Interview on Web radio!

>> Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Save the date for tomorrow: Wednesday, June 28, at 4-6 pm EST, I'll be on web radio with a host Dellani Oakes (an author) and two other authors, Alfred Jendrasik and Jerry Pociask.

We'll be talking about books and reading excerpts and talking about how we got into what we love to do, write books.

Check it out! (And, if you can't make it, you can always listen to it later.)

Red River Radio

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The Sunshine Blogger Award: An interview with Darma

>> Friday, June 9, 2017

I’ve been nominated by S A Gibson for the ‘Sunshine Blogger Award’, where a character in one of my novels has to answer ten questions about themselves. I’ve chosen Darma, the young fiery young engineer from Beast Within and Nine Lives. Partly because she's a handful and partly because that's who I was when I took my own quiz. S A Gibson gave me the questions:





1. Tell me what your life is like.

In many ways, it's like camping, y'know like you do when you're a kid and your parents think you should get more fresh air, except it's all wild here. We crash-landed here, the Bete, me and about a thousand other teenagers and it's beautiful, but it's crazy dangerous and there's no one to come get you if you get hurt or something goes wrong. I mean, we've already fought man-sized bugs and a smaller bug that carried a really nasty disease. You gotta stay on your toes. But, it let's a sharp girl like myself really show off her stuff, y'know. I love a challenge.
 
2. Who do you care about the most?

Talk about challenges. Here, it would have to be Laren, the guy who can become a panther. I mean, I have family back on my home planet, parents I love, a sister in university, but...but we can never go back so we'll have to build our own families here. Laren is a total pain in the ass, prickly and sullen in turns, but his heart is totally in the right place. And, when the chips are really down, when the world is chaos or you're really in danger, Laren's the guy you want at your back. He's smart in a not-in-your-face way and really can put the pieces together. Gotta love a guy with a brain.
 
3. Who or what do you fear the most?

There's a lot of stuff here that's pretty damn scary, plants that'll eat you, slowly, and those big-ass bugs, but, you know, what I think scares me the most are my own kind, people who seem to be perfectly decent people but who can turn on you in a second because you're different. I mean, can you imagine being in a big group of castaways and imprisoning some or trying to kill some? That happened, people so full of hate and fear they couldn't hear anything we said, who didn't care if we lived, who wanted us to die. And they still might be out there somewhere.

4. What kind of work do you like the most?

Solving problems. Whether it's a disease or an engineering problem, figuring out the right alloy, whatever. I love challenges that let me make the most of what I know. I might like to show off a little bit, but it's also nice to see the things I make really helping people.
 
5. If you had one incredible power, what would it be?

Bwahahaha! I've got two already. I can turn in to a Kula Tiger, that baddest ass cat ever, and walk through walls as a person or a cat.  But, if I could have one more, I'd like to be able to do what K'Ti can do, healing people. There aren't many things more frightening than seeing someone you care about hurt and feeling helpless to help them.

6. What is one bad thing, you secretly wish you could do?

I wish Laren and Xander had let me kill off the people who attacked us, who terrorized kids and tried to kill Laren and Xander and Rem. I mean, yeah, letting them wander off into the wild, what are the chances they survive, but, what if they do? And those are the people I fear most.
 
7. What’s is you favorite swear word?

Probably "ass". I've got a nice one, I'm attached to an adorable hot-headed ass and, it seems like, there's always someone having a dumbass moment around me.
 
8. Do you consider yourself a dreamer or a doer? Give an example.

Oh, hell no, I'm a doer. Can't get anything done by just dreaming. Got roll up your sleeves and get to work. Hell, if I wasn't a doer, Laren would still be sniffing around, trying to avoid talking to me because he liked me--as if that makes any sense.  We wanted each other so I made it happen.
 
9. Would you replace your author if you could? Does you author annoy you?

Nah. She's a pain, y'know, throwing left curves at us all the time and piling on the crises, but, if we're paying attention and think, we can get out. And, like I said, I love challenges.  Plus, I never know what she'll throw next. Not sure she does either.

