that includes trying to slap on some serial numbers on things that you didn't even scrub them off of.  What does this mean?  It means your readers will sometimes find parallels to real-world cultures that you never intended.
And then ping you for doing it wrong.
Can this be avoided completely?  No, of course not.  But there's things you can do to minimize it.
  • Don't make your racial distinctions stereotypical or offensive. Make your secondary words racially diverse, but try to be aware of how you depict that.  I've found Writing With Color to be a great resource to help with that.
  • Learn where your culture is coming from, from the ground up.  I'm not saying you have to build it entirely from the bottom. But if you understand some underlying basics-- what they grow, how they use that, what they eat, what they build-- that gives you the tools to guide them in their own unique way.
  • Steer their language away from the obvious.  If you're looking at your new culture and think to yourself, "this sounds like Eastern Europe", consider making the language base (and thus how you name places and people) something that is nothing like Eastern Europe.  Vulgar is a great resource for that.
All right, I'm getting on a plane early tomorrow, and plenty to do to get ready, so I'll see you all later.  Or perhaps in Portland!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Topic: What “Doing the Research” Means for a New Fantasy or Alien Cultures

Before I delve into the meat of this post, one short reminder: 

Look me up by artist (Linda Reinhardt) 
or by the album (JOVIENNE).

As for the weekly topic...
I’m going to talk about one admittedly narrow point, but it is dear to me.


With my upcoming and as yet untitled fantasy novel, one of the things that I spent a lot of time deliberating with myself on concerning this alien culture was language. Especially the titles of the military, as much of the story takes place around the armed force of the kingdom.

I had a real problem with the word Lieutenant.

It sounds and looks WAY to French to be showing up in my not-even-close-to-Earth-tale. But all the titles seem, in some way, objectionable to me from that point of view (General, Corporal, Chief Petty Officer, etc.)

There are two arguments for using our terminology.

1.)     If I use General, most readers will inherently understand that he is calling the shots and outranks a captain.

2.)   The tale is already presumed by the reader to be a translation from whatever language is native to that world – which would not be English. Use whatever understood words are closest. 

The argument for giving this new culture it’s own terms:

       1.) It feels more immersive.

But there’s a flaw:

       If I make up rank titles, I’m choosing to replace brevity with something that requires explanation – because the reader isn’t going to inherently understand who’s higher ranking, that very likely means I’m using exposition.

An argument specific to #2 above is:

Using obviously foreign-influenced words and modern slang (EX. - having characters refer to their best friends as either ‘chica’ or ‘homie’ which might ‘translate’ perfectly, might jar readers out of their suspension of disbelief because it doesn’t ‘feel’ true.

In the end I used—

Nah. You’ll have to wait and read it to see….

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Dodging the Bottomless Pit of Research: 3 Areas for Quick-Hit World Building

I do way more research for Urban Fantasy than I do for High Fantasy because in Urban Fantasy I'm borrowing from established mythology and folklore. For High Fantasy...What's that? What exactly is High Fantasy? I define it as a "second-world" setting; the story doesn't happen in an alternate version of a typically European country at some point in history. That sub-genre allows me great liberties and freedoms to build anew; however, I have to keep certain fundamental concepts and minutiae familiar so I don't lose the reader in irrelevant-to-the-plot details--like renaming an orange a pogwith; or that people walk on their feet, not their lips.

I learned a long time ago that there is such a thing as too much research; that it can cripple the story. Once upon a time, I fancied writing historical romance. WUT?? Stop laughing! My need for accuracy meant I spent more time researching than writing, and--in truth--not a lot of what I researched made it into the novel. It's the great "months of research ends in ten sentences." I'm not the author who can do historical accuracy well. There are those who can, and I'm an avid reader of their works. Bless them. For my stuff, Urban and High, I'm more of a "pinch of this, dash of that" researcher.

Here are my Top 3 Kinds of Research for Crafting Fantasy:

1. Minor Details
I'm not as smart as I want to be, so I have to look up what's probably common knowledge. For example, in Larcout, the first book of my Fire Born, Blood Blessed High Fantasy series, the type of an individual's innate magic is identified by the kind of rock in his/her forehead. I'm not a geologist or a gemologist, I had to look up "what stone is yellow and pretty?" Citrine fit the bill. Making up a name for it would've confused the reader.

2. Character & Place Names
Names are definitely a thing I research. Regardless of sub-genre. Sometimes I use totally made-up names like Vadrigyn or Beigreith. Sometimes, a made-up name has a plot-shifting meaning that will be revealed during the series. A lot of times, I take a "real" or "common" name and tweak it just a wee bit. Those more recognizable names serve to remind the reader of characters' general attributes. They also remind me of backstories (that only I need to know), including fatal flaws. Example: In my upcoming Urban Fantasy there are three Berserkers: Xipil, Hywl, and Runjit. Can you guess they're not pasty blonds from Scandinavia? Can you guess their origins? Yes, I'm riffing on the myth, and the names give you a hint.

