Shore Leave

So I’m at Shore Leave now, which is a great way of tackling the question I asked at the end of my last post: Why Trek?  It’s not like I haven’t given this some thought.  I even wrote about Trek, thinking like a shrink, in what now seems another life.  Certainly, I think I got the essence of Trek back then—but I’m not so sure I can as easily summarize the universe’s appeal now.

One thing is for sure: I wasn’t drawn to the universe for the reasons The Onion says (though I did split a gut laughing).  Simply put, Kirk was hot and I wanted to be his girlfriend.  I guess I should be relieved that’s worn off now 😉

 But Trek has moved on—brilliantly, if you ask me.  The Onion’s wrong about one thing: Trek fans don’t object to change.  Pick up any of David Mack’s Destiny novels (beginning with Gods of Night), or those that have come after and you’ll see just how far the universe can be shaken up.  Whether that’s for better or worse, I can’t say.  (For the record: Change is good.  Makes you nervous, maybe, but it’s still good.)  But I do know that you won’t find a nicer, more committed bunch of people willing to tolerate taking chances.

 And maybe that’s the real reason for Trek’s endurance.  The universe demands you take a chance.  Certainly, my editors have been willing to afford me that luxury. (Even if one plaintively asked, “Yeah, but does she have to die?”  Uh . . . yeah.  Someone does.)  I cut my writing teeth on Trek; my editors took a chance on a nobody and let her fulfill a dream in a universe that’s all about dreaming big.

 So, okay, I never got to be Kirk’s girlfriend.  His loss. 😉  You ask me, though, I got a chance to become something—someone—better.

Boldly Going

Well, not into space or even strange new worlds (more about that another time), but Shore Leave 31, a long-running–if not the longest-running–Star Trek fan convention.  I haven’t been in several years, but with Star Trek: SCE: WOUNDS doing very well and writer-friends going whom I’ve not seen for awhile, people like David Mack, Keith DeCandido, Dayton Ward, Bob Greenberger, and  Terri Osborne, now seemed as good a time as any to make an appearance.

Which got me thinking.  Someone recently asked what started me writing, in general, and Trek, in particular.  Like, have I always been a writer?  Well, that’s an easy one: Nope, not really.  Oh, I wrote really, really bad epic poetry–REALLY bad–but not stories or novels.  That is, not on paper, anyway.

But I have always told myself stories, always.  I’d love to say that I developed this habit because books were sacred when I was growing up or we all gathered around the campfire to roast marshmallows and swap tall tales–but those WOULD be stories ;-).  Not that there weren’t books when I was growing up–there were plenty.  My parents were smart people and even if they weren’t readers themselves, they must’ve seen something because they got me this subscription to the Young Reader’s Book Club.  That way, I got a couple new books every month, and I read them all.  I still remember them lined up on my shelves.  When I’d blistered my way through those, then I read whatever was lying around–classics, mostly.

Mainly, though, I told myself stories.  It was a way of passing time, usually when I was stuck doing something boring, like clipping the grass or hoeing the garden, stuff like that.  I told myself all kinds of stories, usually slotting myself into a favorite television show like Daktari or Lost in Space (before it got really silly) or something like that.  And, yeah, I was usually the heroine, the go-to girl everyone looked for when the going got tough.

But not Trek, not right away, not when I was a kid-kid.  Trek: TOS came later, when I was in my late teens and when the show was already in re-runs, and let me tell you: it was a revelation.  By then, I was reading gobs of science fiction and when I got a good look at the Enterprise?

Oh my.
Next up: Why Trek?

Blind date

I figure this first entry is a little bit like going on a blind date.  Sweaty palms, five hours with the makeup, about a gazillion wardrobe changes and my hair just won’t cooperate and, heck, is that a zit?

You get the picture.

Because here’s the thing: You don’t know me, I don’t know you, what could we possibly have in common and are we going to get along?  Now I trolled a couple dozen sites, trying to figure what people said their first time out, sort of like standing in front of the mirror auditioning different versions of “Hi, I’m Ilsa.”  Smile, no smile, too much of a smile?  Shake hands, just nod my head?

Then I thought, okay, if you’ve stumbled on this site, it’s either because you’ve read something I’ve written, you’re thinking about reading something I’ve written, or you like books.  Or any combination of the three.

You may have noticed that I’ve been writing for a bit.  (Which is always a bit sobering because that first sale seems like only yesterday.  I still remember what I was doing and where I was and what I said . . .)  So you might wonder, well, why now?  Why have this website?

I’m so glad you asked.

Now I’m no kind of expert.  Anything I’ve learned has been through repetition, hard work and listening to other, more experienced writers.   So I won’t give you writing tips.  I can only tell you what I do, and everyone’s different.  What works for me may not work for everybody else–and that’s okay.

Having said that, the best advice has already been given by Robert Heinlein and every successful writer I know follows those rules.  Trust me on this: Google Heinlein and find out for yourself.  Or simply go to Dean Wesley Smith’s blog and plug in a search for Heinlein’s Rules . . . Oh, all right, here’s the link: There’s no one better than Dean at telling you exactly what you have to do to be a successful writer.  (We can debate what “success” means another time–because there is more than one way to succeed as a writer.)

Mainly, I started this because I’ve just sold two YA novels to Carolrhoda Books and I am thrilled beyond all reason.  The first book, Stalag Winter (or, maybe, just Winter because we’re tossing around titles), is about an unusual young man who discovers a couple things about his small Wisconsin town that everybody else would just as soon let stay forgotten.  That book made it to the semifinals of the 2009 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award and the reviewer at PW really liked it.  Thankfully, so did my wonderful editor, Andrew Karre, and Winter will be hitting the shelves in fall, 2010.

Ben’s letters in my second book, Sincerely, Any Soldier (yeah, yeah, the title will change), tell what happens when Ben, a senior in high school, befriends a younger boy.  Because rumors start about how Ben and Jimmy might be those kind of people and . . . well . . . we all know nothing good can come of that.

So, telling you about those books is my way of opening the front door and saying hi.  Want to come in?

Young Adult/Thrillers/F&SF/Romantic Suspense