10. What type of weather best describes you?

I like thunderstorms, the kind where the wind goes every which way, and the rain comes from every direction, the lightning lights up the world. I mean, nothing makes you feel alive like a thunderstorm, danger and water and wind, which we need. 

Who’s next? I'm nominating M. A. Ray, J. S. Frankel,
Merri Prudich Halma, Cheryl Carvajal, Lyra Shanti,
and Wade Garret

Part of the chain is to nominate people with your own questions, so here’s mine!
1. How would you describe the world you live in three sentences or less.
2. What is the one thing or person you couldn't bear to lose?
3. What is the one thing or person you'd love to lose?
4. What shore or responsibility do you hate most?
5. What do you do when you feel overwhelmed?
6. If there was one of your traits you wished you could change, what would it be and what would you change it to?
7. What do you most want to accomplish?
8. What aspect of yourself are you the most pleased with?
9. Would you replace your author if you could? Does you author annoy you?
10. If you could turn into any animal, which one would you choose and why?

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Freebies! Companion stories available for Curse of the Jenri and Tarot Queen

>> Wednesday, May 31, 2017



I've written some companion stories to my novels that I'm offering as a pdf freebie. They'll eventually be part of a large anthology but I'm offering them to anyone who has bought (or beta read) any of my books. You don't need proof, just let me know on my author page, PM me, or comment on a blog and you can have either or both I have now. I'm working on stories for the Bete novels and Saving Tessa, but I have pdfs for Tarot Queen and Curse of the Jenri now. Just ask. The others will be announced when they're ready on my author page and newsletter.

(Why don't I need proof? Because I think if you read them, and haven't read the books, I bet you'll want to).

 Just comment here or email me at stephanieebarr@gmail.com

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Science Fiction and Fantasy Author and Artist Faire

>> Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Okay, folks, especially if you're an artist or an author, but even if you're not, this isn't your general run-of-the-mill release party or author takeover. This is an opportunity to interact with people who write and draw and paint and digitize and create. Learn how to do it, find out what makes them tick, talk about what you love in stories, what you hate, what you want to see more of, find out where to find some of the great stuff that's out there.

All week long. If you're an author/artist, sign up. If you're a reader or just want to know more about what makes us tick and how we build worlds or show them on screen, this is your chance to do just that. Will I be there? You bet, with bells on, and there will be other great people there, so stop in when you can, catch up if you miss something, have a damn good time, all from the comfort of your own home.

Science Fiction and Fantasy Author and Artist Faire

Check. It. Out

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Welcome to the Apocalypse - Guest post by D. L. Richardson

>> Tuesday, May 23, 2017

In the interest of sharing visibility around for other indie authors (and letting my blog readers get insight into books that may or may not be my forte), I'll include some guest blogs like I did for Mirren Hogan and her historical fiction, Night Witches. In this case, it's D L Richardson with her post-apocalyptic thriller, Welcome to the Apocalypse Two - Cybernexis.


For fans of Robopocalypse, The Hunger Games, Ready Player One, World War Z

Reviews for "Welcome to the Apocalypse - Pandora" (BK1)

"From the very first to the last page, the story is emotionally charged, the action intense, and the conflict driving the plot forward." - Readers Favorite

"The suspense is biting and the reader can feel the pulse of the characters. From the very first to the last page, the story is emotionally charged, the action intense, and the conflict driving the plot forward." - Arya Fomonyuy for Readers' Favorite

"The concept and plot was so different to any dystopian novel I've ever come across. It wasn't exactly Terminator, with robots rising up to kill humans, but more like Star Trek-type technology becoming sentient and killing humans." Rachel Sawyer Diaries


Synopsis (Of Book 2)

Getting out of the game used to be all that mattered. Now all that matters is getting back in.
In book one players were trapped in a virtual game. Finally rescued, they're taken to an offsite facility where they'll spend a few weeks recovering from muscle dystrophy and cyber sickness. But not everyone survived.

Not only do Kelly, Jack, and Reis have to cope with the deaths of players they've come to respect and love, they'll have to cope with the reason behind the computer malfunction. All the fingers are pointing at the game's creator, CyberNexis.