3. Weapons & Armor
While my protags wield atypical weapons, and magic usually makes an appearance at some point, a lot of the supporting cast uses recognizable weapons and a few wear parts of traditional armor. Broadswords, flails, bevors, and vambraces. I research their proper names and jargon. I research the maintenance required for each piece. I research the material flaws, the situational disadvantages, and superstitions of each. This can be a rabbit hole if you veer into military tactics, battle history, weapons evolution. It's  a fascinating rabbit hole, but... if you want to get in and get out, then limit what you're looking for.

So, there you go, three types of quick world-building research I do for my two types of fantasy novels. We won't discuss image-inspiration research. That's my weakness, my time-suck, my "just one more gallery and I'll stop (maybe, maybe a week later)."

Monday, November 13, 2017

Researching the Future

If you want to research the future, research the hell out of the past. That's my suggestion.

Listen, theres an old saying "Those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it." I'm paraphrasing because, well, deadlines.

I have been praised a few times for my world-building skills. I am always flattered when that happens, because I'm not really sure if I have any particular skills beyond looking at the past and connecting dots.

Let's look at the sociological ramifications of geography as an example. Let's say you have a kingdom that lives at the edge of the sea. Well, first off, history tells us they're going to need a source of fresh water. It also says that, statistically speaking, they're likely to have a good amount of fish in their diet. depending on whether or not there are ship building skills among the set of local talents, they're probably going to be traveling to other countries and either conquering them or trading with them. Those are the basics, as it were. Now you get to expand on that. What sort of sea life exists in this land/world? If we look back on history, that's going to make a difference. If there are no fish in the waters, they need a different source of food. Might be they've long since learned to live on sea plants, such as seaweed and kelp. Might also be that they've gone inland for their sources of food. 

No ships! They have surfboards. Okay..a little tricky, but the odds are good the society would evolve and adapt to take advantage of these miracles o science in an effort to travel to other lands. They might not always survive, but they'd make the best of it.

The only local fish are gigantic sea monsters that ravage the towns along the shore constantly. Either they're moving away (not likely) or they're going to learn how to combat/control these beasts. if they figure out how to "break" the sea monsters and then how to ride on them, we're got another form of transport AND a new weapon in the fight against other countries. MAYBE they were just going to trade with those countries but when the monsters that are only in their area are first seen, they will quickly realize that trading has less advantages than simply taking. "But Jim, why?"

Because history tells us that most often humans believe in conquest over negotiation, especially in primitive cultures. Mind you, as author you are god of your new world and you can change that any way you'd like.

Okay, so now we have a culture that a) owns the seas, B) is in the mood to conquer, and c) really feels pretty good about being in charge of the world at large, or at least the areas around the sea. What happens when they try to go inland?

They try the rivers, but those sea monsters they ride here and there aren't very good at traveling up through the shallow spots and they haven't evolved legs yet, so that's an issue. 

Now, at the same time, there's a group of people in the highlands who've learned to ride and domesticate massive bearlike things that we'll just call bears for this note. they, too, have mastered riding great beasts and have taken advantage of this to basically rule over everything around them.

They do NOT have a problem riding into the lowlands and taking over as much as they can and the poor slobs in the lowlands are only prepared for monsters from the sea, so there's a new challenge here. Bears versus sea monsters. Both sides have distinct advantages.

Historically speaking we can find analogs for both of these scenarios. Those with ships versus those without. Heck we can take a look at large land dwelling creatures like elephants, and the people who figured out how to make them weapons of war, and see another possibility. Bears the size of elephants, with big damn claws, mean teeth and thick fur that can deflect many spears, etc. Suddenly this fight has a different outcome.

We have a long history in this world and it covers many, many diverse cultures. Any of that history can be used as an example of what MIGHT happen and a great deal of that history has barely been examined.

Want to know how gods work? Look at your history books.

Want to understand the concept of the devil or a trickster? Same answer.

Need to see how a siege mentality can change a battle? Once again, look at the history of this world and combine it with the culture you are creating and the world becomes your playground.

The same thing, by the way, works for science fiction.

I'm working on an outline right now that involves world ships, colonization, territorial rights and, of course, an alien OTHER that disagrees. Should be a proper nightmare by the time I'm finished. But I started out by looking at colonization and the history of violence that it entails.

