Tag Archives: research

Come Along For The Ride

Life on the road is about constantly learning to adjust. Things seldom go exactly as planned and even when they do, we have the luxury of making real time changes to our schedule if we choose. It’s a great lifestyle in theory but trust me, there are as many day to day challenges as living in a stick and brick.

I’m not going to lie . . . developing structured writing habits in an unstructured atmosphere has not been easy. You might say I’m a work in progress, just like my manuscripts. I’m determined to make some major improvements in 2016 so one of the things I did was merge our travel blog, OlDogandMe with my author blog. Nothing like a little variety to spice things up.

Readers will now have an opportunity to follow my writing progress as well as my adventures. Occasionally I’ll share research for an upcoming story in my Tales From The Back Roads series. (Vol One is Releasing Jan 1).  Or I may do a photo collage from one of my hikes. By eliminating the travel blog, it frees up time for this blog and my writing.

I redesigned DebSanders dot com to reflect these changes. I am no longer concentrating on book reviews although you might see one pop up from time to time.

As a side note, I want to enlist your help.  If you have a good urban legend suitable for the Back Roads series, let me know. My contact info is available on my BIO page. Tales From The Back Roads is a collection of short stories based on North American lore. The stranger, the better! You can learn more on the HOME page.

Author Maria Hammarblad: On Writing Sci-Fi

I admire any author who blends science fiction and romance. The task of combining research and technology with a character driven story is not for the faint of heart . So today, it is with great appreciation and a bit of wide eyed awe that I present a talented author from the science fiction genre. Maria Hammarblad has graciously agreed to guest blog on  the art of researching and writing sci-fi. Read on and prepare to be fascinated. Afterwards, you’ll find information about her new release, “High Gravity”, the second novella in the Embarkment 2577 series.

Research and Science Fiction Reports
by Maria Hammarblad

I’ve always loved science fiction. The future, space, and technology hold an irresistible allure, turning me into a little kid in a candy store. The genre is convenient too; there’s plenty of room to make stuff up. I do however believe that every story, no matter how fantastic, needs to be anchored in reality in some way. A book needs to give readers something they can relate to, and larger and more detailed snippets of truth lead to a more believable story.

Writing science fiction takes a good deal of imagination and the science portion might be a small part of the finished book, but it’s important. Many readers have an excellent grasp on science – much better than I. For example, how does gravity really work? (Thus far, no one knows.) What would the solar system look like if you approached it in a spaceship? How far away is the nearest star?

Google supplies many answers, and I tend to stumble over interesting articles in the most unexpected places. When working on my recent re-write of the Embarkment 2577 novellas, my eyes fell on an interesting piece regarding how long a human can survive in space. I always imagined imminent death, but one would have a long time to process the experience. Needless to say, this information does not soothe the heroine of the Embarkment books…

When I wrote on my novel Kidnapped, I needed to fill out some gaps in my knowledge, and boldly enrolled in a college course in astrobiology. Astrobiology is a big and intimidating word. Back in high school, chemistry was my worst subject, and I expected this class to contain a lot of molecular bindings, carbon, silicon, and periodic system. I approached the classroom carefully, wondering why I insisted on straying outside my own comfort zone.

It was a very interesting experience, with a minimum of chemistry. The teacher was really cool, and devoted to space. At times, he wore a NASA uniform to class, and told us how his wife rolled her eyes when he wore it to Kennedy Space Center and pretended to be a real astronaut. Other visitors would see him and ask if he worked there, and he’d say, “Sure!” He also built scale models of spaceships, and they hung from the classroom ceiling. The model of the Saturn V was too big to hang; made in a scale that made other crafts seem reasonable, this one was still gigantic.

We had a stargazing event, and seeing the rings of Saturn and the moons of Jupiter with my own eyes was breathtaking. We drove a simulated Mars rover, talked about planet and suns, and experimented with testing for life in samples of sand. I have to admit my science papers turned into science fiction papers, but the teacher was a good sport about it. He didn’t mind reading an imaginative description of how the little rovers Spirit and Opportunity rolled on the red sand of Mars with the moons slowly orbiting the planet – as long as I got the actual science right.

Maria Hammarblad_2

The class wasn’t just fun; it has also proven useful. Before I took it, I would never have realized a spaceship that just went through the atmosphere of a planet would be hot. It’s logical when thinking about it… Well, at least after someone points it out.

Before taking the class, I didn’t realize just how similar DNA has to be for two beings to be genetically compatible. After taking the class, all my aliens in romantic relationship with humans are basically human.