If you like exciting twists and complex characters, and if fun and entertaining reads are what you're after, then you'll enjoy this second installment in the Welcome to the Apocalypse series.


Author bio

D L Richardson likes many things, reality isn't one of them. She writes Science-Fiction, Horror, and Fantasy. She lives in Australia with her husband and dog.

Welcome to the Apocalypse - Pandora OUT NOW
Welcome to the Apocalypse - CyberNexis OUT JUNE 8 (in both ebook and print)

Website - sign up to my newsletter to hear about new releases and giveaways
Blog

She has told me that she has pdf copies of a follow-on short she'll give away if you contact her: 

 Tell her Stephanie sent you.

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My "free" anthology and poetry books have a cover facelift

>> Sunday, May 21, 2017

Thanks so much to Ryn Katryn who did the artwork for both covers. (She does lovely work, is easy to work with and has very reasonable rates, if you're looking for a cover).


As soon an added bonus, here's the first story from Conjuring Dreams and the only poem that matches from Musings of a Nascent Poet.* This is, in fact, my first short story and one of my earliest poems and they are the only ones that correlate between the two books. 

Charley

The room was a quiet one, decorated with faded toys from decades before and home-made quilts, but neat.  Too neat.  The bed was made without a wrinkle.  Every toy, and there were many, seemed "placed" rather than thrown in the half-hazard way that children have.  One of them, a tattered teddy, sat up almost straight on the flawless pillow, dulled by the same layer of dust that blanketed everything in the room.  Even the meager sunshine that crept through the dingy window seemed dusty.

It had not always been so.  Long ago, the sun, that now shone half-heartedly through the neglected window, came bursting, a dancing golden haze that seemed ecstatic to play in a room bounding with unkempt toys.  It waltzed over the then more vibrant quilts and even shone on a bear every bit as tattered as the one alone in the room so many years later.  But the sun never seemed happier, nor glowed more golden, then when shining on Ginny's golden hair.  His Ginny.

She had needed no sunshine but brought her own with her golden hair.  She brought clear skies with blue blue eyes and spread joy with a smile more beautiful than anything else nature could dream up.  Her family called her "Dimples" and loved her for her laughter, but he knew her as Sunshine for that was what she was. 

And, as much as Charley adored her, she had loved him just as much.  Since the beginning of time, he had gladly inhabited that comfy place beneath her arm, had gladly given up his looks for her.  Like most favored toys, he looked ready for the ragbag with one button eye always just on the verge of falling off and one arm not quite the right color.  Mama's hands had mended him times beyond counting, but the worse he looked, the more Ginny loved him. 

And nothing else mattered.

Sometimes, of course, she had to leave him behind.  When she left, she would place him just so and say, "Now, Charley, you just stay right there because I want to find you when I come back.  And I'll be right back."  Then she would tweak his position, which was usually crooked, and leave the room, but she'd always peek back for one last word, "Don't move, because I'll be back.  Wait for me."  Then she would dance away in that peculiar rhythmless dance that children do and grownups can never copy, but makes them feel young watching.

Sooner or later she would come back and say, "Did you miss me, Charley?  I'm glad you didn't leave because I just don't know what I would do if I came back and you weren't here."  She would pick him up and give him a hug that thoroughly crushed his stuffing before installing him under her arm so she could go about child business.

 And he was still there, waiting...

There had come a day when she didn't dance and her skin was red with fever.  She rolled and moaned, shoving Charley up against her chin when the pain was too much.  "Mama, it hurts so bad.  Make it go away."   Mama would wring her hands and In a few moments they would leave and Ginny would look into Charley's sloppy face and say, "Charley, I feel so bad.  Why do I feel so bad?  Will you give me a teddy kiss and I just know it will make me feel better."  And, of course, he would.  All of his kisses were for her alone, for no better purpose than to take away her pain if only for an instant.  For moment, she would smile, but soon she would be tossing, crushing Charley beneath her as she fidgeted through her uncomfortable nights and days.  And Charley was there with her.