Sorry I missed you the last few weeks, folks. Turns out that storms and airports seldom work together and that I can't post as well without the internet. But I'll try to do better.

On an unrelated note: If you are a fan of horror and you love horror anthologies. Christopher Golden. yours truly and Haverhill House Publications are all working together to bring about a truly open anthology. No places held for big names and bling submissions. We know nothing of 2who wrote what until the stpries are accepted. But most publishers don't much care for that idea, so in order to make it happen we're having to do a Gofundme. If you are interested please look here: If not, fully understood but we want to make this happen.

Also, coming soon to bookstores, here's the cover for FALLEN GODS, the second book in my TIDES OF WAR series.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Researching the Future - How Do You Do It?

Our topic at the SFF Seven this week is "doing the research" - and what that means for building new fantasy or alien cultures.

I'm at a weekend conference sponsored by my local RWA chapter LERA. We brought in Michael Hauge to teach his Story Mastery. Great stuff. Yesterday was his general seminar, and today a dozen of us are doing an intensive advanced story mastery session where we workshop our concepts with him. I'm super excited because I'm working on SOMETHING TOTALLY NEW.

So new that it's science fiction.

Agent Sarah has already seen the concept and given it the thumbs up, so now I'm just working up the details. With my COLLABORATOR.

There are so many new and exciting things here that I can't wait to share.

At any rate, being science fiction, in a universe we're basically creating whole hog, albeit on the foundation of our own, there's a lot of worldbuilding involved. One interesting challenge is that my heroine is a scientist, but obviously operating at a much more sophisticated level technologically.

I know she's made a mistake in her past. I know the results of the mistake and that it has to do with genetic manipulation. I just need to figure out HOW she might have done it. This will require beefing up my current understanding of genetics and how genes are spliced using modern technology, then extrapolating that to a possible future.

I'll likely do this by going to the current scientific literature, but not the hard core stuff. I'll look for cutting edge research as explained in journals intended for broader consumption, like Nature, Science, or Scientific American. I have an advantage that I'm trained as a scientist, so I know how to read and assimilate that kind of information - but I also know that I'm pretty stale, and I never was an expert in genetics. I won't attempt to read the stuff intended for working scientists because I doubt I could keep up. Certainly not without devoting a lot of attention to it and... I probably don't want to do that.

My favorite way to tackle this sort of thing - the ideal shortcut - is to find someone who is a current expert and picking THEIR brain. There's still no search engine that compares to finding a smart person who knows their field really well and getting them to think about the answer.

So, if anyone knows a cutting-edge genetics researcher... :D

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Happy Veterans Day!

Thanks to every veteran (and their family!) for all the sacrifices and service given in the name of freedom. Today and every day should really be a day to appreciate and thank veterans!

My late husband was a Marine; my Dad was in the Army in World War II; my uncles were in the Coast Guard and the Army; I have other relatives who served in various branches of the military...and I'm grateful for the sacrifices they all made.

Tiny programming note: today is the last day to buy a copy of the Embrace the Romance: Pets In Space 2 scifi romance anthology and have us make a donation to Hero Dogs, Inc., which provides service dogs to veterans in need.

Buy Links:   Amazon   iBooks   Kobo   B&N 

Friday, November 10, 2017

The Cursed Blinking Cursor

Have you ever undertaken telling a story you love? You set up something to pass as office space. You sit down. You begin telling your story - the story that has haunted you and spoken to you for months, if not years. It's going great. You're making tracks. And then it happens.

Something in your head stutters and your story stumbles to a halt. And there you sit. Watching the cursor blink at you. Eventually, you imagine you hear it laughing in time with every pulse. Maybe whispering 'you suck' as it blinks. No? Just me. Huh.

Here's how to break it up, silence that cursor and get back into flow.

1. Master the mundane - find the most mind numbing household chore you can find. Get up and do it. For me, it was ironing. Hates ironing. HATES it. But. It's a mindless task of repeated motion that lulls your ego into a stupor. You may be pressing your pets by the time that happens, but when it does, tidbits of scenes, snippets of dialogue, and new story ideas will crop up because you are SO bored, your story-teller's brain will rise to rescue you.

2. Immersion - If you've exhausted yourself working in the word mines, stop. Cook supper, eat. Relax. Head to bed a few minutes early. Take a notebook and a pen with you. Not a computer. Not a tablet. Archaic tech is your friend here. Do all the things that get you ready for sleep. Then sit in bed and write. Long hand. Write about your story. Your characters. No scenes. No pressure for dialogue or situations. Write ABOUT your story. What do you want from it? What do you want to feel? What do you want the characters to feel? Do you feel like you've gone wrong? Why? Where? Ask the characters what they want. Why won't they talk to you? Do you have a plot outline? A character arc graph? Can you look at either of those and jot some notes about where you are in those documents and what has to happen to move your characters to the next step? Earphones and 30 minutes of unguided meditation piped into your brain from something like is legal here, but not anything that will pull you out of focus. The point is to have your story on your brain when you turn out the light and go to sleep. This might take a couple of nights to kick you free. But it will.

