Shattering Illusions, One Beaker at a Time

The covered crucible rattled against the glowing red support ring. When it took a little hop, I stepped back. No need to risk my eyebrows. Again. The opening scene in The Final Formula is based on a real event.  It wasn’t quite as dramatic, nor did it happen to me, but I’m pretty sure the stain is still on the ceiling.  Fortunately, no eyebrows were lost. When I tell someone that I’m a chemist, I usually get an enthusiastic response of, “That’s cool!” I suspect they imagine a white lab coat, flasks of mysterious liquids, and explosions. I’m afraid the only truth here is the lab coat. (Yes, as I mentioned above, there is an occasional explosion, but in real life, explosions are not a good thing. They usually involve cleanup, paperwork, and frequently, a follow-up safety meeting.) In today’s post, I thought I’d share a little bit about what goes on at the day job and how it influences my fictional world.  Unfortunately, I’ll probably shatter the mad scientist image you have of me.  *sigh*  So much for being cool. As a chemist, working in industry, I find my job very repetitious. I’ve run the same analysis for years, moving samples through the process much like an assembly line worker. The work involves not only wet chemistry (the typical bench work with reagents and beakers), but also the use of computerized instrumentation and loads of paperwork. There aren’t many shouts of “Eureka!” or opportunities to cackle over a bubbling test tube of weird colored liquid. This might sound dull, but there are opportunities for creative work such as developing new procedures or puzzling out why a sample didn’t work they way you expected. I also have a great bunch of co-workers who get my dorky science jokes and make the daily drudgery fun. But it is through my fictional world that I really get to play the stereotypical mad scientist and blow things up. One of the fun aspects of The Final Formula Series is adapting magic to our world. The study of alchemy is where modern chemistry got its start, so it made sense to have my alchemists start their careers as chemists....

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The Method to My Madness

I admit, the title is a bit misleading. This isn’t so much a post about what’s involved in my writing process; it’s more the story of my ongoing quest to find one. I’ve always been a seat-of-my-pants writer. (For those of you unfamiliar with the term, that’s a writer who grabs a pen, or a keyboard, and just starts writing. No outlines, no plans—just a desire to get the story down.) In hindsight, it makes sense that I would approach writing this way. For most of my life, writing was a hobby. I would write a novel, slap it in a ring binder, and move on to the next one. I never bothered to edit, and I certainly didn’t share my stories with anyone. I wrote for me, and only me. End of story. All that changed when I wrote The Final Formula. It was better than anything I’d written before, and suddenly I wanted to share. I joined a workshop, learned to edit, and um, three years later, I published it. (Yeah, I was a big chicken.) During those three years, I wrote more in the Final Formula universe, and those stories became the next three titles in the series. With the release of The Necromancer’s Betrayal, it was time to move into uncharted waters. I had to write the next book with no pre-written stuff from years past. I found that daunting at first. There are actually people waiting for the next installment. I didn’t have time to screw around with the seat-of-my-pants writing style I had previously employed. I had to learn to plan ahead, to (gasp) outline. I’ve never been opposed to outlining. I don’t believe it cramps creativity or anything like that. I would LOVE to have a road map as I work my way through the writing of a novel. So over the first few weeks of August (when not winging my way through the early chapters of FF3), I read a number of books on outlining/plotting. I scribbled and fought, and finally I did it. I wrote a plot outline! My outline is nothing fancy. Just a sheet of notebook paper with a line or two per...

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Geek Fail

The other day I came across an article in one of my video gaming magazines (yes, I’m an avid gamer—if you haven’t picked up on that yet) praising the goodness of the original Dungeons & Dragons game, and how it served as an inspiration to so many folks in the gaming industry.  After reading the article, I felt a bit bummed because (confession time), I’ve never played D&D.  I never knew anyone who played.  Heck, I didn’t even hear of the game until I was in my twenties.  Considering my interests (writer, fantasy junkie), I think of this as a childhood failing.  And sadly, it’s not my only one. I’ve seen very few episodes of the original Star Trek.  In my defense, I grew up in house with only three TV stations, and three younger sisters who shared none of my geeky leanings.  Dad was lord of the TV (I would have said remote, but we didn’t have one of those either), and he wasn’t into SciFi.  Although, he and I did watch The Greatest American Hero while it was on.   Looking back now, I smile.  Those were special times.  I wonder… *heads over to Amazon* Oh wow, I can get the ENTIRE series for under $20!  Guess what Dad’s getting for his birthday? I probably shouldn’t bury myself any deeper, but…I didn’t see Star Wars when it was originally released either.  (And yes, I was a kid at the time.)  I did make my husband take me to watch it on the big screen when they re-released the original three movies.  My sister and her husband went with us.  He was a fan; she wasn’t.  My husband and my sister actually fell asleep during the movie.  *sigh*  It’s hard to be a geek when you’re surrounded by non-geeks. Sadly, I had great potential.  I was in the band and chorus, and ran with the academic crowd in high school.  I went on to major in chemistry and math, with a minor in computer programming.  I love video games, fantasy and scifi.  Yet sadly, I occasionally miss a pop culture reference on The Big Bang Theory. But all is not lost.  The other day, I...

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The Necromancer’s Betrayal – Cover Reveal

And here it is, the cover reveal for FF 2.5, The Necromancer’s Betrayal.  This is another novella featuring James, but unlike The Element of Death, he’s not the only one telling the story.  James shares the spotlight with a new character, and yes, that’s her on the cover. This story takes place about a month and a half after The Blood Alchemist ended.  James has gone off to college, but the poor guy just can’t seem to stay out of trouble.  And this time, he found it without Addie’s help.  😉 The Necromancer’s Betrayal is over twice the length of The Element of Death.  (That’s half the length of one of my novels–in case you’re keeping score at home).  I don’t have an exact release date this time, but it goes to the formatter this coming week. So it won’t be long. I’ll be posting the blurb and an excerpt of the first few chapters on my books page later this week.  In the meantime, I’ve posted a couple of snippets over on my Facebook page if you haven’t had a chance to check those out.  Thanks for following along.  I hope you enjoy this one!...

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Get an Alternative POV Scene from The Final Formula

Ever wonder what Rowan was thinking the first time he met Addie?  Now you can find out!  Just sign up for my newsletter (in the sidebar on the right), and you’ll be given access to Rowan’s thoughts the night he caught Addie in his kitchen, stealing one of his glasses.  🙂 As for my newsletter…  Fear not.  Your inbox won’t be bombarded with emails from me.  I’ll only email you with news of a new release, a giveaway, or perhaps the occasional contest.  So unless I learn to write faster, you won’t hear from me that often. Note – You’ll receive an email that asks you to click a link to confirm your subscription.  Once that is complete, you’ll receive a second email with a link to Rowan’s scene.  (The second email has taken over an hour to arrive for some people.) Thanks and enjoy!   Oh, and what do you think of the new look for my website?  The team at Streetlight Graphics designed it.  Pretty sweet, huh? Update – The signup widget doesn’t work well with some Droid phones.  If you have trouble signing up, please let me know.  Message me on Facebook, DM me on Twitter, or use the contact form here on my...

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