Mama and the doctor could leave when her crying hurt them too much, but not Charley.  It was easier for them to close the door and pretend that Ginny wasn't suffering, that she wasn't there.  It was too difficult for Mama, wringing her hands, to listen to Ginny moan, but Charley did.  It was too hard for the doctor to stay and watch a sweet little girl eaten up with fire while he stood helpless, but Charley shared that fire with her.  Someone had to stay with her.  Someone had to give her teddy kisses.  She needed someone...and Charley was there.

Then, one night, she stopped turning, stopped crying, stopped moaning, her skin finally giving up the horrible fever, but no one was happy.  Everyone cried.  They said they would never be happy again, that there was no joy without their "Dimples."  They took frail body away and straightened the room, placing the cherished teddy bear on Ginny's pillow.  And closed the door.

And he waited.  All of the love a child pours into something can't just disappear.  So, he waited.

The rest of the family eventually became happy again, finding joy in a different set of blue eyes, a different set of dimples.  There were always more children, more grandchildren.  For them.

But not for him.  Someone could live without dimples, but without Sunshine?  There was a black hole in him waiting for Ginny.  What if she came back and he was gone?  So, he waited.

Of course, stuffed animals don't have feelings, they're not alive...

YOU SAID YOU'D COME BACK.

They are inanimate objects with no more life than a pair of shoes...

"I don't know what I'd do if I came back and you weren't here."

GINNY!

Teddy bears don't have hearts.

GINNY, I DO MISS YOU WHEN YOU'RE GONE!  I DO.  YOU'VE BEEN GONE SO LONG...

There's no such thing as a living teddy bear.

GINNY, I MISS YOU.  PLEASE COME BACK...  YOU SAID...

"You wait here, Charley, because I'm gonna be right back."

The button eye, dangling on its ancient thread hangs like a big black tear with no sunshine to touch it.  There is a single blonde hair on the pillow beside him, but it doesn't shine.

I LOVE YOU, GINNY.

"I'll be back, Charley, so you wait here."

What life is there without sunshine?

I MISS YOU, GINNY.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Charley bear.

"Wait for me."

So.  He waits.


                              Charley

There once was a girl, young Virginia Dare,
Who, bursting with love, lived to lavish her care
On a rag-tattered critter, Charley the Bear.

So many embraces to his battered head,
So many kisses as they romped on the bed.
"What a sweet twosome," the old people said.

But nothing is perfect and Ginny got ill,
And nothing could help her, not potion or pill.
The grownups around her got terribly still.

Burning with fever, she finally gave in
To the fight for her life which she could not win,
And breathed one last time, surrounded by kin.

But parents and uncles, they have other dears
To bring joy and love, to wipe away tears;
Charley had no one.  He'd been hers all those years.

He could not cry in anguish or scream out in pain.
As all through his existance, he couldn't complain.
Now was no different; he was silent again.

But though he was silent, his heartbreak was clear
To those who would listen, but not with their ears
For his was the torment that no one could hear...

A room in the house, away back in the rear,
There rests a small bed with an old teddy bear.
On the quilt by its foot lays one golden hair.

A bear has no feelings.  It really can't cry
For one little girl who was its earth and sky,
But if you look closely, there's a tear in its eye.


*Note the links above are for Smashwords where the books are available for free. On the box with links, you'll find instructions for installing kindle versions on your kindle or app. If you buy it from Amazon, it will cost you $0.99, but it's free on Nook and Kobo.

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Traders Village Houston Comicon Day 1

>> Saturday, April 29, 2017


Traders VIllage Houston Comicon Day 1 rundown for Stephanie Barr for those that might be interested (and also callouts for those who deserve some credit).

First, to Veronica Smith who brought it to my attention and was great to meet in person.

Second to Chuck Larlham, who not only gave the posterboard idea but also the quote that caught many people's attention (since it's snarky). Many people read it, stopped, then came closer. Of those that approached and engaged, about half became sales. One interesting aspect is that many of the sales came about as husbands walked by reading, while their wives were talking to children or whatever, then stopped them and pointed me out. 3/4 of those became sales. Also, a shout out to Author Gibson who gave me the idea of the "Why not to buy my books" which were on my poster and got a few laughs.