3. Change your thinking - this has subheadings that I'm too lazy to enumerate in true a, b, c fashion. But here you go. Often when we're stuck, we're in a synaptic rut and just need a kick in the gray-matter to get imagination firing again. So first suggestion: switch your work space. Writing at home? Pick it up and go to the library. Or the coffee shop. Or a diner that will let you camp a table for an hour or two if you buy fries and a bottomless cup of coffee. See if the change of scenery doesn't shake something lose. Find a deck of tarot cards. No. I am not suggesting that you dive into the woo-woo with me. The water is fine, mostly, but this is about using the cards as story prompts, not divination. Make sure your cards have a book with them, so you can read the meanings. I usually do something like this: Tell me about the story as it stands. I lay out three cards. Then I ask what could happen next and lay out three more cards. It looks like a T laying on its side.
I am not looking for profound here. I'm looking for options. In a story that starts with someone looking for her happy place (The Sun), but buried in endless battles (9 of Wands), she's going to have to rise from the ashes and atone for who and what she's been to this point. (Judgement) What *could* happen next: The Magician at the bottom requires that she use all of her talents and skills - the light and the dark - it's a call to achieve internal balance. The next card, The World is another option - it's about having the world laid out at your feet and having to make a choice - one that will necessarily close all other options off. The final option: the 8 of Wands - just going for it. This is related to that 9 of Wands, right? It's a card about being a bull in a china shop - charging at obstacles all fired up. The problem inherent in that card is burning out before you've gotten very far. So there. One story arc. Three different ways it could go. BUT. Here's the thing. This isn't a means of figuring out what you SHOULD do. It's a means of stirring up how you think about your story and your characters. It's meant to put your brain in a Shake-n-Bake bag and toss it around so that story pieces rearrange or solidify in place as needed. It's meant to broaden your vision of your story and maybe get you to look at options you hadn't considered. 

Sure there are more tactics. But really, I've recently come to embrace the notion that I don't need to know what happens next in my story. I just write. And it is through the writing that I work out what the story wants and needs. Does it mean a lot of material that won't make the final cut? OMG, yes. But at least the writing is happening. 

And that damned cursor isn't laughing anymore. I am.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

When stories grind to a halt

As is inevitable when a bunch of writers get together (such as a gathering like World Fantasy Convention), there is a natural tendency to talk about process and craft, including the things that stop us up.

Now, I'm not immune to getting blocked or stopped up.  Even though I'm known as being efficient in getting books out, part of that is because I build a certain amount of "things might get stuck" into my schedule.  As much as I would want the writing of every novel to just be a powerhouse, "writing X words a day, every day", that's rarely been the case.*  Most of the time, even with my outline, there will be some point where the connective tissue from A to B just isn't apparent, and it's going to take me a bit of time to let my subconscious hack through it to figure out how it'll work.

So, what to do in the meantime?

I've got three go-to tactics.  (All of which were rejected by one friend who was stuck in her novel.)
  1. Write a scene further ahead.  I've not written a single novel in order. Not one.  There's always some point where I jump ahead and write some red-meat bit down the line and then go find the connective tissue later.  It's a simple solution to the Point A To B problem: just go directly to Point B and often the writing of it gives the answer of how to go back and fill in the details.
  2. Play with maps.  I do love messing with maps, and it's a good process to use a different set of brain muscles so the subconscious can grind away at the problem.  It lets me also do some worldbuilding work for other things down the line.  I've often said I really only have the illusion of being a fast writer, because I've spent a long time at planning things far in the future.
  3. Write something else.  There's always a "secondary" project in the works.  If not two.  Usually things that don't have a contract or deadline involved, so if and when I need to stop and get to the "real" project, it's not a big deal.  I've got a few things cooking along those lines right now.  
So, what are your techniques to break through the wall?

*- The one exception is The Alchemy of Chaos, which I did the draft of in a little under five months.  There were a couple weeks that dragged, in that I "only" wrote the minimum for that week.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Writing? Stuck? 3 Tips to Make Progress

Firstly, for our US readers, it's Election Day. Please, vote. Even if there's nothing more than a pair of issues on the ballot. Your vote matters. Care enough about your community, your local government, and your state government to have an opinion and to have it logged for the record.