Science gets distorted in the books, of course; it’s fiction. I like making things up, and I like creating theories around how things might work. Most of my theories never make it to the books. I try to keep long explanations of how I think stuff works out of the stories and focus on people and their relations instead, but when I do write something sciency, I like to have thought it through. =)


About The Author:

Born in Sweden in the early 1970’s, Maria showed a large interest for books at an early age. Even before she was able to read or write, she made her mom staple papers together into booklets she filled with drawings of suns and planets. She proudly declared them, “The Sun Book.” They were all about the sun. She also claimed, to her mother’s horror, that her being on Earth was a big mistake and that her alien family would come and bring her home at any moment. This never happened, but both the interest in space and the passion for bookmaking stayed with her.

As an adult Maria’s creativity got an outlet through playing bass in a number of rock bands, and through writing technical manuals and making web pages for various companies and organizations. She did write drafts for a few novels, but the storytelling muse was mostly satisfied through role playing online on Myspace. It was here, while writing stories together with people from around the globe, she stumbled onto Mike. They started talking out of character, and she moved over to Florida to him late 2008. Today the two are married and live in the Tampa Bay area with three rescue dogs.
Besides writing and playing bass, Maria enjoys driving off-road, archery, and Tameshigiri.
Upcoming releases
Flashback, to be released by Desert Breeze Publishing June 2013
Operation Earth, to be released by Desert Breeze Publishing August 2013
Borealis XII, to be released by Desert Breeze Publishing November 2013
Fun Facts
Favorite color:              Blue
Favorite food:               Chicken with cashew nuts
Doesn’t eat:                     Mammals
Favorite TV Show:       Star Trek TNG and Leverage
Favorite animal:           Border Collie
Quotes:            “Full Speed Ahead” and “Caffeine is good for you”
Find Maria on the web
Website:                          http://www.hammarblad.com
Facebook:                      https://www.facebook.com/mariahammarblad
Blog:                                 http://www.scifiromance.info
Twitter:                           @mariahammarblad
Publisher’s website    http://www.desertbreezepublishing.com



High Gravity Button

High Gravity

Embarkment 2577, Novella 2

Maria Hammarblad

Genre: Sci-fi Romance

ISBN: 1456515128
ISBN-13: 978-1456515126
ASIN: B004HO673O

Number of pages: 131

Word Count: 28566

Book Trailer:  http://youtu.be/FWMObuBulXc

Purchase Links: http://amzn.com/B004HO673O

Book Description:

In this second novella in the “Embarkment 2577” series, the story picks up shortly after it left off in “Brand New World.” The main character Alex has come to terms with her new life on a starship in the year 2577, and reluctantly won both respect and admiration for her actions during an alien attempt to conquer the ship.

Little does she know a number of new trials are about to shake her world. Besides encounters with alien species and an unexpected relative surfacing, a fatal navigation error will test her relationships with both her android lover and her friends.


“Joshen Martinez is an old friend of mine, a mentor, he wouldn’t hurt you. He just wants to connect you to a machine that will tap out your memories. Your knowledge is valuable, and everyone would be able to see what you know. Sort of… like watching a movie.”

Having people watch all my memories? Intrusion of privacy, much?

I got to my feet. “I’ve heard enough of this. I have other things to do.”

Kevin stood up too. “Yes you do. Go pack your bags. This joke is over and you’re coming with me to the Kentucky.”

I took a step towards the door. “In your dreams.”

Blake said, “Sit down. Both of you.”

He didn’t raise his voice, but it was impossible not to obey. Kevin opened his mouth and my Captain made a dismissive gesture. “You’ve already said too much. Sit down and be quiet.”

Watching the scientist sink down, carefully keeping his mouth shut, filled me with glee. Blake pressed a button on his desk. “Commander Adam, could you come to my office for a minute, please.”

My husband’s voice filled the room. “Right away, Sir.”

I didn’t realize how tense I was until he stood in the doorway and I dared relax. He glanced between me and Kevin and crossed his arms over his chest. Adam was tall, strong, intimidating, and mine.

“What’s going on?”

Once again, Kevin opened his mouth. Blake snapped, “Silence.”

Kevin leaned back in his chair and rolled his eyes.

“Adam, this is Kevin. He has come to retrieve your wife.”

“Not happening, Sir.”

I wanted to squirm. “Can I move now?”

Blake smirked. “Yes Alex, you may move.”

I bounced to my feet and threw my arms around Adam. He hugged me back and murmured, “Don’t worry.”

After kissing me tenderly, he put his hands on my shoulders and turned me around so I faced Kevin. Then, he wrapped his arms around me from behind. “This is my wife. She means more to me than my life. She definitely means more to me than your life. If I were you, I’d choose my next words wisely.”

I glanced up at him. “I love you too.”

He smiled and brushed his lips over my temple.

Blake leaned his elbows on the desk and tapped his fingers together. “Mr Nolan, have we satisfied your curiosity, or do you wish to continue the discussion with the commander? I’m sure he’d be more than happy to demonstrate his… abilities. Would you like to see him fold a spare piece of hull plating a couple of times?”

“We’re good.”

Do You Believe in Fae?