Then a really big shout out to my fantastic cover designers, Loraine Van Tonder and Brendan Smith. There was no cover that wasn't someone's favorite and didn't get complimented and probably a third to half my sales included the term: "This one caught my eye."

Also, another shout out to Debbie Manber Kupfer for the idea of the bookmarks. People were excited to take them (everyone who engaged) and many were interested in the ebooks, so I'll likely sneak a few more than way.

I was expecting to sell five books (if I was lucky) for the whole comicon and was hoping for ten.

One the first day of the comicon, I sold nineteen books with Curse of the Jenri being the most popular by 1 (six sold) and every title sold at least two.

Sorry if this seems braggidocious, BUT, I have sold more books the past three months by a factor of TEN than in the three years before where six books were available (not all for three years, but you understand). It's because I stumbled into TDR Publishing and the group and met so many supportive, encouraging, thoughtful, kind people all over facebook and my life who have supported me in this endeavor. Not one person I know has treated my writing as a waste of time. 

Thank you all so much. Just had to say it.
 
And, hey, if I SAW you at the comicon, feel free to wave and say, "Hi!" It was great to meet you.

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The Art of Show vs. Tell

>> Wednesday, April 5, 2017

In a previous blog post in December, I noted that there was a dark side to show don't tell. That's because, if you don't actually spell every little detail out, people could miss it and then complain that they're confused, which is no way to have a reader. Titillated, yes, but not confused or frustrated.

It's not a black and white business and making things full of delightful subtleties to please one audience might lose you one that wants things less obscure, just as a straightforward narrative might bore someone who lives for nuance. Pick the audience you want. That's one of the challenges.

But show vs. tell is ubiquitous advice for a very good reason: it makes reading so much more compelling and interesting. I love it as a writer and strive for it; I don't know a writer that doesn't.

Actually pulling off show don't tell is another thing altogether, though,because showing is more difficult than just saying:

John was a tall boy with red hair, lots of freckles and love of basketball.
However, it doesn't have any personality. It's dull and lifeless and says next to nothing about John. Now, try this:

If Sarah wanted to find John, she knew better than to look for him in the library or studying. Depth of winter or height of summer, she could find him on the outdoor court in the park, his short red hair spiky with sweat, his freckles so numerous he looked like he had a rash. He might not have put any meat on his gangly form, that seemed to shoot up overnight, but he knew how to move it around the basketball court and get that orange ball to do everything but fix him lunch.
Now, what do we know? Well, everything from the first sentence, of course, which makes sense since this one's more than five times longer. But, we also know he has a relationship with Sarah good enough she knows where to find him and where not to find him, that he's not addicted to studying, that his height is a recent thing, and that he not only loves basketball, he's damn good at it. And now there's also a much stronger sense of who he is. He hasn't said anything. He hasn't done anything, really, but I think we'd be speculating about his personality to a much higher degree in the second paragraph than the first. There's also a potential for someone who might be interested in the topic to become interested in where it goes from here. And who's Sarah?

Interactions between people are a great way to enact show vs. tell. What they say to each other, how they react. Dialog between people can provide backstory or explain something complex without just writing it out. You can explain motivations, move the story forward, make sociological points and, the great thing, is it all seems so natural. Like you weren't actually writing it.

Action can be show don't tell. If the character is limping, I don't have to explain  he hurt himself or why he isn't chasing someone. If he punches someone in the face, I don't have to pause and tell the reader: that guy really irritated my character. Actions tell us who someone really is, character-wise, what you stand for, what you won't stand for, what matters.

But, that's why it can be tricky. The more clearly you define your character through dialog and interactions and action, the more careful you have to be not to change course midstream, either to fulfill a plot point or to make things fit. I can't speak for all readers but, for me, since characters are my favorite, I hate when I feel like I've identified with a character and then they do something out of character. At best, it can make the identity and personality of the character murky which isn't what you want. At worst, it can drive a reader away (yes, that's happened to me).

