BLURB tinkering update: Draft 6! Your turn!

BLURB tinkering update: up to Draft 6! Your turn!

I need your opinions to keep improving this book blurb, please! Sci-fi/romance, third in a series.


This Is/Is Not the Way I Want Things to Change

Volume III, The Spanners Series

Pre-orders, half-price, $1.99: 11/1 – 12/7/15
Release planned for 12/8/15, $3.99
Look for links after 11/1/15:

BLURB Draft 6
Clara, Moran, Espe, Epifanio and the alien Band of holos are back in This Is /Is Not The Way I Want Things to Change of The Spanners Series. Psi-Defiers launch increasingly violent protests during this five-year Transition, attempting to block Earth’s membership into the the Many Worlds Collective. To join, nations and borders must dissolve and Psi-Warriors strengthen in their battle against the rebels.

Clara, continuing as Earth’s first Chief Communicator, also juggles family conflicts and danger while opening psi skills training Campuses to help Earth through the Psi-Wars. Clara timults alternate versions of their futures as the leaders’ duties and consciences force them each to make difficult choices across multiple timelines while continuing to train and fight.

Will the Psi-Warriors’ and other leaders’ increasing psi skills, multi-species collaborations and budding alien alliances be enough for Earth to make it through the five-year Transition intact? If there is no clear path for Clara’s and Epifanio’s love, does she partner with Steve or go it alone?

What do you do with wanted/unwanted changes?

Thanks to many of you for ideas, rewrites, complaints: we’re up to Draft 6!

Email your ideas to: sallyember AT yahoo DOT com

Appreciate reviewers, book bloggers, promotion help as well!
REVIEWERS: ARCS available around mid-October
with cover, after 11/1/15


My #Writing Process: Revealed!

“Where do you get your ideas?” is the most-asked question of creative people. I’ve been paying attention to my own #writing process since people started asking me that more often. I now know I have three distinct phases for my creative process, but they are not entirely linear in sequence.

Without even consciously knowing I am in it, I am often in the incubation period, phase one for all creative endeavors. This assumes ground zero is pre-phase one, the part in which I determine I’m open to creating and what I want to create, in a general way.

For me, the incubation period is highly receptive. I am like a sponge; I am seemingly almost indiscriminate in my voracious appetite for information, as in Short Circuit‘s Johnny Five’s demands for “more input.”

Short Circuit need input

Phase one includes: getting cognitive but silent input from reading fiction and nonfiction books and magazine or ‘zine articles and blog posts; visual/emotional/audio content input from watching films/TV, TED talks and videos via Facebook, youtube, Google+, blogs and other sources; musical inspiration gleaned from radio, Spotify and other online music players, playing piano, singing; conversing with friends, family, strangers and acquaintances. All of this sparks thousands of ideas.

Next comes the internal percolating, still incubation, from all input and other connections being made. Percolating occurs while: dreaming, meditating, thinking, contemplating, swimming, walking, driving. I love this part: although most of it is invisible, it is palpable. I feel buzzed: re-routed, re-programmed, inspired, electrified. I often feel as if I am in a remembering or retrieval mode, recalling and almost hearing or seeing what I’m about to write as if it’s already written.

Inevitably, I get woken up from sleep or can’t fall asleep because these first gems of ideas are starting to surface and I MUST write them down. I hear them narrated or see them in paragraphs. I make lists, gather URLs and quotes, write down remembered dreams and conversations, make mini-outlines, generate summaries and plot intentions, describe characters and do many other cultivating things with the seeds already planted.

I have to move quickly; these deliveries are clear and sharp at first, but the longer I wait or the longer it takes to put them into form, the weaker the connection or recollection gets. This phase is very exciting but also quite frustrating. I feel as if I only get to write down or collect about half of what I receive.