My good friend and fellow writer, Janet Brooks, is one of the best researchers I’ve ever met. She can uncover delicious tidbits long after most folks have said “enough”. An example is the following guest blog, which Janet graciously agreed to write. She explores the topic of Fae and portals to the Underworld, a central theme in Book Two of Clans of Tagus series, The WARRIOR. By blending elements from Janet’s research with a contemporary plot and characters, The WARRIOR is sure to uphold the five star ranking Amazon readers have lavished on Book One, The GATEKEEPER. 

Do You Believe in Fae?

By: Janet Brooks

A long time ago, in a mountain far, far way, Celtic legend tells of a warrior, Fionn mac Cumhaill, who fervently pursued his betrothed, Gráinne, when she eloped with another. It was also a time when people told stories of how the Fae were vanquished by mortals and forced to descend into the Underworld through portals, similar to the one on the left in this photo of Ben Bulben, located in Sligo County, Ireland.

Even today Ben Bulben is a place often shrouded in mist and mystery – from its multiple names and spellings to the frequency with which its colors appear to change throughout the day, shifting from dark hues to bright green. Arctic flora found nowhere else in Ireland still grows on this mountain, which was formed by glaciers approximately 320 million years ago.

(In The WARRIOR, Artimon, a Tagusian shape shifter, accompanies Zara, a Dark Fae, to Ben Bulben where they must access the portal in a desperate attempt to save her twin sister from the Tagusian Warlords, the same clan that slaughtered many of her Fae ancestors and forced them into hiding.  In Book One, The GATEKEEPER,the original portal between the Earth and Tagus was located at Hamilton Pool, a tropical oasis hidden away in the Texas Hill Country. The waters of this landmark  exhibit similar characteristics as the Irish landscape near Ben Bulben, such as changing hues and emitting a green glow.)

The surrounding area is known as “Yeats Country” and is immortalized in “Under Ben Bulben,” which W.B. Yeats wrote in the year before his death. At his request, Yeats is buried in a churchyard near the base of the mountain, close to the land and legends he credited as the source of his inspiration. I’m inspired by the Celtic legends of Ben Bulben and another poem from Yeats, “Where My Books Go.”

     All the words that I gather,
     And all the words that I write,
     Must spread out their wings untiring,
     And never rest in their flight,
     Till they come where your sad, sad heart is,
     And sing to you in the night,
     Beyond where the waters are moving,
     Storm darkened or starry bright.


Videos of Ben Bulben:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d7k-PoQCPGA&feature=related (with ad you can skip)

http://www.rtbot.net/sligo_ireland (Click on the second video which has the best time lapse photography of the changing colors of Ben Bulben but no narrative.)


Article/Photos of Ben Bulben:


Celtic Legends:



Irish Fairy Tales edited by W.B. Yeats:

http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/31763 (Includes poem quoted above.)

Attention All Writers…

A Word. My Kingdom for a Word!

Have you ever sat in front of the computer, staring at your monitor or searching a Thesaurus for a word…and still felt frustrated because nothing seemed to convey exactly what you had in mind?

I have. And if you’re a writer, I know you have, too. What tools do you use when a dictionary and standard thesaurus just don’t seem to work?

I’ve compiled a list of websites that will help you break through the block. I can’t take credit for finding all of them. They come courtesy of some savvy tweeps on Twitter, great bloggers and a lot of internet research. I especially want to mention Angela Ackerman as an awesome resource. You can follow her on Twitter @WriterThesaurus or @AngelaAckerman. She blogs at http://thebookshelfmuse.blogspot.com/.

I hope the following links will be as useful to you as they are for me.

Reverse Dictionary: http://www.onelook.com/
List of Phobias: http://phobialist.com/
Emotion/Setting/Colors & Shapes Thesaurus: (and much more!) http://thebookshelfmuse.blogspot.com/
Character Trait Chart: (another great blog chock full of wonderful advice) http://www.inspirationforwriters.com/techniques/character-trait-chart.html
Writing Realistic Injuries: http://www.users.totalise.co.uk/~leiafee/ramblings/realistic_injuries.htm
Sounds: http://www.writtensound.com/index.php
The Character Archetypes: (This link is for heroes. Look in the left column for others) http://www.tamicowden.com/heroes.htm
Plot Generator: http://funstuff.pantomimepony.co.uk/writers-plot-ideas.htm
Grammar & Punctuation: http://www.grammarbook.com/ and http://www.getitwriteonline.com/archive/tips.htm
British Phrases: http://englishclub.8m.com/ukus1.htm
Cliches: http://www.clichesite.com/index.asp
Slang Dictionary: http://www.peevish.co.uk/slang/
Research Links: (a delightful hodge podge of interesting links) http://www.charlottedillon.com/ResearchLinks.html

There’s so much information in cyber  space; this list could go on and on. But I’ve given you enough distraction. Now go back to what you should be doing which is finishing your manuscript!