Now, to the topic of the week, "When the Story Stops Coming: 3 Tips to Get Unstuck."

I'm going to share an ill-kept secret, I hit the "stuck" part in the beginning of the book. 


I'm currently at that stage in the fourth book of my upcoming Urban Fantasy series (pre-orders go live for Book 1 at the end of the month!). I've spent a week with my wheels spinning in the muck. It's frustrating as hell. I know why it's happening; I don't have the right inciting incident. I write to chapter 5, then cut all of it, because it's still not right. The characters aren't on the right trajectory. Last night, just before my brain settled into slumber, I think I finally figured out the right opening. We'll see. Give me to the weekend to be certain.

In that short bit of snivel and whine, is my first tip to getting unstuck.

1. Keep Writing, but Try Different Perspectives
Put. Words. On. Page...a slight variation on what Jeffe suggested Sunday that still reinforces the habit and ritual of writing. Instead of forcing yourself to go forward and gain word-count, allow yourself to indulge in what-ifs as you rewrite the last scene that worked from a different state of mind for your character (or a different POV altogether if you're writing a multi-POV book). Something as small as changing the POV character's attitude/emotional state could unclog the blockage and help you roll into the next chapter.

2. Change a Core Element
If a scene just isn't working--and you're positive it's a necessary scene--change a core element. Change the setting, the characters surrounding the protagonist, the nature of the challenge, or the means by which your protag achieves the goal of that scene. Maybe what you thought should be a physical battle works better as a battle of wits. Maybe a private scene should be very public. Maybe you need to change the weather. Hey, you're God of your world. Make your characters act out/up during a wicked thunderstorm. Not everything has to happen on a sunny day or a foggy night.

3. Exercise
Take an hour to boost the oxygen flowing through your system. Whatever your level of preferred exertion might be--Ashtanga yoga, rock climbing, stroll around the neighborhood--whatever gets you up and moving. Go without the earphones. Skip the playlists, the phone calls, the other distractions. Just you, your brain, and your body; reconnect with yourself. Might be surprised by the sort of ideas that'll come to you...some might even be relevant to your WiP.

Good luck!

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Going for Word Count but Stalling? Three Tips to Get that Flow!

We're up in wintery Buffalo, Wyoming, for my mother-in-law's funeral. This is the pretty view out my (nicely warm) hotel room.

A lot of you out there are embarking on your second week of NaNoWriMo, I know. By now you might be running low on steam. Often the first few days are relatively easy. But, by this point, you might be hitting the "sophomore slump" - when the newness has worn off, but you still have the bulk of the effort ahead of you.

So, if you find you're stalling out, here are three tips to get that flow going again. Check back all this week for more tips from our group of seven professional authors!

1. Write Anyway

Seriously! I know this can feel like not helpful advice, but it's really the best there is. There's a reason that the NaNoWriMo folks say you can do whatever it takes to get that word count, such as having your characters sing all of Don McLean's American Pie. That's because writing feeds writing. The more you do, the better it flows. The analogy of running water through rusty pipes is a good one. At first the water just trickles and there's lots of back-pressure. But then the gunk gradually gives way, the pipes clear, and the water flows better and, eventually, with pristine gusto!

If you're totally stuck, then sure - have them sing a song. But I advise making up the song, even if it sucks or is nonsense. It's better to write something than nothing, but it's even better to write crap than copy someone else. Remember those rusty pipes! It's okay for the water to look mucky at first.

2. Don't Look at What You've Already Written

Resist the urge to self-edit before you're done. Nothing stalls the writing process more than going back and spending precious word-count time on revision. Especially if you're new to writing, there's just really no point in revising until you have a FULL, COMPLETED MANUSCRIPT. Yes, you will need to revise someday, but you *really* need to finish first. Besides - consider that rusty pipes analogy. If you're revising while you're still getting those pipes clear, all you're doing is trying to purify crappy water. Let it run clean and flowing first, then you can polish it.

Don't worry about revising until you're done writing. Just write. Go forward. Always forward.

3. Just Write

Do your best to write without thinking about it. Imagine you're running water through the pipes. Don't consider word choice or sentence structure or where the story is going or what that character's name should be. I have a trick that I use as I'm drafting. Every time I hit something like that - a character or place I need to name, or a word I can't quite think of - I put in [something], and keep going. When I'm done, usually after I've finished the book, I go back and search for "[" and fill those in. I might do it before, if a good name occurs to me. Or, sometimes when I have my word count for the day, I'll do some research and fill those in. But resist the urge to do that instead of getting word count. Don't try to rationalize that it counts as writing. It doesn't count.

Only writing counts as writing.

Just write.