I am now in phase two: full writing mode. I’m generating and composing my ideas into text. Organizing, whittling, deciding, creating connections are now dominant. Characters, plots, dialog, events, circumstances, facts and conflicts all converge in seemingly random and chaotic ways until I can sift through and wrest them into some order. It feels as if I’m gathering spiderwebs, tantalizing aromas and musical notes and transforming them into particular words, coherent paragraphs, comprehensible stories.

spiderweb fog

Once I start writing them down as lists or collect ideas into documents and folders for later use, I am compelled to follow clues, leads, research trails. These lead to more input and ideas, and those lead to further incubations, more percolating, etc.

These first two phases loop many times until the ideas erupt from me, birthed into existence as writing. I hate to be interrupted when I’m on a trail.

However, I love and crave, even make my own interruptions in the next part, the testing period of writing. I reach out to people to talk things out, hear ideas or dialogue aloud for the first time, getting first bounce-back reactions and more ideas from these interactions. I call certain people many times: my son, my mom, my sisters, a niece, some friends. I post questions and comments online and get responses from strangers/acquaintances. Suggestions, critiques, future-use ideas all welcomed, here.


Eventually, the input receiving slows down and the output starts to take precedence. I spend more time writing than researching. This is the highest output part of the process, generating most of the writing. Much of what I generate may not get used, or not used for this immediate project, but I keep it all.

I have dozens of drafts, pieces, drafts of chapters and whole volumes for The Spanners Series in folders that may be mined for future Volumes if not used for the one I’m currently writing. I leave myself gifts and find them later. When I was ready to write Volume II, I was shocked to discover that I had already written large chunks of it while writing Volume I and didn’t even remember having done so much writing for that Volume!

Phase three involves combining, rewriting, generating, refining, selecting, drafting and completing the work. I spend more time revising than creating, which means I’m in the third phase. I do get new ideas and do more research during this final phase, in many of the same ways, but the proportions reverse from the earlier phases.

Some people call these three phases Prewriting, Writing, Revising. Works for me.

writing process three parts

Steven Johnson’s TED talk from 2010: Where good ideas come from, in which he ends with “Chance favors the connected mind,” describes a lot of what I experience. I love that quote.

Good luck with your writing!

“Finishing the Hat” or, in my case, another #eBook

Am I the only author who is reluctant to finish a book? In Stephen Sondheim’s depiction of Georges Seurat in Sunday in the Park with George, his song, Finishing the Hat, eloquently and poignantly describes this exact chiaroscuro-type emotional state.

We artists, writers, creators enter and create “the world of the hat” “where there never was a hat” and then have to leave it (temporarily, and then, forever, in the case of a series of novels or works). I feel both proud and sad, both happy and relieved, both excited and frightened to go forward.

Going forward: beta readers, feedback, critiques, discussions, defenses, relinquishments. Then, editing, revising, altering my “hat” into its final formatted form for ebook publication on Smashwords. Next, reviews, rankings, more feedback, more critiques. Finally, publication/release. Endless marketing and attempts to increase readership/visibility, all along.

Writing is the best part. I hate to end it.

I am dragging my literary feet; I have had an unfinished near-the-end chapter of This Changes My Family and My Life Forever, Volume II of The Spanners Series, for two weeks. Well, I was away and “couldn’t write” for a week (really?). Home for two days and still couldn’t make myself finish it.

Until a few hours after I drafted this post, yesterday afternoon: finished and sent off my draft to two beta readers.

Writing this post helped make the finishing occur, somehow. I explained and confessed my hesitation to complete my work. Then, I had no more excuses or barriers.

The hat must be finished.


I am already thinking frequently about Volume III (the next hat), This Is/Is Not the Way I Thought Things Would Change.

More about living in a “God Realm”

Yesterday my at-home #Buddhist #meditation #retreat, week one, contemplating living in a “God Realm,” took some interesting turns due to “regular life.” That’s the beauty and the challenge of having a home retreat: life keeps on happening, and not very far away or able to be ignored. Need to deal with my car, keep connecting with some people, job-hunt and apply, have a job interview (when invited), shop for essentials, tend to chores.