But what does that mean? It means you can't make a protective chivalrous guy rape his girlfriend and keep that image. It means you can't make someone who has proven to be a loyal friend over time sell out his buds for a bit of spending capital. You can't have Quigon Jin accept the notion that a small boy will run a very dangerous race so you can get funds (say what? the space station doesn't take off-world money? How contrived is that?) or that you'll take him away from that mother and leave her as a slave. Unless you like to see Liam Neeson rolling his eyes at his own lines.

More subtly, you can't express how clever someone is without showing it in deed. You can't convince us that someone's an expert if they flub it every time they come up against anything out of the ordinary. They can't be a badass and get their butt whipped every fight. Show your character to be clever or faithful or kind or brutal or whatever they are. Make sure the exceptions have motivations that make sense (we all have exceptions).

In the end, I think it's all about getting to know someone much like their friends and new characters get to know them and finding about them in a natural sort of way.

At least, that's how I see it.

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Guest Blog: MIrren Hogan Telling Us About Night Witches

>> Friday, March 24, 2017



Here's a first for me: I'm having a guest post by another author, to tell you all about her freshly released historical drama about a very interesting chapter of history...

Mirren Hogan is celebrating the release of her historical fiction novel Night Witches. Here is some background into these incredible women and their story.







Nadia Valinsky is a young female pilot and university education student from Moscow. When the Germans invade the Soviet Union in 1941, she wants to fight to defend her country. In October of 1941 Marina Raskova, a famous female aviator, asks for volunteers, Nadia signs up. She is accepted for an interview and offered a place in the training regiment as a navigator.

Following rigorous training at Engles Air Force base, Nadia is assigned to the Night Bomber regiment. She and her crew fly multiple missions on the front lines and are regularly under fire from anti-aircraft guns. The Germans give them the nickname Night Witches, because of the sound their aircraft make as they sweep overhead.

The Night Witches flew in planes made from canvas and balsawood. For the majority of the war, they had no radios, or parachutes. The latter was considered to take up too much space needed to carry bombs. Of three women's regiments, theirs was the only one who consisted entirely of women through the duration of the war.

They lived together, fought together and died together.


            Searchlights lit up the sky, but they were looking where we had been. Antonina had restarted the engine and nimbly avoided them every time they moved.
            "This is too close," she declared, sounding breathless herself. Another couple of minutes and we'd be safely away. I swallowed hard and tried to force my heart to slow. I didn't want to come that close again.
            A second later, one of our bombs exploded, earlier than it should have. We used bombs with delayed fuses, deliberately set to go off once we were safely clear. We flew so low we could easily have been caught in the blast from our own bomb and blown out of the sky.
            As it was, the shockwaves from the explosion rocked the Po-2, making it shudder violently. Pieces of shrapnel flew up at us from below, tearing several small holes in the wings and a large one in the cockpit floor beside my feet.
            I felt a searing pain in my arm and leg and realised I'd been hit. A sudden burst of wet heat at the back of my left leg told me I was bleeding. I tugged off one of my gloves and reached down to feel a shard of metal sticking out of the underside of my calf. Although it hurt like nothing I'd ever experienced, I didn't dare to pull it out in case I bled even more.
            "Are you all right back there?" Antonina asked, so at least I knew she was alive.
            "Yes," I lied. "You?"
            "I'm fine, but Valentina is going to be busy."
            That was true. The Po-2 could fly as normal, but the poor thing was going to need some patching up, as was I.


Buy Night Witches from:









About Mirren Hogan


Mirren Hogan lives in NSW Australia with her husband, two daughters, dog, cat, rabbits and countless birds. She has a Bachelor of Arts (English/ history), a Graduate Diploma of Arts (writing) and a couple of degrees in education. She writes fantasy, urban fantasy and science fiction, as well as historical fiction.

Her debut novel —Crimson Fire— was released in October 2016.

Burning Willow Press will be releasing Nightmares Rise – co-authored by Erin Yoshikawa – on April 8.



Mirren also had several short stories published and has co-edited two charity anthologies; for breast cancer research and Plan Australia.



Follow on Twitter: @MirrenHogan
Official website: mirrenhogan.com

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