As a writer who is finishing Volume II, This Changes My Family and my Life Forever, and marketing (release date, December 20) Volume I, This Changes Everything of The Spanners Series, I am also writing, marketing, learning about ebook publishing, indie pub networking and methods, editing/revising, weighing in on cover art for Volume I (thanks, #Willowraven!) and learning about this whole ebook process for the first time from Mark Coker of #Smashwords (thanks, Mark). My days and some of my nights are quite full, already. Adding in 3 – 6 hours of meditation each day (sometimes more) is quite a feat. I’m not bragging; just explaining. Something’s gotta give.

So, yesterday, the meditation time “gave” to the car repair and friend times. However, I did walk and meditate/contemplate while my car was being assessed (one hour). During that hour, I walked around downtown Hayward to do errands (bank, library) and then sat in an rarely-used chess-players’ seat at a small city park.

No one else was in the park. In fact, it was officially “closed,” but the walkways were open. I and a dog-walker were the only park users when I was there. I could picture the park on busier days, ghost figures filling the space: the traditional-old-men-playing-chess images, some teens hanging out on the benches, a stroller-pusher or two, a dog-walker or two. But, since it held no other appeals, with no playground, no fountain or pond, no climbing structures, no other places to sit, I ran out of ideas. Besides the two chess stations and two park benches, there were a few patches of grass (well-trimmed), some flowering shrubs, one tree: that was the corner park.

Meditating/contemplating living in a God Realm caused me to look around more closely as I walked and then, sat. I discovered several aspects of this downtown that struck me as relevant. First, there are a lot of abandoned or empty, unmarked buildings and vacant lots among some seemingly open ones or those not due to be opened, yet (it was before 11:30, so many places weren’t open, yet). In this particular moment, one day in 2013 in Hayward, California, I could see evidence of better days.

One large, brick building had odd-shaped and oddly placed spaces high on one wall facing the busiest intersection. I puzzled out that these were vacancies left by large, individual letters which must have been adhering to the brickwork to display the owner’s or business’ name. Gone. But, before that era ended, those people must have been very wealthy to have owned such a large, prominent downtown structure. Most owners live in a God Realm, until they don’t.

They would have had servants and workers under them, surplus income to spend on themselves. They would have indulged themselves and their family members in luxuries and vacations, had most every whim fulfilled. Fancy clothes, fast and expensive cars, jewels, lavish parties, food and beverages, entertainment, sex, exotic pets, travel to beautiful locales, music and art would have filled their lives. Let’s give them good health, love and intelligence, too. A perfect human existence, probably in the latter part of the last century or earlier.

Where are those owners now, if any of them are still even in those human forms? Assisted living or nursing homes? Scattered from Hayward, younger family members out of touch or estranged? Dead already? Where are their money, those luxuries, that business? What happened to their residences, cars, clothes and other possessions, friends and colleagues? Gone to others or just completely gone. Empty. Abandoned, like this building.

Even when “everything is perfect,” it can’t last. Even if the outer pleasures continue, the enjoyers do not. These “Gods” age, get infirm, die; or, die suddenly. But, die they must, taking none of that gilded life with them.

I returned to retrieve my car (can’t be fixed until part arrives. I chose Halloween for my next foray into town, since I have a medical appointment that day, anyway). Driving the short distance home, I contemplated the ephemeral nature of all life and the futility of accumulating wealth, possessions, pleasures and such.

We may be living in a God Realm or not, but what we all share is impermanence. Whatever ways we are enjoying or suffering through our existences, our pleasure or pain is just a moment in the great span of time. Whatever we have, whatever we want: Feel it, live it, then go on to the next moment. That is the merry-go-round of samsara.

Prayers for all beings to recognize the illusory, temporary nature of samsaric existence and to buckle down (or ratchet up) to be on the path to individual liberation. Bodhicitta and gratitude for my path filled my heart as I re-entered my home, my retreat space.